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Sudan: Revolutionary Awakening Council detainees on hunger strike

August 29 - 2019 OMDURMAN
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)

Members of Sudan’s Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC) detained in Omdurman prison, have entered into a hunger strike to protest their continued detention, in spite of the fall of the Al Bashir regime in April.

The 10 RAC members were detained in November 2017 in relation to the arrest of former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, the leader of Mahameed and founder of the RAC, who also remains in detention along with his sons.

The spokesman for the RAC, Ahmed Abakar, told Radio Dabanga on Tuesday that the 10 detainees entered into the strike as they have spent two years in a military prison in Omdurman “during which they have been subjected to systematic ill-treatment by the prison authorities and deprived of their most basic rights such as medical treatment and to meet their relatives through visits”.

Abakar called on the competent authorities, human rights, organisations and political activists to  resolve the cases of arbitrary detention and release them. He added that the [Al Bashir] regime that arrested them has fallen.

The detainees on hunger strike in Omdurman prison are El Kheir Mohamed, Abdallah Adam, Mohamed Bakheet, Mohamed Yahya, Adam Yahya, Abdelrahim Salih, Ahmed Jibril, Abdu Ibrahim, Saeed Mousa, and Yahya Abakar.

As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, relatives of Musa Hilal organised a vigil in front of the office of the Sudanese Professionals Association in Khartoum last week, demanding his release. The Revolutionary Awakening Council also called for the release of Hilal and hundreds of his affiliates arrested on November 26, 2017.

The wife of detainee Ali Rizgallah, known as ‘Savanah’, demanded the transitional Sovereign Council and the Prime Minister release her husband and 15-year-old brother. Zuhour Haroun said that her husband and her brother were detained on November 11, 2017 in North Darfur.

Musa Hilal

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

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 measures. On 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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