Conducive Environment Watch: November 2014
The Conducive Environment Watch blog tracks the Government of Sudan’s commitment to creating a favorable setting for democratic transformation, providing a monthly update on human rights violations, repression, any notable improvements, and other democracy related developments.
This issue looks at events covering 1 – 30 November 2014.
Allegations of rape in Tabit village, Darfur
- On 2 November, Dabanga news site reported that on 31 October 2014, Sudanese soldiers belonging to Tabit military garrison invaded and “collectively raped more than 200 girls and women” in Tabit Village located 45 Kilometers South-West of El-Fasher, the capital city of North Darfur state. The online news outlet published audio testimonies to some of the female victims of the attacks. On 5 November, the joint African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) issued a press release declaring that the Government of Sudan denied them permission to conduct an investigation on the allegations. Four days later the Mission reported that they were finally given access to the village and conducted an investigation declaring: “The team neither found any evidence nor received any information regarding the media allegations during the period in question”. The UNAMID press release also stated, “UNAMID intends to conduct further follow-up actions on the matter; including possible further investigations and patrols; in coordination with relevant host authorities and in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the Government of Sudan and UNAMID.” Many reports by journalists and activists including the former Spokesperson of UNAMID, Aicha Elbasri have criticized the investigation and its credibility indicating that the interviews were conducted in the presence of personnel from the Sudanese Army and created an environment of intimidation within the community.
- On 20 November, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdallah al-Azraq told reporters in a press conference that the government has informed UNAMID to prepare to leave the country.
- On 23 November, UNAMID said it received a formal request from the government of Sudan to close the Mission’s human rights office in Khartoum.
Freedom of Expression and Association
Crackdown on Newspapers and Prosecution of Journalists (the main source of this section is regular statements in Arabic by Sudanese Journalists for Human Rights, JHR):
- On 8 November, prints and journalism prosecutor of Khartoum interrogated the Editor in Chief and General Editor of Alsaiha newspaper for publishing news on an intelligence network in Port Sudan, Eastern Sudan affiliated with what the newspaper described “some Arab countries”.
- On 9 November, prints and journalism prosecutor of Khartoum interrogated journalist Abdallah Elsheikh of Akhir Lahza newspaper. Elsheikh was arrested for publishing two articles condemning the eviction and detention of female students from the University of Khartoum’s dormitories.
- On 5 November, prints and journalism prosecutor of Medani interrogated Ali Eldali of Altayar newspaper for publishing information about an allegation of corruption at the University of the Holy Quran.
- On 13 November, in Algazeera state, the first session of the trial of Abdelnasir Alhaj Emam, a journalist at Aljareeda newspaper took place. Abdelnasir reported allegations of corruption on the general trade union in Algazeera state.
- On 16 November, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) confiscated issues of Alakhbar and Alwatan newspapers from Aldwalya printing company without giving clarification.
- On 26 November, the first session of the trial against Aisha Elsamani in Alnuhoud, West Kordofan took place. The journalist was accused of photographing a military location in Annuhoud’s prison during the detention of Ibrahim Elsheikh, Head of the Sudanese Congress Party.
Crackdown on Civil Society
On 10 November, the Humanitarian Affairs Commission (HAC) shut down the Badya Centre for Integrated Development and according to the Sudanese news site Altareeq (AR), no formal explanation was given to the Centre. The organization’s office in Khartoum was raided and a force from HAC confiscated all computers and other equipment in the office. It’s worth mentioning that this is the third organization to be closed since the beginning of this year, as in June, Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre was closed and in September the government closed the Centre for Civil Society Development.
Crackdown on Students
- On 22 November, Bahri University in Khartoum dismissed 13 students. The dismissed students led a protest calling for the implementation of the Doha Peace Agreement and the Abuja Agreement regarding the exemption of the students from Darfur from university tuition fees.
- On 26 November, the University of Kordofan (North Kordofan State) permanently expelled 100 students for participating in a four-day strike calling for a better education environment and on the fifth day, security forces invaded the university campus confronting the students on strike. As a result, some of the university assets were burned. In a statement (AR) submitted to local news sites, the dismissed students alleged the university issued its decision without following the legal process of forming an investigation committee.
Detentions of Activists
- On 28 November, Ahmed elsir Ahmed Abdelhamid, a 27 year-old member of the National Umma Party, was abducted by security forces near the Big Mosque in downtown Khartoum after Friday prayer.
- NISS continue to detain activists for months without charges:
- Haj Gadim Azrag, a prominent Sudanese lawyer working with a legal aid and advocacy group, the Nuba Bar Association has been detained since 23 June. Azrag was detained from his law firm in downtown Khartoum, no charges have been brought against Azrag and his family was allowed to visit him only once.
- Rashid Abash, 35 years old and the head of the youth resistance committee to the building of Dal and Kajbar dams and the owner of Abash printing company continues to be detained since 23 September.
- Abdelsalam Kisha, 23 years old and student at Al Nilen University is still detained since the evening of 6 October, according to Sudan Rights group, the second year law student has received a threatening phone call from NISS in the morning of his detention.
- On 23 November NISS in Gedarif state, Eastern Sudan detained Jafar Khidir, founding member of Khalas Algedarif (Gedarif Salvation) Initiative from a protest organized by the initiative calling for proper investigation to the allegation of mass rape case in Tabit, North Darfur. Khidir spent one day in detention before he was released on 24 November without charges.
Raids and Evictions
On 2 November, riot police raided Almothalath neighborhood in Eastern Soba, suburb of Khartoum; the police burnt dozens of houses and fired live bullet on citizens, for resisting forced eviction to the inhabitances of the area to be sold to an investing company; two people were shot, dozens were injured and at least 28 arrested.
Detention of Tribal Leaders in Blue Nile
On 23 November, NISS in Blue Nile arrested five tribal leaders for a week after their return from Khartoum, the delegation of five tribal leaders spent 10 days in Khartoum to deliver a petition on behalf of their constituencies calling for peace and development in the war affected state. The detained leaders were:
- Abdelmalik Adam Hamdan, king of the southern part of the state
- Ummda Badai Khalifa Kabbas, Ulu
- Ummda Ibrahim, Kaili
- Ummda Khalid Madani, Bak
- Alnair Hamid, Bot delegate Ummda
Restrictions on the work of opposition parties
- On 2 November, NISS in Blue Nile state arrested Suliman Ali, the Political Secretary of the Communist Party in the state. On the day of his detention, Ali delivered a petition to the General Prosecution in Eldamizin calling for the immediate release of two members of the party and an owner of a printing shop in the city for printing a statement by the Party.
- On 27 November, local authority in Sharg Alneel locality in Khartoum denied permission to the Baath Party to conduct a public event planned to take place on 5 December in the area.
- On 28 November, NISS arrested two members of the Baath Party, Adam Mohamed Elhassan (33 years old) and Abdallah Ekhaishin (40 years old) for distributing brochures calling citizens to boycott the 2015 elections and to overthrow the regime.