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Sudanese protesters gather, demanding closure of detention centers




CAIRO (AP) – Dozens of Sudanese gathered in the capital, Khartoum, on Thursday to demand the closure of illegal detention centers following alleged torture and the killing of a man by a paramilitary force whose members once formed the backbone of a militia. accused of war. crimes in Darfur.

The death of Bahaa al-Din Nuri, who was abducted last month while sitting in a cafe last month, has revived the debate over the mandate of the Sudanese Rapid Reaction Force, which activists have long blamed for several violations. human rights.

Men and women hold up pictures of Nur, forming a human chain in downtown Khartoum from the Sudan attorney general’s office in the Cabinet. Many protesters also held up placards reading “No to enforced disappearances”.

The meeting was convened by the Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the popular uprising that led to the ouster of former autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Ammar al-Baqer, a member of the association, said the protest aimed to repeat his group’s demands that “all illegal detention centers” be closed and that only Sudanese police retain the right to detain people “under the process. regular “.

Nuri was taken on December 16 from the Kalakla neighborhood in southern Khartoum by men in civilian clothes riding in a vehicle without license plates, his family said. His body was found five days later in a hospital morgue. The family refused to take him for immediate burial after seeing visible signs of beatings and torture, according to Nur’s brother, Yasser.

Culture and Information Minister Faisal Mohammed Saleh, who is also the government spokesman, said an initial investigation showed Nuri died during interrogation by the Rapid Support Forces. A spokesman for the force, General Gamal Goma, said the intelligence chief and officers involved in detaining and questioning Nuri had been suspended or detained pending an investigation into his death.

Public Prosecutor Taj al-Ser Ali al-Hebr said the autopsy confirmed that the 42-year-old electrician died from his wounds in accordance with the torture.

“We, as lawyers, hope that people can stand together with the police and army against extrajudicial arrests and killings,” said Ghada Abbas Ahmed, a lawyer who took part in the protest.

The Rapid Reaction Force consists mainly of former Janjaweed militias who have carried out a brutal strike in Sudan’s Darfur region under al-Bashir. Rights groups have accused Janjaweed of committing war crimes, including raping and killing civilians and burning villages.

The force is led by the powerful Sudanese general Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who is also the deputy chairman of the sovereign governing council. In response to Nur’s death, Daglo said he had lifted immunity for all suspected members of the force to allow an unhindered investigation.

Since the ouster of al-Bashir, Dagalo has emerged as Sudan’s main mediator, with his forces stationed in areas beyond the capital and other major cities. Sudan is currently governed by a joint military-civilian government.

Thursday’s protest comes against the backdrop of tensions between the military and civilian members of Sudan’s caretaker government. Tensions have largely focused on the Sudanese military’s economic assets, over which the civilian-run finance ministry has no control.

The government has been struggling with a huge budget deficit and widespread shortages of essential goods, including fuel, bread and medicine. Annual inflation has risen 200% in recent months as prices for bread and other products rose.

Separately, Lieutenant General Shams al-Din Kabashi, a member of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, met in Cairo on Thursday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi as the two countries face strained relations with Ethiopia over the construction of a dam. controversial on the Blue Nile.

Al-Sissi and Kabashi agreed to “continue their coordinated efforts” to resolve the dispute, and also discussed the situation along the Sudanese-Ethiopian border, which have recently seen sporadic military confrontations between the two neighboring countries.

In the past two months, the Sudanese army has deployed troops in border areas with Ethiopia and said it had recaptured territories for years controlled by Ethiopian militias and farmers. This development came after the outbreak of a civil war in neighboring Ethiopia, where government forces have been fighting local forces in the Tigray region since early November.

The conflict spilled over the border with Sudan last month. At least five Sudanese women and a child were killed in an attack Monday inside Sudan by Ethiopian militias, the Sudanese foreign ministry said.

The Tigray fighting has also sent over 60,000 Ethiopian refugees to Sudan, mostly to al-Qadarif.

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