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Sudan: Amnesty supporters to text rebel leader to demand release of detainees in Darfur

Risk of torture or death for 17 people held by rebel forces

Amnesty International has appealed to thousands of its supporters to send a text message to a Darfur rebel commander demanding the immediate release of 17 people who have been held for weeks in the region.

Most of those captured have been held under the orders of the leader of an armed opposition group named Abdel Wahed who leads the Sudan Liberation Army/ Abdel Wahed (SLA/W-A),

Amnesty International fears that they are at risk of being tortured or unlawfully killed.

Ain Siro, an area 30 kilometres northwest of Kutum in North Darfur, is under the control of the rebel group SLA/A-W.

Amnesty International understands that one man who was captured, Ali Haroun, and the others who come from Ain Siro supported the unity of the different factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), which has splintered into several factions, as well as engaging in political dialogue to end the conflict in Darfur.

They were reportedly summoned to the headquarters of the SLA/A-W in Dirbat, where they were disarmed and detained in December.

Sources suggest that one member of the group, Tya Kuku Rahal, may have been unlawfully killed during his detention.

The mobile phone and satellite phone numbers of the rebel commander has been distributed to Amnesty International supporters via its Urgent Action Network which regularly sends letters or emails of appeal to support people around the world.

The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) took up arms against the Sudanese government in Darfur in 2003 in protest against the perceived marginalisation of Darfur.

The Sudanese government armed and supported local militias, known as the Janjawid, as a proxy force against the rebels, forcibly displacing more than two million civilians, mostly of the same ethnicity as the armed opposition groups, as a counter-insurgency strategy. After a Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006 failed to gain support of most of the SLA and JEM, these armed groups split into many different factions.

There have been numerous attempts to unify these groups, often as a prelude to further peace talks, and some factions have unified, but Abdel Wahed Mohammed Nur, the founder of the SLA in 2003, has consistently refused to hold talks with other SLA factions. Abdel Wahed Mohammed Nur now lives in Paris, but continues to have support on the ground particularly in eastern Jebel Marra and among many displaced living in camps.

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