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Inside Sudan's prisons: Sudanese protesters speak out

Sudan's National Intelligence Security Service, blamed for the arrests and detention of some 2,000 protesters in the past month, are using torture, activists say. 

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The last time Gamal Abdelrahim saw his wife was on July 3, the day that Sudanese government security agents arrested her in her office for her alleged role in street protests against the government that began in June and have persisted for weeks.

Mr. Abdelrahim went to the Khartoum offices of Sudan’s National Intelligence Security Service to give medicine and clothes to his wife, Nahid Jabralla, a prominent women’s rights activist. She was alive and well then, four hours after her arrest, Abdelrahim says. Since then, however, he has not heard anything about her.

"Some indicators imply that she is in Omdurman Women's Prison in a separate zone completely isolated from other parts of the prison and 100 percent controlled by the Security Organ," he told the Monitor in an e-mail interview. Abdelrahim’s is concerned for his wife’s health: she is due for surgery this month.  

Ms. Jabralla is just one of some 2,000 Sudanese civic activists, students, opposition party members, and journalists who have disappeared into Sudan’s jails and detention centers over the past few weeks in a government crackdown against growing dissent. The current wave of protests were initially sparked on June 16, by anger over government austerity measures, such as cutbacks in subsidies over food, housing, and school fees. Protests have now spread from Khartoum to other cities, and many demonstrators now say they will only stop when the current regime of President Omar Al-Bashir has fallen.

It may not have reached the level of an Arab Spring, but it is a season of discontent that clearly has the Sudanese government worried.

“Instead of responding to the protesters’ concerns, the Sudanese government appears to be targeting select individuals for their presumed political views,” says Daniel Bekele, Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “Sudan should immediately release those detained for engaging in political protests and respect their right to exercise freedom of expression and association.”


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