21 February 2018

Sudan: Release of Detainees Criticised - 'It's Political Bargaining'

Khartoum — The Darfur Bar Association of lawyers has condemned President Al Bashir's decision to release all political detainees. The director of the security apparatus said that the release of the remaining detainees is conditioned with their political parties' behaviour.

"This confirms that the security apparatus uses the political detainees as hostages for political bargain, in violation of the constitution and the security act itself, and the rights of the detainees," the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) said in a press statement this week.

The director of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Salah Abdallah Gosh said that the release of the rest of the political prisoners "is conditioned with the improvement of the conduct of their parties, which should abandon their demands to overthrow the regime by force".

"If the tone of the political detainees' parties improves regarding their demands to overthrow the regime, then we will consider releasing their detainees." - NISS Director Salah Gosh

In a statement to the pro-government El Intibaha newspaper, Gosh explained that the rest of the detainees who have not been released will be monitored in the coming period. "If their parties abandon their declared objectives to demonstrate, sabotage and to overthrow the regime by force, we will release them."

'Splitting the opposition'

Hours after his release on Monday, Chairman of the DBA Mohamed Abdallah El Doma told Radio Dabanga that the statement by the NISS director is "a malice intended to split the opposition parties from the Umma party".

El Doma, also co-president of the National Umma Party (NUP), was released from Kober Prison on Monday together with party member Dr. Ibrahim El Amin. They had been detained since January 17 during a large-scale arrest campaign in Omdurman, in the security apparatus' attempt to stop the tide of protest against new austerity measures and the skyrocketing prices of basic consumer goods.

Farouq Abu Eisa, the head of the opposition coalition National Consensus Forces, also said that the release of some of the political detainees while holding others in detention is "a discrimination and an opportunistic course intended to divide the opposition".

EU calls for release

The Sudanese government's decision to devaluate the local currency in January and rising bread prices sparked ongoing protests across the country, which have resulted in police killing at least one protester and arresting hundreds of activists. In the past weeks the United States' embassy in Sudan, the European Union Delegation to Sudan, and press freedom advocate groups including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Khartoum to release these political detainees as soon as possible.

This week the EU Delegation and the resident EU Heads of Mission in Sudan issued a statement to welcome the release of a number of the political prisoners from Kober prison, while calling on the Sudanese government to promptly release the remaining political detainees.

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