Sudan: Freedom for teacher who faced execution for criticizing government
Following news that the Sudanese authorities have released from prison and dismissed the trumped-up charges against human rights defender and teacher Matar Younis Ali Hussein, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Joan Nyanyuki said:
“Matar Younis is a courageous human rights defender and one of the rare voices speaking for the oppressed people of Darfur. His release is a positive development, although he should never have been arrested in the first place. He was targeted simply for speaking up against human rights violations.
Matar Younis is a courageous human rights defender and one of the rare voices speaking for the oppressed people of Darfur. His release is a positive development, although he should never have been arrested in the first place.
“Rather than trying to intimidate and harass him, the Sudanese authorities should take note of his human rights work to improve its troublesome human rights record and create an environment where people can freely exercise their right to freedom of expression.
“Sudanese authorities must now quickly follow this move by also dropping all charges against Husham Ali Mohammed Ali, another human rights defender, who faces the death penalty on similar trumped-up charges. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him,” said Joan Nyanyuki.
Matar Younis Ali Hussein was arrested on 1 April for criticizing the Sudanese government’s inhumane practices in Darfur such as unlawful killings, abductions, looting and torching of villages, sexual violence, attack on IDPs and arbitrary detention.
Rather than trying to intimidate and harass him, the Sudanese authorities should take note of his human rights work to improve its troublesome human rights record.
On 24 June, he was charged with allegedly ‘undermining the constitutional system’ and ‘waging war against the state’, both of which carry the death penalty or life imprisonment. He was also charged with espionage.
Today, the State Security Prosecution Office of Crimes Against the State dropped the charges following outcry from human rights organisations and activists.
Matar Younis teaches Quran and is also an Imam/Priest at the Mosque of Zalingei in Central Darfur state. He has been a vocal critic of the government’s actions in Darfur. He repeatedly criticised the government-led ‘peace process’ in Darfur as ‘false peace’ and always called for the protection of displaced people in Darfur.
In 2014, the NISS harassed and attacked Matar Younis after he delivered a speech critical of the government during a public event organised by Central Darfur State at the stadium of Zalingei. He was physically attacked by security forces who kicked him and tore his clothes.
Saudi Arabia deported fellow human rights defender Husham Ali Mohammed Ali on 31 May. He was arrested upon arrival in Sudan. He remains in arbitrary detention.