Sudan’s security forces conduct arbitrary arrests, use excessive force and beat students in El Geneina
(8 February 2016) The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) is deeply concerned about new reports of arbitrary detention, custodial violence and excessive use of force by the Sudanese authorities in El Geneina, West Darfur state, in late January following a political forum held at El Geneina University. The violence follows armed attacks on Mouli village just south of El Geneina on 9 and 10 January by suspected members of the Government’s Rapid Support Forces.
On 31 January, a number of students were seriously injured when members of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), reportedly operating together with a pro-government student militia, beat them with metal bars and fired gunshots into the air to disperse a political forum that was taking place on El Geneina University campus. At least 24 students, some of whom were seriously injured from the raid, were arrested and detained from the forum and transferred to the NISS headquarters in El Geneina. They all reported being subjected to beatings with water pipes and metal bars in NISS custody. One student, Salah al Din Gamar Ibrahim, was detained by the NISS and beaten in the detention facility despite having sustained serious injuries during the raid on the University. He was found dumped outside his family home in a critical condition at around midnight the same day. Mr. Gamar died from his injuries two days later on 2 February after the NISS denied a medical transfer from El Geneina to Khartoum. ACJPS is deeply concerned for the safety of another man, 23-year-old economics student Nasr Eldin Mohamed Atim, who remains in NISS custody without charge or access to his family or lawyers. 12 other students were transferred to police custody on 2 February and charged with Articles 67 (Rioting), 77 (Public Nuisance), and 97 (Furnishing False Information) of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Act. The charges were later dropped and they were released from detention on 6 February 2016.
The students had gathered on campus to attend a forum organised by the student wing of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army – Abdul Wahid faction. The forum was held to discuss recent militia attacks on the village of Mouli, just south of El Geneina town. Mouli village was attacked and burned to the ground by suspected members of the Government’s Rapid Support Forces on 9 and 10 January. The attack on Mouli village prompted an angry protest outside the state Governor’s office in El Geneina on 10 January. Protestors demanded protection and set fire to property. Members of the Central Reserve Police and the NISS fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the protest, killing at least seven people and wounding ten others. On 11 January, three people were killed and seven others sustained gunshot wounds when the NISS fired live ammunition to disperse mourners at a funeral for the deceased.
At least four men, including two community leaders from the Masalit ethnic group, were detained by the NISS on 12 and 13 January and accused of inciting the protest at the Governor’s office. Two of the detainees were badly beaten in custody. 25-year-old economics graduate Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed was arrested by the NISS from the main market in El Geneina on 12 January. He was forced to kneel and hold heavy bricks whilst being beaten with water pipes during interrogations at the NISS headquarters. On one occasion he lost consciousness. He was released on 13 January without charge. Student Abdelkarim Abaker Suleiman was detained by heavily armed NISS officers from a local market in El Geneina on 13 January. He was beaten with water pipes and received death threats, before his release without charge on 14 January.
The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) calls on the Sudanese authorities to immediately investigate the allegations of beatings and other ill-treatment in NISS custody in El Geneina and order a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the beatings of students by members of the NISS and student militias at El Geneina University on 31 January and the reported attacks by the Rapid Support Forces on Mouli village on 9 and 10 Janaury. The findings of an inquiry announced into the excessive and lethal use of force by Sudanese authorities on 10 and 11 January in El Geneina town should be made public promptly. Officials responsible for the excessive and lethal use of force, torture and other forms of ill-treatment should be held to account.
ACJPS further calls on the Sudanese Government to immediately release the 12 students detained in connection with public forum held at El Geneina University on 31 January, or bring them promptly to trial in conformity with international standards. Their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly should be respected. Nasr Eldin Mohamed Atim, who is believed to still be in NISS custody in El Geneina, should be promptly released in the absence of valid legal charges and given immediate access to his family, a medical doctor and lawyers.
Violent dispersal of student forum at El Geneina University on 31 January
On 31 January 2016 a group of around forty-five armed men in plain clothes raided El Geneina University campus to disperse a student forum. The men, identified by eyewitnesses as members of the NISS and a pro-government student militia, reportedly fired shots into the air and beat students with metal bars. The forum had been organised by the “United Peoples’ Front”, a student wing of the Sudan Liberation Movement – Abdul Wahid faction, to discuss the armed attack on nearby Mouli village on 9 and 10 January. Four female students who were beaten with metal bars were admitted to El Geneina hospital for medical treatment and released the same day. At least 24 people were detained and taken to the NISS headquarters in El Geneina. 8 female detainees were released at 8pm the same day. They testified to ACJPS that they were beaten with water pipes and threatened with rape during interrogations at the NISS headquarters.
All the male detainees reported they were beaten with water pipes and metal bars by the NISS during interrogations on 1 February. One 30-year-old student from the El Geneina Faculty of Economics, Mr. Salahadin Gamar, was seriously injured during the attack at the university and was taken to the NISS offices and reportedly beaten again during interrogations. He was found dumped outside his family home in a critical condition at around midnight the same day. Mr. Gamar was admitted to El Geneina hospital but his health continued to deteriorate and on 2 February doctors decided to refer him to Khartoum for specialist care. NISS officers at the hospital reportedly refused the transfer and Mr. Gamar died the same day at 4pm. Medical sources reported the cause of death was internal bleeding from a head injury caused by a sharp object.
The NISS released two students, Abdelrahim Ibrahim Rahma and Usman Salih Idris, without charge at 7pm on 2 February, following the death of Mr. Gamar.
Later that night, 12 detainees were transferred to the main police station where the NISS lodged a criminal complaint against them under Articles 67 (Rioting), 77 (Public Nuisance), and 97 (Furnishing False Information) of the 1991 Criminal Act. All charges were later dropped and they were released at around 3.30pm on 6 February. One 23-year old economics student, Nasr Eldin Mohamed Atim, who was reportedly the main speaker at the student forum, reportedly remains in NISS detention without charge or access to a doctor, family members or lawyers.
Arbitrary arrests and custodial violence in El Geneina on 12-13 January
On 12 January 2016, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed, 25 years old, a graduate of the Faculty of Economics of Zalengei university, was arrested by the NISS from the main market in El Geneina, West Darfur state. Mr. Ahmed was reportedly detained by around eight NISS officers wearing military uniforms and armed with Kalashnikov rifles who arrived at the market in Landcruiser vehicles. Two NISS officers reportedly interrogated him about his participation in the protest that took place outside the state Governor’s office on 10 January, and accused him of inciting others to protest. During one interrogation session, he was forced to kneel down, holding heavy bricks, for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, he was sprayed with cold water and beaten all over his body with a water pipe. On a second occasion, he was beaten with a water pipe until he lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness he was interrogated for a third time and forced to disclose the names of other demonstrators. At around 10pm, his request to use a toilet was refused and he was given a plastic bottle to urinate in. He was released at 11am the following day, 13 January, without charge.
At 10am on 13 January, the NISS summoned Mr. Abdullah Fadil Mohamed, Chairperson of the Masalit Shura Council, to the NISS Headquarters in El Geneina town. He was interrogated for around two hours about his alleged role inciting the demonstration held at the state Governor’s office on 10 January, before being released and instructed to report back the following day. He reported again on 14 January, was interrogated, and released without charge. Also on 13 January, at around 1pm, Mr. Daoud Alya, a member of the Masalit ethnic group and the Chairperson of the High Committee for Displaced Persons in Abu Zar IDP camp, was summoned by telephone and interrogated by the NISS. He was interrogated about his alleged role inciting others to demonstrate on 10 January and released the same day without charge.
Later that evening at around 6pm, Abdelkarim Abaker Suleiman, (m), a student of the Faculty of Economics at the University of El Geneina, was arrested from the customs market close to the NISS headquarters. Eight NISS officers in military uniform and armed with pistols and Kalashnikov rifles reportedly arrested Mr. Sulieman and took him to the NISS headquarters. During interrogations, he was accused of participating in the protest on 10 January and inciting others to protest. He was beaten with water pipes and the NISS officers reportedly threatened to kill him. He was released without charge the following day, 14 January, at 2pm.
Mohamed Badawi, Monitoring Programme Coordinator, African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, email@example.com, +256 783 693 689.
Mossaad Mohamed Ali, Executive Director, African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), firstname.lastname@example.org, +256779584542
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