The regime of Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir has been cracking down hard on dissidents, including the Sudanese Communist Party, the Umma Party, the Sudanese Liberation Movement, and the Forces of National Consensus (a coalition which includes the Communists, the Umma and others).
Sudan has been in an increasing state of turmoil since its southernmost part broke off in 2011 and formed the Republic of South Sudan. This severely stressed revenues from Sudan’s main export, petroleum, as some of the major petroleum producing areas are in the South. Toward the end of 2013, disturbances broke out in several cities after the government stopped subsidizing fuel, leading to a sharp increase in the cost of living.
As the first anniversary of that incident neared, the government feared that protests would grow, and began to go after opposition parties, journalists, youth and others that they feared might play a leadership role. Several opposition parties, for their part, signed a statement on Dec. 3, which called for the removal of Al Bashir’s government and its replacement with a democratic and secular state. The government immediately declared the signatories to be traitors, and arrested forces connected with National Consensus leader Farouk Abu Eissa, human rights expert Dr. Amin Mekkey and several other oppositionists.
Reports are that Mr. Abu Eissa has suffered a serious deterioration of his health while in prison, and has been hospitalized.
The government has also cracked down on nongovernmental organizations and centers it considers subversive, including the National Writers’ Union. Several opposition newspapers, including the Sudanese Communist Party’s paper Al Midan, have seen their print runs confiscated. In the case of Al Midan, its editor in Chief, Mrs. Madeeha Abdalla, is being prosecuted for high treason for having signed the Sudan Appeal, and may be facing the death penalty.
This sort of action by Al Bashir’s government is nothing new. It was therefore surprising to learn that his foreign minister, Ali Karti, and Ibrahim Gandour, a presidential assistant, were invited to attend the annual Prayer Breakfast in Charlotte, North Carolina. (the one that led to the right wing accusing President Obama of being anti-Christian) on Thursday. According to the Sudan Tribune, Karti, who has been linked to violent repressive actions in Sudan, was invited by two U.S. Senators, Robert Casey, D-Pa., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., but also would be meeting with Obama administration officials. Sudan is considered a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. government.
There were objections to this visit by Congresspersons by Congressman Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
All progressive individuals, and especially members of the media and journalistic professions, are asked to contact the Sudanese embassy in Washington D.C. to demand the release of all political prisoners, the dropping of charges and an end to the suppression of Al Midan and other opposition media and organizations in Sudan. The contact information for the embassy is here:
To register a protest to the invitation of the Sudanese officials to attend the prayer breakfast, contact the White House, the State Department, and members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
Photo: Demonstration in the streets of Khartoum, Sudan against Al Bashir, the dictator. | Khalil Hamra/AP