Darfuri students arrested, detained and tortured for speaking out

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Darfur Students Association

University students from Darfur suffer arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture and ill-treatment at hands of their government. Unlawful killings go un-investigated and unpunished

Darfuri students in Sudan are facing violations to their human rights in universities across the country by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the police and students affiliated with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). They have been prevented, sometimes violently, from speaking out about the conflict and humanitarian situation in Darfur and other political matters as well as for holding protests in relation to fees and fee waivers.

Jalal (pseudonym), Darfuri Student
The Government attacks us. They don’t want people to know what’s going on in Darfur.
A picture taken from behind showing a group of students marching armed with sticks and iron bars. A picture taken from behind showing a group of students marching armed with sticks and iron bars.
Students affiliated to the ruling party, NCP, carrying iron bars and sticks at the University of Khartoum, Mar 2014 . © Darfur Students Association
A portrait photo of a student A portrait photo of a student
Salah Al Din Qamar Ibrahim, University of El Geneina died on 2 February 2016. © Private
Six police trucks and armored police vehicle cordoning off a road intersection. Six police trucks and armored police vehicle cordoning off a road intersection.
Anti-riot police deployed against Darfur Students’ Association members at the Omdurman Islamic University. © Darfur Students’ Association

“We will throw you into the sea, nobody will know.”

The police and the NISS are used by the Sudanese government to repress perceived dissent. The NISS and the police have legal immunities protecting them from prosecution for criminal acts they commit in their official capacity. These immunities, coupled with fear of reprisals, make it hard for victims of human rights violations to lodge complaints against security agents. Even where complaints are lodged, there are limited records of effective investigations and prosecutions.

Here there are no lawyers, courts, law or God, only us. We can do what we like to you. If you don’t answer our questions, we will throw you into the sea, nobody will know what happened to you and no one will ask about you
NISS agent speaking to Abdelmonim Adam, after his arrest in relation to student protests at the University of Khartoum in March 2014.

In January 2016, security forces and students affiliated to the ruling party armed with knives, iron bars and machine guns interrupted and violently dispersed a peaceful assembly of Darfuri students at the University of El Geneina. Students were beaten and about 27 Darfuri students from the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups were arrested. One fourth year economics student, Salah Al Din Qamar, died from injuries sustained from beatings by NISS. A police investigation into Salah’s death was closed, citing the cause or circumstances of his death as unknown and his family has not pursued the case.

Other students arrested in the same incident have found it difficult to go back to university. They have been threatened with re-arrest and are under increased security surveillance.

 

Arrested, tortured and raped for campaigning for student housing

Salma, a Darfuri student activist, was arrested in March 2014 by the NISS, for campaigning against the forced eviction of Darfuri female students from their housing complex. She was verbally insulted, beaten with batons, the butt of a gun, water hose pipes and sticks during her arrest and interrogation. She was also electrocuted and her hip was dislocated from the beatings. In October 2014, Salma was drugged and raped by NISS officers in the NISS offices in Khartoum North.

 

© Private

A picture showing a scarred arm and hand with burn marks and other injuries. A picture showing a scarred arm and hand with burn marks and other injuries.
Salma says she was electrocuted while in detention. Electrocution marks on her left hand. © Private

 

I…woke up and I found myself laying on the bed naked. All the four security officers there were looking at me ... One of them showed me a video of them raping me...the four officers took turns and raped me.
Salma (pseudonym), former student activist, speaking from exile
© Private
Salih, former student Holy Quran and Islamic Sciences University
They beat me all over my body. They threatened to hurt [my mother] and brother if I did not cooperate…I was tortured from afternoon till 3 am.
Darfur Students Association

Darfuri students arrested, detained, and tortured for speaking out

Darfuri students’ rights to freedom of assembly, expression and association violated.

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THE STATISTICS

7%

University students in Sudan that are Darfuri

10,000+

Darfuri students arrested and subjected to torture/ill-treatment since 2003

13

At least 13 Darfuri students unlawfully killed from 2003-2016

70

At least 70 Darfuri students expelled from 2014-2016

Image showing a group of heavily armed anti-riot police cordoning off a public space Image showing a group of heavily armed anti-riot police cordoning off a public space
Police outside the Omdurman Islamic University 16 February 2016. ©Darfur Students Association
Darfuri students protesting ouside the Omdurman Islamic University 16 February 2016. ©Private

A growing intellectual exodus

As a result of this persecution, Darfuris students are amongst hundreds who have left the Sudan, adding to the exodus of intellectual talent—a by-product of state repression. Darfuri students have also been suspended or expelled from universities or denied their certificates after graduation on grounds of their political activism and/or failure to pay fees despite a fee waiver.

So far, the Sudanese government has done little to ensure that violence against students from Darfur is prevented or that those responsible for these attacks are held accountable. The government has further failed to ensure and promote the right to education, the right to be free from torture/ill-treatment as well as the rights freedom of expression, assembly and association of Darfuri students.