‘We are the victims of our own corrupt government’ – life as an activist in Sudan
Dr Amin Mekki Medani, a 75 year-old human rights campaigner, has been detained in Sudan without charge since December as part of a wider crackdown on dissent. Here, his daughter Sara calls for an end to such abuses
Sudan is a very vulnerable nation. Twenty-five years ago, the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir overthrew a democratic transitional government through a military coup, and has ruled ever since. But in recent years, the people of Sudan have become extremely frustrated with the low standard of living and the daily human rights violations they face – from corruption, unemployment, inflation, to the ongoing conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile.
The Sudanese government routinely silences the peoples’ dissent. Human Rights Watch recently reported that Bashir’s government frequently detains without charge anyone who opposes it “whether through political declarations, protests, articles, or simply attending events.”
In the past six months, the government has tried to wipe out their opposition
In the past six months, the government has tried to wipe out their opposition. After signing the Paris Declaration in August 2014, which called for political reform and a transitional government, Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, the deputy chair of the National Umma Party was detained for month without charge. This followed the harsh police response to a peaceful protest organised by the party in July, where it was reported that al-Mahdi’s five daughters were arrested, along with many activists and party members.
Soon after, in September, the National Intelligence Secret Services (Niss) arrested dozens who had assembled to honour the killing of more than 170 people during the anti-austerity protests that swept the country in September 2013.
For my father, Dr Amin Mekki Medani, this dire situation has been particularly close to his heart. After a long and remarkable career in human rights, he is currently the president of Sudan’s Confederation of Civil Society Organisations, an umbrella gathering of activists and politicians across the country.
On 6 December 2014, my 75-year-old father, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, was taken from our house in Khartoum to a secret location by Niss, who had no warrant for his arrest.
My father had recently returned from Addis Ababa, where he had signed a landmark document called The Sudan Call, a declaration uniting the country’s formerly fragmented political and armed opposition “calling for peace and popular democratic transformation.” In response, Bashir’s government called it “treason”.
Two other Sudan Call participants were arrested at the same time: Farouq Abu Eissa, also in his seventies, chair of the opposition National Consensus Forces, and Dr Farah Ibrahim Mohamed Alagar.