Day five: Detainees continue hunger strike amid continued violations by law enforcers in Sudan

207 West Darfur detainees entered their fifth day of hunger strike yesterday, in protest against being detained illegally in poor conditions without a fair trial. In El Fasher, North Darfur, a man was raided and killed by state police forces last week.

207 West Darfur detainees entered their fifth day of hunger strike yesterday, in protest against being detained illegally in poor conditions without a fair trial. In El Fasher, North Darfur, a man was raided and killed by state police forces last week. 

The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) and the West and North Darfur Detainees Defence Committee revealed that the detainees are living in poor conditions. The detainees will continue their hunger strike until their arbitrary detention ends or they will be brought to a fair trial, according to a press statement made last week by 80 West Darfuri detainees held in Port Sudan Prison in Red Sea state. 

El Sadig Ali Hasan, a leading member of the DBA, told Radio Dabanga that the detainees’ hunger strike continues “amid complacency from the local community and the United Nations, and complete disregard and neglect from all sides.” He described their detention as “illegal,” indicating that the fate of the detainees relates to wider political issues in Sudan, including the signing of an initial framework agreement between the Forces for Freedom and Change and the military junta. 

The committee met a delegation from UNITAMS on Thursday after they visited West Darfur detainees in El Huda prison on Wednesday, said Hasan. The delegation will visit the detainees in Port Sudan prison on Sunday.  

He stressed that the delegation did not provide any details about its visit to El Huda prison, as “UN processes do not allow for details to be discussed before conclusions are reached.”  

He considered this inconsistent with the current situation of the detainees, stressing that detainees need to be reassured, as soon as possible, that something will be done about the situation. Any alleged promises being made about the release of the detainees are “not serious,” he said.

Police brutality

A number of main roads in El Fasher were closed on Thursday by demonstrations against the killing of Mohamed Musa by state police forces. Demonstrators called for the extradition of Musa’s killer. Musa was a Sudanese national from El Safa neighbourhood, north of El Fasher. 

The livestock-market road was closed, along with two other roads. Transport was suspended as a result. 

A relative of Musa told Radio Dabanga that someone called him because they were selling a cart. Musa went to the market and was immediately raided by the police. Musa’s relative called on the state governor to intervene and hand over the perpetrator.

On September 16, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) expressed its deep concerns over the continued violations of human rights by law enforcers in Sudan.

“Sudan’s political actors and international partners should ensure that progress on human rights and accountability for serious human rights violations are central to any new transition”, Human Rights Watch said in a statement published on Tuesday.

Political manoeuvering

In August, the DBA and partners reported the detention of at least 197 people by the RSF in West Darfur in a mass detention campaign that targeted tribal leaders who refused to partake in reconciliation efforts led by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and other activists, teachers, students, and farmers. Several people disappeared. 350 Darfuris were being illegally detained in prisons throughout Sudan in November, according to the DBA. All were detained without any legal justification, mostly by the RSF.  

31 detainees were released on bail from prison in El Fasher and Omdurman on November 17. The detention of these people is “political and administrative corruption,” two human rights groups said. “They are tampering with the law, authority, and human rights in North Darfur.”

A visit by Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to the former head of the Empowerment Removal Committee* (ERC) and member of the FFC Executive Office, Wajdi Saleh, in November was dubbed as a "political move" by DBA lawyer Igbal Ahmed Ali. Ali indicated that Saleh's detention was directly related to negotiations over the new FFC-military framework agreement.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga last month, spokesperson for the FFC, El Wasig El Bereir, said that it would not be possible to sign any kind of agreement before releasing Saleh and other political activists, including resistance committee members.

Saleh was released on bail on December 4, meanwhile, a trial of four young men accused of killing a police officer was adjourned because one member of the group, Mohamed Adam, "showed severe signs of beating on his head and legs, and his mouth was bleeding." On Sunday, Defence team lawyer Eman Hasan told Radio Dabanga that Adam's life may be in danger.

Upon news of Saleh's release, Kholood Khair, broadcaster and managing partner of Insight Strategy Partners, tweeted about the significance of the timing in comparison to the authorities' treatment of Adam, nicknamed Tupac. "The regime uses Tupac and the others as political pawns, same as Wajdi. I think it's telling that they prioritise releasing Wajdi, [doing] the bare minimum and in the interest of their new partners, rather than dismiss the charges against protestors who have popular support behind them," she said.

* The full name of the committee is the Committee for Dismantling the June 30 1989 Regime, Removal of Empowerment and Corruption and Recovery of Public Funds. It was established by the government of Abdallah Hamdok in November 2019 with the aim to purge Sudan of the remnants of the ousted regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir (1989-2019). Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the Al Bashir government supported its affiliates by granting them far-going privileges, including government functions, the setting-up of various companies, and tax exemptions.