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Sudan: Reported death sentence against poet

15 May 2012

Sudanese poet Abdelmoniem Rahma was reportedly tried in a military court in November and there have been alarming reports that he has since been sentenced to death. It is unclear, however, on what charges he has been convicted. He has been denied access to a lawyer and his family do not know his whereabouts. There are also credible reports that he has been tortured.


The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International published a press release on 14 June 2012 saying that it is extremely concerned about the condition and whereabouts of Abdelmoniem Rahma (also spelled: Momeim Rahma or Abd Almoniem Rahama), who was arrested on 2 September 2011 in Blue Nile State, Sudan.

Abdelmoniem Rahma is well-known as a journalist, poet and activist. He co-founded the daily newspaper Ajras al-Hurriya (Bells of Freedom), which was shut down by the Sudanese authorities days before South Sudan’s independence on 9 July 2011. He is also the former head of Sudana, an arts and literature organisation.

During the 1980s he was a member of the Sudanese Writers’ Union and between 2003 and 2005 Rahma headed the Arabic section of the Sudan Radio Service network in Nairobi. Rahma also developed a travelling theatre to promote peaceful dialogue among Sudan’s diverse cultures.

Reports coming out of Sudan regarding Abdelmoniem Rahma are scant and difficult to verify. However, the belief held by his former colleagues that Rahma was targeted because of his affiliation with the political movement The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) is convincing. Rahma was reportedly tried alongside 18 members of the SPLM-N in November 2011.

In March 2012, it was reported that the Attorney General’s office had completed investigations on 132 detainees, including Rahma and that all had been accused of crimes against the state and espionage. However, lawyers following the case have not been given any details of the charges.

The Writers in Prison Committee calls on the Sudanese authorities to release Rahma, to repeal the reported death sentence against him, to clarify on what grounds he has been convicted and to allow him access to legal counsel.
PEN International & IFEX – 14 June 2012:
Poet reportedly sentenced to death, detention location unknown
Sudanese Online – 19 September 2011:
Sudanese activist and poet tortured
Wikipedia, the open encyclopedia:
Abd Almoniem Rahama

Protests against the execution

The court decision has caused outrage among Sudanese public and human right activists. A petition to stop Rahama’s execution was run by sudaneseonline.com

Also, a paper in Arabic was issued by human right activists in Sudan criticizing the court decision, entitled: Poet Exectution – Sudan, What is Next?

The Sudanese Writers Association was quick to condemn Rahama’s arrest and asked to either release him or put him to fair, public trail as he is not part of the military and never participated in fights.

Many activists have written about Rahama on social media and Sudanese forums condemning the court desicion and talking about their experience with Rahama.

Sudanese human rights activist Dalia Haj-Omar tweeted: “I worked with him and he is a True Artist.”

Former political editor of Ajras al-Hurriya and friend of Rahma Ali Haj said: “Officials don’t have any charges against you and they don’t tell you your rights.”

The hastag #freeRahama is used within SudaneseTweeps on Twitter.

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