RAN 28/12: SUDAN
POET REPORTEDLY SENTENCED TO DEATH; PLACE OF DETENTION UNKNOWN
The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is extremely concerned about the condition and whereabouts of the Sudanese poet Abdelmoniem Rahma, who was arrested on September 2, 2011, in Blue Nile State, Sudan. He was reportedly tried in a military court in November and there have been alarming reports that he has since been sentenced to death. It is unclear, however, on what charges he has been convicted. He has been denied access to a lawyer and his family do not know his whereabouts. There are also credible reports that he has been tortured. The WiPC calls on the Sudanese authorities to release Rahma, to repeal the reported death sentence against him, to clarify on what grounds he has been convicted, and to allow him access to legal counsel.
Abdelmoniem Rahma is well-known as a journalist, poet and activist. He co-founded the daily newspaper Ajras al-Hurriya (Bells of Freedom), which was shut down by the Sudanese authorities days before South Sudan’s independence on July 9, 2011. He is also the former head of Sudana, an arts and literature organization. During the 1980s he was a member of the Sudanese Writers’ Union and between 2003 and 2005, Rahma headed the Arabic section of the Sudan Radio Service network in Nairobi. Rahma also developed a travelling theatre to promote peaceful dialogue among Sudan’s diverse cultures.
Reports coming out of Sudan regarding Abdelmoniem Rahma are scant and difficult to verify. However, the belief held by his former colleagues – that Rahma was targeted because of his affiliation with the political movement, The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) – is convincing. Rahma was reportedly tried alongside 18 members of the SPLM-N in November 2011.
In March 2012, it was reported that the Attorney General’s office had completed investigations on 132 detainees, including Abdelmoniem, and that all had been accused of crimes against the state and espionage. However, lawyers following the case have not been given any details of the charges.
Please visit pen-international.org for more information on the recent fighting in Sudan and displacement of over 55,000 Sudanese.
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