In response to the violent expulsion of Darfuri female students from the Zahra boarding house in Khartoum on Tuesday, the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) started an investigation into the incident.
The Darfur lawyers heard the testimonies of 20 students, and released their findings in a statement issued on Wednesday.
On 27 September, the rightistandnbsp;El Intibahaandnbsp;newspaper, “quoted by a number of websites”, published an article about a group 70 female students who refused to leave the Zahra boarding house, which is popularly known as the Barracks dormitory.
Theandnbsp;National Endowment Fund for Students had ordered the Darfuri female students to vacate the dormitory before 25 September, but the students refused. According toandnbsp;El Intibaha,andnbsp;they threatened to torch the facility in case they would be evacuated by force.
It was reported that the Darfuri students were controlling the boarding house, after the guards had been driven out.andnbsp;El Intibahaandnbsp;also alleged that the 70 students terrorised their fellow students, using knives and sticks, and threatened to take their mobile phones, in case they would leave the boarding house.
They also reportedly seriously injured a worker of the cafeteria, who had to be transferred to an eye clinic for an urgent operation. In response, the newspaper stated, police forces intervened, and contained the crisis at the dormitory.
After hearing the testimonies of 20 female students, the Darfur lawyers consider theandnbsp;El Intibahaandnbsp;article an attempt to create a cover for the violent removal of the students during the Eid El Adha holiday.
The DBA found out that the story about students terrorising their fellow students was fabricated. They never used knives to threaten other students, and the guards were never driven away. andnbsp;
The forces that raided the boarding house on Tuesday morning, came in vehicles with tinted glass, and did not wear uniforms. This indicates that the troops belonged to the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and not the police. andnbsp;The DBA lawyers have visited the competent police departments in the Khartoum districts of Burri and El Riyad and have not found any student detained.
The students who were expelled come from western Sudan, most of them from Darfur. They all refused to join the ruling party, when they were requested to do so by student adherents of the National Congress Party (NCP).
According to the testimony of the students affected by the raid, more than 30 students are currently held in detention, among them Rania Hassan, Itizaz Mohamed Abdelkarim, Rehab Hamed Adam, and Nahla Ali Abdelrahman, detained on Sunday, Suzan Omar, Saadia Bakhit, Hawa Suleiman, Alya Hassoun, Arafa Mohamed Ibrahim, Manal Abakar, Salma Digeis, Fadwa Ahmed, Samya Khamis, Hanan, Mawahib, Amani, Najla, and others, who were detained on Monday.
The students who spoke with the Darfur lawyers unanimously described the raid as extremely violent. The government troops used excessive force. They slapped the students, and dragged them outside by their clothes. They were thrown in the tinted vehicles, and humiliated by degrading and racist phrases. The forces told them for instance: “You have left Darfur to destroy Khartoum”. andnbsp;In particular Hawa Suleiman, a legal activist, was targeted.
According to the students heard, the purpose of the expulsion was to disperse those who do not belong to the ruling NCP, and to prevent the development of an anti-NCP movement among the students.
The DBA recommends that all stakeholders, in particular the relatives of the victims, but also the clergy, should be informed about what happened exactly. They should realise the negative effects of the incident: the weakening of social cohesion by instigating ethnically-based hatred.
Furthermore, civil society organisations and human rights activists in Sudan and abroad should organise an advocacy campaign in support of the victims. All kinds of pressure should be used to force the Sudanese regime to release the detained students and stop violating their human rights.
File photo: Darfuri students of the University of Khartoum stage a demonstration, on 11 March this year, in protest against widespread attacks by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by the NISS, on rural areas in Darfur. (Radio Dabanga correspondent)