Sudan’s military rulers increasing crackdowns by arresting activists

CAIRO: Amira Osman, a Sudanese women rights activist, was all ready to go to bed a few minutes before midnight when around 30 policemen forced their way into her home in Khartoum at the time of her arrest in January last month.

The men were not in their uniforms. They were wearing civil clothes and armed with Kalashnikov rifles, pistols, and batons. They hit her bathroom door badly and ignored her mother, who was trying to please them to at least allow her to get dressed appropriately before they took her away.

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According to her sister Osman’s and her lawyer ‘Amani’, “it looked like they were not engaging any activist but a dangerous terrorist.”

Osman, who has used crutches since a 2017 accident, was detained twice under Sudan’s retired autocratic President Omar Al-Bashir for disobeying strict Islamic laws governing women’s behaviour and dress. This time, she was jailed for speaking out against the military rule in the country.

With her Jan. 22 arrest, Osman united with other hundreds of activists and protest leaders targeted since a military coup ousted a transitional government from power last October.

In recent weeks, detention has strengthened in Sudan, and it plunged into further turmoil with near-daily street protests, flashing fears of an all-out return to dictatorial tactics of Al-Bashir.

The coup upended Sudan’s change to democratic rule after thirty years of international isolation under Al-Bashir, who was removed from power in 2019 after a popular uprising.

As per ‘Cameron Hudson’ an ex-US State Department official and Sudan expert at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, “The military of Sudan delivers the message to international representatives, that they are interested in political talks and for fundamental reform of the state, but then they do nothing to hide their heinous efforts in order to maintain the status quo, and they undermine efforts to unseat them.”

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Following the coup, the military always spread tear gas at crowds on the streets, and they knocked the internet and mobile services in the country. Nearly 80 people lost their lives in the protest, and some 2200 were severely injured. Several are in prison.

The US, UK, and Norway, along with the European Union, Canada and Switzerland, called the recent pattern “troubling” and demanded the release of “all those unjustly imprisoned.”

Osman’s imprisonment attracted censure and concern internationally. She was finally released on Sunday.

But for a whole week after her arrest, her family didn’t know where she was held. According to her sister, they just received a phone call asking them to send clothes to a prison in Khartoum’s twin city, Omdurman, who is also her lawyer.

According to Osman, she spent the first three days in isolated jail in “terrible and humiliating conditions.” Then another activist, Eman Mirghani, joined her in the cell. Mirghani remains in detention.

As per some Reports, Hassabu says he knows of over 200 activists and protest leaders imprisoned in the Sudanese capital alone. Numerous activists were taken from their homes or grabbed from the roads.