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Human rights defender arrested on eve of receiving international human

5/9/2005 7:00 pm

Sudan: Human rights defender arrested on eve of receiving international human rights award
Press release, 05/09/2005

Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, who was arrested yesterday in Khartoum on the eve of his departure to Ireland to receive an award from the Dublin-based Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

The award is to be presented by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, on 13 May. Dr Mudawi Ibrahim was chosen to receive the award by a jury of members of the Irish and European parliaments.

Members of the National Security and Intelligence Agency arrested Dr Mudawi Ibrahim, an engineer with four children and the Chair of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO), in Khartoum North on 8 May along with two other SUDO workers -- Yasir Salim and his driver, Abdallah Taha. They are being held incommunicado without charge, reportedly in the National Security Centre in Khartoum North.

"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 Ibrahim’s arrest "unacceptable."

"At the same time as the National Constitutional Review Commission is discussing the new Constitution of Sudan, which will incorporate a Bill of Rights, the government of Sudan is carrying out arbitrary arrests and detaining peaceful human rights defenders and critics without trial," said Kolawole Olaniyan. "The Sudanese security services plainly regard human rights as a matter for rhetoric, not practice".

Dr Mudawi Ibrahim was previously imprisoned for seven months in 2004 after visiting Darfur. This year he was again arrested in Kordofan on 24 January and held in solitary confinement, without charge and without access to a lawyer, his family or medical attention. On 19 February he went on hunger strike demanding to be charged or released; he was then charged with attempting to commit suicide under Article 133 of the Penal Code and taken to hospital. On 3 March he was released on bail.

SUDO has been involved in promoting discussion and reconciliation between groups involved in conflicts in Sudan, and a reconciliation meeting between ethnic groups involved in the North-South conflict has reportedly been cancelled since Dr Mudawi Ibrahim’s arrest.

"We are obviously very worried about Dr Mudawi Ibrahim", said Kolawole Olaniyan, "but there are currently scores of other prisoners of conscience and political detainees, many also being held in incommunicado detention without charge or trial. Several have been subjected to torture or other ill-treatment since their arrest. They include people from Darfur, where massive human rights abuses are continuing, Beja Congress members from eastern Sudan, and supporters of opposition political parties such as the Popular Congress."

Those still being held include:

- Babiker Mohammed Abdallah Atim, a lawyer from Darfur, who has been detained now for 16 months without trial, and reportedly tortured. After more than a year, he has only been allowed one visit -- from his wife.
- Mudather Suleiman Osman Bahr al-Din, a 17-year-old student from Zalingei, Darfur, arrested in 2 October 2004, apparently because he was thought to support the Sudan Liberation Army. He has been detained since then in Zalingei Prison without charge.
- Abdel Ghaffar Musa Farraj, a student aged 22, detained in February 2005, allegedly chained and beaten by military intelligence for 16 days. He was then transferred to Nyala and charged with crimes against the state.
- Abdel Rahim al-Bur’ay, a member of the Beja Congress and a worker in the Ministry of Planning in Port Sudan, who has not been visited by his family since 1 February 2005 when he was detained without charge two days after security forces shot live ammunition to kill more than 20 demonstrators in Port Sudan in Eastern Sudan.

A Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) on 9 January 2005. Implementation of the peace agreement has been slow and the National Constitutional Review Commission has only recently started discussing the draft constitution. In Darfur some 1.86 million displaced and 200,000 refugees in Chad have to face another year in camps as rural areas continue to be unsafe for their return. Amnesty International has called for the African Union ceasefire mission to be greatly increased in size in order to protect civilians more effectively.

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