Saturday, 18 February 2012

Sudan: Sleeping, intending and other illegal activities

Speaking to a reporter after his release from a few hours detention, Muzafar (not his real name) said that they were woken up by batons, whipped unto their feet and out of the university dorms. He said they were told to pack their clothes and take them with them. "Please make sure you take all your belongings with you" said the officer in the air hostess uniform.

The boys' dormitories at the University of Khartoum was raided at 4 am on Friday. More than 300 students were apparently beaten and arrested, and taken to several police stations around the capital Khartoum.... for sleeping!

The university has witnessed a surge in student protests since late December, in which students were demanding a stop to police violence and the right to form a student's union. The authorities then decided to close down the university until early March.

In Friday's raid, the students were charged with "disturbing the peace", "G-Unit" and several other record company names. They were charged for their "intention" of staging a peaceful sit-in on Sunday.

Let's assume the government of Sudan has a legal system; let's also assume they - like everyone else - are humans, have human brains, feet and eyeballs. Is it possible, that a bunch of humans huddled up in a room, thinking with their feet, suggest a raid on sleeping students, agree on it, and eventually carry it out? Apparently so.. you know why? Because sleeping is illegal in Sudan; specially sleeping at night, in dorms, at an educational institution, in a bed, while breathing, oxygen, but not any oxygen, NCP oxygen. That's right. Non-NCP members aren't allowed to breathe NCP oxygen.

It all seems unfair to be honest; because honestly, we don't have a proper oppressive regime. Our dictatorship is chaotic, it has sporadic surges of political testosterone. When this happens - even at 4 am - they get this inexorable urge to beat something. Apparently, when they really can't find a justifiable target, they take it out on cattle.

In a proper dictatorship, the beating would've taken place during the sit-in on Sunday. This seems relatively fair. Yes, ethical crime is a contradiction, but it seems to be the code of the "bad guys"; ask Hussni Mubarak and Dr Evil. Not only is our government violent against its own citizens, it's recklessly violent.

Most of the students were eventually taken back to their dorms, but most were left money-less; and apparently some are still detained. The students said they were looted by the officers during the raid, which is not surprising given the nature of the raid. It is precisely this type of thuggery that has caused so many to criticize the current regime. But, criticism or not, Friday's raid was absolutely abhorrent.

This is yet another sign that the government is becoming extremely uncomfortable and apprehensive. The government is so uncomfortable that, not only is it making whimsical decisions, but well thought out irrelevant ones too.

Now, apparently, no high ranking government official is allowed to leave the country without Bashir's approval. His personal approval. So, you have to call him - on his cell phone - and ask for permission to leave the country. This, they say, is part of the government's new plan to cut spending and keep the negligible amount of foreign currency they have left within Sudan's borders. So after you call him, he does the math in his head, calculates how much your trip will cost, deducts that from the $17.29 of foreign currency in the Central Bank, and then decides whether your trip is worth it. After permission is granted, the government official has to bring back a note from the country that he's travelling to confirming his visit, and that he was a good boy. The note has to be signed by the president of set country, the foreign minister and Sudan's ambassador.

It's a f***ing kindergarten!


Omer said...

Wow! Hilarious! Thinking with their feet, just genius!

roa.adil said...

Although this comment is a bit late, I wanna applaude you for a beautiful piece of writing. Looking forward to reading more of ur work. Your article pin pointed an issue I never really took my time to sit and think about.