Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) condemns the arbitrary arrest of civil society and opposition leaders in Sudan, among them Dr. Amin Mekki Medani, lawyer and prominent rights defender, and Farouk Abu Issa, the head of the opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF), after they signed the consensual roadmap known as the Call of Sudan.
Security forces and National Intelligence arrested the detainees in their homes in Khartoum late on Saturday, December 6, and has held them in an undisclosed location. The arrests took place after the opposition figures returned from Addis Ababa where, following talks with numerous political parties, civil society organizations, and various opposition forces, including armed militias, attendees signed the Call of Sudan document on Wednesday, December 3. The document is a consensual memo of understanding between all national forces in Sudan aimed at ensuring peaceful opposition to the Sudanese authorities, uniting ranks in the face of repression and abuses of rights and liberties, stopping the war, and realizing democracy.
The document—the first to bring together opposition forces, political parties, and civic organizations, after joint talks that lasted more than a year—stipulates the establishment of a democratic, citizenship-based state in Sudan. It gives priority to ending wars and conflicts and building peace on comprehensive, fair foundations, as well as finding a comprehensive resolution to the conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile. Numerous opposition figures endorsed the document, among them Dr. Amin Mekki, representing Sudanese civil society, and Farouk Abu Issa, representing opposition political parties.
The arrests are the latest manifestation of the government’s long-standing repressive policies, which it has used to restrict freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association in Sudan. In addition, senior Sudanese officials, including security officials, have been subpoenaed by the International Court of Justice, among them President Omar al-Bashir, who is under an arrest warrant in connection with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity perpetrated during his rule in Sudan.
CIHRS notes that the secession of South Sudan was the product of years of continuous repression of the citizenry of the south. Sudan will only find stability by respecting the rule of law and liberties and purging security and political institutions of those responsible for crimes against humanity, perpetrated against the Sudanese people.
CIHRS is gravely concerned about the health conditions of the detainees, especially Dr. Amin Mekki, and condemns their arbitrary arrest, which contravenes all international conventions. CIHRS urges the swift disclosure of their whereabouts and their immediate, unconditional release, as well as an end to the arbitrary arrest of opposition forces and the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience detained in Sudan.
The arrest campaign carried out against the signatories of the Call of Sudan demonstrates that the regime is not serious about engaging in a dialogue to find peaceful solutions. The campaign also violates Resolution 456 issued by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, which calls for a comprehensive solution and emphasizes the importance of expanding the negotiations between the popular movement of Sudan and the government to include the Darfur issue and holding a national dialogue with the participation of civilian and armed political forces.
Amin Mekki was the Middle East and North Africa envoy for the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, the head of the human rights division of UN missions to Iraq and Kosovo, and a founder of the OHCHR office in the occupied Palestinian territories. He is also a founding member of the Arab Coalition for Sudan and the head of the Alliance of Independent Civil Society Institutions in Sudan. He was the minister of housing in the democratic coalition government from 1985 to 1986 and was elected a member of the permanent bureau of the Arab Lawyers Union for five consecutive terms.
Farouk Abu Issa, a prominent political dissident, is the head of the opposition NCF in Sudan, the former secretary-general of the Arab Lawyers Union, and the elected secretary-general of the Alliance of Opposition Sudanese Parties, which comprises 13 parties.
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