Sudan: Rallies in Khartoum, Darfur for Release of Janjaweed Leader

Khartoum / Darfur — Members of the Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC), founded by former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, demonstrated in the Sudan capital and nine towns and cities in Darfur for his release from prison yesterday.

The rallies calling for his release took place in the capital Khartoum, in Saraf Omra, Kutum, Damrat El Sheikh, Abdelbagi Badia, and Misteriya in North Darfur, and in the Darfur state capitals Ed Daein, Zalingei, Nyala, and El Geneina.

Arrested

Two years ago, on November 26, 2017, Hilal and a large number of his relatives and followers were arrested in their stronghold in Misteriya in North Darfur. More than 20 members of the Rapid Support Forces and the RAC were killed during the raid.

The demonstrators in Khartoum presented a memorandum to Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok yesterday. They called the charges "malicious" and "fabricated", and demanded the release of Hilal and his companions.

The memorandum also pointed to the poor conditions experienced by the RAC detainees.

Hunger strike

In a statement on Tuesday, RAC Spokesman Ahmed Abakar reported that Hilal and his comrades went on hunger strike three days ago. Their health condition has deteriorated significantly, he said.

"This is the fourth time that the RAC detainees in Khartoum and El Obeid are on hunger strike to protest their continued detention," he added.

He held the security apparatus of the Al Bashir regime and the current transitional government fully responsible for the health and lives of the detainees.

'El Burhan a liar'

Abakar called Sovereign Council Chairman Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan "a liar" for saying there are no political prisoners and prisoners of war in Sudan anymore. He claimed that hundreds of RAC prisoners of war were held in several detention centres.

Hilal was arrested when he refused to co-operate with the government's disarmament campaign. His trial began in secret on April 30, 2018.

Atrocities

Hilal is held responsible for numerous atrocities committed in Darfur against civilians after the conflict erupted in 2003. In that year, he was released from prison by the Al Bashir regime in order to mobilise Darfuri Arab herders to fight the insurgency of

With full government backing, Hilal's janjaweed targeted villages of African Darfuris. They rarely came near forces of the armed rebel movements.

RAC

In 2008, Hilal was appointed as Presidential Assistant for Federal Affairs. In January 2014, he announced his defection from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), and established the RAC.

The Revolutionary Awakening Council consists of Hilal's militiamen and a number of North Darfur native administration leaders. RAC commanders took control of the Jebel Amer gold mining area in El Sareif Beni Hussein locality in July 2015. According to a UN Security Council report in April 2016, Hilal and his entourage were profiting from vast gold sales in Darfur.

Protestors demanding the release of RAC leader Musa Hilal

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