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Cablegate: 39 Darfuris Charged in Connection with May 10 Attacks On

VZCZCXRO4231
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0918/01 1721236
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201236Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1107
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000918

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, DRL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KPKO AU UN SU CD
SUBJECT: 39 DARFURIS CHARGED IN CONNECTION WITH MAY 10 ATTACKS ON
OMDURMAN

REF: A. KHARTOUM 866
B. KHARTOUM 881

1. (SBU) Summary: Sudanese authorities formally charged 39 detainees
in connection with the May 10 JEM attacks on the capital, although
many more Darfuris remain in custody or are unaccounted-for.
Khartoum-based Darfuri civil society groups have received
significant moral support from political parties, such as the SPLM
and SLM-Minnawi, with prominent figures denouncing the arrests in
public at recent public rallies (notably, without interference from
the GOS). Additional documentation of arrests and torture has
emerged as family members of a Darfuri detainee recently stepped
forward to speak with embassy officers. End summary.

--------------------------------------------
LAWYERS STRUGGLE TO ACCESS 39 CHARGED SO FAR
--------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In the weeks following the May 10 attacks by the Justice
and Equality Movement (JEM), Sudanese authorities arrested hundreds
of Darfuris resident in Khartoum in sweeps across the capital, and
on June 18 authorities initiated legal proceedings against a
fraction of the unknown detainees. Authorities formally charged 39
Sudanese citizens on counts of murder, terrorism, and constitutional
violations in three separate courts in the capital. The independent
Khartoum Center for Human Rights criticized the process as highly
flawed and in violation of the Sudanese Constitution, with cases
transferred from the police to the prosecutor without releasing any
details of the charges. Lawyers rushed to courts in Khartoum,
Khartoum North (Bahri) and Omdurman to file petitions to represent
the 39 unnamed detainees, not knowing whom they would be
representing.

3. (SBU) Lawyers from the independent Darfur Bar Association spoke
with Poloff on June 18 and recounted violations of due process and
human rights. Although lawyers at the courts in Omdurman and Bahri
spoke with their detainees in limited interviews, lawyers who
arrived at the appointed time at the court in Khartoum found
themselves barred from the courtroom, as the proceedings had
commenced one hour earlier (something they described as a "tactical
maneuver.") One lawyer at the court in Omdurman was granted 15
minutes to interview 13 defendants; he described them as illiterate,
bewildered Darfuris in need of medical care and proper clothing.
Another lawyer at the proceedings in Bahri echoed his conclusions,
and added that 4 of these 13 defendants are under the age of 18,
likely between 14 and 16 years old. One had been clearly tortured;
as he was unable to stand, two policemen carried him into the
crowded interview room. Shackled at the wrists and ankles, the
defendants had enough time to identify themselves and their tribes,
but did not detail their arrest or treatment before the allotted 15
minutes ran out.

-----------------------------------
OPPOSITION RALLIES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
-----------------------------------

4. (SBU) At an open-air rally at Umma Party headquarters in Omdurman
in the evening of June 18th, speakers from several Sudanese
political parties derided the recent arrests. Human rights
advocates, university professors and opposition leaders called for
the end to the arrests, the release of the detainees, the end of NCP
rule, and the birth of a peaceful Sudan. Yasir Arman, Deputy SG of
the SPLM for the Northern Sector, cited Northern Ireland as an
example of a region that managed to transfer quickly from war to
peace. Interrupted by a woman who shouted, "SPLM, you are the cause
of this now," Arman allowed the woman to continue until she
exhausted herself, and then wryly added, "Now this is freedom of
expression . . . but please, don't count that from my time."

5. (SBU) Noted Sudanese human rights advocate Salih Mahmoud Osman
spoke with Poloff at the rally, expressing delight at signs of
Sudanese solidarity. Winner of the International Human Rights Award
from the American Bar Association in 2006, Osman described the
campaign against the arrests as consistent with recent efforts by
the International Criminal Court (ICC) to press for legal
accountability for human rights violations in Sudan. "We are now
seeing both an internal campaign and an external campaign, which is
necessary but not sufficient." He described the international
community as supportive of his efforts, but worried, "the European
Union is preparing to compromise justice for political
negotiations." He added, "The international community needs to send
a strong message to the Government of Sudan that without cooperation
with the ICC, the international community will take measures and
act."

--------------------------------------------- --------

KHARTOUM 00000918 002 OF 002


ONE OUTSPOKE ACTIVIST TURNS HIMSELF IN AND DISAPPEARS
--------------------------------------------- --------

6. (SBU) Neimat Widaa, brother of jailed Darfuri activist Abdelillah
Widaa, spoke with Poloff June 19 regarding her brother's detention.
Resident in Khartoum, Abdelillah Widaa is a successful 39 year-old
electrical engineer, a fervent supporter of human rights, and a
founding member of the influential Darfur Forum for Dialogue and
Peaceful Intervention. Prior to the May 10 attacks, officers from
the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) visited Widaa
at his job, leaned on his general manager to fire him, and,
according to his sister, told him, "We can eliminate you
completely." On May 14th, when Widaa was not at home, two NISS
vehicles arrived at his Omdurman home to arrest him, staying until 4
a.m. Neighbors passed him word that NISS officers had arrived at his
house, and he immediately went into hiding. NISS officers returned
three more times, each time beating family members and neighbors,
and threatening them with arrest and execution. Later NISS officers
arrested his brother and uncle, subjected them to beatings, and sent
word out that they would be held until Abdelillah gave himself up.

7. (SBU) After eluding authorities for nineteen days, Widaa
contacted Darfuri tribal leaders and arranged his surrender to NISS.
According to his sister, word of the arrests had reached Widaa, and,
certain his uncle and brother were being tortured, he chose to turn
himself in to guarantee their release. On June 3rd, his tribal chief
and six witnesses accompanied Widaa as he returned to the capital to
face arrest. Widaa's relatives have received no word of his
condition since his arrest, and they call daily in vain to NISS
headquarters. Concerned for her brother's pregnant wife and one-year
old daughter, the activist's sister wept throughout the meeting,
saying she was certain her brother has been subjected to torture,
mindful that NISS officers had previously threatened to "eliminate"
him.

8. (SBU) Comment: The 39 Darfuris charged this week with
participation in the JEM attacks pale in comparison to the number
still behind bars. However, it is a positive development that the
Sudanese regime has finally begun charging and processing some of
the detainees, rather than keeping them indefinitely behind bars
without due process. Reports from human rights watchdogs indicate
that as many as 200 people either disappeared or were detained
following the May 10 JEM attack on the capital, but the full scale
of the arrests and the fate of the detainees remain unknown. Post
will continue to monitor the situation, press the Sudanese regime
publicly and privately and discuss with the UN and other
organization the extent to which the arrests and indeterminate
detentions violate international human rights law, as well as the
Sudanese Interim National Constitution. Embassy Khartoum's June 18
press release expressing concerns about the legal process involving
these detainees led to a response by the GOS rejecting our concerns.
Statements are good but they are not enough.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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