The Sudanese Army Targets Civilians 

The civil war in Sudan is entering its ninth month, with the Sudanese Armed Forces targeting civilians based on their ethnicity

A 24-year-old man named Osman Arabab, speaking to Al Jazeera, recounted how he and his younger brother were on a bus outside the city of Atbara, located northeast of the country, when they were stopped by military intelligence. They were questioned about whether any of the passengers were from Darfur in the west or Kordofan in the south, as these cities are considered strongholds of the rival Sudanese Army Rapid Support Forces.

Although the brothers are from Kordofan, they had not lived there for years. They were gathered with a group of young people from both cities and were accused of spying for the Rapid Support Forces. They were then taken to a building in Atbara, where, as Osman described, the Sudanese army beat them with sticks for six days to extract confessions from them, and shocked them with electric cables when they remained silent. He recalls that his diabetic brother was screaming in pain. He said: “I thought to myself: My brother will die, they will kill us.”

After 12 days, they paid the price for their release.

He said: “I paid $50 for myself and $50 for my brother, and finally they allowed us to leave the next morning.”

Both the Sudanese Army are accused of conducting such arrests across the country, sowing mistrust and hostility among civilians everywhere. Most of the Sudanese Army battalions are composed of non-Arab Sudanese Nubians and Sudanese Arab from Kordofan. It is widely believed that Arab army officers support the Rapid Support Forces clandestinely.

In January, a soldier in the army from an Arab Bedouin tribe in South Kordofan was accused of collaborating with the Rapid Support Forces. He appeared in a video, verified by Al Jazeera, tied to a ladder and hanging by his feet, and it is likely that he was tortured until he died as shown in a picture of him after the incident.

Mr. Hafez Mohammed, a Sudanese researcher from South Kordofan, said: “South Kordofan has long suffered from tension due to racial and tribal differences, even within the army.”

A man who calls himself Mohammed Osman was among the tens of thousands who tried to flee Wad Madani. He was arrested by military intelligence in late December, and he soon learned that he was a member of the Klakla Resistance Committees that supported democracy.

He said he was taken to a secret detention center, tortured for several days, forced to watch seven decaying bodies on a concrete floor, and then rescued by a friend in the army on bail. Dozens of other Sudanese activists have been subjected to similar treatment by the Sudanese army.

A woman who calls herself Fatima Noon, a spokesperson for the Klakla Resistance Committees, said: “The first thing they asked him [referring to Osman] was if he was a member of the resistance committees; we know they are targeting us.”

It is worth mentioning that many of the detained activists had participated in organizing popular protests that led to the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, and the arrests by the army are seen as revenge against them.

A man who calls himself Youssef Omar, a member of the resistance committees in Port Sudan, the army stronghold, said: “Some in the army claim that volunteers and activists are collaborating with the Rapid Support Forces, which is untrue. I believe these are political arrests, as many of the detained activists were active during the revolution [that ousted al-Bashir], and they are now facing baseless accusations.”

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