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Back Activities Alert Archive URGENT ALERT: SUDAN – Members of Popular Congress Implicated in Recent Rebel Attack on Omdurman

URGENT ALERT: SUDAN – Members of Popular Congress Implicated in Recent Rebel Attack on Omdurman

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Popular Congress leader Dr Hasan Al-Turabi and several party members implicated to be involved with Jem forces in the bloodshed in Omdurman.

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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15 May 2008

URGENT ALERT: SUDAN – Members of Popular Congress Implicated in Recent Rebel Attack on Omdurman


Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action Required
4. Sample Letters


1. Summary
Popular Congress leader Dr Hasan Al-Turabi and several party members were arrested on 12 May 2008, following an armed assault by Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) forces on Khartoum's twin city, Omdurman, on 10 May 2008. Many of them, including Al-Turabi were subsequently released, however, they were implicated to be involved with Jem in the bloodshed in Omdurman.

The Popular Congress party has categorically denied any political involvement with Jem forces. Instead, Al-Turabi clearly denounced the bloodshed committed by Jem against the authorities as well as all forms of violence waged by the government against the Darfuri people, in a press conference at his home a day after his release. He also offered to mediate between the two warring parties. He however raised fears of detention against his party members, despite the fact that no evidence was found against them.

Many human rights organizations fear that the recent bloody events of Omdurman, in which more than 250 people have been reported to be killed will ignite a new wave of racially-backed violence against people from Darfuri decent. Hence they are urging the Sudanese government to cease all hostilities and steer clear from any possible retaliation against the innocent Darfuri people.


2. Background

Assault on Omdurman

The Sudanese military has been in serious clashes with Jem insurgents since 8 May 2008, when the Jem rebels started heading onto Omdurman from the remote west in reportedly 300 heavily armed vehicles. Around 250 people have been reportedly killed in clashes both in and outside the city, including 97 soldiers from the Sudanese army, more than 91 insurgents from Jem and 34 civilians. The number of civilians wounded in the conflict is unknown. This rebel attack was the first time in decades that brought the regional conflict from the desert to the city capital.


Arrest of Popular Congress Party Members

After the bloody clashes in Omdurman on 10 and 11 May 2008, Sudanese security officials arrested Dr Hasan Al-Turabi, Secretary General of the Popular Congress opposition party, on 12 May 2008, along with several other party members. The party representatives believe that these recent arrests against party members are part of an ongoing campaign of a crackdown against the party by the Sudanese regime. Popular Congress leader Al-Turabi and Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir have long been in a political struggle ever since they fell out with each other soon after a coup that brought Al-Bashir to power. The Sudanese authorities, nevertheless, deny these allegations and state that Popular Congress members were only arrested for questioning in relation to the rebel attacks.

However, certain developments after the Omdurman incident suggest that Al-Turabi and Popular Congress may have been targeted as part of a crackdown against them:

- The party headquarters were forcefully occupied by armed security forces for nearly 2 days after the Jem assault
- The arrested members were immediately taken to Kober prison where they were interrogated without legal representation or normal police procedures
- The members were all arrested in the early hours of the morning by security forces despite the fact that none of them were in hiding and they had just returned to Khartoum a few hours before, from an official announced party conference in South East Sudan. This does not appear to be the behavior of collaborators in a failed coup attempt 2 days before.

Al-Turabi, who was later released on the same day with four other officials, states that he was terrified during his detention, as 'those investigating me were security officers and not jurists…' The security officials questioned him about his involvement with Jem, but Al-Turabi gave no answer, as he could not verify the identity of those who detained him. He refused to confirm or deny any involvement with Jem, and challenged the security officials to take him to court when they persisted that they had evidence of his party's involvement with the insurgents.

Another Popular Congress party member, Dr Bashir Adam Rahma, the political secretary of the party, was released along with some other members on 13 May 2008. However, 5 party members still remain detained at the time of writing of this alert.


Popular Congress and Jem

The Sudanese authorities hold the Popular Congress responsible for the bloody events of Omdurman due to their beliefs that the political party is linked to Jem. However, Popular Congress has denied having any links to Jem. According to a Popular Congress party spokesman, the organization does not believe in violence or military means to achieve its aims. The members of this party and a large number of the members of Jem were all previously members of the governing National Congress party until late 1999 - mid 2000 when a major split occurred in the party. Members of JEM, who are mainly from the Darfur region, argued that peaceful means to face the government\'s repression were futile and opted for rebellion and an armed solution. Al-Turabi and his other followers, who eventually broke away from the National Congress party to form the Popular Congress party in June 2000, believe that Sudan's problems are best solved politically and peacefully. An armed solution would only exacerbate the country\'s problems and break up the country along racial, ethnic and tribal lines.


Al-Turabi made 'Scapegoat'

The First Vice President of Sudan and the President of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, too affirmed fears that Popular Congress leader Al-Turabi was targeted for no apparent reason except that to be made 'a scapegoat to the foiled rebel coup in Khartoum.' He stated that no charges were brought against Al-Turabi in a presidency meeting held one day before his arrest, nor was there a security report implicating Al-Turabi with the Jem assault.

Al-Turabi held a press conference at his home on 13 May 2008, a day after his release, where he denounced all forms of violence waged by the government against the Darfuri people as well as the bloodshed committed by Jem against the authorities. He also offered to mediate between the two warring parties. He further noted that the threat of detention against his party members still remained, despite the fact that no evidence was found against them.


Worrying Incidents

According to reports, there was evidence of racially based rounding up of people and arbitrary detentions of people of Darfuri descent during the clashes in and around Omdurman. Further, a large number of youths were captured and paraded on TV. Bodies of dead combatants were also shown on TV. Some reports suggest that as many as 300 to 400 people died during the clashes.

Reports by the Aegis Trust stated that hundreds of Darfuri civilians were beaten and detained and some Darfuri residents were shot by security forces on the streets and in their homes. Further, large numbers of Darfuri men were taken away in trucks and authorities 'broken into, ransacked and destroyed Darfuri shops in Omdurman.'

Human Rights Watch stated that 'mass arrests of perceived rebel supporters and other political opponents raised fears of mistreatment. The New-York based group also cited 'unconfirmed reports of torture and at least two summary executions in public.'


3. Action Required

a. Write to Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir appealing for him to release all Popular Congress party members and to halt the retaliation against Darfuri people.

HE Lieutenant General Omar Hassan al-Bashir,
President of the Republic of Sudan,
Presidential Palace,
PO Box 281,
Khartoum,
Sudan,

Fax: + 249 183 783223

b. Write to the Justice Minister and Attorney General, Mr Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin and appeal to him to ensure release of all Popular Congress party members and to ensure that retaliation against Darfuri people is ceased.

Mr Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin,
Minister of Justice and Attorney General,
Ministry of Justice,
Khartoum,
Sudan,

Fax: + 249 11 771479

c. Write to First Vice President of Sudan and the President of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit and appeal to him to ensure release of all Popular Congress party members and to ensure that retaliation against Darfuri people is ceased.

HE Salva Kiir Mayardit
First Vice-President,
People\'s Palace,
PO Box 281,
Khartoum,
Sudan

Fax: + 249 183 779977, + 249 183 780796

(Please mark, \"FAO First Vice-President\")


4. Sample Letter
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Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is extremely important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.

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a. Sample letter to Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir

[Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]

Dear Mr Omar Hassan Al-Bashir,

Re: Arrest of Dr Hasan Al-Turabi and other Popular Congress Members

I am very concerned about the recent arrest of Dr Hasan Al-Turabi and several other Popular Congress party members following the armed assault by Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) on Omdurman. Further, I am also concerned about the possible resulting racial backlash by the Sudanese authorities against Darfuri people in the wake of the assault.

Mr Al-Turabi and several other party members were arrested by Sudanese security officers early in the morning on 12 May 2008 and taken to Kober prison for questioning, without being allowed any legal representation. Mr Al-Turabi, who was released with several other officials quite late that same day stated that he was terrified by the security officers who questioned him about his party's political links with them Jem rebels. Mr Al-Turabi refused to confirm or deny the accusations and challenged the authorities to take him to court when they persisted that they had evidence linking him to Jem.

The Popular Congress representatives have categorically stated that they have no political links with Jem and that they denounce Jem's position of supporting an armed solution to the regional conflict.

In addition the First Vice President of Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, too believes that Al-Turabi has been targeted as a scapegoat and implicated in the Jem assault.

Mr Al-Turabi clearly denounced all forms of violence waged by the government against the Darfuri people as well as the bloodshed committed by Jem against the authorities, in a press conference he held at his home after his release on 13 May 2008. He has also offered to mediate between the two warring parties. He has however stated his fears that the threat of detention against his party members still remains, despite the fact that no evidence was found against them.

I am also concerned about the reported increase in violence against Darfuri people following the Omdurman incident. There have been reports that many Darfuri people have been beaten and shot dead and have had their shops raided and ransacked.

I urge you to ensure that there is no retaliation against the innocent Darfuri people as a result of the rebel attacks, and that peace should be re-established in the region as soon as possible.

Further I urge you to release all detained Popular Congress members and not to implicate them and hold them responsible in the Jem assault on Omdurman, as there is no evidence against them and they have categorically denied any links to the militant rebels.

I look forward to hearing from you with your assurances regarding this matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your Signature]
[Your Name]


b. Sample letter to Justice Minister and Attorney General, Mr Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin

[Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]

Dear Mr Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin,

Re: Arrest of Dr Hasan Al-Turabi and other Popular Congress Members

I am very concerned about the recent arrest of Dr Hasan Al-Turabi and several other Popular Congress party members following the armed assault by Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) on Omdurman. Further, I am also concerned about the possible resulting racial backlash by the Sudanese authorities against Darfuri people in the wake of the assault.

Mr Al-Turabi and several other party members were arrested by Sudanese security officers early in the morning on 12 May 2008 and taken to Kober prison for questioning, without being allowed any legal representation. Mr Al-Turabi, who was released with several other officials quite late that same day stated that he was terrified by the security officers who questioned him about his party's political links with them Jem rebels. Mr Al-Turabi refused to confirm or deny the accusations and challenged the authorities to take him to court when they persisted that they had evidence linking him to Jem.

The Popular Congress representatives have categorically stated that they have no political links with Jem and that they denounce Jem's position of supporting an armed solution to the regional conflict.

In addition the First Vice President of Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, too believes that Al-Turabi has been targeted as a scapegoat and implicated in the Jem assault.

Mr Al-Turabi clearly denounced all forms of violence waged by the government against the Darfuri people as well as the bloodshed committed by Jem against the authorities, in a press conference he held at his home after his release on 13 May 2008. He has also offered to mediate between the two warring parties. He has however stated his fears that the threat of detention against his party members still remains, despite the fact that no evidence was found against them.

I am also concerned about the reported increase in violence against Darfuri people following the Omdurman incident. There have been reports that many Darfuri people have been beaten and shot dead and have had their shops raided and ransacked.

I urge you to ensure that there is no retaliation against the innocent Darfuri people as a result of the rebel attacks, and that peace should be re-established in the region as soon as possible.

Further I urge you to ensure that all detained Popular Congress members are released and that they are not implicated and held responsible in the Jem assault on Omdurman, as there is no evidence against them and they have categorically denied any links to the militant rebels.

I look forward to hearing from you with your assurances regarding this matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your Signature]
[Your Name]


c. Sample Letter to First Vice President of Sudan and the President of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit

[Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]

Dear Mr Salva Kiir Mayardit,

Re: Arrest of Dr Hasan Al-Turabi and other Popular Congress Members

I am very concerned about the recent arrest of Dr Hasan Al-Turabi and several other Popular Congress party members following the armed assault by Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) on Omdurman. Further, I am also concerned about the possible resulting racial backlash by the Sudanese authorities against Darfuri people in the wake of the assault.

Mr Al-Turabi and several other party members were arrested by Sudanese security officers early in the morning on 12 May 2008 and taken to Kober prison for questioning, without being allowed any legal representation. Mr Al-Turabi, who was released with several other officials quite late that same day stated that he was terrified by the security officers who questioned him about his party's political links with them Jem rebels. Mr Al-Turabi refused to confirm or deny the accusations and challenged the authorities to take him to court when they persisted that they had evidence linking him to Jem.

The Popular Congress representatives have categorically stated that they have no political links with Jem and that they denounce Jem's position of supporting an armed solution to the regional conflict.

The next day after his release on 13 May 2008, Mr Al-Turabi held a press conference at his home in which he clearly denounced all forms of violence waged by the government against the Darfuri people as well as the bloodshed committed by Jem against the authorities. He also offered to mediate between the two warring parties. Further, he stated his fears that the threat of detention against his party members still remained, despite the fact that no evidence was found against them.

I request you to urge the Sudanese president, Mr Omar Al-Bashir, and do the best in your capacity to ensure that all detained Popular Congress members are released and are not implicated and held responsible in the Jem assault on Omdurman, as there is no evidence against them and they have categorically denied any links to the militant rebels.

I am also concerned about the reported increase in violence against Darfuri people following the Omdurman incident. There have been reports that many Darfuri people have been beaten and shot dead and have had their shops raided and ransacked.

Therefore, I urge you to ensure that there is no retaliation against the innocent Darfuri people as a result of the rebel attacks, and that peace should be re-established in the region as soon as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you with your assurances regarding this matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

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