Minister of State Conor Lenihan welcomes release of Sudanese Human Rights Defender
The Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Mr Conor Lenihan T.D., has welcomed the release from detention in Khartoum, Sudan of Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Chairperson of the Sudanese Social Development Organization (SUDO).
Dr Mudawi was detained on 8 May 2005, shortly before he was due to travel to Ireland to be presented with the inaugural Front Line Award for human rights defenders by President McAleese. Three days later, Dr. Mudawi and his colleague Mr Yasir Salim were charged under the Sudanese Penal Code with “espionage against the country “ and “entering and photographing military areas and works”. The first charge carries a potential penalty of death or life imprisonment.
On Friday, 13 May 2005 the Front Line Award was accepted on Dr Mudawi's behalf by his wife, Mrs Sabah Mohammed Adam Ali and daughter Huda [aged 10] from President McAleese at a ceremony held in Dublin's City Hall.
Minister Lenihan said:
“The decision by the Government of Sudan to release Dr Mudawi and his colleague Mr Yasir Salim and to return Dr Mudawi's passport is very welcome. I trust that this action will be followed by the formal dropping of all charges brought against them, once the Sudanese legal authorities have completed their investigations. I strongly commend the important humanitarian and social development work being undertaken by the Sudan Social Development Organization and would urge that in future it should be allowed to proceed without interruption.
Following Dr Mudawi's detention, I contacted senior officials of the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on his behalf, while the Ambassador of Ireland in Cairo and the European Union's representatives in Khartoum also followed –up this case actively. In resolutions adopted last week, Seanad Éireann and the European Parliament called for the immediate release of Dr Mudawi. I trust that the Government of Sudan's decision to release Dr Mudawi and his colleague reflects a recognition of the widespread international concern which this case had generated.
I hope that the three SUDO members who are still in detention – Mr Salah Mohammed Abdelrahman, Mr Mohammed Musa Aldood and Mr Yousif Kabier- will also be released shortly.
One of the key priorities in the field of human rights during the 2004 Irish Presidency of the European Union was the adoption by Member States of Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. The Guidelines aim to mainstream concern for human rights defenders into EU foreign policy. The cases of Dr Mudawi and his colleagues amply illustrate the continuing need for action in this area.”
18 May 2005
Note for Editors
Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is the Chairperson of the Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), a voluntary organisation created to promote sustainable development and human rights in Sudan. It is engaged in humanitarian activities in the Darfur Region as well as in human rights education and development projects throughout Sudan. Dr Mudawi was previously arrested on 24 January 2005 and detained until 8 March 2005, when he was released on bail. He went on hunger strike and was transferred to hospital on 26 February 2005. He was then charged with “attempting to commit suicide”, which, under Article 133 of the 1991 Sudan Penal Code, could be penalised by one year's imprisonment. This charge has not yet been formally withdrawn. In 2004, Dr Mudawi spent seven months in police custody, having been charged, in connection with his human rights work, of committing offences against the State. Following the hearing of his trial on 7 August 2004, all charges against Dr Mudawi were dropped and he was released.
Mr Saleh Mohamed Abdelrahman is a SUDO volunteer who participated in peace –building projects in South Darfur. He was arrested together with Dr Mudawi on 24 January 2005 in Kondoua, North Khordofan and transferred to Khartoum on 28 January 2005. His wife and sister have been allowed to visit him at least once.
Mr Mohamed Musa Aldood, a SUDO volunteer from Al Genaina, West Darfur, is an engineering student. He was arrested in Khartoum on 4 February 2005 and went on hunger strike on 10 March 2005. His current location and whether or not his is still on hunger strike are unknown.
Mr Yousif Kabier, a merchant from Khartoum North, is a member of the General Assembly of SUDO. He was detained in November 2004. His location is unknown and he has not been given access to his family or relatives.