Khartoum / Port Sudan — In a memorandum to the UN Human Rights Council, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, and the Arab Commission for Human Rights, the Sudan Human Rights Network (SHRN) appeals to the international community to urge the Sudanese authorities to release the 134 political detainees currently being held incommunicado, or in prisons in Khartoum and Port Sudan.
SHRN expresses its concerns about the "gross human rights violations and abuses, and arbitrary detention by the Sudanese authorities" of civil society and political party members, tribal leaders, and activists.
Hundreds of government opponents, including leaders and members of political parties, journalists, human rights activists, and trade unionists, are detained without charges, SHRN states. The majority of them are held in secret detention centres.
The Network points to 60 tribal leaders from the Rizeigat and Maaliya who are still being held without valid charges since in July and August last year. Following fierce fighting between the two tribes in East Darfur in early July, they were detained as the authorities held them responsible for the violence. They were convicted under the State of Emergency in East Darfur, and transferred to Kober Prison in Khartoum North or the prison of Port Sudan.
Another group of people, many of them members and leaders of opposition parties, were detained this year, because they protested the latest austerity measures of the government. Listing the names of 74 of them, the SHRN calls for their immediate release.
"If strict measure are not taken, we are concerned that government forces will continue to use excessive force against protesters and to arbitrarily detain those who participate in them." - SHRN
According to the Network, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) is holding the political detainees as hostages "to prevent the Sudanese opposition from carrying out protests against the government".
NISS director Salah Gosh said in an interview with El Intibaha newspaper on February 20 that "The political detainees from the leftist parties would be released if their parties stop demonstrating and behave themselves!"
SHRN condemns the gross human rights violations in Sudan and therefore recommends the UN Commission on Human Rights assigns human rights field officers to monitor the human rights situation.
"If strict measure are not taken, we are concerned that government forces will continue to use excessive force against protesters and to arbitrarily detain those who participate in them - as they have done repeatedly," the memorandum reads.
Ten days ago, a group of Sudanese lawyers and activists as well called for the release of 63 East Darfur Maaliya leaders from prisons in Khartoum and Port Sudan. They described the detentions as arbitrary, unfair, and contrary to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all international conventions ratified by the Sudanese government.
On March 13, the Parliament of the European Union in Strasbourg tabled a resolution demanding the release of all detained human rights defenders and civil society activists in Sudan, with specific reference to Sakharov Prize laureate Salih Mahmoud Osman, deputy-chairman of the Darfur Bar Association.