Title: Khartoum threatens Physical Liquidation of JEM Hunger Strikers. By:
Author: Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
Date: 09-02-2013, 06:00 AM
The Sudan Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
Khartoum threatens Physical Liquidation of JEM Hunger Strikers.
By: Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
31/08/13: In his threat to JEM hunger strikers in Khartoum Kober Prison, General Abu Ubaida Suleiman, Governor General of Sudan Prisons barked:
“We (rulers of Sudan) have power, authority, decision-making, money, airplanes and military vehicles and we can do anything we like. You (Darfurians) cannot twist our arms. I give you a final warning: stop this chaos (strike) or I will personally show you something you have never seen in your lives. The whole of Sudan is ours, we do in it whatever we like and we do not want anybody else in it. I want you to know one thing: I can kill all of you and nobody dares to ask me about it”.
The wording of the threat is textbook on the very spirit and mentality that have destroyed the country, a point I will return to later in the article. To begin with, the hunger strikers should not have been in Kober prison in the first place. The core group of them are Prisoners of War (POWs). They are protected by international conventions but have still been tried in Kangaroo courts and sentenced to death. Much more, President Al-Bashir pardoned some of them, in accordance with GoS-JEM God Will Agreement.
The hunger strike is prompted by brutal treatment of the prisoners that includes solitary confinement, shackling, prevention of visits of relatives and lawyers and verbal and physical abuse. Few days ago (August 26th, 13), a dozen or so in Khartoum prison went into a hunger strike protesting their ill treatment. Other JEM prisoners across the nation joined in solidarity and the total number grew to nearly 60.
Let us return to General Suleiman’s threat, or rather its style and phrasing. The threat of “physical liquidation” is of course real. Thousands and thousands of Darfur and other marginalised people in Sudan have perished under extra-judicial killings and massacre of few more will not bring the public to the street. This is appalling but it is a reality we should not overlook. In that sense, general Suleiman can indeed massacre all JEM prisoners and still remains a respectable man in the streets of the capital, Khartoum. If in doubt, think about General Al Dabi, Vice President Taha, Abdel Rahim Hussein, Salah Gosh and many others including Al-Bashir himself. These are all criminals responsible for massacring their own people and yet remain admired and respected.
The use of “WE” and “YOU” in the threat quoted above is quite revealing. While the latter word “YOU” is easy to decipher, meaning Darfurians and other marginalised people including the Nubians of the far north, the Beja of the east, Nuba of Kordofan and southerners who are long gone. The term “WE” is too rich to apprehend. The sentence “We have the authority, the power..” refers to the government and beyond. In so far it denotes the government of Sudan, it is not inclusive of all senior officials of the regime. Of course not! What is meant here is the government within the government; a handful of people who wield the real authority within the system. Minsters coming from Marginalised parts of the Sudan like Darfur have little power, to say the least. The marginalised people remain marginalised whether they are ministers or office cleaners.
The sentence “the whole of Sudan is ours and we can do in it whatever we like” lends the term “We” its real meaning. The term refers here to a certain sector of the elite ethnic groups that rule the country. These ethnic groups are drawn from the Northern Region of Sudan and operate under its clandestine organisation, the Northern Entity or in Arabic Kayan Al-Shimal. Needless to say, not every member of these elite ethnic groups shares the same racist vision and many of them have paid dearly for their dissent. However, those who abide by the vision of Kayan Al-Shimal see themselves as more Arabs than other Arabised parts of the country but they also believe in having a divine legitimacy to rule the country to the exclusion of others. Surprisingly, the alleged right to rule Sudan does not come with corresponding responsibilities. Thus, General Suleiman’s statement “we can do in it whatever we like” is dead accurate. Under their rule, the beloved south is gone and rest of the country is enmeshed in civil wars, poverty and chaos.
The sentence “we do not want anybody else in it [Sudan]” gives a further insight into the mentality of the “WE” group. Sadly speaking, the marginalised people are not even accorded the right of belonging to the Sudan. The fighters who were used by Imam Al-Mahdi in his botched coup in the 1970s were simply referred to as mercenaries, meaning non-Sudanese. General Suleiman’s statement is well in line with his fellow senior members of the government. When some activists protested possible re-settlement of 5 million Egyptians in the Nubian land, at Kajabar area, Minister for Defence Abdel Rahim Hussein responded:
“For the sake of debate, let us assume that the government is intending to resettle 5 million southern Egyptians (Saaida) in the northern Region of Sudan. So what? There are now 8 million people in Darfur, all of them are Africans and coming from abroad. Would it be better for you to have those coming into you from Egypt or those who are coming from West Africa?”
General Suleiman’s warning that he can kill all the prisoners without being asked about is not an empty threat. He has already started the process. As he ordered, the prisoners are put under solitary confinement for 23 hours and 45 minutes a day. In any decent country, no senior government personnel would remain in office following such a horrific statement. Not so in the Sudan. General Suleiman’s post is safe for the simple reason that the President shares his lunatic vision as well. Al-Bashir harbours the same sense of ethnic arrogance and superiority, coupled with deep hatred of the people of Darfur. Here is what Al-Bashir said in defence of raping Darfur women:
"He [Bashir] told us, [if] this Gharbawia [Darfuri woman], when a Ja’ali [man from the Ja’al tribe] man humps her, is this an honor or rape?” (ST, March 20,2010).
We the Sudanese people, all of us irrespective of creed, region or ethnic group have an inalienable duty to our nation and our people. We must not allow the lunatic mentality that underlies General Suleiman’s statement ruin our country. The Sudan is large enough for all of us including those who are now in the Republic of South Sudan. We have no choice but to join hands and save the nation.
Abdullahi Osman El-Tom is Head of Strategic Planning of JEM
He can be reached at: Abdullahi