Cablegate: Darfur Students Beaten and Dormitories Destroyed Following
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0847/01 1600515
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 080515Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0978
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000847
DEPT FOR SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, DRL
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL PREF SOCI UNSC SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR STUDENTS BEATEN AND DORMITORIES DESTROYED FOLLOWING
PROTESTS AT KHARTOUM UNIVERSITY
1. (SBU) SUMMARY. According to eyewitnesses and participants,
Sudanese security services violently broke up a Darfuri student
protest at Khartoum University on June 5. Security forces beat the
protestors with iron bars, threw several Molotov cocktails into the
crowd, and fired handguns into the air to disperse the crowd. After
breaking up the protest, the security forces then moved on to a
dormitory inhabited by Darfuri students and destroyed the living
space of approximately 40 of them. Contacts from SLM-Minnawi report
that approximately 20 students were wounded in the clash, with three
of them in critical condition. According to these sources, at least
one dozen students remain in detention. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) On June 6, TDRA Legal Secretary Abdel Aziz Sam and
Director of Capacity Building met poloff at SLM-Minnawi headquarters
in Omdurman. Dozens of young men were present at the headquarters.
In one room approximately seven young men lay on the ground with
bloodied bandages applied to their heads and legs. Poloff
photographed the injured and will transmit images to AF/SPG and the
Office of the Special Envoy.
REASON FOR THE PROTESTS
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3. (SBU) According to SLM-Minnawi contacts, on June 4 a leader of
the Darfur Students' Association, Ismail Ahmed Salah, was harassed
by a Sudanese security agent assigned to the University of Khartoum.
According to these sources, Salah was sitting with a group of young
women when the security agent said, "Don't sit with these women, you
slave," and then struck Salah with the butt of his pistol.
- - - - -
4. (SBU) On June 5, the Darfur Students' Association organized a
protest at Khartoum University at 13:30 to protest the attack on
Salah. Eyewitnesses estimated that there were roughly seven or
eight hundred unarmed protestors gathered at the university from
different political parties and geographic origins. According to
protest participants, approximately 150 security forces and NCP
affiliated students approached the gathering. Most of these
individuals were carrying iron bars, while others had Molotov
cocktails and twenty others had handguns, these sources said.
According to these sources, although the security forces were
dressed in civilian clothing, the presence of firearms and the
matching boots of many of the individuals, indicated that the
individuals came from the state security apparatus. "They shot
their guns up in the air and then stormed at us with their clubs
beating anyone who was in their way," stated one eyewitness.
Protestors fled, but security forces detained roughly one dozen
individuals. Contacts stated that while beating many of the
individuals from Darfur, the security forces made the victim state
"I am a slave and I will never rule Sudan."
5. (SBU) Salah Ibrahim, one student with a large bloodied bandage
wrapped around his head, told poloff that he was beaten and then
detained by Sudanese security. He stated that he was insulted,
beaten further, and then thrown into a security vehicle en route to
interrogation. Ibrahim stated that he faded in and out of
consciousness while in the vehicle, alarming his captors who stated,
"He might die, we better get rid of him." Ibrahim said that he was
then dumped at the doorsteps of a nearby hospital, and as the car
pulled away the security men yelled, "This man belongs to Khalil
- - - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) According to these same sources, after the protest had
dispersed, a larger group of plain-clothes security forces gathered
outside of a student dormitory at approximately 18:00. The force
was "more than 150 people" with heavier weapons, including 25
Kalashnikovs and other larger caliber weapons. According to these
sources, the security forces then entered the second story of the
dormitory and destroyed six rooms housing approximately 40 students,
destroying the rooms and setting some of their possessions on fire.
Inhabitants fled to higher levels of the building, and according to
one contact, security forces threw several students off of the
second and third stories of the building, resulting in severe
7. (SBU) TDRA Legal Secretary Abdel Aziz Sam stated that the
government recognizes that Darfuri students are active, strong, and
if challenged, a threat to the government. He added that the GoS
currently feels pressured following the UNSC visit, the breakdown in
bilateral discussions between the U.S. and Sudan, and the
possibility of further indictments by the ICC. "There is a
relationship between all of these major events and even events like
this," stated Sam. Sam stated that his most immediate concern is
finding treatment and refuge for the wounded staying at SLM-MM
KHARTOUM 00000847 002 OF 002
headquarters. "These young students are wounded and Zaghawa, and if
they go home or go to the university everyone will think they were
part of the JEM attack," stated Sam.
8. (SBU) On June 5, the moderate Arabic daily "Al-Sudani" provided
front-page coverage of the protest and the GoS's response.
"Al-Sudani" stated that "more than fifteen students were injured in
the clash between NCP students and SLM students affiliated to Abdul
Wahid Al-Nur." The article also states that the NCP students
released a statement on the event, stating that four of their
students were injured in the events. Reacting to the column, Abdel
Aziz Sam commented, "This is just propaganda - the Government wants
to discredit this and say it is tied to Abdul Wahid and Israel."
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9. (SBU) In the last six months there have been at least three
other protests by Darfuri students at Khartoum's universities.
However, SLM-Minnawi observers agreed that this was the largest,
most organized, and most violent Darfuri student protest to occur in
2008. Abdel Aziz Sam also is correct to tie it to other events. As
the GoS feels more pressure from within and without Sudan, it will
likely take out its frustrations on its usual targets.