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Sudan’s NISS detain son of agricultural activist

July 2 - 2018 KHARTOUM NORTH
Farmers of the El Gezira Agricultural Scheme face irrigation problems (RD file photo)
Farmers of the El Gezira Agricultural Scheme face irrigation problems (RD file photo)

Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) have detained the son of a senior leader of El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme in Khartoum for one day.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a neighbour reported that NISS officers held Abdelsalam Hasabo, the son of Hasabo Ibrahim, senior leader of El Gezira and El Managil Scheme and the Civil Society Initiative, from their house in El Doroshab in Khartoum North on Sunday..

“A group of security agents stormed the house of Hasabo Ibrahim, seized his son, and took him to an unknown destination,” he said.

Abdelsalam Hasabo was released today. He was not available for comments, his relatives said.

Eighty-year-old Hasabo Ibrahim himself was briefly detained by the security apparatus on December 27 last year.

A colleague told this station that Ibrahim was held and questioned after he addressed a seminar organised by the Democratic Lawyers Association in Khartoum the week before. During his speech, Ibrahim presented a number of documents that show the authorities’ obstruction of the establishment of a cooperative farmers’ movement at the Scheme.

“This is a clear attempt to obstruct the Association’s efforts to re-establish the Farmers Union,” another colleague commented.

Farmers Union dissolved

The El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme, located between the Blue and White Niles, south of Khartoum, used to be one of the world’s largest irrigation projects. For nearly eighty years, it remained the sole source of hard currency for the country, through the cultivation of cotton. During the last few decades, however, the cotton production was reduced to less than 100,000 acres.

In late 2014, President Al Bashir described the Scheme as a burden on the country’s budget.

Early September 2015, the Agriculture Ministry amended the El Gezira Scheme Act, aimed at transferring land ownership to the private sector and foreign investors. The Farmers Union was replaced by ‘work associations’.

Hasabo Ibrahim warned in June 2016 for the consequences of Khartoum’s “destructive agricultural policies”. He said that a large number of irrigation channels have been removed by the authorities during the past years.

“This has led to the destruction of a part of the irrigation system as the desperate farmers resorted to digging wells arbitrarily. The situation in turn led to widespread destruction of farmlands in El Gezira and El Managil,” he explained.

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