SUDAN’S PAIN IS OUR BUSINESS
ONE MAN’S agony is just as important today as Jamal Khashoggi’s was in October. The persecution of one man at the hands of Sudanese President Omar al-bashir’s regime is worth shining a spotlight on as it is a glimpse into the suffering of more than a thousand others who have been detained since the uprising against the government began three weeks ago.
By exposing the Sudanese man’s trauma at the hands of the Sudanese security forces, it is not so easy to look the other way. It is our responsibility to know what is happening in Sudan and fight for the rights of the voiceless, just as so many others fought for the masses of South Africans under apartheid.
Yasir Elsir Ali is a Sudanese blogger and human rights defender who lives in Dubai. He travelled to Khartoum on December 20 to visit his dying father. His father died two days later.
On Christmas day, Ali joined the hundreds of Sudanese who had begun mass protests across the country a week before, calling for an end to Bashir’s 30-year rule.
Bashir has presided over state corruption, gross abuses of human rights, and an economy in free-fall. Sudanese can’t get the most basic necessities such as bread.
Ali was shot by a state-sponsored sniper on a rooftop, the bullet fracturing his rib, puncturing his right lung and settling in his spinal chord. He ended up in ICU for nine days. Upon being discharged, he was scheduled to leave Sudan two days later, on January 5, but the state rushed to issue him with a travel ban. On the day he was due to travel back to Dubai, 12 men from the National Intelligence Service wearing civilian clothes, balaclavas and carrying Kalashnikovs stormed his home in Khartoum, and took him into custody in an unmarked truck.
Ali was being kept in an undisclosed location and is being held incommunicado at the Al Amal Security hospital. He might have been tortured while his lungs were bleeding from the gunshot wound, and his ribs broken.
The ripple effects of the family’s trauma are being felt as far as South Africa, as the Sudanese community has begun to protest outside the Embassy of Sudan in Pretoria against Ali’s detention, as well as that of more than 1 000 others, and calling for Bashir to step aside.
Other protest are planned outside the embassy and the UN offices. The Sudan Professionals Association is mobilising across Sudan, as are unions, students and civil society groups.
At the forefront of the demonstrations are doctors – the first line of defence on the ground, and the state is targeting them in order to weaken the protests.
Footage of doctors in white coats being rounded up by the military and herded onto the back of trucks has been seen across the world, many of them have been shot with live ammunition.
Hospitals are being targeted as punishment for treating the wounded protesters, with live ammunition and teargas having been shot at Omdurman hospital in Khartoum last week, in violation of international law.
Once a regime starts to imprison and persecute its medical professionals for marching in peaceful protests, and starts shooting inside hospitals, it has become inhumane.
It doesn’t care for its people. The government no longer has any place in the leadership of this continent.