Sudan activists freed after alleged torture

2014-07-12 11:30

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Khartoum - Two Sudanese political activists allegedly tortured during two months in detention were released on Friday along with a third activist.

"Thanks be to God," said mother Sabah Osman Mohammed, whose son Tajalsir Jaafar, 28, was among those freed.

She told AFP that Jaafar had just contacted her by telephone to say that he, Mohammed Salah and Moamer Musa Mohammed had been released.

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confirmed to local journalists that the trio had been freed.

They were detained outside the University of Khartoum on 12 May, according to Girifna, a non-violent movement seeking an end to President Omar al-Bashir's government.

Information from various sources

The university had been in turmoil, with clashes between pro-government youths and their opponents, after a student was killed during a campus rally for peace in the western region of Darfur.

Mashood Adebayo Baderin, the United Nations independent expert on human rights in the Sudan, told reporters in late June that he was concerned about the cases of all three youths.

Speaking at the end of his latest mission to Sudan, Baderin said he "had information from various sources" that Salah "was being tortured."

Baderin said that if the NISS had a case against the youths they should be brought to court.

Otherwise they should be freed, he said.

After visiting Salah in detention, his family issued a statement saying his body bore signs of physical abuse.

The weeping mother of Jaafar said at a 5 July press conference that he had been beaten about the face.

If the family has such a complaint it should be taken to a prosecutor, rather than being raised in the media, a security source responded in comments to AFP.

The mothers of Jaafar and Salah had vowed that their sons would "not be broken".

More arrests

The government hinted at greater political liberties in Sudan after Bashir announced in January a national dialogue aimed at solving the war-ravaged, impoverished country's multiple crises.

But the arrests of opposition political figures and others has raised questions about the regime's commitment to reform.

NISS said Jaafar, Salah and Moamer Musa Mohammed were freed following an order from Bashir and in line with the national dialogue.

Their release came the day after Bashir held another preparatory meeting with political parties about the dialogue from which two major opposition parties - Umma and Reform Now - have already withdrawn.

Reform Now leader Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani said on Tuesday that the process was at a dead-end and a "more credible" mechanism was needed.

National, ethical and political commitment

Umma pulled out when NISS detained its leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi, and held him for one month.

Bashir told the Thursday night meeting that "the atmosphere of freedoms ... within the national dialogue is guaranteed and represents an irrevocable national, ethical and political commitment", his top assistant Ibrahim Ghandour said, quoted by the official SUNA news agency.

However, while NISS announced the three activists' release an opposition party, Sudanese Congress, sent a message to AFP saying six of its members had been detained.

They were held after a NISS raid Friday evening on party offices in the West Kordofan town of En Nahud, its secretary general Abdelqayum Awad said.

Several other Sudanese Congress members have been detained over the past month, including party leader Ibrahim al-Sheikh.

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