SU­DAN’S PAIN IS OUR BUSI­NESS

Sunday Tribune - - WORLD - SHANNON EBRAHIM [email protected]

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.

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