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Sudan rights activist arrested ahead of Irish award

5/10/2005 6:20am

By Irish Times
KHARTOUM, Sudan, May 10, 2005 -- A Sudanese human rights activist has been arrested hours before he was to depart for Ireland where he was to receive an award from President Mary McAleese.

Mudawi Ibrahim Adam was arrested in Khartoum on Sunday morning and is being held in detention offices in the north of the city, according to the Dublin-based human rights group Front Line, which sponsors the award.

He was arrested along with a colleague and driver and none of the three have been charged as yet, according to the group. He has not been allowed access to his family or a lawyer, the group added.

Dr Mudawi (49) is the chairman of the Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), which is involved in humanitarian activities including providing emergency services in Sudan's troubled Darfur region as well as in human rights education and development projects.

Dr Mudawi is an engineer who has been involved in the design and manufacture of water supply systems as well as serving as Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, University of Khartoum, according to Front Line's website.

According to Amnesty International, Dr Mudawi was imprisoned for seven months last year after visiting Darfur and was arrested again in January this year and held in solitary confinement. He went on hunger strike in February and was charged with attempting to commit suicide under Article 133 of the Penal Code and taken to hospital. He was released on bail on March 3rd.

The Front Line award honours the work of a "human rights defender who, through their non-violent work, has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights in the face of considerable personal risk". Dr Mudawi was selected as the winner of the inaugural award by a jury which included Ruairi Quinn TD, Senator Paschal Mooney, Simon Coveney MEP and Proinsias de Rossa MEP. The Front Line award was to be presented at Dublin City Hall by President McAleese this Friday.

Front Line director Mary Lawlor said: "The actions of the Sudanese authorities betray their contempt for the protection of human rights.

"This new arrest of Dr Mudawi is a further attempt to silence those who work for the rights of others in Sudan. They will not succeed."

"We will continue to press that he be released and allowed to travel to collect his award, however, should he be unable to make it to Dublin we will still go ahead with the ceremony in order to honour this remarkable and courageous man," she added.

Amnesty International also called for the immediate release of Dr Mudawi. "The Sudanese government is continuing to pursue a path of harassment of human rights defenders and critics," said Kolawole Olaniyan, director of the Amnesty International's Africa programme, calling Dr Mudawi's arrest "unacceptable."

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