Detained in Sudan: One Blogger's Story

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When Salma got deported, I was having one of the worst days of my life. It was a very hot day and I was tense and frazzled. I slept unusually early that night, until my dad woke me up at midnight. He said to me, very calmly: "NISS is here to search the house." I woke up and got dressed quickly. I had anticipated something of this sort; Girifna members are always targeted. There were about 15 men in my living room; at least two of them were armed. They jumped the wall to my house after knocking heavily for a few minutes and waking up the neighbors. They searched my room and turned it upside down. They confiscated my phone, my sister's phone, my laptop and my sister's laptop, among other irrelevant items such as CDs, an electronic diary and a video tape.

"Get ready," one guy told me, "you're coming with us." My dad was very cool and collected. In my mom's eyes, I could see worry and heartache. My sisters were terrorized; the youngest had tears in her eyes. My aunt was there as well, she was strong. I was instructed to pack a change of clothes because I was going to spend the night in prison. My sisters helped me find my toothbrush and my things. I told my family not to worry, that I was going to be fine. My dad insisted on coming along, he told them I have no brothers. They let him. I hugged my mom, my aunt and my sisters. I told them that I am strong, and they should be too. We made it to the NISS building in Khartoum North. For three hours they interrogated me. My dad looked tired. They told me that they spared me for the night and summoned me again the next morning. I got home and my family breathed a temporary sigh of relief.

The next morning, my dad and I headed to the NISS offices again. We spent 11 hours there. I boycotted their food and water after one officer referred to me as a "communist who does not deserve to be served any food or water." I asked them to bring my dad some food because he is diabetic. They offered him some yoghurt. By the time I got home, I had low blood pressure. Still, I couldn't eat because they had summoned me again the next day after 11 hours of ruthless investigation; I was threatened, blackmailed, insulted, emotionally abused, and psychologically tortured. They had my laptop and they told me they had access to all my photos; and that they would use them if they sensed I was causing any trouble. I was also told that they could easily make me lose my job. "You have nice pictures on your phone," one guy said to me. "You have a lot of fans," he added. The same guy was browsing through the photos on my laptop. He saw a picture of me and my best friend hugging. He then asked me if I was a lesbian.

The third day was the last of it. I was interrogated again for two hours this time. They made me sign a statement pledging that I will not take part in any Girifna activities, citing that if I do, I will be subjected to trial under the security law. They made my dad sign the same statement. They gave me back my phone and other items, but said that they will keep the two laptops for "further investigation." I claimed them back a short while ago.

Ever since the spark of the Sudanese revolution three weeks ago, the NISS has gone on a wild campaign illegally arresting and kidnapping protesters, activists, journalists, lawyers and even law-abiding citizens. To date, thousands have been reported detained by the NISS while only a few, like myself, have been released. Their families have not heard from them and they are being denied access to lawyers. No one knows what they are going through. In this article by Yousif Elmahdi, the disturbing circumstances of NISS detention are described in frustrating detail.

Among those still detained for weeks are Boshi, who was also arrested earlier this year, Usamah Ali, a prominent citizen journalist and a Twitter microcelebrity, Girifna members Mohamed Izzelden and Rashida Shamseldin, and many, many others. They are all at risk of torture. They have sacrificed their freedoms for the sake of a free Sudan.

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