Title: The National Committee for the advocacy of Ibrahim al Shaikh
Author: سيف اليزل سعد عمر
Date: 06-30-2014, 04:46 PM
The National Committee for the advocacy of Ibrahim al Shaikh
Release No. 1
Khartoum - 29/6/2014
On Friday, June 6, 2014, Ustz. Ibrahim al Shaikh, the Chairman of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), in an open public speech organized by the party in al Nuhud, West Kordufan, criticized the militia nature and questionable way of formation of the so called Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which are affiliated to the security organ. Ibrahim al Shaikh in his criticism of these forces was courageous enough to point to their bad record with regard to human rights violations in Darfur, South and North Kordufan. He further rejected the deployment of these forces in Khartoum, the Capital, under the pretext of protecting it while there was a national army whose responsibility was to defend the whole country let alone the Capital.
In the early hours of Sunday June 8, a heavy armed force seemingly of the very same RSFs, besieged the house of Ibrahim al Shaikh who turned out not to be there at the moment as he was doing his morning prayers in the nearby mosque. Immediately upon his return, he was arrested. Even though the day before (Saturday June 7) was the weekend, the procedures of Ibrahim al Skaikh’s arrest and charges were expedited with the prosecutor being exceptionally summoned into work. On Sunday, June 8, five charges were leveled against Ibrahim al Shaikh under the Sudanese Criminal Act of 1991, namely the articles 159 (defamation), 69 (disturbance of public peace), 66 (Publication of false news), 62 (inciting feeling of unrest among disciplined forces and abatement of disturbing order), and most gravely article 50 (undermining the constitutional system) which makes the defendant subject to capital punishment (Whoever commits any act with the intention of undermining the constitutional system of the country, or exposing to danger the unity and independence thereof, shall be punished with death, life imprisonment, or for a lesser period. He may be subject of forfeiture of all his property). Since then, Ibrahim al Shaikh has been in the prison of al Nuhud town (along with a group of his party members) waiting for his trial which already held its first session on June 12 but was adjourned due to the unmethodical withdrawal of the case by the prosecutor.
The comments made by Ibrahim al Shaikh came in the context of similar comments made by many political leaders and commentators (including al Sadig al Mahdi, the Imam of al Ansar Sect and the Chairman of Umma Party who also faced the same charges as Ibrahim al Shaikh but was released after held in prison for more than a month) at the wake of deploying three brigades of the so called Rapid Support Forces (6.000 soldiers) in Khartoum by the third week of May 2014. The notorious RSFs face allegations of having committed wide ranges of crimes against humanity in Darfur, South and North Kordufan during the very last few years. It was alleged that the RSFs were employed in suppressing the uprising of September in Khartoum last year, a matter that culminated in over 200 casualties. The RSFs are led by high rank security officers, however on the ground they are led by a semi-literate man of militia background with the rank of brigadier. In his interrogation, Ibrahim al Shaikh challenged his interrogator to name either the military or Police College in which the leader of the RSFs was graduated.
The Formation of the National Committee of Advocacy
Immediately after the arrest of Ibrahim al Shaikh, a team of legal experts and lawyers was formed for his defense. The team of lawyers is headed by the lawyer Sati’ al Haj. It took immediate action in preparing the defense; the team was there in al Nuhud on the day the first session of the trial was supposed to be held. Along with this legal team, the present committee of advocacy was negotiated and eventually formed on a national level. With utmost appreciation, we declare that all free and democratic political parties and personalities have participated with true zeal and enthusiasm in the formation of this national committee of advocacy (NCA). Many personalities of profession, opinion, and letters renowned on the national level heeded the call to join the NCA. Two founding meetings were held in Khartoum (on 21 and 25 June 2014) upon which an executive committee was elected. Besides personal membership, the NCA accepts partnership of bodies, whether political parties, NGOs or youth and women organizations. The representatives of these bodies are considered as members in the NCA (a list of all members and partners will be released soon). The NCA, which is in a state of ongoing convention, is going to function through its partnership of all the above mentioned institutions. It will keep addressing the public through such releases and publicly through mass-addressing platforms made available by its above partners.
The Advocacy of Ibrahim al Shaikh
We, in the he NCA, demand the immediate release of Ibrahim al Shaikh and all political detainees in all parts of the country. Hereby, we declare that we stand by the contention that what Ibrahim al Shaikh has said with regard to the militia background and constitutionally questionable formation of the RSFs and all accusations of human rights violations and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by them either in Darfur or South and North Kordufan should not be incriminated by any law. It is against the Interim Constitution of 2005 for the security service to have such forces. Article 151, Clause 3, reads as follows: “The National Security Service shall be professional and its mandate shall focus on information gathering, analysis and advice to the appropriate authorities”. This article shows clearly that the formation of the RFSs is unconstitutional. Therefore a red line should not be drawn against the discussing of such issues that are directly related to the safety of civilians and the public, by either conscience writers or journalists and in particular by the leaders of political parties. According to the constitution, it is those very leaders of political parties who will contest for the national leadership through the upcoming national elections. It is worth mentioning that the international independent inspector on Human Rights, in his press conference which was held in Khartoum on 24/6/2014, pointed his finger of accusation to the atrocities attributed to the RSFs. So how come that such grave allegations can be discussed openly in Khartoum by international personalities when the same right is denied to national political leaders?
The NCA considers the case of Ibrahim al Shaikh as a true test to how serious and genuine the government is in its call for national dialogue. The immediate release of Ibrahim al Shaikh and all other political detainees all over the country will be the right step to begin with if it is that keen about building trust. Censorship and confiscation of the newspapers and restrictions on freedom of speech and expression should immediately be lifted. The nullification of all anti-democratic laws and acts is a precondition to any democratic transformation. There is no democracy under dictatorship! The dismantlement of the un-constitutional RSFs should not be implemented only, but further the formation of investigation committee to probe the atrocities attributed to them should follow that. The responsibility of the defense of the country should be shouldered only by the national army. The mission of the armed forces is stated in the Interim Constitution of 2005, Article 144, Clauses (2) and (3) which reads as follows: “(2) The mission of the Sudan National Armed Forces is to defend the sovereignty and secure the territorial integrity of the country and participate in its reconstruction and assist in addressing national disasters in accordance with this Constitution. The law shall stipulate the conditions in which the civil authority may resort to the engagement of the armed forces in missions of non-military nature. (3) The Sudan National Armed Forces and the Joint/Integrated Units shall defend the constitutional order, respect the rule of law, the civilian government, democracy, basic human rights and the will of the people; they shall undertake the responsibility of the defense of the country against external and internal threats in their respective areas of deployment and shall be involved in addressing constitutionally specified emergencies. This clearly shows that no other force, regular or irregular should undermine the national role of the army in defending the country.
Freedom for Ibrahim al Shaikh and all other detainees!
Long Live the Sudan!
Freedom, Peace, and Justice! Revolution is but the option of the people!