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Concerns about health of Sudanese militia leaders in detention

February 28 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Members of the Savanah militia detained in North Darfur (RD)
Members of the Savanah militia detained in North Darfur (RD)

The family of former militia leader Ali Rizgallah has expressed grave concern about his confinement in a solitary cell since November 2017. The Revolutionary Awakening Council, founded by former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, is worried about his and Rizgallah’s health.

Rizgallah’s family as well as doctors are denied access to him, his wife, Zuhour Haroun, told Radio Dabanga.

The former colonel who deserted from army and formed the Savanah militia group in North Darfur is not allowed to leave the cell except when he is summoned to appear in the courtroom.

Haroun explained that the charges against her husband, Ali Rizgallah, aka Savanah, are related to “rebellion against the state” and “cooperation with the enemy”, and expressed her surprise that these charges were raised after the fall of the regime of Omar Al Bashir while “the entire Sudanese people rebelled against the regime.

“And those whom the court describes as the enemy, have formerly signed peace agreements with the government,” she added.

She further questioned the integrity of the court. “His trial at the Military Court lacks the required neutrality in justice,” she said. “The court charged Rizgallah with premeditated murder of members of the Rapid Support Forces [RSF, Sudan’s largest government militia]. Yet, the witnesses are all RSF militiamen, so there is clearly no impartiality.”

Colonel Ali Rizgallah and Haroun’s 15-year-old brother were detained on November 11, 2017, in North Darfur.

Their detention is related to the arrest of former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, the leader of the Mahameed tribe and founder of the Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC), who remains in detention since November 2017, along with his sons and hundreds of his supporters, despite the fall of the ousted regime of Omar Al Bashir.

Since their detention, Haroun has not seen her husband and her brother or been allowed to visit or find out where they are, leaving the family in great concern, she said in August last year. She went to the Information Office of the security service to find out where he was being held and was told he was held by the RSF, which is led by Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, deputy chairman of the Sovereign Council.

Musa Hilal detained, transferred to Khartoum, November 27, 2017 (RD)

Musa Hilal

In a statement on Thursday, the RAC blamed “the military component of the Sovereignty Council” for the deteriorating health conditions of Musa Hilal and Ali Rizgallah,

RAC spokesman Ahmed Abakar confirmed that Hilal has been transferred from the military prison in Khartoum to the Sudan Heart Centre.

He attributed the deterioration of his health condition to bad food, and detention in a narrow solitary cell without ventilation, with continued lighting that does not allow him to sleep.

The health of Lt Col Ali Rizgallah who was physically disabled after earlier being hit by a bullet is deteriorating as well, he said.

Abakar described the conditions by which the 513 RAC members are held in various Sudanese detention centres as “serious abuses, flagrant human rights violations, and the exploitation of power against political opponents”.

He called on the UN Human Rights Council and the International Committee of the Red Cross “to intervene urgently to protect their health, and to work for their immediate release”.

On Wednesday, Khaddam claimed that one of the detained RAC members died in the prison of El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan, as a result of torture, while another detained member has become completely blind through ill-treatment and denial of health care.

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch urged the Sudanese government to ensure that reform efforts do not trample on human rights, particularly in efforts to “dismantle” the former government. The authorities should also make known the whereabouts of Musa Hilal.

In January, Radio Dabanga reported that a group of international lawyers filed a complaint to the UN Human Rights Council against the government of Sudan concerning the prolonged arrest of Hilal and his companions.

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