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Cablegate: Prominent Critic Goes Underground As Gos Crows About Human

VZCZCXRO8731
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0881/01 1651309
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131309Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1043
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000881

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, DRL
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL SOCI SU

SUBJECT: PROMINENT CRITIC GOES UNDERGROUND AS GOS CROWS ABOUT HUMAN
RIGHTS

REF: A. KHARTOUM 788
B. KHARTOUM 847
C. KHARTOUM 857
D. KHARTOUM 866

1. (SBU) Summary: GoS authorities held a press conference on June 10
to spotlight JEM human rights violations, and announce that all JEM
"collaborators" will soon be charged and brought to trial. One young
critic who came to prominence through his internet postings, Ibrahim
Bagal, has gone underground, fearing extended detention, torture and
trial. End summary.

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CRITIC ON THE RUN AFTER FAMILY ARRESTED
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2. (SBU) On June 11, Poloff met with Ibrahim Abdalla Bagal, a
prominent government critic, chairman of the Association of Darfur
Students' Unions, and an accounting student at the University of
Juba in Khartoum. An ethnic Zaghawa, Bagal has attracted notoriety
through his posts on sudaneseonline.com, unrestrained in his
criticism of the Government of Sudan (GoS). Following the May 10 JEM
attacks, his web postings have lamented GoS targeting of Darfuri in
Khartoum, and called on Sudanese civil society to organize against
the detentions. Only 25, he already has been arrested by Sudanese
authorities five times and bears scars about the arms and head from
his torture.

3. (SBU) According to Bagal, officers from the National
Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have visited his home in
Khartoum twice in the last month in order to detain him; on June 6,
when Bagal himself was not at home, authorities detained his
brothers. Four of Bagal's brothers, the youngest 18, were held for
four days, and while interrogated and mildly beaten, they reportedly
were not extensively tortured. Bagal himself fears torture should he
be arrested, and displayed the accoutrements of a man gone
underground - a toothbrush, a wallet flush with 50 pound bills, and
four GSM SIM cards for his Nokia cellular phone. Khartoum's
close-knit Zaghawa community has managed to assist him in finding a
new place to sleep each night.

4. (SBU) Although unable to post online, Bagal has continued to
conduct research on the heavy-handed GoS reaction against Darfuri
living in Khartoum. Some recently released former detainees recount
being forced to face a solid concrete wall, to then be hit sharply
on the back of the head to break their noses on the wall without
revealing the identity of their assailants. Others have recounted
their interrogators labeling them "slaves of Darfur" during
beatings. Additionally, Zaghawa households in the Um-Beda and
Thawrah districts of Omdurman are reporting that GoS round-ups have
detained at least one person from each household.

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GOS: JEM VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS
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5. (SBU) On June 10, Poloff attended an ambassadorial-level meeting
of the Sudan Advisory Council for Human Rights. Abdelmoneim Taha,
Rapporteur of the GoS-affiliated council, began the meeting with a
long litany of human rights abuses allegedly carried out by JEM
leading up to, during, and following the May 10 attacks. Brother of
GoS Vice President Ali Osman Taha, Taha accused the international
community of adopting a double standard vis-`-vis JEM and GoS human
rights violations. As he had previously asserted in his meeting
with Charge de Affaires Fernandez last month (Ref. A), Taha insisted
that the Advisory Council has been monitoring the arrests from the
beginning, and strenuously denied accusations of torture.

5. (SBU) Jamal Osman Suleiman, representing the office of the
Attorney General for Anti-Terrorism, announced that 105 suspects are
still in custody under suspicion of assisting in the May 10 attacks,
and 480 individuals have since been released. (Note: Information
from human rights organizations in Khartoum indicates that
Suleiman's quote of 105 detainees grossly undercounts the number of
suspects in the custody of various GoS branches. End note.) Suleiman
read a list of violations committed by JEM under various articles of
the Sudanese Anti-Terror Act of 2001, including but not limited to:
undermining the constitution, inciting conflict, killing civilians,
and publishing false information. Colonel Mustafa Ibrahim of the
Sudanese Armed Forces said that although the Geneva Convention gives
the military the right to try detained JEM supporters in military
tribunals, all detainees will face trial in civilian courts.

6. (SBU) Legal advocates in Khartoum doubt the possibility of free,
fair and open trials, pointing out that the Sudanese Anti-Terrorism
Act of 2001 allows the GoS to conduct trials in closed courts.

KHARTOUM 00000881 002 OF 002


Khartoum-based attorneys with the Darfur Bar Association have
submitted several petitions to defend the accused, but the Ministry
of Justice has not yet answered their pleas. Discouragingly, the
GoS-controlled Sudanese Bar Association has already volunteered to
provide defense lawyers should the trials be held in civilian
courts. These attorneys are sure to show little interest in
actually defending their clients.

- - - -
Comment
- - - -

11. (SBU) With at least one critic on the run, possibly thousands
jailed (Ref. D), and hundreds facing trial on unknown charges, the
human rights situation in Khartoum continues to deteriorate.
Historically calm in the midst of disorder on the periphery of the
nation, Khartoum is still reeling from the shock of the JEM attacks,
and Darfuris here are aware they will continue to make convenient
targets for GoS anger. Post will continue to monitor the situation
as the detainees make their way through the legal system.

DATTA

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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