16 August 2012

Sudan Frees Political Detainees

Khartoum — Security authorities in Sudan released on Thursday a number of political detainees including opposition figures who were arrested as part of a major crackdown on weeks of streets protests and increased anti-government activities.

The released detainees include Kamal Omer, the political secretary of the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP) who was arrested on 8 July, Mohammed Dia Al-Din, the spokesperson of the Baath Arab Socialist Party (BASP), lawyer activist Sati Al-Haj and Faisal Shabo of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP).

Their release, after some of them had spent more than two months in detention, followed an announcement on Wednesday by the head of the National Intelligence and Security Services, Mohammed Atta, that they were going to release 80 detainees ahead of Eid Al-Fitr holiday that follows the holy month of Ramadan which is due to end on Sunday 19 August.

Sudan arrested hundreds of opposition members and youth activists following the outbreak in mid-June of intermittent but widespread protests sparked by the government's decision to scrap fuel subsidies as part of a larger austerity plan aiming to plug a budget gap of 2.4 billion US dollars resulting from the secession of oil-rich South Sudan.

Atta said that the release of the detainees, which was done at the behest of President Omer Al-Bashir, comes despite the existence of plenty of evidences proving their involvement in "inciting hatred against the state"

Kamal Omer's wife, Zainb Taha, said on Thursday that she was informed by PCP members that her husband was being released from his detention in the eastern state of Red Sea and was on his way to Khartoum.

The authorities also released a number of youth activists and journalists detained in connection to the protests. Those include Mohamed Alim Boshi, a BASB student activist famous, and Usamah Mohammed, an active twitter user who was arrested during the first days of the protests. Also among those released is journalist Mohammed Al-Asbat.

Similarly, sources close to the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) said on Thursday that there was information that a number of the party's youth detainees, most notably Mohammed Foul and Yasir Fathi, are being released.

Activist groups estimate that nearly 2000 people were arrested over the demonstrations which largely petered out with the advent of Ramadan.

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