The No to Women’s Oppression Initiative (NWOI) issued a statement on Wednesday in which it strongly denounces the detention and violent expulsion of Darfuri female students from the boarding facility.
The violent expulsion of Darfuri female students from the Zahra boarding house in Khartoum, popularly known as the Barracks Dormitory, confirms the “brutality, racism, and immorality” of the Khartoum regime, the statement said.
The students had been ordered to vacate the boarding house before the 25th of September, but many refused to leave, saying that they could not find affordable accommodation elsewhere in Sudan’s capital. They had been offered alternative temporary housing in Khartoum, but the students did not want to be forced into already overcrowded boarding houses, and demanded a better and safe accommodation instead. On Sunday morning, security forces raided the dormitory, forcibly expelled the remaining 70 students, and detained dozens of them.
The NWOI, formed in August in response to the detention of Maryam El Sadig, deputy president of the National Umma Party, reported that hundreds of riot police, paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, and security agents, armed with electric batons, entered the dorms, accompanied by officials from the National Endowment Fund for Students, the dormitory’s management, and a number of student adherents of the ruling National Congress Party.
The female students were “verbally abused by the use of racist and sexual obscenities”, and dragged outside while the government forces were beating them, and “fondling sensitive parts of the body”. “Many were prevented from collecting their personal belongings, after being subjected to verbal and physical assaults”. “Some students were blackmailed by photos taken of them, after stripping off their clothes.”
Dozens of female students were taken to various security detention centres in the city. The names of 22 students detained have been listed by fellow students, who also reported the detention of 28 others outside the dormitory.
According to the NWOI, the authorities started in 2011 to “methodologically filter out Darfur students” from the Barracks dormitory, “which has the largest concentration of students in Khartoum state”.
“Since then, evacuation orders were issued annually, but were prevented by solidarity of the students.” Other measures existed of the refusal to register new students from Darfur. The racism culminated, the NWOI states, in “the isolation of Darfur students in a special section, so as to single them out (for attack) from the rest of the students”.
The members of the Initiative call on all stakeholders to take immediate action to release the female students and allow them to remain in the Zahra boarding house. The detained and abused students should be exempted from impending exams and other pressing academic assignments.
Furthermore, they demand “long-term solutions for Darfur students in higher education institutions to ensure their success to education, housing, and subsistence, to be provided by the Government of Sudan, as one of the requirements of national unity”, as well as an investigation into the incident, and compensation to the victims.
File photo: NWOI members in police custody in Omdurman, after protesting the detention of Maryam El Mahdi, 14 August 2014 (NWOI)