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Renewed demand to release remaining Darfur detainees

August 27 - 2019 DARFUR
Vigil in Khartoum calling for the release of janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, August 22, 2019 (social media)
Vigil in Khartoum calling for the release of janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, August 22, 2019 (social media)

The wife of detainee Ali Rizgallah, known as “Savanah,” demands the Sudanese Sovereign Council and the Prime Minister release her husband and minor brother who were arrested more than two years ago in Darfur.

Zuhour Haroun said that her husband and her 15-year-old brother were detained on November 11, 2017 in North Darfur.

Their detention was related to the arrest of former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, the leader of Mahameed and the Revolutionary Awakening Council, who remains in detention along with his sons and hundreds of his supporters, despite the fall of the ousted regime of Omar Al Bashir.

She said, since then, she has not seen them or been allowed to visit or find out where they are, leaving the family in great concern.

She went to the security service to find out where he was being held and was told he was held by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) government militia led by Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan Hemeti, deputy chairman of the Sovereign Council.

Haroun wondered why her husband and minor brother remain in prison in an unknown place and are not allowed visits orcontact with family while all other political detainees opposing the former regime, including members of armed movements, have been released.

She called on the Sovereign Council and the Prime Minister to release them immediately or put them on trial if there is a charge against them justifying their prosecution.

Musa Hilal

In 2017, after years of close cooperation, Musa Hilal had become a thorn in the side of Khartoum.

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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