Sudan: Young hip-hop artist detained in 12 days and beaten

20 April 2011


In February, a young Sudanese hip-hop artist, Ahmad, who asked to be identified only by his first name for security reasons, was detained for 12 days that included beatings by police, reported Alan Boswell for the American McClatchy Newspapers

He was arrested for taking part in a demonstration, and “it was just basically torture,” Ahmad recalled when he was interviewed a month later. “None of us could sleep on our backs” because of the beatings. He and other detainees also faced electrocution, lengthy verbal abuse and humiliation, and the police shaved his hair down the middle.

“In Sudan, the ‘Arab spring’ that’s shaken most other Arab countries feels like a grim wintry chill,” noted Alan Boswell in his article. “Protests have been dispersed quickly under the heavy hand of security forces. Scores of demonstrators and suspected ringleaders have been imprisoned. The movement has failed to garner broad popular support. (…)

Facebook and text messages? Compromised. Promoting a protest online? A good way to get everyone arrested. Cellphones are treated warily now, as are regular email and Internet forums. If activists chat online, they do it in camouflaged forums designed to fly under the radar. Facebook sites are still used to share pictures and video, but with much greater caution.”

Alan Boswell described how Ahmad and his friends attempt to organise a protest in the capital Khartoum on 21 March 2011. Their tactic of relaying the details by person, cell to cell, rather than promoting them online seemed to confuse more than it helped. “A bitterly disappointed Ahmad was one of fewer than 30 youths who made it to the final meet-up spot for a brief demonstration before scattering,” wrote Boswell.

Compilation album
According to him, the young artist hasn’t given up on the cause. He and other young musicians have released a politically charged compilation album — a rarity in Sudan’s tightly controlled society — and his live performances are filled with not-so-subtle anti-regime rhetoric.

Watching nearby tyrants teeter and fall, he said he was still confident that the tsunami of popular anger would hit Sudan’s shores eventually.

“The movement needs to organize itself first, and prepare for that day. Because that day is coming, certainly, and it has to come,” he said.



The Kansas City Star / McClatchy Newspapers – 7 April 2011:

‘Sudan’s government crushed protests by embracing Internet’

More information on this topic

Al Jazeera – 28 June 2011:

‘Why Not an #AfricanSpring?’

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