Darfur Detainees and the U.S.—Betraying Those Who Would Speak Truth to Power

 

Eric Reeves | September 22, 2016 |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-1W4

Since January of this year Khartoum's regular and militia forces have been conducting in the Jebel Marra region of central Darfur one of the most savage campaigns in its thirteen-year genocidal counter-insurgency. As always, the victims-murdered, raped, bombed, displaced, stripped of all possessions, including farmland and livestock-are overwhelming from the African tribal groups of Darfur; in the case of the area of the Jebel Marra massif, the victims have been almost exclusively Fur people, the most populous of all these groups. Reports that have emerged-from Radio Dabanga in particular-paint a devastating portrait, although the severe limitations on cellular and satellite telephone service imposed by Khartoum's security services have made gathering a full picture of the devastation impossible to assemble.

On July 27 - 28, 2016, U.S. Special Envoy for the Sudans Donald Booth, as part of a trip to Sudan, traveled to Darfur and invited representatives of displaced persons living near Nierteti, Central Darfur, to meet with him and give details of a campaign that his office already knew well, in part by virtue of briefings by human rights investigators. Whatever details might have been new, the broad outlines of this brutal offensive had been clear since January/February 2016.

For having the courage to speak with Booth at his invitation, some 20 of those who spoke with him were arrested almost immediately after Booth left the country. All of those arrested had of course been observed by the National Intelligence and Security Services (as well as their informants). Only after almost two weeks had passed did the U.S. State Department declare itself "gravely concerned" about the arrests, which it specifically attributed to "the Government of Sudan" (State Department transcript, August 12, 2016). As of this writing, most of the men arrested for meeting with Booth-again, at his invitation-have been freed; but two have not been.

[On the absurdly implausible assertion by Khartoum that the two men who remain incarcerated were members of a rebel group (Sudan Liberation Movement/Abdel Wahid) see Appendix A.]

The U.S. has issued no further statement beyond the "grave concern" of August 12. Why is this?

The U.S. has had no trouble speaking loudly about civil rights abuses in South Sudan:

The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said she is "outraged" over reports that the South Sudanese government harassed activists who met with a UN Security Council delegation during their visit to the world's youngest nation.

Power, in a statement issued Sunday, said the Security Council delegation observed "chilling" living conditions for civilians trapped in the ongoing conflict between the South Sudanese government and the armed opposition forces. "The United States condemns any attempts by governments to silence freedom of expression, and we condemn all restrictions on civil society actors who organize peacefully and provide constructive criticism," stressed the UN envoy. "The voices of civil society must be elevated, not silenced," she added. (Sudan Tribune | September 12, 2016 (JUBA)

Juba, with which the U.S. bilateral relationship has soured, is an easy target for "outrage": the failing government has nothing to offer the U.S. except an escape from a regional diplomatic headache, to which poor U.S. policy under presidents Bush and Obama have contributed mightily.

But the "silenced" voices of those who best represent civil society in Darfur-Sudan-haven't provoked "outrage" of the sort Ambassador Power so freely vents, only "grave concern"-a concern that seems less "grave" by the day as some of those arrested for speaking with the U.S. Special Envoy remain silenced by virtue of continuing incarceration.

I have written repeatedly and at length about the expediency of U.S. refusal or inability to secure the release of these men-on the basis of dispatches from Radio Dabanga, Sudan Tribune, human rights researchers, and Darfuri sources-and cannot escape the conclusion that these men remain incarcerated because the U.S. values its relationship with Khartoum too much to say or do more than some behind-the-scenes cajoling of questionable vigor:

· Darfur and Sudan Following the Visit by U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth: Undiminished catastrophes | August 28, 2016 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1VI

• Khartoum Denies Its Security Services Detained Those Interviewed by U.S. Envoy Donald Booth in Darfur: How will the Obama administration respond? | August 17, 2016 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1VE

• U.S. Demands Release of Darfuris Arrested for Daring to Meet with Obama's Special Envoy | August 13, 2016  |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-1VA

• Arrests in Darfur by Khartoum's security forces continue to increase in the wake of interviews given by displaced persons to visiting Obama administration Special Envoy for the Sudans | August 8, 2016 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Vt

• Following Visit to Darfur by Obama Administration Special Envoy Donald Booth, the Arrests Continue | August 4, 2016 | http://wp.me/s45rOG-7401

  • "U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth in Khartoum-and Darfur: Consequences and Responsibilities"|August 1, 2016 |http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Vk

More broadly, I must ask why can't the U.S. and the international community more broadly find their voices on Darfur, where violence and deprivation at extraordinary levels define the entire region? Why does the UN, for example, speak so forcefully about rape in South Sudan but say virtually nothing about the rapes of tens of thousands of girls and women in Darfur?

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned rape and sexual violence in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, adding that it has intensified its patrols in and around the Protection of Civilians Sites as well as in the wider Juba city area, following reports of sexual violence, including rape. In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, UNMISS also reported that as an enhanced protection measure, it is working with community leaders and partners to coordinate the peacekeepers escorts of women and young girls leaving protection sites to collect food and other items. (Sudan Tribune | August 2, 2016)

The hypocrisy of strenuous statements condemning Juba by the U.S., UN, and EU while Darfur's agony-including an unaddressed epidemic of sexual violence that has seen the rape of many tens of thousands of girls and women-continues amidst almost complete silence is simply disgraceful and bespeaks moral cowardice and expediency.

I assemble below, in chronological order, excerpts from key dispatches by Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune that make clear-unambiguously clear-that the U.S. is refusing to take sufficient responsibility for men arrested by Khartoum's security forces for courageously speaking the truth about their region to a senior U.S. diplomat. Additionally, excerpts from a report of August 8, 2016 by Amnesty International have also been included. All materials in this compendium are fully known to the Office of the Special Envoy for the Sudans, Donald Booth, and to the Obama administration State Department generally.

If we want a glimpse of what animates the Obama administration's Sudan policy of rapprochement with the genocidal regime in Khartoum-a regime preparing even now for renewed ethnically-targeted assaults on Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile at the end of the current rainy season-we should look closely at how these men have come to be abandoned.

[The somewhat copious material that appears here may be seen in brief overview in the form of a non-annotated timeline of events: Appendix B]

[All emphases in bold have been added.]

"U.S. envoy to assess humanitarian situation in Darfur, discuss peace plan: Foreign Minister" | Sudan Tribune | July 27, 2016 | Khartoum

The visit of United States Special Envoy, Donald Booth, aims to assess the situation of displaced people in Darfur and to brief the government officials on the outcome of his contacts with the opposition holdout groups, said the Sudanese foreign ministry on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Booth has started a visit to North Darfur state where he visits the newly displaced people to assess the security and humanitarian situation. Also he will meet with the state authorities and UNAMID officials. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Garib Allah Khidir, told reporters that the ministry is organizing Booth's visit and his meetings with the different officials, in coordination with the relevant authorities.

 "Darfur's displaced share concerns with US envoy" | Radio Dabanga  | July 29, 2016 | TAWILA / NIERTETI / EL FASHER

United States special envoy for Sudan Donald Booth visited displaced populations in Nierteti, Tawila and El Fasher as part of his visit to Darfur where he assessed the humanitarian situation and gauged the opinion on the national peace efforts.

On Wednesday [August 27, 2016], Booth met a group of displaced people from the Nierteti camps in Central Darfur in the headquarters of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The twenty elders, women and youth were asked them about their opinion on the ongoing peace process, the Darfur referendum that was held last April, the activities of humanitarian organisations and the work that UNAMID does.

A member of the committee informed Radio Dabanga that the displaced people told Booth that the killings, rapes, arrests and torture by the government and its militias and the occupation of their land by new settlers are still ongoing. They called for security and stability and the new settlers to be expelled from their lands. They told Booth that they find UNAMID incapable of protecting itself, "let alone protecting the displaced people. Their work is [confined] to the writing of reports."

Finally the committee complained about the shortage of aid organisations in the camps and that there are not enough education services. The displaced demanded authorities to reconsider the inventory process of the monthly food rations cards that are provided by the World Food Programme.

Tawila

The US envoy also visited Tawila in North Darfur, where he met with the leaders of displaced people in camps on Thursday [July 28, 2016]. They informed Booth that security is missing in the area and claimed that the population is trapped by gunmen in the camps. Farming has become difficult as armed herdsmen and nomads occasionally raid the farms. The leaders said that there is a lack of health services, as there is only one health centre that belongs to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) organisations that is unable to cover the entire population's needs.

El Fasher

Also on Thursday [July 28, 2016], Booth met with representatives of civil society organisations in the North Darfur capital El Fasher, to discuss the current situation in Darfur, the peace process and today's challenges in the region. In turn the representatives criticised the marginalisation of the Darfuri civil society organisations, and complained that regional and international stakeholders in the peace process in Sudan do not listen to them. They also criticised the West for abandoning Darfur, despite the security and humanitarian situation going for the worst and the focus on pressure on the armed rebel movements to sign a peace deal. "But when they do so, we are abandoned without follow-up of implementation of the deal," a representative complained to Radio Dabanga.

"Five displaced men detained in Nierteti, Central Darfur" | Radio Dabanga | July 31, 2016 | NIERTETI

Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained five displaced men in Nierteti in Central Darfur today [July 31, 2016]. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, multiple sources reported that Adam Siddig, of the Northern Nierteti camp Abdelkarim Adam Abdelkarim, of the Southern Nierteti camp were held at the town's bus station this morning. Nasreldin Yousef and Adam Mohamed, the owner of a welding workshopwere detained in the market of Nierteti. Ahmed El Tijani Abdeljabar Yousef was taken from a house in the Dar El Naeem district. The sources said that the NISS officers seem to be still searching for others.

Last week, the US special envoy for Sudan, Donald Booth, paid a visit to Darfur. On Wednesday he spoke with a number of displaced in Nierteti.

"Sudanese security arrests Darfur IDPs after meeting U.S. envoy" | Sudan Tribune | August 2, 2016 | Zalingei

Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Monday [August 1, 2016] has arrested at least 21 leaders of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the locality of Nirtiti, Central Darfur state following a meeting with the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, said IDPs official.

Deputy Chairman of IDPs and Refugees Association Adam Abdalla Idris told Sudan Tribune that the NISS is now making intensive efforts to arrest dozens of IDPs leaders after it accused them of providing Booth with misleading information pertaining to the security and humanitarian situation in the region particularly in areas of east Jebel Marra.

He added that several IDPs leaders have disappeared from sight for fear of being arrested by the NISS, pointing [out that] the latter has a list including names of all IDPs who met with the American envoy.

According to Idris, a security source disguised as an IDP has attended the meeting with Booth and submitted a report including details of the meeting to the NISS.

Idris pointed out that the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), human rights groups operating in the area, and the IDPs have provided identical reports to the American envoy including numbers of those killed in the recent clashes in Jebel Marra besides numbers of the newly displaced persons and the rape incidents. "The humanitarian situation is at its worst particularly after food and drug supply have stopped besides the lack of blankets and other basic necessities," he said.

He added that the American envoy will likely delay his visit to South Darfur state in fear of subjecting dozens of IDPs to harassment and detention by the NISS.

"More detentions days after US envoy's visit to Darfur" | Radio Dabanga | August 2, 2016 | NIERTETI

An appeal has been made for the release of six displaced men in Nierteti, Central Darfur, detained by security services just days after the US Special Envoy to Sudan spoke to displaced people in a Nierteti camp. El Shafie Abdallah, the coordinator of Central Darfur camps, confirmed that six men are still in detention today. He told Radio Dabanga that several others may be detained too. "Their detention on Sunday has to do with the visit of the envoy because it took place shortly after his meeting with a committee of displaced people," Abdallah said.

According to El Shafie Abdallah, the wanted men all attended the meeting with Booth on Wednesday. Some of the six detainees did not attend the meeting. Participants in Wednesday's meeting told Booth that the killings, rapes, arrests and torture by the government and its militias and the occupation of their land by new settlers are ongoing. They called for the new occupiers to be expelled from their lands, a participator informed Radio Dabanga.

Abdallah appealed to the Embassy of the US in Khartoum, Special Envoy Booth, and the Sudanese government to intervene and stop the detention campaign of people who attended the meeting in Nierteti. "Bring them to a fair trial if there is a charge, or release them, and stop the ongoing prosecution of displaced people," Abdallah said.

"Nierteti youth leader joins Central Darfur detainees" | Radio Dabanga | August 4, 2016 | NIERTETI

The youth leader of Nierteti in Central Darfur, Mohamed El Tijani Seif, is the latest person to be detained by security services following the meeting last week between representative of the displaced and US Special Envoy Donald Booth.

Saif was detained by agents of the security services at Nierteti Grand Market on Wednesday [August 3, 2016] morning. His arrest, preceded by that of Omda Eisa Mohamed Rashid, Adam Hamid Adam and Ahmed Abdallah Omer, brings the number of detainees following Booth's visit to 11.

The coordinators of the displaced persons of Central Darfur appealed to the US administration, its special envoy in Sudan Donald Booth, and its embassy to Khartoum to immediately intervene to release the detainees. Security services in Nierteti arrested eight people on Sunday, and released them later. Sources told Radio Dabanga that the security services released two people on Monday and Tuesday.

"Four more displaced who met US envoy held in Central Darfur" | Radio Dabanga | August 7, 2016 | Nierteti, Central (formerly West) Darfur

Agents of the Sudanese security apparatus detained four displaced people in Nierteti in Central Darfur on Friday and Saturday. The detention of the four camp residents brings the number of displaced people who were detained after meeting US Special Envoy Donald Booth two weeks ago to 15. Two of them have been released, Shafee Abdallah, coordinator of the Central Darfur camps for the displaced reported to Radio Dabanga.

Ishag Adam Abdelshafi and Yahya Mohamed Yousef were detained in the centre of Nierteti at about 6 pm on Friday. Late on Saturday afternoon, security agents in four Land Cruisers stormed the Northern Nierteti camp. They took Adam Ishag Abdelkarim with them after searching his shelter and the shelters of four of his neighbours. Displaced secondary student Khalil Hassan was detained in Nierteti on Saturday as well.

According to Abdallah, the 13 detainees must be in "an extremely difficult situation" as their relatives, lawyers, and representatives of human rights department of UNAMID have not been allowed to visit them. He added that relatives of the detainees went to the main office of the security apparatus in Nierteti with food and clothes for the detainees, but security officers refused to take the goods.

The camp coordinator appealed via Radio Dabanga to the US special envoy, and the US embassy in Khartoum to intervene for the release of the displaced. "If they have committed a crime, they should be charged and brought to trial. Yet, meeting with Special Envoy Donald Booth, and telling him the facts about what is happening in Darfur, is not a crime."

"Ten displaced still detained in Central Darfur" | Radio Dabanga | August 10, 2016 | NIERTETI

Ten of the displaced people, who have been held after speaking to US Special Envoy Donald Booth last month, are still reportedly in detention without charge in Nierteti in Central Darfur.

Activists and witnesses in Nierteti told Radio Dabanga that the security services have released Abdelkarim Adam Abdelkarim of Nierteti North camp, Ahmed Suleiman of camp Garsila, Adam Mohamed Mousa of Nierteti South camp, Ahmed El Tijani Abdeljabbar Yousef of Dar El Naeem district, and Ishag Adam Abdelshafi of Goz Beida district over the past days.

However Adam Hamid Adam, Ahmed Abdallah Omar, Osman Abdelgader Abdelsadeg, Adam Ishag Abdelkarim, Ali Abdelaziz, Adam Siddig Abdallah, Yahya Mohamed Yousef, Abdelrasoul Nasreldin Yousef Abdelrahman, Adam Mohamed Ali, and Rashid Eisa, are all still in detention. Witnesses confirmed that the security services have neither charged them, nor allowed visits from lawyers or family.

Campaign of detentions

A total of 15 people were detained in a campaign of detentions that began shortly following Booth's visit. He met with a group of 20 displaced elders, women, and youths in Nierteti, and asked them about their opinion on the ongoing peace process, the Darfur referendum that was held last April, the activities of humanitarian organisations, and the performance of UNAMID.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gariballah El Khidir, told reporters on the occasion that the US envoy was interested to speak with people who had fled the recent fighting in Jebel Marra.

A member of the committee informed Radio Dabanga on 27 July that they told Booth about the killings, rapes, detentions, and torture by the government and its militias, and the occupation of their land by new settlers. They further said that UNAMID is incapable of protecting itself, "let alone protecting the displaced people."

Four days after the meeting, five displaced who had met with Booth were detained. On 2 August, the camp coordinator reported that another displaced man was detained. Five others were held last week.

"USA calls on Sudan for ‘immediate release' of Nierteti detainees" | Radio Dabanga | August 15, 2016 | WASHINGTON, DC

The USA has called on the Sudanese government to release all the displaced people who were detained in Nierteti in Central Darfur over the past two weeks. In a press statement on Friday, Elizabeth Trudeau, Director of the Office of Press Relations of the US State Department, says that the US "is gravely concerned about the Sudanese government's ongoing detention of at least 15 Darfuri individuals, including one Sudanese national employee of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)".

The detentions followed a visit by US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, to North and Central Darfur in late July. Booth met and spoke with a number of displaced in Nierteti on 27 July. Four days later, security agents held five of the people the US envoy had met. In the following weeks, ten more were detained. Five of them have been released, Radio Dabanga reported on Wednesday.

"Many others who were not detained were nonetheless questioned by security officials about the nature of their contact with the Special Envoy," the US statement reads. "The United States immediately expressed its concern about the reported detentions to senior Sudanese officials, and we call on the Government of Sudan to immediately release all of those detained. These actions are particularly unfortunate as they undercut the government of Sudan initially granting permission for the special envoy's fact-finding visit and allowing him to travel to areas and speak with individuals of his choosing. Such first-hand knowledge is important to shaping future US engagement with the Government of Sudan and opposition groups and leaders regarding Darfur.

"As Sudan seeks to pursue an inclusive national political dialogue, the Sudanese people need to be free to voice their opinions. The United States urges the Government of Sudan to respect its citizens' rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including by the press, as these are vital elements for an environment conducive to an inclusive national dialogue for which all continue to work," the statement concludes.

"Darfur Bar demands release of Nierteti detainees" | Radio Dabanga | August 15, 2016 | KHARTOUM

Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained 15 of a group of 20 displaced elders, women, and youths, after they met with Donald Booth, the US Special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, during his visit to Nierteti on 27 July. Five of the detained were released again.

The displaced met with Booth on his request. He asked them about their opinion on the ongoing peace process, the Darfur referendum last April, the activities of humanitarian organisations, and the performance of UNAMID. In their letter to the National Secretariat for Human Rights, the Darfur Bar lawyers state that the detained displaced did not commit any offence. "They did not violate any law. They only spoke with the US envoy, on his request, during an official visit endorsed by the Sudanese authorities," DBA deputy chairman Saleh Mahmoud told Radio Dabanga. He also pointed to the responsibility foreign envoys have towards the people they speak with in the countries they visit.

"We fear that the detained may be subjected to mistreatment and torture," Mahmoud added. "Among the detained are a number of elderly people who suffer from chronic diseases, and need regular medical care. By detaining them, the security apparatus is depriving them of their constitutional right to human dignity."

"Washington says concerned about Darfur IDPs detained after meeting US envoy" | Sudan Tribune | August 15, 2016 (KHARTOUM)

The United States has expressed deep concern over Sudan's government continued detention of at least 15 Darfurians including one Sudanese national working for the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID). On July 26, the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, started a visit to Darfur states to assess the security and humanitarian situation on the ground particularly in Jebel Marra area.

"Many others who were not detained were nonetheless questioned by security officials about the nature of their contact with the Special Envoy," read the statement. It pointed that the US immediately expressed its concern about the reported detentions to senior Sudanese officials, calling on the Sudanese government to immediately release all of those detained.

"These actions are particularly unfortunate as they undercut the Government of Sudan initially granting permission for the Special Envoy's fact-finding visit and allowing him to travel to areas and speak with individuals of his choosing" it added. The statement further urged the Sudanese government "to respect its citizens' rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including by the press", saying they are vital elements "for an environment conducive to an inclusive national dialogue for which all continue to work."

"Sudan's FM denies detention of Darfuris after U.S. envoy's visit" | Sudan Tribune | August 16, 2016 (KHARTOUM)

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour Tuesday has denied the arrest of Darfuris who had met the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan during a recent visit to Darfur region. Last Friday, U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning the arrest of 15 people including a local employee of Darfur hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID), after a meeting with Ambassador Donald Booth who visited North and Central Darfur states from 26 to 28 July.

The arrested local leaders and representatives of displaced persons reportedly briefed the American diplomat about the atrocities committed by the Sudanese government militiamen during their attacks on rebel positions in Jebel Marra earlier this year.

In statements to the official news agency SUNA on Tuesday [August 16, 2016], Ghandour said they had been informed about the alleged detention by the Special Envoy Booth after his return from Darfur. He added that they approached the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) which denied the claim. "This is the official answer that we received, and the Envoy is aware of this answer," Ghandour said. However he was quick to add "May be, there is someone arrested by the local authorities."

"But certainly there are some circles that try to sabotage those efforts (to improve bilateral relations) after the visit of the Envoy who got firsthand information on the situation in Darfur personally."

"Student detained in Nierteti, Central Darfur" | Radio Dabanga | August 22, 2016 | NIERTETI

Military intelligence officers detained a displaced student in Nierteti in Central Darfur on Saturday. Seven of the 15 displaced people who were held after their meeting with US Special Envoy Donald Booth in Nierteti at the end of July, are still in detention.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga from the Northern Nierteti camp, an activist reported that secondary school student Abakar Mohamed Idris was detained in the camp by military intelligence agents at 5 pm on Saturday. "They took him to the military garrison of Nierteti, without disclosing the reason for their action," he said.

US Special Envoy

Seven of the 15 displaced held by the security apparatus following their meeting with US Envoy Donald Booth during his visit to Nierteti on 27 July are still in detention. Eight were released, and two of them were banished from Nierteti for good.

The seven displaced who are still in detention are Ali Abdelaziz Adam SalehAdam Mohamed AliNasreldin Yousef AbdelrahmanAdam Hamed AdamAhmed Abdallah OmarMohamed El Tijani Seifeldin, and Ahmed Suleiman.

"Nierteti detainees transferred to Central Darfur capital" | Radio Dabanga | September 1, 2016 | NIERTETi

Seven displaced people from Nierteti in Central Darfur, who were arrested after meeting with US Special Envoy Donald Booth in late July, have been transferred to the state capital of Zalingei. El Shafie Abdallah, the Coordinator of the camps for the displaced of Central Darfur, told Radio Dabanga that Ahmed Suleiman, Adam Mohamed Ali, Ali Abdelaziz Mohamed, El Tijani Seifeldin and Nasreldin Souf Ibrahim, who were being held at the Nierteti security apparatus detention centre, and Adam Hamid Adam and Ahmed Omar, who were held in Military Intelligence cells, were all transferred to Zalingei on Thursday 25 August.

Sudan's Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, faced criticism after he denied the arrest of anyone by the security apparatus in Nierteti. In response, Central Darfur camps coordinator Abdallah likened Ghandour to Musalyimah El Kazab (a false Muslim prophet also known as ‘the liar').

"Darfur Bar renews call for release of ‘Nierteti detainees'" | Radio Dabanga | September 4, 2016 | KHARTOUM

The international community and in particular the USA should act and pressure the Sudanese government to release seven displaced men held in Central Darfur after meeting with US Special Envoy Donald Booth on 27 July, says the Darfur Bar Association (DBA).

In a statement on Friday, the Darfur Bar Association expressed its regrets that "more than three million people live in deplorable conditions and continuous suffering in Darfur for more than a decade," while their cases "no longer find the international humanitarian concern, as in the past."

The detentions prompted a chorus of condemnation, at home and abroad, with statements from the USA and the DBA. Foreign Affairs Minister Ibrahim Ghandour faced criticism after he denied the detention of anyone by the security apparatus in Nierteti. Eight of the detainees were released in August.

The seven others, Ahmed Suleiman, Adam Mohamed Ali, Ali Abdelaziz Adam, El Tijani Mohamed Seifeldin, Nasreldin Yousef Abdelrahman, Adam Hamid Adam, and Ahmed Abdallah Omar were transferred to Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, on Thursday 25 August. The Darfur lawyers state that they sent a memo to the National Commission for Human Rights, "to no avail."

"Arrest in Central Darfur's Nierteti camp" | Radio Dabanga |  September 7, 2016 | NIERTETI

Agents of Military Intelligence arrested displaced man Mohammed Abkar Ahmed in a camp near Nierteti in Central Darfur. A coordinator of the Nierteti camps for the displaced told Radio Dabanga that the military intelligence agents, driving in their vehicle, arrived in Nierteti north camp on Wednesday afternoon.

They detained Mohamed Abkar Ahmed and took him to the military garrison in Nierteti. The coordinator said that no reasons have yet been released for the arrest. Nierteti has seen dozens of detentions of displaced people over the past months. Several members of a committee, who spoke to US Special Envoy Donald Booth when he visited Darfur at the end of July this year, have been detained, prompting condemnation from the USA and within Sudan.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Sudan Date: 8 August 2016

URGENT ACTION (UA: 185/16 Index: AFR 54/4617/2016)

EIGHT ARRESTED, WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN

10 people, seven of whom are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), were arrested by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Darfur on 31 July. The 10 had attended a meeting with the United States Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan before their arrest.

Two people have been released, while the whereabouts of the other eight remains unknown.

10 people including seven IDPs were arrested by the NISS on 31 July. The seven IDPs arrested in Nierteti City, Central Darfur State are: Adam Siddiq Abdel Rahman, 75, the head of Southern IDPs camp in Nierteti; Adam Hamid Adam, 60, the head of Northern IDPs camp in Nierteti; Al Rasheed Mohamed Essa, 49, African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) employee; Ahmed Omer, 37, UNAMID employee; Ali Abdel Aziz Ali, 33, student; Nasser El Deen Yousef Abdel Rahman, 30; and Abdelkarim Adam Abdelkarim, of the Southern Nierteti camp. The others arrested include Adam Mohamed Ali, 69, Mohamed Al Tejani Seif El Deen, 30, and El Tijani Abdeljabar Yousef, 70, a medical doctor.

Abdelkarim Adam Abdelkarim and El Tijani Abdeljabar Yousef were released on 1 August, but the whereabouts of the other eight remains unknown. Their families have had no contact with them since their arrest. They could be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

The 10 had attended a meeting on 30 July with the U.S Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, during his four-day visit to Darfur. He was visiting Darfur to assess the security and humanitarian situation on the ground and meet with IDPs. He visited Nierteti City in Central Darfur State where he met with representatives for the IDPs, especially from the Jebel Marra area where intense fighting between a rebel group and government forces has been ongoing since January 2016.

Appendix A: Who are the two men who remain incarcertated for meeting with Ambassador Booth?

According to a U.S. State Department official, Khartoum insists that the men were affiliated with the Sudan Liberation Movement/Abdel Wahid (SLA/AW). In other words, in the NISS round-up of those who met with Ambassador Booth, they just "coincidentally" happened to net two rebels.

Nothing in what has been reported by Radio Dabanga or the Darfur Bar Association supports such an assertion; on the contrary, those arrested have been identified, and their role within the displaced persons community specified. Nor would representatives of the Darfur displaced persons be so foolish as to include members of SLA/AW in the extraordinary meeting with a senior U.S. official, risking undermining the very effort to communicate from the perspective of civilians. The world is being asked to take "Khartoum's word" for the identity of these two men who met with Ambassador Booth and were shortly thereafter arrested. And as the Khartoum regime has revealed on countless occasions, its "word" is utterly worthless. Here we should recall that Khartoum initially denied that any of those who met with Booth had been arrested:

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour Tuesday has denied the arrest of Darfuris who had met the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan during a recent visit to Darfur region. (Sudan's FM denies detention of Darfuris after U.S. envoy's visit | Sudan Tribune | August 16, 2016 (KHARTOUM)

To be sure, members of the SLA/AW have sometimes been reported in some of the displaced persons camps, but we must ask also: How much sense does it make for a rebel soldier to attend a meeting to discuss with the American envoy atrocities in Jebel Marra, knowing that the event would be crawling with security agents and informants?

The vengeful character of actions by Khartoum's security agents is captured all too well in a dispatch from Sudan Tribune, cited above:

Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Monday has arrested at least 21 leaders of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the locality of Nirtiti, Central Darfur state following a meeting with the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, said IDPs official.

Deputy Chairman of IDPs and Refugees Association Adam Abdalla Idris told Sudan Tribune that the NISS is now making intensive efforts to arrest dozens of IDPs leaders after it accused them of providing Booth with misleading information pertaining to the security and humanitarian situation in the region particularly in areas of east Jebel Marra. He added that several IDPs leaders have disappeared from sight for fear of being arrested by the NISS, pointing the latter has a list including names of all IDPs who met with the American envoy.

According to Idris, a security source disguised as an IDP has attended the meeting with Booth and submitted a report including details of the meeting to the NISS. ("Sudanese security arrests Darfur IDPs after meeting U.S. envoy," Sudan Tribune, August 2, 2016 | Zalingei)

The character of those who met with Booth is noted in a Radio Dabanga dispatch, also cited above:

An appeal has been made for the release of six displaced men in Nierteti, Central Darfur, detained by security services just days after the US Special Envoy to Sudan spoke to displaced people in a Nierteti camp.

El Shafie Abdallah, the coordinator of Central Darfur camps, confirmed that six men are still in detention today. He told Radio Dabanga that several others may be detained too. "Their detention on Sunday has to do with the visit of the envoy because it took place shortly after his meeting with a committee of displaced people," Abdallah said.

Last Wednesday, US Special Envoy Donald Booth met with the committee in the headquarters of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The 20 elders, women and youths were asked about their opinion of the ongoing peace process, the Darfur referendum that was held last April, the activities of humanitarian organisations, and the work that UNAMID does. ("More detentions days after US envoy's visit to Darfur," Radio Dabanga | August 2, 2016 | NIERTETI)

The Darfur Bar Association also characterized those incarcerated:

"We fear that the detained may be subjected to mistreatment and torture," Mahmoud added. "Among the detained are a number of elderly people who suffer from chronic diseases, and need regular medical care. By detaining them, the security apparatus is depriving them of their constitutional right to human dignity." ("Darfur Bar demands release of Nierteti detainees" | Radio Dabanga | August 15, 2016 | KHARTOUM)

Finally, if Khartoum has captured two members of the SLA/AW, why don't they name them and accuse them publicly? In the words of El Shafie Abdallah, the coordinator of Central Darfur camps, "Bring them to a fair trial if there is a charge, or release them, and stop the ongoing prosecution of displaced people," Abdallah said. On August 22, Radio Dabanga reported the names of those still detained: "The seven displaced who are still in detention are Ali Abdelaziz Adam SalehAdam Mohamed AliNasreldin Yousef AbdelrahmanAdam Hamed AdamAhmed Abdallah OmarMohamed El Tijani Seifeldin, and Ahmed Suleiman." Which two are members of the SLA/AW? Why can't they be named and identified as Prisoners of War?

Why doesn't Khartoum do this? The answer is all too clear. Why doesn't the U.S. speak louder in the absence of any evidence against these men beyond the fact that they spoke with the U.S. Special Envoy about the massive suffering and destruction their people are enduring? Sadly, here also the answer is all too clear.

Appendix B: A brief timeline of events from Envoy Booth's meeting with displaced in Darfur to the present

July 26, 2016: Ambassador Donald Booth, U.S. Special Envoy for the Sudans, begins a trip to North Darfur;

July 27: Booth meets with a group of representatives of displaced persons from the Nierteti area; the group is characterized by Radio Dabanga, on the basis of interviews, as "twenty elders, women and youth";

July 28: Booth meets leaders of displaced persons camps in the Tawila area, including those from spontaneous Sortoni "camp," to which many displaced from Jebel Marra had fled; he returns to the capital of North Darfur, el-Fasher, the same day; he returns to Khartoum the following day;

July 31: "Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained five displaced men in Nierteti in Central Darfur today [Sunday]" (Radio Dabanga);

August 1: "Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Monday has arrested at least 21 leaders of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the locality of Nirtiti, Central Darfur state following a meeting with the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, said IDP officials" (Sudan Tribune);

August 3: Youth leader of Nierteti in Central Darfur, Mohamed El Tijani Seif, is arrested in Nierteti town. "His arrest, preceded by that of Omda Eisa Mohamed Rashid, Adam Hamid Adam and Ahmed Abdallah Omer, brings the number of detainees following Booth's visit to 11" (Radio Dabanga);

August 5 - 6: "Agents of the Sudanese security apparatus detained four displaced people in Nierteti in Central Darfur on Friday and Saturday. The detention of the four camp residents brings the number of displaced people who were detained after meeting US Special Envoy Donald Booth two weeks ago to 15" (Radio Dabanga);

August 8: Amnesty International issues as "Urgent Action" statement: "10 people, seven of whom are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), were arrested by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Darfur on 31 July. The 10 had attended a meeting with the United States Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan before their arrest";

August 10: Radio Dabanga reports that five of those arrested have been released by NISS but that ten remain incarcerated;

August 12: the U.S. State Department issues a "press statement, declaring that the Obama administration "is gravely concerned about the Sudanese government's ongoing detention of at least 15 Darfuri individuals, including one Sudanese national employee of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)." The statement also notes that, "Many others who were not detained were nonetheless questioned by security officials about the nature of their contact with the Special Envoy."

This is thirteen days after the first arrests of those who met with Booth at his invitation;

August 16, 2016: Khartoum's Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour denies the arrest of Darfuris who had met the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan during a recent visit to Darfur region;

August 22: Radio Dabanga reported the names of those still detained: "The seven displaced who are still in detention are Ali Abdelaziz Adam SalehAdam Mohamed AliNasreldin Yousef AbdelrahmanAdam Hamed AdamAhmed Abdallah OmarMohamed El Tijani Seifeldin, and Ahmed Suleiman";

August 25: Radio Dabanga reports: "Seven displaced people from Nierteti in Central Darfur, who were arrested after meeting with US Special Envoy Donald Booth in late July, have been transferred to the state capital of Zalingei";

September 2The Darfur Bar Association reiterates is concern for the men incarcerated for meeting with Envoy Booth: "The international community and in particular the USA should act and pressure the Sudanese government to release seven displaced men held in Central Darfur after meeting with US Special Envoy Donald Booth on 27 July, says the Darfur Bar Association" (Radio Dabanga, September 5);

September 2 - 22, 2016: silence...

-- 

 

Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

 

ereeves@smith.edu

www.sudanreeves.org

Twitter@SudanReeves

About Eric Reeves: http://sudanreeves.org/about-eric-reeves

Philanthropy: goo.gl/Ii4buw