‘Wide participation’ in Sudan transitional justice workshops – events in Kassala, Blue Nile, ‘thwarted by Humanitarian Aid Commissioners’

Tomoko Kubota, Head of Regional Office of UNITAMS in South Kordofan, addresses the opening session of a workshop on transitional justice issues (Photo: SUNA)


Workshops preparing for the dialogue conference on justice and transitional justice in Khartoum, that is planned to take place later this month, were launched in a number of states on Sunday, reportedly attracting “wide community participation”. However, the workshops for the eastern Sudan in Kassala and in Blue Nile region (including Sennar) were prohibited ‘on security grounds’, allegedly ‘by order of the Humanitarian Aid Commissioner.

The workshops, facilitated by the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), African Union (AU), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) trilateral mechanism for Sudan, come within the framework of the current political process that it is hoped will lead to a final agreement with the ruling junta, and to the formation of a civilian government. The authorities in Kassala and Blue Nile region prohibited the workshops.

Adeeb Abdelrahman, Director of the People for People Organisation and the supervisor of the three-day workshop for the Darfur region, told Radio Dabanga that the workshop was launched in Nyala, capital of South Darfur, on Sunday morning “with wide participation from people from the five states of Darfur”.

He said that the list of participants includes displaced people (mostly farmers) and herders, representatives of the signatories to the Framework Agreement, along with a number of other stakeholders.

“The participants in the workshop are divided into six working groups to discuss six issues, namely human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity, land issues, youth, displacement and the effects of war, pastoralists and farmers, and institutional reform issues,” he explained, and stressed the specificity of the situation in Darfur.

“We also talked about the importance of giving the communities themselves the opportunity to conclude real reconciliations,” a participant reported. “Instead of the sham reconciliations that take place under government pressure, which do not address the dangers of the security crisis.”

The participants warned of the consequences of the impunity enjoyed by the military and security forces.

“A second important point is the authorities’ failure to prosecute the perpetrators killing innocent people, raping women, plundering properties, by which the attackers can continue as they like,” another participant told Radio Dabanga.

The workshop for the Kordofan region started on Saturday, in the Kadugli Training Centre in South Kordofan.

On the second day, “the workshop witnessed serious discussions on the important and positive impact of transitional justice for the victims,” West Kordofani Muhyildin Mustafa told Radio Dabanga. “The workshop came at the right time to discuss the impact of the civil war and the violence on lands where oil is extracted on the people.”

Abdelrahim Juma from El Nehoud in West Kordofan noted that “a workshop on transitional justice has not been held since independence, which increases the importance of holding them at a time when many areas in Sudan are still witnessing ethnic cleansing, killing, and displacement”.

Workshop prohibited

While the workshop on (transitional) justice in the Central Sudan region started as planned in Khartoum on Saturday, the Kassala Security Committee prevented the workshop for the Eastern Sudan region from taking place under the pretext of security reasons. The authorities in Blue Nile region (including Sennar) stopped the workshop after it was launched in Ed Damazin on Sunday.

Mustafa Adam, Director of Zargaa Centre and supervisor of the transitional justice workshops told Radio Dabanga that the workshop was stopped by order of the Blue Nile region Humanitarian Aid Commissioner.

He said that a police brigadier came to the hotel where the workshop was held, and informed the hotel administration to stop the activities by order of the Blue Nile Security Committee, “though the officer could not present any written decision from the committee”.

The government secretariat of the Blue Nile region told the organisers to contact the Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, “but we were unable to meet him because he was not in his office”.

Regarding the workshop in Kassala, Hamrour Hussein, prominent member of the People’s Front for Liberation and Justice and participant in the workshop, reported that the state Security Committee and the Humanitarian Aid Commission had given the organisers the green light for the workshop.

On Saturday however, the workshop was prohibited, he told Radio Dabanga on Sunday. “The participants who came from Red Sea state, Kassala, and El Gedaref are still in hotels in Kassala awaiting a solution to the problem.”

The outcomes of the workshops will be submitted to the conference that will be held on March 16 in Khartoum.

The offices of the Humanitarian Aid Commissioners have been approached for comment.