Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Prominent womens' rights campaigner detained in Sudan

It's so easy being a political activist in this country. I can campaign for Liberal Democrat policies and values knowing that low poll ratings are my only concern. You can pretty much say what you want about the Government or challenge vested interests and power elites. It's a right some of us don't really appreciate as much as we should. People arguing for human rights or for the feminist cause might be ridiculed in the Daily Fail, but generally can go about their lives without fear of detention and torture. If we don't value this freedom, we could lose it one day - and then we could end up with situations like the following, from the Sudan.

This is not so in other parts of the world, sadly. Last night I received an email from Women Liberal Democrats telling me that Nahid Gabralla, a womens' rights campaigner in Sudan, was detained on 3rd July. We were asked to email the Sudanese authorities.

Nahid Gabralla has been a much needed irritation to the authorities in Sudan. Way back in 2007, the British teacher who was jailed for calling a teddy bear Muhammad spent time there and the BBC described the conditions she was likely to find. No drinking water, or beds or protection from the sun for a start. When you consider that torture is the norm rather than the exception in Sudan, it's clear that the news of Gabralla's detention is very worrying indeed. The fact that she so strongly challenges the prevailing view that women should be totally subservient to men is likely to lead to much harsher treatment for her.

She heads up SEEMA, a campaign against Female Genital Mutilation and, 3 years ago, led a march in support of a woman who had been sentenced to 40 lashes for wearing trousers.

Organisation Waging Peace says that appeals from abroad can help.
Appeals from abroad make an enormous difference. Letting the Sudanese authorities know that Nahid Gabralla is on our radar may save her life. 
They want us to send an email like the following to three Sudanese Government ministers. It will literally take a few seconds. Can you help?

Dear Excellency, I write regarding Nahid Gabralla Siedahmed, who was arrested on July 3rd. I understand that Gabralla is in Omdurman Women’s Prison. I respectfully appeal to Your Excellency to demonstrate generosity of spirit and to release Gabralla from detention. Many people in my country are aware of Gabralla’s situation, and are following her case. Thank you for reading this message.
Yours Faithfully,(your name and country)
HE Omar Hassan Ahmad al-BashirInfo@sudan.gov.sd 
Minister of Justice Mohammed Boushara Dossamoj@moj.gov.sd 
Minister of the Interior Ibrahim Mohamed HamedMinistry@mfa.gov.sd
 Filling their inboxes with international concern will do no harm. I'm hoping, of course, that our Government and the EU are putting similar pressure on the Sudanese authorites to release Gabralla. 

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