Sudan: Activist Abused and Detained By Military Intelligence

El Obeid — A retired police officer and social media activist was detained and abused by members of the Military Intelligence (MI) in El Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan, on Friday.

In a conversation with Radio Dabanga yesterday, retired police colonel and social media activist Adel Dahab reported that he was detained after "a verbal altercation" with a member of the MI while queuing in front of the United Petrol station. The station is near the base of the military El Obeid Fifth Infantry Division.

Following the verbal dispute, another MI agent and a policeman arrested Dahab and took him into the division command. They accused the activist of insulting the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on Facebook and physically abused him by kicking him until he lost consciousness.

Dahab was detained from 13:00 until 17:00, in what he called a "detention place that has nothing to do with justice, litigation, and the law". He was not only kicked but also threatened by the MI officer. He lost his mobile phone and the SDG17,500 ($70) worth of cash he had with him before he was detained and beaten.

The victim further told Radio Dabanga that the two MI officers told him to pledge guilty, to not file a complaint against them, and not to address the issue in the media.

Dahab considers the incident a "step back from the achievements of the revolution" and a return to the practices of the former regime, infringing on public liberties.

Supported by lawyer Osman Hasan, he filed an official complaint against the officers that consists of 10 articles, including harm, threat, and illegal detention.

Detained activists

Earlier this year, social media activist and women's rights defender Waad Bahjat faced a one-year prison sentence on charges of defamation, insulting a public servant exercising judicial proceedings, the use of criminal force, publishing false news, and public nuisance over a Facebook video she broadcasted. In the video, she reported on an incident in which several women were harassed by SAF and police officers as they were denied access to a petrol station.

Eventually, Bahjat was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of SDG 10,000 on charges of the use of criminal force and public nuisance remained. Similar to Dahab, she was arrested, detained, and subjected to threats and ill-treatment and she sustained cuts and bruises on her arms and shoulders.

The incident caused a public backlash over the use of force by authorities to silence activists. The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) stated that the use of criminal law to intimidate or silence activists and others who exercise their right to freedom of expression, online and offline, is not new in Sudan. The regime of ousted dictator Omar Al-Bashir frequently relied on crimes of defamation and publication of false news to harass real or perceived critics of the regime.

Last year, Sudan's Rapid Support Forces (RSF) detained an activist from eastern Sudan and an activist from the Blue Nile state.

* The RSF militia, Sudan's largest paramilitary force founded by the ousted Al Bashir regime in 2013, was officially integrated into the Sudan Armed Forces. Nevertheless, the militia stays a force unto itself under the command of 'Hemeti', also Deputy President of Sudan's Sovereign Council. The RSF grew out of the Janjaweed militias, who fought on the side of the Al Bashir regime since the war broke out in Darfur in 2003, and is widely believed to be responsible for atrocities in Sudan in the past six-seven years.

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