19 April 2018

Sudan: Amnesty International - Call for 'Urgent Action' Over Blind Darfur Sheikh Detained in Sudan

Sudan — Amnesty International has called for 'urgent action' in connection with the continued detention of Matar Younis Ali Hussein, a visually impaired religious teacher, who was arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Zalingei city, Central Darfur on 1 April.

In a worldwide appeal released today, Amnesty confirms that Hussein is currently being held at the NISS detention centre at Kober Prison in Khartoum and has been denied access to a lawyer and his family. Hussein has been a vocal critic of the government's policy in Darfur. He is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment while in detention.

"Hussein is a 48-year-old visually impaired religious teacher at the Mosque of Zalingei and father of eight. NISS arrested him on 1 April and detained him in Zalingei city, Central Darfur State before transferring him to the NISS detention centre at Kober Prison in Khartoum a few days later," the statement says.

"His family was denied access to him when he was first detained in Zalingei city. They still have not been able to visit him in Khartoum. Hussein has also been denied access to a lawyer. Former detainees, who met him at Kober Prison, told Amnesty International that he has not been charged and the prison authorities refused to provide him with a walking cane to aid in his movement in prison. Amnesty International is concerned that Hussein' continued arbitrary detention puts him at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

"Hussein has been a vocal critic of the government's policy in Darfur. In the recent past, he publicly called out the government for hiring thousands of young people in Darfur to join the army and also for distributing weapons in the region. He has also described the peace process in Darfur as 'false peace' and called for the protection of displaced people in Darfur."

Amnesty International calls on readers write to the Sudanese authorities calling on them to release Matar Younis Ali Hussein immediately and unconditionally as he is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression; Urging them to ensure that, pending his release, he is not subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention; calling on them to ensure that, pending his release, Matar Younis Ali Hussein is granted regular access to his family and a lawyer of his choice; calling on them to either charge all other detainees from Darfur with recognizable criminal offences or immediately release them.

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