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Sudanese poet detained for revolutionary recital on Khartoum massacre Open in fullscreen

Zeinab Mohammed Salih

Sudanese poet detained for revolutionary recital on Khartoum massacre

Rights groups allege widespread looting and dozens of cases of rape during the massacre [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 April, 2021

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A Sudanese poet is facing prison time for reciting a poem that honours the victims massacred in by Sudan's military during 2019 uprising.
A Sudanese poet is facing prison and fine for reading his poem about those who were killed during the dispersal of the sit-in in front of the military headquarters in 2019.

Yousef el-Dosh read his poem in Arabic at the S24 TV station in Khartoum, saying "The same person who killed your son, is ruling your country".

The sovereign council, led by the army and the paramilitary of the Rapid Support Forces along with the revolution leaders, accused him of going against Article 159 at the criminal code, and if he was charged he would spend 6 months in prison and/or a fine, to be decided by the judge. He was however, released after being interrogated by the prosecution on bail.

"This case is not meant to be against me, it's against every Sudanese person, to scare them from not talking about the martyrs, or about the dispersal of the sit-in," el-Dosh told his supporters who had come to greet him at the prosecution office in Khartoum a few weeks ago.

He said that he wrote the poem immediately after the dispersal of the sit-in, "I wrote it to the father of the martyr Abdulsalam Kisha (one of those killed during the sit-in) and only read it a month ago, and today I am here facing a case."
The same person who killed your son, is ruling your country
Estimates of the number killed during the sit-in massacre vary, with local medics estimating at least 128 dead and New York-based Physicians for Human Rights estimating 241 were killed. The government claims the toll was much lower at 85.

Rights groups and activists also allege widespread looting and dozens of cases of rape during the massacre.

A number of former Transitional Military Council members remain in power as part of the transitional government.

To this date, the committee investigating the case of the dispersal of the sit-in have not completed their task nor have they announced the findings, which was supposed to be out two months after they commenced.

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A member at the Sovereign Council, Major General Shams el-Dieen el-Kabashi had earlier said at a press conference that they had ordered the dispersal of the sit-in in June 2019, but a week later he denied his own statement following a backlash.

Two other Sudanese activists have been imprisoned for nearly a year without trial on accusations of harassing members of the committee that handles the legacy of the former regime. Amnesty International condemned their continued detention without trial in a statement released in December.

Mummar Musa, 33-years-old, was arrested in June last year for taking pictures of cars belonging to members of the committee, and his friend and colleague Mikhail Bouros, 27-years-old was arrested from the office of their political initiative 'The Future of Sudan' in Khartoum east.

Their families and lawyers have held a protest demanding their trial or release.
Sudanese people have paid the price of change with their lives and liberty. The government must stop violating these rights
Mummar Musa and Mikhail Bouros
have both been arrested 
Ahmed el-Day Bushara is another prominent activist who is facing accusations of undermining the constitutional order when he criticised the RSF on Facebook. If charged, he could face the death penalty according to Sudanese criminal law. He has been in prison since October last year.

Ahmed el-Zubair a researcher at Amnesty International told The New Arab that "although there is a relative improvement in respect to the freedom of expression and speech compared to the situation during the previous regime, old habits die hard. The intolerance and tendency to suppress these rights still linger in the current political environment. Indeed, the case of silencing the poet is one of them."

Talking about Musa's case, el-Zubair added: "Now after all these months, it's unlawful. He should be charged or have been released a long time ago."

Although there was recently a decree banning all security forces from arresting and holding people without the permission of the persecution following the arrest, torture and murder of an activist in Khartoum by the paramilitary of the Rapid Support Forces in January, dozens of people have still been arrested and put in jail without being charged, according to estimates by human rights organisations.

"Sudanese people have paid the price of change with their lives and liberty. The government must stop violating these rights and respect and fulfil the human right of all Sudanese," el-Zubair said.

Zeinab Mohammed Salih is a freelance reporter based in Khartoum and a member of The Marie Colvin Journalists' Network.

Follow her on Twitter: @ZeinabMSalih

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