Sudanese human rights champion Dr Mudawi Ibrahim, who has been in detention in Khartoum's infamous Kober prison since December last year, was released late last night – along with five other detainees – in accordance with a Republican decree issued by President Omar Al Bashir.
Dr Mudawi’s family confirmed to Radio Dabanga that Dr Mudawi was released late last night and is at home.
In a terse statement last night, the official Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) announced that Al Bashir “issued, Tuesday, a Republican decree pardoning the defendants in the criminal case No. (22/2017)”. The agency also announced Al Bashir's declaration of a State of Emergency in North Kordofan.
Dr Mudawi was arrested on December 7 from the campus of Khartoum University, where he lectures in engineering.
His detention prompted a chorus of condemnation for the highest levels of the international community including the United Nations and African Union. Dr Mudawi embarked on several hunger strikes during his detention and his family appealed repeatedtly to the Sudanese government to release him.
In May, the prosecution charged Dr Mudawi on six charges including ‘undermining the constitutional system’ and ‘waging war against the state', both of which carry either the death penalty or life imprisonment. All charges against him have now been dropped.
Prisoner of conscience
Amnesty International has been very vocal in campaigning for Dr Mudawi’s release, and reacted with relief to the news of his release and that all charges against him have been dropped.
Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, told Radio Dabanga: “It is a great relief that this awful chapter has drawn to a close. Dr Mudawi, a prisoner of conscience, has been reunited with his family and is once again a free man.
“Dr Mudawi’s eight months in prison represent a grave miscarriage of justice and his release must serve as a first step towards ending the criminalisation of human rights work in Sudan. The authorities’ relentless assault on any form of criticism endangers anyone who dares to speak out, and it must stop.”
Human rights defender
Dr Mudawi Ibrahim is a human rights defender and engineer known for his role in exposing human rights violations in Darfur. He is the founder and former director of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO), which works on human rights as well as water, sanitation and health.
He has repeatedly been jailed for charges related to his human rights work. In recognition of his perseverance in promoting and defending human rights in Sudan, Dr Ibrahim received the inaugural Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk in 2005.
In December 2003 he was detained for eight months in connection with his work on Darfur. He was arrested again in January 2005 in similar circumstances and held for two months, before being re-arrested in May the same year and held for a further eight days.
In 2005, the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders awarded Dr Mudawi with the Front Line Award. The award was presented to his wife and daughter by the President of Ireland in Dublin on 13 May, as Dr Mudawi was in detention in Khartoum after having been arrested for the third time in eighteen months on 9 May. He was released again a week later.
He won the Human Rights First Award in the same year. In 2012, he was awarded the Jonas Weiss Prize “for his work against the abuse, killings and displacement of peoples in Darfur and other human rights violations in Sudan”.
During the 2014 Front Line Defenders Ceremony in Dublin, Dr Mudawi gave a speech in which he also elaborated on his previous detentions. On their website, Front Line Defenders called for the release of and support for the human rights defender.