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US ‘deeply concerned’ by arrests and detentions in Sudan

February 15 - 2018 KHARTOUM
US Embassy in Khartoum (File photo)
US Embassy in Khartoum (File photo)

The United States Embassy in Sudan has issued a statement expressing its concern at the many arrests and detentions carried out by the Sudanese authorities in response to public protests against rising commodity prices, flour and fuel shortages, and skyrocketing inflation.

In the statement issued today, the US Embassy in Khartoum says it is “deeply concerned by the continued arrests and detentions of hundreds of political leaders, activists and ordinary citizens, many of whom are being held in inhumane and degrading conditions, and without access to lawyers or family”.

“The United States believes in every Sudanese’s right to enjoy fundamental freedoms, including the rights to peacefully assemble without recrimination.”

The statement continues: “The United States believes in every Sudanese’s right to enjoy fundamental freedoms, including the rights to peacefully assemble without recrimination.”

The statement concludes that “the United States remains committed to working with Sudan for progress on a range of issues, to include protecting human rights and freedoms for all Sudanese, in support of a peaceful and democratic Sudan”.

Protests

Five opposition leaders were held in the Sennar capital of Singa on January 31, together with eight others, because they participated in a public protest against the recent austerity measures of the Sudanese government.

They were charged with rioting and causing public nuisance. Four of them were released the next day. Eight others, among them Adam and El Naeem, on February 7. The last detainee, Munir Abdallah Mohamed, student at the Faculty of Education of the University of Sennar, was discharged from NISS custody on February 8.

Khartoum

Opposition leaders were also detained in Khartoum which was the scene of mass public protests through January. Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained more opposition leaders in Khartoum on February 1.

Asma Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, Secretary-General of the Republican Party, Kamal Ismail, head of the National Alliance Party, and lawyer Mohamed El Hafiz were held during a meeting of opposition forces in El Manshiya in Khartoum on February 1.

Mohamed Faroug, spokesman for the members of the Sudan Call (a communique calling for regime change, signed by the main opposition forces in December 2014) was detained from his home on the same evening.

In a press statement the next day, the allied opposition said they consider the arrests “a desperate attempt by the regime to suppress peaceful protests against its starvation budget.

Press targeted

In January, the Sudanese authorities confiscated more than one edition of at least four newspapers.

Freelance journalist Amal Habani and El Midan correspondent Kamal Karrar were held on January 16 and have been held by the NISS without providing details about their detention. Radio Dabanga reported earlier that Habani was allegedly hit with an electric baton during an interrogation.

Many other journalists, including correspondents of Reuters and AFP, who were detained while covering anti-price hikes protests in the past few weeks have been released.

In 2017, the USA recently lifted a raft of economic sanctions on Sudan, however the decision leaves other sanctions in place for the time being, including those against individuals with arrest warrants related to atrocities committed during the conflict in Darfur. And it does not remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The Trump administration lifted the sanctions on Sudan "In recognition of the Government of Sudan's sustained positive actions to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan, improve humanitarian access throughout Sudan, and maintain cooperation with the USA on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism".

However Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir was critical of 'agressive American acts' during a meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Sochi at the end of last year.


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