Monday, January 2, 2006
SUDANESE COMMUNITY IN THE U.S. CONDEMNS POLICE BRUTALITY OF REFUGEES IN EGYPT
Survivors Say More Than 50 Killed
By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
TRENTON , NEW JERSEY (ANS) — Members of the South Sudanese Community in the U.S. are outraged by the murder of their fellow country men in Cairo by the Egyptian security forces.
Reports from surviving refugees in Cairo say that, contrary to most news reports, the number killed has risen to over 50 and this number may continue to rise as more bodies are discovered, according to Sabit Alley, an Associate Representative of the SPLA/M (Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement) in America and a leader of the South Sudanese Community in the U.S.
In an e-mail obtained by ANS, Alley says: “The South Sudanese Community in the U.S. condemns, in the strongest terms, the brutal use of force by the Egyptian security forces, which has resulted in the killing of innocent Sudanese in the Egyptian capital. We also condemn the actions of the UNHCR for collaborating with the Egyptian police and for its continued failure to protect these refugees.”
Alley reports the problem began early Friday morning, Dec. 30, when Egyptian police attacked the refugees who had been peacefully camping on the UNHCR compound for the last three months.
“Many of them had suffered discrimination in Egypt for several years and had made numerous complaints about their plight in Egypt to the UNHCR, but were ignored. Their complaints listed the abuses meted on them by the Egyptian authorities and the general public, the denial of basic services such as health, education, employment and, above all, the official recognition as refugees,” Alley says.
He explained the refugees first decided to camp outside of the UNHCR’s offices in Cairo last September, because of the UNHCR’s continued refusal to listen and address their grievances. The objective of their camp was to draw attention to their suffering and to plead with the U.N. to relocate them to a third country for refuge, but the UNHCR refused to do anything.
Alley continues: “According to reports from refugees, who were eyewitnesses to the violence and managed to escape, the officers not only sprayed hot water on the refugees, but beat them with batons and fired gun shots at them. As a result, the police killed a number of refugees and injured many others. A large number of those who were not killed, were bundled up into waiting buses and driven off to undisclosed locations in the Egyptian desert.”
“We are receiving numerous reports that the Egyptian security forces are now searching for and rounding up South Sudanese refugees in the city to be taken to these undisclosed locations,” said Alley.
Knowing the brutality of the Egyptian security forces in the past, the Sudanese Community in the U.S. is concerned that their kinsmen in Egypt are being tortured in locations where journalists and human rights groups are denied access.
He adds: “We are also concerned that the Egyptian government, in concert with the UNHCR, may forcefully deport refugees to Sudan , where they had escaped religious, racial and political victimization and persecution, and where these highly oppressive conditions still exist despite Sudan ‘s peace agreement to end its north-south civil war.”
In a statement released to ANS, Alley says the South Sudanese Community of the U.S. requests that the U.S. government and the international community intervene in this crisis and:
**Appoint an independent international body to investigate the circumstances surrounding the wanton and barbaric murder of innocent South Sudanese refugees in Cairo ;
**Compel the Egyptian government to release all of the refugees who have been taken into detention or to some secret locations outside of Cairo ;
**Demand that the Egyptian government and the UNHCR immediately cease their plans to forcefully deport these refugees against their will to the Sudan ;
**Ask international non-governmental organizations to provide emergency medical and relief services to the wounded and affected refugees;
**Request that the UNHCR immediately relocate these refugees to a friendly third country where their safety can be guaranteed.
An internet search for the SPLA/M revealed a Wikpedia entry which describes the organization as follows:
“The Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) is a rebel group that was formed in 1983 by John Garang de Mabior, Salva Kiir Mayardit, William Nyuon Bany and Kerubino Kuanyin Bol. It has since fought against the governments of Gaafar Nimeiry, Sadiq al-Mahdi and President Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir in what is now called the Second Sudanese Civil War. Its was led by John Garang, a Dinka, until his death on 30 July 2005. The SPLA has as its political wing the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (Al-Harakat Al-Shaabia Le Tahreer Al-Sudan), nowadays a political party.
“The SPLA is largely southern-based, non-Arabic and non-Muslim, in contrast to the predominantly Muslim and Arab north. Its declared aims is to establish a secular and democratic Sudan . While the war in southern Sudan has been largely described in religious and ethnic terms, it is also a struggle for control of the oil resources located in the south.
“In the early 1990s the SPLA divided into three factions: the SPLA Torit faction led by John Garang that has been the most active militarily; Carabino Kuany Bol’s SPLA Bahr-al-Ghazal faction; and the South Sudan Independence Movement led by Riek Machar. These internal divisions have hampered negotiations with the government. The South Sudan Independence Movement/Army and several smaller factions signed a separate peace agreement with Khartoum in April 1997 and formed the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF).”