Bloomberg News

Sudan Activist Enters 11th Day of Hunger Strike Against Arrest

February 22, 2012

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- A Sudanese student activist entered the 11th day of a hunger strike to protest his arrest without charge after he participated in a protest at the University of Khartoum, his lawyer and a family member said.

Taj Alsir Jaafar, 25, a member of a youth movement known as Girifna, or “we’re fed up,” was arrested on Dec. 30 after participating in a university protest in support of people displaced by the Merowe Dam, north of Khartoum, said his lawyer, Abdul Moneam Adam. London-based Amnesty International urged Sudan on Jan. 24 to release Jaafa, saying he’s “at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”

After reports appeared on Sudanese websites that Jaafar had died inside Kober prison, his mother and Amani Ali, a cousin, went to the National Security and Intelligence Service headquarters in Khartoum. While they were told the news was false, they weren’t allowed to see him, Ali said.

“We still don’t know if that’s true or not,” Ali said today by phone. “Last time we visited him, he was really pale, weak, but we know he’s stubborn and won’t give up.”

Sudanese police spokesman al-Ser Ahmed said he had no information about Jaafar’s case.

“We don’t know about political detainees,” he said by phone. “He was detained by the NISS.”

Under Sudan’s 2010 National Security Act, the NISS may detain a person for 45 days without judicial ovesight before a prisoner must be released or charged.

Rights Record

Sudan’s human rights record deteriorated last year with the eruption of new armed conflicts and crackdowns on students, rights advocates and the media, New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Jan 22. Police dispersed students protesting over poor living conditions at the University of Nyala in South Darfur state on Feb. 20, three days after 400 students at the University of Khartoum were detained and released the same day.

Sudanese columnist Mohamed Zein el-Abbeddin was detained on Feb. 20 by the NISS for an article he wrote for al-Tayar newspaper that criticized Sudanese president Umar al-Bashir, the security forces and companies owned by the ruling National Congress Party, according to lawyer Nabil Adib.

The authorities seized the newspaper edition that carried the article, which was later posted on Girifna’s Facebook page. The government has brought charges against at least 10 writers and journalists since March last year for criticizing al- Bashir’s administration.

“The crackdown on writers, journalists and activists is a clear violation of the constitutional right of freedom of expression,” Adib said.

--Editors: Karl Maier, Ben Holland

To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Khartoum at selwardany@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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