KHARTOUM, Sudan, January 5, 2018–The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies is concerned about the safety and well-being of two community leaders from Port Sudan, Red Sea state who are being held incommunicado by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of Port Sudan. The two leaders have been in detention for close to three weeks without charge or access to their families and/or lawyers. Their families have expressed concern for their safety and their vulnerability to torture and ill-treatment given the well-documented use by the NISS of torture and other forms of ill-treatment against detainees.
On 11 December 2017, the two leaders, Hashim Ali Ahmed and Osman Albagir Osman led a peaceful protest by members of the Bishareen tribe who demonstrated against activities of a mining company contracted by the government to search for gold in a number of archaeological sites in Halayib locality, Red Sea state. The leaders were then summoned to NISS offices where they were forced to record statements indicating that they would desist from mobilising protests against the mining company. They were released the same day. Despite this, the leaders and members of the Bishareen continued to protest against the mining activities in the archaeological sites of Halayib.
On 17 December 2017, the leaders accompanied by a delegation of archaeologists from the Sudanese Antiquities Department, were travelling from Port Sudan to Halayib locality when they were intercepted by the NISS and arrested. The community leaders were then taken to the NISS offices in Port Sudan where they remain in detention.
ACJPS believes that there is no legitimate cause for the two community leaders’ detention, and that their arrests are solely based on their involvement in a peaceful protest calling for the protection of the archaeological sites which fall within the ambit of freedom of expression, association and assembly, rights guaranteed under Sudan’s Interim National Constitution.