Emergency Lawyers to Sudan intelligence: ‘activists are not the enemy’

A mural in Omdurman calling for freedom, March 2022 (File photo: RD)

A lawyer, a teacher, and a civil servant were held by military intelligence officers in the north and the south of Sudan this week. Army commanders should realise that ‘their battle is not against activists, actors, human rights defenders, and other unarmed civilians,’ Emergency Lawyers said in a statement. Both the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been accused of detaining numerous activists and volunteers in Khartoum state since the start of the war.

On Wednesday, Mohamed Zein, member of the Emergency Lawyers, was detained by Military Intelligence (MI) in Abu Hamed, River Nile state.

Zein is a human rights defender and member of multiple teams defending activists and volunteers held by the SAF, Emergency Lawyers said in a statement yesterday.

“He is one of the active actors within the emergency lawyers organisation. He has been pleading in police departments, prosecution offices, and courtrooms for those accused of arbitrary and fabricated charges,” the statement said.  

The activist lawyers hold the MI in River Nile state “fully responsible for the safety of lawyer Mohamed Zein” and demand his immediate release.

They said that SAF commanders should realise that “the army’s battle is not against activists, actors, human rights defenders, and other unarmed civilians”. These detentions “will be added to their records full of human rights violations”.


In Kadugli, capital of South Kordofan, MI agents detained a woman teacher and a state government employee on Thursday, without giving a reason.

Their detentions were widely condemned by the city’s residents, sources told Radio Dabanga.  

“MI arrested teacher Noha Abdelfattah from her home at about 6:00 on Thursday morning. A little later, Mohammed Kartkila, an employee working for the locality of Kadugli, was held from his home, and taken to the MI offices in the city.”

The sources noted that both the South Kordofan MI and the General Intelligence Service (GIS) are persecuting activists in Kadugli. “Most often, they are accused of spying for the SPLM-N, also when they are only protesting human rights violations in the area or calling for the payment of their dues.”

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North mainstream faction under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) has attacked several army bases in the Nuba Mountains since the war between the army and the paramilitary RSF broke out in mid-April.

Human rights activists in Kadugli say that the detentions by the MI are ethically motivated against the African Nuba tribes living in South Kordofan. “The killings and detentions made on ethnic and religious grounds are reminiscent of the practices of the security forces in Kadugli in the first half of the nineties.”


The resistance committees of El Kalakla El Gubba in southwest Khartoum yesterday called for the “immediate release” of Waleed El Siddig, one of their members, who was held from his home in the neighbourhood by RSF paramilitaries 17 days ago.

On Tuesday, the Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) condemned the increasing number of assaults by the RSF against journalists, doctors, lawyers, members of resistance committees, and other activists. “These human rights violations, including detention, torture, and sometimes even killing, are systematic and deliberate,” the network claimed.

Both the Sudanese army and the RSF have been accused of holding hundreds of activists and volunteers in Khartoum state since the start of the war. In late July, Reuters cited human rights organisations that reported that more than 5,000 people were being held by RSF paramilitaries in inhumane conditions in the country’s capital.

Earlier this month, Sudan’s public prosecutor reportedly filed criminal cases against the RSF for enforced disappearances and sexual assaults.