On Thursday, five members of the Feed Arts Group were sentenced to two months imprisonment and a fine of SDG5,000* each for public disturbance.
Four of them, Hajooj Mohamed ‘Kuka’, Abdelrahman Mohamed, Ayman Khalafallah, and Ahmed El Sadig, were transferred to Soba prison in Khartoum. Two of the members had their hair forcibly shaved off. Dua Tareg was taken to the Women’s Prison in Omdurman.
It is expected that five other members of the Feed Arts will also have to appear in the Central Khartoum Criminal Court on Sunday, on the same charge.
According to human rights defenders, the verdict is based on complaints by neighbours about the group making too much noise during rehearsals.
The problems began in early August when members of the Feed Arts group were rehearsing for a theatrical performance in El Zohour in central Khartoum. This led to friction with residents of the neighbourhood who filed a complaint on August 10 which they later withdrew.
The police went to the scene that day. During a discussion with the group, one of the police officers took pictures of Tareg with his mobile phone which she objected to. After she asked him to delete the pictures, the policeman reportedly slapped her.
Other members of the group then loudly protested against the policeman’s behaviour, which led to the filing of a complaint against them on charges of public disturbance and violation of safety.
The policeman who was accused of slapping Dua Tareg wrote a “malicious report”, according to the human rights defenders.
After being detained and assaulted by the police, the Central Khartoum Primary Court issued a verdict against five of the ten artists, accusing them of public disturbance stipulated in Article 69 of the Criminal Code and Article 77 on disruption of public safety. On 17 September 2020, five of the artists were sentenced to two months of imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 SDG.
Artists of the revolution
Among the most prominent of the Feed Arts Group sentenced to prison is young film director Hajooj Kuka, who won international awards with his documentary Beats of the Antonov (2014) which dealt with the lives of citizens living in war zones in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, which were under fire by bombs dropped from Antonov warplanes.
Dua Tareg is an artist and a human rights activist. Dua testified in a video about the violent dispersal of the sit-in in front of the army command in Khartoum on June 3 last year, whereby more than 100 people were killed. Her sister Ladin appeared in a video clip during the June 30 demonstrations this year, chanting against the Rapid Support Forces and the army.
Kuka and Tareg played an important role in documenting the December revolution and creating theatrical works.
Among those imprisoned are also members of Art is the Solution, an initiative which decorated walls in Nierteti in southern Jebel Marra with murals during a sit-in which took place from June 28 to July 15 this year.
Yesterday, the Sudanese Women's Union strongly condemned the detention of the women and men of the Feed Arts group and demanded their immediate release. A protest vigil has been proposed, in front of the Omdurman Women Prison for Women on Saturday, to reject “the unfair prison sentences for Dua Tareg and the rest of the group”.
The Women's Union said: “They have committed no crime except exercising their right to practice cultural activities,” calling for thorough reform of security and military institutions in the country. In addition, they have called for all laws allowing this type of action to be taken to be reviewed, for the prisoners to be allowed visitors, and appealed to lawyers to ensure their swift release.
Human rights activists and defenders have criticised the ruling judge of the Central Khartoum Criminal Court, Omar Abdelhameed.
A large number of Resistance Committees active in the neighbourhoods of Khartoum and other activist groups condemned the judgment, declaring their solidarity with the artists.
* USD 1 = SDG 55.1375 at the time of publishing this article. As effective foreign exchange rates can vary in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS). The greenback traded SDG260 at the parallel market in Khartoum on September 10.
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