Monday, May 30, 2011

Documenting Earlier Abuses

This month, three journalists are facing trial for writing about Safia Ishaq's gang-rape by security agents in Khartoum last February.

Amal Habbani's trial is on the 9th of June.
Omer Al-Garrai is on the 21st of June, and Faisal Mohammed is the 28th of June.

Support them by campaigning for them and attending their trials!

To give you some background, I wrote this in Feburary.

Sudanese people have never before witnessed the extent of these abuses. In the last two decades, thousands have been subjected to disabling torture at the hands of intelligence officers and security men in what have came to be known as ghost houses. These are two of the many stories:

Marwa Al Tijani, an Arts student at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, begins, “I was arrested at 4 p.m., my friends and I started walking away from the protest after security officials cracked down on the protesters and started arresting people. Out of nowhere, a normal car pulls up in front of us and two men wearing civilian attire came out of the car and one of them pointed a gun to my face and asked us to get in the car.”

This is the story of Marwa Al Tijani, an Arts student at the University of Khartoum in Sudan.

Al-Tijani was arrested on 3 February in a protest in Bahri in north of the Sudanese capital. When she arrived at the police station, insults were hurdled at her and she was savagely whipped while she was interrogated about her tribe, her family, and living conditions.

Al-Tijani remembers hearing the loud screams of men in nearby cells as they were beaten with whips and canes: “I saw a young man named Ahmed. They shaved his hair off and they were making fun of him as they beat him mercilessly.” Although she did not know Ahmed, she could not stop crying as she heard him scream out of pain in the next room. "They beat him for over an hour and kept telling me that he deserves it," she remembers.

Then they brought a badly-beaten Ahmed into her interrogation room,and one of the men said, “This is the man you are romantically and sexually involved with.”

Marwa continues, “They used such explicit sexual terms. I couldn’t even look at him, his body was covered in wounds. They kept saying, 'Look at him , he is weak and scared, do you still want him?'"

Marwa had never met Ahmed, but they were arrested at the same protest. This was enough for a connection between them in the eyes of the security men. “They proceeded to ask me about our relationship and they kept focusing on our sexual relationship. They kept insulting me and Ahmed, you can’t even imagine what they said. I didn’t say a word, but Ahmed fought back after each and every word they said to us,” Marwa recalls.

The ordeal continued until very late: "At 2 a.m., I was released after they made sign a document stating that I would not take part in any protests."

Although the government denies "ghost houses" exist, the Sudanese President of Sudan, in a slip of tongue in May 2009 during talks with journalists, confirmed they exist. Activists have been died there, including Ali Fadol, Mohammed Abdel Salam, and Abd Al Moniem Salman.

I knew Ali Fadol. He was arrested an hour after he returned home from a party my parents threw for me. His hair, strand by strand, was plucked out of his scalp. His body was so badly deformed that the state would not hand over his corpse to his family.

Ali Mohamed Osman, a politically active student of Economics at the University of Khartoum, was arrested on 14 February in Omdurman along with two members of the Umma National Party. He was tortured by six men for an entire day before his release.

A Facebook group by the name of “The Popular Uprising” has tried to organise mass protests, but police forces so far have surrounded marchers and arrested dozens. Amongst the detained were the two sons of Mubarak Al-Fadil, a well-known Sudanese opposition leader, and many students not affiliated with any party.

The security forces are now on a binge. The National Intelligence Security Service (NISS), the notorious force known for its human rights violations, has the authority to arbitrarily detain any Sudanese citizen indefinitely without trial. All members of the NISS have immunity from getting prosecution.

One more story: Safia Ishag, a graduate of Fine Art and an activist was kidnapped this in front of her house in Khartoum. At the headquarters of the NISS, she was gang-rapped by three officers before she was dumped on a road in Northern Khartoum. When the hospital's rape report was presented to a police station, it was rejected with the demand that she be examined by the doctor at the police hospital.

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