Friday, June 24, 2011

Activist in Darfur reveals new torture method

“At a time when the legitimate aspirations of people in many regions of the world for greater freedom, dignity and a better life are too often met with violence and repression, I urge States to respect the fundamental rights of all people. Torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment and punishment, wherever they occur and whatever the circumstances, can never be justified.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Message for the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2011

Press Release: The Greoup Against Torture in Sudan-GATS
Contacts: Nagi Merghani-VA ; Siddiq A. Hadi-PA; Mohamed Elgadi-MA
Date: 6/26/2011

"They came to get me at night when the power was off in the area, and made sure not to be identified by my family. I was taken to the infamous security offices in north Nyala, which is known as one of the worst Ghost Houses in Darfur. The torture was severe and took many different ways such as beating, flogging, stress positions, electric shocks, etc. However, the worst method was when they ordered me to walk barefoot on broken glass and when I resisted I was electrified and fell on it. I still carry the scars from that horrific experience."

Ibrahim Abbaker, age 29, an Electric Engineer from Nyala, Darfur (Sudan)

Philadelphia, PA- The Group Against Torture in Sudan (GATS) observes the United Nations International Day for Torture Survivors once again with cautious optimism. We have a better administration in the White House that is committed to stopping torture and shuting down the infamous Guantánamo Bay prison. However, after the killing of Osama bin Laden we began hearing the same old debate in favor of torture. The latest argument came from Congressman Peter King (R-NY) who bragged in an interview that Waterboarding has helped in finding Bin Laden. Torture is never justifiable and has to be stopped by exposing those behind it.

Unfortunately, the human rights picture does not look optimistic for Sudan. Over the past year, the Sudanese regime of President Omer al-Bashir became excessively ruthless in using the fear tactics of torture and rape against peaceful opposition activists. These methods became the formal policy when the President was issued an arrest warrant and indicted by the International Criminal Court. Mr. Abbaker's quote (above) gives a glimpse of the gloomy reality in the Darfur region. It refers to his latest arrest in May, 2011 when he participated in a protest rally during the visit of the Sudanese Vice President to Darfur. He had been released only one month when we spoke with him last week in Nyala, Darfur. He expressed that he had been arrested many times before and tortured due to his peaceful opposition to Sudan’s regime.

GATS members are once again offering their initiative to begin the needed steps to deconstruct the establishment of torture based on the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). There is only one way to start the healing and reconciliation, and this is by taking the Transitional Justice road. We repeat our request in 2007 to President Bashir to:

· Provide a public apology to the torture survivors
· Establish the Truth Committees
· Begin the necessary steps towards redress for the survivors and families of the dead.

Four years have passed and the Sudanese regime has not taken any step in this direction. Alarmingly, even more torture centers were opened all over the country.

Since the regime has failed to take the initiative, GATS has begun the process of Transitional Justice by forming the Truth Committees within the Sudanese Diaspora. We hope that each Sudanese community would welcome this process and host a Truth Committee.

A public apology is needed from all those who supported the torture regime in any way, even as a by-stander. Let the survivors tell the truth bout the crime of government-supported torture, and let’s all work together to stop this heinous crime of torture.

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