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Tortured Sudanese detainee dies in custody

More than 200 protesters have been killed by security forces since December [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 July, 2019

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A doctors committee linked to Sudan's protest movement said a civilian detained and allegedly tortured by security agents in a central town has died in custody.

A Sudanese civilian detained and allegedly tortured by security agents in a central town has died in custody, a doctors committee linked to the country's protest movement said on Sunday.

The man died on Saturday in the town of Dilling in the state of South Kordofan after he was detained by agents of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the doctors committee said in a statement.

The detainee "passed away on July 20, 2019 from torture while in detention at the NISS office in Dilling," the statement said without elaborating on the circumstances of his arrest.

"NISS continues to torture and claim innocent civilian lives illegally without facing any consequences."

Officers of NISS were not immediately available for comment.

Rights groups and activists had regularly accused NISS and other pro-government militia agents of cracking down on dissidents and restricting freedoms during the regime of veteran leader Omar al-Bashir who was ousted in April.

It was NISS that led a sweeping crackdown on protests against Bashir's rule that first erupted in December.

Dozens were killed and hundreds of protesters, activists and opposition leaders were arrested during the months-long campaign that led to Bashir's overthrow and subsequent demonstrations calling for civilian rule.

On Thursday, the leading doctors association announced at least 246 people have been killed since Sudan's revolution began in December last year, blaming the military’s militia force, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), for most of the deaths.

The statement by the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) marks the first comprehensive count of civilians killed and wounded since 19 December, when demonstrations in the central Sudanese city of Atbara sparked the nationwide peaceful protest movement that brought down former President Omar al-Bashir.

Read more: Jokes, laughter and betrayal: Inside ousted Sudanese President Bashir's prison cell

The new report also details the number of wounded, with the CCSD noting that doctors across the country have treated 1,353 wounded protesters since December.

While the security forces were responsible for 43 deaths under the former president, stunning 83 percent of the victims were killed after the overthrow of Bashir.

Months of protests across the country and a weeks-long mass sit-in outside the military's headquarters in the capital Khartoum prompted the armed forces to oust the former dictator on 6 April.

April and May saw 60 people killed across the country as protests pressuring the military to hand over power continued, (RSF) ramped up attempts to disperse the Khartoum sit-in.

The RSF - a paramilitary force commanded by the deputy leader of Sudan's current transitional military council - is an officialised offshoot of the Janjaweed, the infamous militias widely seen as responsible for war crimes and genocide in the Darfur conflict.

Those attempts finally culminated in the massacre of 3 June, also known as the 29 Ramadan massacre, when RSF and other armed forces brutally attacked the crowd gathered outside the General Command, beating, shooting and raping protesters.

According to the CCSD, 127 people were killed during the massacre. Just over half of those injured since December were wounded either during the 3 June massacre or in the weeks since.

While a much smaller number - 16 people - have lost their lives in the days since, the fate of Sudan’s revolution still hangs in the balance.

Postponed

Last week a power-sharing deal was inked between the protest leaders and the ruling generals who seized power after ousting Bashir.

Sudan's leading opposition movement said on Friday that talks scheduled to take place later that day with the country's military rulers were postponed after rebel groups protested against a power-sharing deal signed last week.

The generals and protest leader signed an agreement on Wednesday in Khartoum to form a joint governing body tasked with creating a transitional civilian administration.

They were due to convene two days later to negotiate the details of a "Constitutional Declaration" necessary for a successful transition.

Those talks have now been postponed amid discord within the opposition movement, three protest leaders told AFP.

Negotiations with the military junta have been punctuated by frequent delays and standstills, mostly announced by the military.

But Friday's postponement instead resulted from a lack of unity within the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC), the opposition coalition made up of union and protest leaders, rebel groups and political factions.

"We need more internal consultation to reach a united vision," prominent leader Omar al-Digeir said, adding that no new date had been set for negotiations to resume.

Fellow protest leaders Siddig Youssef and Taha Osman also confirmed the talks had been suspended.

They said three rebel groups that are part of the umbrella movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, had reservations over Wednesday's deal called the "Political Declaration".

Digeir said he would soon be travelling to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to meet with the rebel leaders.

The three rebel groups objected to the "unacceptable" deal, saying it did not reference bringing peace to Sudan’s conflict zones or addressing the needs of those affected by war.

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