Wednesday, December 29, 2010

GATS Calls For The Elimination of Sharia Penal Codes

المجموعة السودانية لمناهضة التعذيب
The Group against Torture in Sudan (GATS) - 4521 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (USA)
Nagi Marghani: Secretary General 571-435-0657 ; Mohamed al-Hafiz: Deputy Secretary General 202-421-7522 Dr_mo78@yahoo. Mohamed Elgadi: Communication Coordinator 215-870-7809
GATS Calls For The Elimination of Sharia Penal Codes
For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C.-The Group Against Torture in Sudan (GATS) has been following with extreme worry the human rights abuses taking place in Sudan. This most recently culminated in the widely circulated Youtube video of a young woman being publicly flogged in Khartoum. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, established by the United Nations in 1948, stood as a landmark for the human experience and the pursuit of an existence free of torture. This flogging incident represented the oppression and aggression of the Islamist regime where torture found its justification through the rules of religious dogma, specifically the Hudood penal code in Sharia Laws.

As torture survivors and pioneer advocates against torture, we see a direct link between the current government and the torture policies adopted by its judicial system. There is an immediate need to expose and eliminate the practices of institutionalized torture, in which those who commit these heinous crimes are celebrated as loyal guardians of the state. GATS reiterates the value of the human body and the importance to preserve it from any physical aggression or violations regardless of political and religious ideologies.

In response to the public’s outcry against the flogging, President Omar al-Bashir publicly stated his support for the police’s brutal actions. This confirms the failed state of the government and its leader’s consistent advocacy for allocating physical punishment through its narrow minded religious doctrine called the ‘civilization project’. GATS firmly rejects the inclusion of the religious pineal code in the current constitution of the country. We consider any advocacy of the Islamic Hudood legislation as full support of the current torture atrocities. It is also worth mentioning that the Sharia Laws are not a sacred document but rather a series of laws that represented the needs of the Muslim community during the 7th century.

In conclusion we condemn the attempts to break the spirit of women in Sudan and the attacks against freedom of expression. These attempts were emphasized with the degrading flogging punishment against the woman in the Youtube video, the violent police attack on the peaceful women’s march organized by “No to Women’s Oppression” forum in Khartoum that followed the circulation of the video. And most recently, the aggressive attack on the Umma Party headquarters where civilians were gathered to discuss the deterioration of human rights in Sudan.

We hereby call upon all social, political, and none governmental organizations to take a stand and to protect all persons from being subjected to torture and any form of cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishment and treatment. We urge all groups to eliminate from their charters, constitutions and programs the Hudood penal code and to include/promote in their documents the principles of Human Rights.
Date: 12/26/2010
تابعنا بكثير من القلق والإشفاق الحادثة المؤسفة لجلد الفتاة السودانية في سياق التردي الذي حاق بأوضاع حقوق الإنسان في السودان، في ظل تحكم وبطش مؤسسة الحكم التي كوت أحشاء الشـعب السـوداني وسامته سوء العـذاب.
هذا العذاب المدعوم بواسطة سلطة النصوص الدينية التي أوجدت لنفسها مصوغاٌ قانونياٌ لممارسة التعذيب بما يتنافي مع التجربة البشرية في صعودها ونهوضها وتطورها.وهنا نشير الي الإعلان العالمي لحقوق الانسان الصادر من هيئة الأمم المتحدة في عام 1948 كعلامة فارقة في مسيرة التجربة الإنسانية في نزوعها إلي الحرية والإنعتاق وفي عروجها إلي القيم السامية وفي نشدانها للحق وللخير وللجمال .
إيماناً منا بكل ما سبق وتأكيداً لدورنا الطليعي في إستئصال جريمة التعذيب، نري وجوب الإشارة إلي ضرورة السعي الجاد والدؤوب للقضاء علي الجذور والأسباب المستترة والركائز الثقافية التي تشكل بنية تحتية تعتاش عليها جرائم التعذيب، ويستند عليها ممارسي تلك الجرائم في إستدامة مماراساتهم الشائنة. كما أننا نشدد علي التأكيد علي مبدأ سلامة وقدسية الجسد البشري وصيانته من أي انتهاك تحت الدعاوي السياسية والدينية وغيرها من الأضاليل الخائبة كما ورد في رد فعل ممثلي النظام علي الحادثة، وعدم إعترافهم الواضح بفداحة الجرم، إضافة إلي خطل رأس النظام وضيق أفقه في خطابه الجماهيري الأخير، والذي ان دل فإنما يدل علي نهاية للمشروع الحضاري المزعوم .
عليه نهيب بكل قطاعات العمل المدني والأهلي والقانوني بضرورة السعي المخلص لحماية الحريات، ومنع التحاكم تحت العقوبات المهينة والحاطة للكرامة الإنسانية، والسعي لجبر ضرر كل من اضير من هذه القوانين الجائرة، ومنع الإرتداد مستقبلاٌ إلي مربعها ، وترسيخ الثقافة القانونية والحقوقية التي من شأنها أن تسمو بقيم الإنسان وتعزز عدالة القوانين .
الجدير بالذكر أن قوانين الحدود ليست هي الشريعة في ذاتها بقدر ما أنها قوانين عقوبات- اياٌ كان منشأها ومصدرها- وهي مرتبطة بحاجة الجماعة في الظرف التاريخي المعين، وبذلك قد تكون القوانين في مستوي حوجة الناس اليوم ولكنها، بالقطع، تكون متخلفةً عن حاجتهم غداٌ، وذلك أمرٌ يستدعي وبالضرورة ان يظل الباب مفتوحاً أمام مسألة وخضوع كل القوانين للمراجعة والنقد والتصويب وذلك لأجل تأكيد وضمان مواكبتها لحاجيات الناس والمجتمع.
لا يفوتنا الشجب والتندبد بكل محاولات كسر ارادة النساء في السودان وذلك ليس وقفأ علي تطبيق العقوبات المهينة فقط ،
مثل الجلد ، وانما تتعداها ايضأ الي انتهاك حرية التعبير مثلما تصدت الشرطة بالعنف لمبادرة ( لا لقهر النساء ) السلمية
الاخيرة والاعتداء الوحشي علي جماهير حزب الامة القومي .
كما ندعو كل القوي السياسية والاجتماعية ان تزيل من كل مواثيقها وبرامجها ما يسمي بتشريعات الحدود ، وان تضمن
في صلب تلك المواثيق والبرامج – مبادي وضمانات حقوق الانسان والتشديد علي عدم المساس بتلك الحقوق الطبيعية

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Human Rights Day in Amherst

A hub of activity for human rights

Published on December 03, 2010

Following is the first of two essays written in advance of a two-day event planned for next weekend in Amherst to mark the International Declaration of Human Rights Day. A vigil organized by the Amherst Human Rights Commission is set for Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. on the Town Common and a celebration with speeches, food and music will be held Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Town Hall.

It was a stormy winter day in December of 1994, a few months after I arrived in Amherst fleeing the systematic torture program run by the current regime in Sudan.

I was moved by those dedicated human-rights residents of Amherst who had a table in front of the 'Bread & Circus' store in Hadley in that extreme weather to encourage shoppers to stop for a moment to sign a petition to release prisoners of conscience around the world.

I stopped to sign and to practice my broken English that I'd learned in school and never practiced before. It did not take much time for Claudia Rhodes, Lois Gagnon, and the late Andrew Hassenfeld to recruit me. Since that date, I became part of the bi-weekly 'tabling' activity of the local chapter of Amnesty international (aka Group 128) that adds to the diverse panorama of the Amherst Farmers Market.

Over the 32 years since Group 128 was established in Amherst, thousands of petitions have been signed by Amherst residents. Many success stories can be shared here including the latest one of Aung San Suu Kyi who was released in November after a global campaign waged by millions of human rights activists. Ms. Aung, the leader of a political party in Burma (the military junta renamed it Myanmar!), and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, spent 14 years in prison without being charged or standing trial. She's one example case of thousands of what are known as Prisoners of Conscience (POC).

Some of us may have doubt in the power of the small act of signing a petition. This concern I hear sometimes while I'm 'tabling' downtown. However, these doubts diminish quickly when I tell my story.

After 42 days in my prison in Sudan, I received my first packet of clean underwear and a toothbrush, and was moved to a better section within the detention center where torture was less frequent. This happened in the infamous torture center known as Citibank Ghost House (a small Colonial house in which 171 activists were detained at one point). The different treatment I received was not due to a change in the military regime policy. It was, as I found out later, because of the small act of signing petitions on my behalf by Amnesty International.

The perpetrators always deny running these secret torture centers, or the existence of human rights prisoners. This is why Abu Zeid, an infamous perpetrator, used to brag about his limitless power during night torture parties in that place "we can do anything to you here. No one will know or hear about you." They fear the most when human rights groups confront them with evidence of a detainee's name and photo. At that moment, they know the world is watching them and they can't kill you.

And this is why the United Nations' theme for the 2010 Human Rights Day is "Human Rights Defenders who Act to End Discrimination." The UN is highlighting the role of ordinary citizen who devote time and risk themselves and their families to call for human rights for all.

We invite you to come and celebrate the Human Rights Day on December 11 at the Amherst Town Hall to highlight the achievements of many human rights defenders. We will hear about our successes and challenge stories from Bosnia, Burma, Morocco, Darfur, Puerto Rico, Chile and many other places.

Mohamed Elgadi is a member of the Human Rights Commission, and the Amnesty International coordinator in Amherst.