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Sudan: Protestors mark fourth anniversary of detention of former janjaweed leader

November 27 - 2020 KHARTOUM / DARFUR
Relatives and supporters of Musa Hilal call for his release on November 26 (Social media)
Relatives and supporters of Musa Hilal call for his release on November 26 (Social media)

A number of protests calling for the release of former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal took place in Khartoum and a number of Darfur state capitals yesterday, organised by his relatives and supporters.

November 26 marked four years since the detention of Hilal and his supporters, the Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC), founded in North Darfur in 2014.

The protestors marched to the Public Prosecution in Khartoum, calling on the office to intervene to release the detainees.

The memorandum stated that the detention of Musa Hilal and his companions was ordered by ousted president Omar Al Bashir, expressing their surprise that they were not released after the fall of the regime. The statement ask for justification over “all Al Bashir's decisions being cancelled except for the detention of Hilal and members of the RAC.”

Since last year, relatives and supporters of Hilal have been organising vigils and demonstrations in Darfur and Khartoum in protest against the prolonged detention without charge of their leader, his relatives, and his followers.

Yesterday, they handed over a memorandum addressed to the heads of the Sovereign Council, the Council of Ministers, and the Attorney General. It called for the inclusion of RAC detainees in the general amnesty granted on November 12 to “all those who carried weapons or participated in any military operation, war operation, or any act or statement related to combat operations,” including rebel groups who signed the Juba Peace Agreement.

Those against whom arrest warrants have been issued by the International Criminal Court or those who otherwise face criminal charges and lawsuits for the crime of genocide or crimes against humanity are excluded from the amnesty.

Hilal’s supporters say that RAC detainees who bore arms are included in the amnesty as they took up arms against a defunct regime, and other detainees belong to the social component of the RAC.

Musa Hilal was detained, together with a number of his relatives and followers, in a raid on his stronghold in Misteriya, North Darfur, in November 2017. He was immediately transferred to a prison in Khartoum. His trial secretly began on April 30, 2018.

Hilal is held responsible for numerous atrocities committed in Darfur against civilians after the conflict erupted in 2003. With full government backing, his militiamen, popularly called janjaweed, targeted villages of African Darfuris.

In March, the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) denounced the continued detention of RAC members and their leader since November 2017. “There is no legal ground for the detention of these people under the transitional government, they must release all those who were detained for political reasons during Al Bashir regime.”

Sources claim that Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, Commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, was behind the arrest of Hilal in 2017, and took over the operation of the mines.

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