Rashid Abash, jailed for printing posters in Sudan

Rashid Shikhaldeen Abash
Rashid Shikhaldeen Abash © Private

Rashid Shikhaldeen Abash has been detained without charge in Sudan since September 2014, when Sudanese security forces arrested him and many others in a crackdown on political activists in the country. Rashid is at risk of being tortured in detention, as other detainees have.

Rashid allegedly printed posters to commemorate activists killed in demonstrations last year, after police opened fire on crowds. We are calling on Sudanese authorities to treat Rashid fairly and either charge him with a recognisable offence or release him.

September crackdown on activists

Security forces in Sudan raided the printing company owned by Rashid Shikhaldeen Abash on 23 September. When they found posters commemorating activists who had died during demonstrations a year earlier, they confiscated the posters and arrested Rashid. He’s been held in custody ever since, without being charged.

Rashid, a 35-year-old father, is an environmental activist who has led campaigns against government plans to submerge over 500 ancient archaeological sites through dam projects in North Sudan.

Rashid is one of more than 70 activists who were arrested by Sudan’s security forces during the last week of September, in an attempt to stop any commemoration of protests that took place in cities across Sudan a year previously.

Torture in detention

Most of the activists who were arrested as part of the operation to stop commemorations were released without charge a week or two after their arrest. Many of them say they were tortured in custody, and we are seriously concerned that Rashid is being treated cruelly in his current imprisonment in Kober prison, Khartoum.

Rashid’s family and supporters have held regular protests outside the Khartoum prison where he’s detained and outside Sudan’s Ministry of Justice, calling for his release.

Commemorating hundreds killed at 2013 protests

On 22 September 2013, the president of Sudan announced cuts to fuel subsidies, alongside rising fuel costs. The following day, thousands of people took to the streets of Wad Madani in East Sudan to protest against the plans, and voice their dissatisfaction at the economic situation in the country, amid rumours of corruption in the president’s office. Protests soon spread to cities across Sudan, including the capital Khartoum.

Police and security forces responded to the protests with disproportionate force. They fired live ammunition on the crowds, and used tear gas widely, in attempts to disperse demonstrators.

Between 23 and 28 September 2013, at least 200 protesters were killed at demonstrations. Many more were injured, and over 600 people were arrested in relation to the protests. So far, Sudan has failed to act on our recommendation to investigate the unlawful deaths of protesters.

Sudan must charge or release Rashid

We are asking Sudan to charge him or release Rashid immediately – and to make sure that any charges are legitimate and not politically motivated.

We need Sudan to give Rashid access to a lawyer and his family, plus to any medical treatment that he may need, and to make sure that he is safe from torture or harm in detention.