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North Darfur academics protest RSF homes near campus

September 5 - 2019 EL FASHER / KUTUM
An armed column of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in North Darfur (archive photo).
An armed column of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in North Darfur (archive photo).

On Wednesday, dozens of professors and staff at the University of El Fasher staged a protest in front of the university director’s office to demand stop the allocation of large areas of land near the campus to members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) government militia.

Participants in the vigil condemned the continued silence of the government on this issue, calling on Acting Governor Malik Khojali to declare his clear and explicit position in the case.

One of the organisers of the vigil, who asked not to be named, told Darfur 24 that the university administration recently received a letter from the state’s Ministry of Urban Planning that 139 residential plots west of the university are to be given to members of the RSF.

He added that all professors and workers reject the measures. “These areas are extensions of the faculties of Resources, Animal Production, and Agriculture that belong to the university.”

The feared and notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF) main government militia, under command of Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, also a military member of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, is accused of widespread atrocities against civilians over many years.

In a statement by Amnesty International carried by Radio Dabanga last week, the international human rights organisation calls on the Khartoum government to withdraw the ‘trigger-happy’ paramilitaries from all law enforcement activities across the country.

Musa Hilal

On Wednesday, the people of Damrat El Sheikh Abdelbagi in Kutum locality in North Darfur organised a protest vigil to demand the release of former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, leader of the Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC), and his sons and comrades, who have been held in an Omdurman prison for almost two years.

Participants in the vigil held pictures of the detainees and banners calling for their release and called on the Sovereign Council and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdouk to release all political prisoners and detainees without any conditions as soon as possible.

They considered the failure to release the detainees a conspiracy aimed at isolating them from the political process now underway and appealed to the Forces for Freedom and Change to pressure their government to release the political prisoners and prisoners of war.

They also appealed to justice agencies and human rights organisations to pressure the interim government to release the detainees.

A similar demonstrations was held in Misteriya in North Darfur on Sunday, while RAC members detained in Omdurman prison – El Kheir Mohamed, Abdallah Adam, Mohamed Bakheet, Mohamed Yahya, Adam Yahya, Abdelrahim Salih, Ahmed Jibril, Abdu Ibrahim, Saeed Mousa, and Yahya Abakar – have entered into a hunger strike to protest their continued detention, in spite of the fall of the Al Bashir regime in April.

RAC

The relationship between Hilal and Khartoum began in 2003. After Darfuri rebels took up arms against the government in February that year, Khartoum assigned Hilal, chief of the Arab Mahameed clan in North Darfur, as recruiter of militant Arab pastoralists (popularly called janjaweed) in Darfur.

With the full backing of the government, his militiamen targeted unarmed African Darfuri villagers, but they rarely came near forces of the rebel movements. In 2006, the UN Security Council imposed financial and travel sanctions on Hilal.

Hilal’s stance towards the ruling regime changed over the years. Mid 2013, he returned from Khartoum to his base in North Darfur, where his fighters, mainly members of the paramilitary Border Guards, launched widespread attacks on government forces and allied militias.

In March 2014, he established the Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC), consisting of native administration leaders and militants from various tribes in north-western Darfur, who profited from vast gold sales in Darfur, according to a UN Security Council report in April 2016.

When the Sudanese government announced a nationwide disarmament campaign in July 2017, the RAC and Border Guards opposed the measuresOn November 26, a large force of RSF militiamen raided the stronghold of Hilal in North Darfur, arrested him and his entourage, and transferred them to Khartoum. Hilal’s trial began, secretly, on April 30, 2018.


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