On December 23, 2018, authorities reportedly detained 30 University of Sinnar students in a house raid in apparent retaliation for their alleged connection with nation-wide protests.
Since December 19, protesters in Khartoum and throughout Sudan had been demonstrating over food shortages and demanding the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir. Scholars, students, and various professional groups played a leading role in the protests, during which authorities reportedly violently targeted protesters, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds more, according to human rights groups.
On December 23, as the protests were ongoing, National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) agents reportedly went to a house rented by several members of the Darfuri Students’ Association at the University of Sennar, and arrested at least 30 of the students, as well as two bakers who were also living in the house. After the students were transferred to an undisclosed location in Khartoum, NISS director Salah Gosh reported that the students were part of the Sudan Liberation Movement headed by Abdelwahid El Nur and accused them of receiving training from the Israeli secret service and organizing several protests across Sudan. In a televised broadcast claiming that the NISS apprehended the students from a “rebel cell”, and in the video, the students confessed to inciting violence and their affiliation with the liberation movement. Human rights groups report the students were subjected to torture and forced to make false confessions. Friends of the students reported that most of the students had no involvement in the protests.
The students reportedly include Abdu Hamid Hamid Zakary, Abdul Ariziz Hamad Al-Nile, Abdul Karien Adam Mohamed Ahmed, Abdul Rahman Handuka Harari, Abdul-Aziz Omer Ahmed, Abu Bakar Adam Musa, Ahmed Maki Abdalla Ibrahim, Al-Fadil Adam Abdalla, Al-Faiq Ibrahim, Al-Sadiq Adam Ahmed, Amir Ishaq Yahya, Ayman Bajhar Noor Turkawi, Ayman Bajhar Noor Turkawi, Hassan Abdul-Jabbar, Idies, Ismail Hassan Abdalla Adam, Osman Idis Ibrahim, Issa Adam Issa Mohamed, Mahdi Abdulrahman Salih, Mohamed Ahmed Osman, Mohamed Omer, Mudathier Abdul Kareem Mohamed Azraq, Musab Mhamadien Baraka Tahir, Mustafa Abakar Jedo, Mustafa Abdul Rahman Yagoub, Najam Eldien Jabari, Najem Eldien Abdalla Hamid, Nasur Eldien Suliman, Omer Abakar, and Zahir Bahari Eldien Mohamed.
In April 2019, after President Omar al-Bashir was ousted from office, the 30 students were reportedly released without charge.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparent long-term detention without charge, and apparent torture, of students in apparent retaliation for their nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of association — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a party. The use of detention and torture as to restrict peaceful student expression undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.