On the evening of Saturday 17th May 2014 at 20:45 security forces in the Sudan arbitrarily arrested the last civilian elected Prime Minister of the Sudan and leader of the Ansar, the largest religious group in the country, and President of National Umma Party, His Excellency Al Imam Al Sadig Al Mahdi. Al Mahdi was accused of Undermining the Constitutional Order (Article 50 of the Criminal Code of 1991) and of calling for violent opposition using criminal force (Article 63). He was taken to Kober Prison and was detained by the security forces for interrogation.
Sayyid Al Sadig Al Mahdi’s arrest in Khartoum, follows his appearance on Thursday 15th May 2014 at the Offences Against the State’s Prosecutor’s Office in Khartoum, Sajjana, to provide a statement for an investigation into accusations that he insulted state security forces over a surge in violence in the troubled Darfur region (Reuters, 18th May 2014). In that same day, local press reported a heated attack on Al Mahdi by the Parliament in which he was convicted of “Treason”.
Any of the given charges against Al Mahdi could entail the death penalty.
Al Mahdi’s accusations are referred to his criticism of the “Rapid Support Troops”, a National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arm, committing massive human rights violations in Kordofan and Darfur Regions. In a press conference on May 7th, he showed how these troops are committing extrajudicial killings, raping women and burning villages in the mentioned regions. His reports were assured by local officials such as the Northern Kordofan State Governor, along with UN officials, the UNAMID head of mission, the US government, EU mission in Sudan and human rights groups. IDP camps leaders in Darfur are reported of highly supporting his statements (Radio Dabanga, May 16th). Commenting on NISS’s accusations against him, Al Mahdi called for dismantling the Rapid Support Troops (RST) and accused NISS, and its National Security Forces Act, of violating the constitution, which limits its mission to gathering of information.
According to that act, NISS has got additional unchecked policing powers, as well as having the right to detain people for more than four months without judicial review. With the RST, NISS has started to act as an unchecked substitute to the country’s Armed Forces.
This has not been the first time that Al Imam Al Sadig Al Mahdi has been held under arrest by the Bashir regime since their coup d’état. Under the regime he once faced a mock execution and was subjected to threats from the authorities.
Throughout the Bashir’s rule, the Imam Al Sadig has advocated for Civil struggle “Jihad” and has continuously advised regime rulers to install peace and democracy in all his public addresses, a situation that had exposed him to lengthy interrogations and detentions, e.g. he was detained in the period (1989-1991), in 1993, in June 1994 and the detention of the hundred and one days from May to September 1995, whereby he experienced repression in the infamous “ghost houses”, i.e. buildings in which the security forces use to torture people. Ultimately and after subjections to threats and continuous surveillance, the Imam Al Sadig left the country secretly, in December 1996, and led opposition from exile.
After facing huge internal and external pressures that led to its own schism, the Regime’s different schisms’ leaders sought to negotiate with Al Mahdi: in Geneva, May 1999, and Djibouti, November 1999 where he signed with the ruling party the “National Call”, laying foundation for peaceful resolution of the country’s conflicts. He returned home in November 2000 and continued, to no avail, his efforts towards a political solution, calling for a CODESA of South Africa’s type of solution. He is known of his strong stance for nonviolence; a position widely criticized by insurgencies and hardliner opposition groups. He is known to be the most zealous leader for the call of National Dialogue conveyed by Al-Bashir in January 2014. His enthusiasm for dialogue, together with the participation of his eldest son in Al-Bashir’s Cabinet brought him accusations and doubts by many.
Al Mahdi was designed by the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS), India, as one of the 100 great Muslim Leaders of the twentieth Century (2006), and chosen amongst the 500 most influential Muslim leaders (2009, by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan, in cooperation with Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in the United States). He is a Gusi Peace Prize Laurent of 2013, the President of International Forum for Moderation, the Chairman of the Council of Arab Wiseman (in the Arab Hulf for Settling Disputes) and a member of so many institutions and initiatives calling for peaceful resolutions or acting towards democratic transformation world widely, such as, Club De Madrid, the C1 World Dialogue, the Advisory Council of the International Task Force for Preventive Diplomacy and so on. Accusing him of undermining the constructional order and calling for violence is certainly insensible, and is definitely a betrayal of all democratic transformation promises, and a set back to square one.
The incident comes amidst a human rights’ violations escalation as reported by many activists and Human rights groups locally and internationally.
There is no set date for a fair and just judicial trial for Al Imam Al Sadig Al Mahdi. Being aged 78, we are highly concerned for his health and safety. The barbaric human rights violations and injustice carried out by the Sudanese regime cannot be tolerated anymore!
Please sign this petition.
We, the undersigned, demand:
1. The immediate release of His Excellency Al Imam Al Sadig Al Mahdi and all political detainees held by the regime. All arbitrary fabricated charges against them must be dropped.
2. The immediate dismantling of the Rapid Support Troops and holding those responsible of the massive human rights violations accountable.
3. The abolition of all laws and policies that contradicts the Interim Constitution of 2005, especially the National Security Forces’ Act of 2009, the Criminal Code of 1999, and all laws and bylaws inconsistent with, restrict and/or violate freedom of expression.