Health fears for detained Sudanese activist on hunger strike

News
October 12, 2011

Health fears for detained Sudanese activist on hunger strike

The Sudanese authorities must immediately release a detained human rights activist who has begun a second hunger strike and is at risk of torture, Amnesty International said today.

Bushra Gamar Hussein Rahma, the ethnically Nuban founder of the Human Rights and Development Organization (HUDO) was arrested on 25 June near Khartoum and is being held without charge. His detention follows a series of arrests of Nubans, intellectuals, activists, and those affiliated with the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

“It is deeply alarming that despite assurances from the Sudanese authorities that Bushra Rahma would be either charged or freed on 9 October, he continues to be held,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

“He must be given access to a lawyer, charged with a recognizable criminal offence or released immediately,” said Michelle Kagari.

The 47-year-old is believed to suffer from a number of health conditions, including heart disease, and his family are worried about the strain a hunger strike will have on his body.

“Yesterday we received threats from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services, indicating that if Bushra died, they would frame it as suicide,” Bushra Rahma’s brother, Ezzeldin Gamar Hussein Rahman told Amnesty International

“We would like him to be released immediately, or presented before a court.”

Since his re-arrest on 14 August, Bushra Rahma has also repeatedly been denied access to a lawyer.

He went on hunger strike for four days in September, but stopped when the Sudanese authorities said that he would be released on 9 October. When this did not happen, he began a second hunger strike on 10 October.

Bushra Rahma is originally from South Kordofan and was the director of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Darfur from 2006 to 2008. However, he has not been an active member of the SPLM since 2008.

During Sudan’s 22 year north-south civil war, many South Kordofan residents fought with the southern armed opposition group, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA). Following South Sudan’s independence on 9 July 2011, the SPLA operating in Sudan became known as the SPLA-North

Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLA-North, has escalated in Southern Kordofan since early June this year.

Indiscriminate aerial bombardments by the SAF, destruction and looting of civilian property and allegations of extra-judicial killings and arbitrary arrests have led to over 200,000 people being displaced from the region.

Checkpoints have been set up along the roads in Southern Kordofan, and witnesses report that lists of names have been used to target suspected SPLM-N members and Nuban people. As a result, Nuban people around Sudan have gone into hiding.