URGENT ALERT: Humanitarian Catastrophe in Darfur

URGENT ALERT: Humanitarian Catastrophe in Darfur

Islamic Human Rights Commission

13 July 2004

URGENT ALERT: Humanitarian Catastrophe in Darfur

1. Darfur
2. Hassan al-Turabi and other prisoners
3. Islamic Relief
4. Suggested Action
5. Further resource on Darfur

1. Darfur

The Sudanese government must cease its campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Western province of Darfur immediately. The Sudanese government has armed and supported the Arab “Janjaweed” which has committed numerous attacks on the African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups. The Sudanese government has been complicit in actions of the Janjaweed militias, including massacres of women and children, burning of towns and villages, and the forcible displacement of over a million civilians.

For more than a decade the Darfur region has been facing an organised campaign of destruction of life and livelihood as well as systematic plunder of property and wealth owned by the indigenous African tribes of the region.

To face this challenge, and as a sign of lost confidence in the willingness of national and local governments to protect them against attacks of the Janjaweed militias, the indigenous people of Darfur have developed their own militia groups for self-defence, resistance and recovery of stolen objects and livestock.

In February 2003, two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) were formed and an insurgency was declared against the government authority in the region. The government’s response to the political demands of these two groups was so violent and aggressive as it excluded all venues for a negotiated settlement of the conflict and instead used the army and further increased its dependency on the Janjaweed to fight a proxy war on its behalf. They used a scorched-earth policy including aerial bombardment of civilian targets accompanied by joint ground assaults by the army and the Janjaweed. The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that NGOs and the international community have labelled it a “genocide”.

For further information on Darfur, please see the report by the Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre (DRDC), an NGO based in Switzerland specialised on Darfur issues. The report can be found in the articles section of the Islamic Human Rights Commission at www.ihrc.org

2. Hassan al-Turabi and other prisoners of conscience

On the 30th June 2004, the leader of the Sudanese opposition Popular Congress Party and 77 of his followers, began a hunger strike in the Cooper prison where they have been jailed since April 2004. Dr. Turabi, who is in his early 70s, is in critical condition. His condition has worsened because of the state of his cell and the fact that he has been subjected to a rat bite on one of his legs. Cooper prison is notorious for being infested with rats. The security authorities have refused to move Dr. Turabi to a hospital and have denied his private doctor access to review him.

Dr Turabi is being investigated for six charges, two of which were related to \\\”seeking to dismantle a government\\\” and carry a death sentence. His party, which has been very critical of President Bashir’s policies, has been suspended of all political activities. Dr Turabi has denied any involvement with an attempted coup but said that he supported the rebels in Darfur who say the government has neglected their region.

Party officials have said the first arrests were made shortly after government security forces rounded up and arrested approximately 27 military officers mainly from Western Sudan accused of plotting a coup. The arrested officers are thought to be from the Darfur region, where rebels have been fighting the government for more than a year. It is alleged that those arrested are from the Sudanese air forces and have rejected the military campaign waged by the government against the citizens of Darfur in which indiscriminate aerial bombardment has been used. The authorities have stated that those arrested had links with Dr Turabi’s opposition party.

PCP members, including Dr. Turabi, were previously persecuted and imprisoned in 2001 after a so called power struggle with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who seized power in a military coup in 1989. Dr Turabi was released in October 2003 following an international campaign to free him.

There have been some releases of PCP prisoners in the last few days. However prisoners from various political and confessional backgrounds remain imprisoned. Please see the SOAT report for more details.

3. Islamic Relief

Islamic Relief has received clearance to work in West Darfur and have pledged an initial €116,000 for emergency intervention in the area. The need for humanitarian assistance is enormous. Many of the displaced people either have no shelter at all, or shelter under trees or under very rudimentary straw structures. The rainy season which lasts from May to September is adding to the misery of the displaced population. Without shelter, thousands of people will be severely affected. Women, children and the elderly remain the most vulnerable.
There are no sanitation facilities for the displaced population, increasing the potential for diarrhoeal diseases, including dysentery and cholera.

Urgent intervention is required to save lives. To make a donation, please visit http://www.islamic-relief.com/submenu/Appeal/sudan.htm .

4. Suggested Action

IHRC is extremely concerned about the humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur and calls upon the Sudanese government to disarm the Janjaweed militias and cease supporting them.

IHRC is also concerned about the use of torture against those taken prisoner in the latest wave of arrests and the crackdown against the party which amounts to a witch hunt against those that disagree with the government. IHRC calls upon the Sudanese government to free all prisoners of conscience and to provide Dr. Turabi with the urgent medical care that he requires.

The track record of the current Sudanese government steadily worsens and more details can be found in the report of the Sudanese Organisation Against Torture (SOAT), based in London, UK. A copy of their annual report on Sudan can be accessed by clicking on the link below.

Please write to the following addresses expressing your concern for the treatment of the people of Darfur as well as of all Sudanese prisoners of conscience.

His Excellency Lieutenant General Omar Hassan al-Bashir
President of the Republic of Sudan
President\’ s Palace
PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 783223

Dr. Abdelmuneim Osman Mohamed Taha
Advisory Council for Human Rights
PO Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 770883

Mr Ali Osman Mohamed Taha
First Vice-President
People\’s Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan
Telegram: First Vice-President, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax : + 249 11 771651 / 779977
Salutation: Your Excellency

Mr Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
Ministry of Justice
Khartoum, Sudan
Telegrams: Justice Minister, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 11 771479
Salutation: Dear Minister

Dr Nafie Ali Nafie
Minister of Federal Government
Office of the Presidents People\’s Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan
Telegrams: Federal Government Minister, Khartoum, Sudan
Salutation: Dear Minister

Mr Mustafa Osman Ismail
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 873
Khartoum, Sudan
Telegrams: Foreign Minister, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax : + 249 11 779383
Salutation: Dear Minister

Please also send letters to Jack Straw MP reminding him that he has a duty to raise this issue with the Sudanese government.

British Foreign Secretary,
Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP
King Charles Street

or write to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in your country.

5. Further resources

The UN

UN Security Council Resolution 1547:http://ods-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N04/386/26/PDF/N0438626.pdf?OpenElement

UN Commission on Human Rights Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights E/CN.4/2005/3: http://ods-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G04/142/21/PDF/G0414221.pdf?OpenElement

Sudan Human Rights Organization- Cairo Branch

Report 2003: http://www.shro-cairo.org/reports/04/hr03.doc

Human Rights Watch Reports

DARFUR DESTROYED Ethnic cleansing by Government and Militia forces in Western Sudan: www.hrw.org/reports/2004/sudan0504/

DARFUR IN FLAMES Atrocities in Western Sudan: www.hrw.org/reports/2004/sudan0404/

Amnesty International Reports

Sudan At the mercy of killers – destruction of villages in Darfur: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR540722004?open&of=ENG-SDN
SUDAN1.2 million internally displaced people at risk in Darfur: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR540782004?open&of=ENG-SDN
Sudan Darfur: Incommunicado detention, torture and special courts: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR540582004?open&of=ENG-SDN

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Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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