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Sudanese Communist Party newspaper’s editor abducted by paramilitary RSF

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Picture: Supplied / Peoples Dispatch – The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which has been at war with Sudan’s army since April 15, 2023, broke into the family home of Haitham Dafallah, the chief editor of Al-Maydan newspaper, and abducted him along with his brother, on January 19, the writer says.

By Pavan Kulkarni

On the afternoon of January 19, Friday, Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) abducted Haitham Dafallah, the chief editor of Al-Maydan newspaper, published thrice a week by the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP). The notorious paramilitary force also abducted his brother Omar.

At 11 in the night, the RSF returned to search and confiscate the mobile phones in his home where he stays with his three children, in the Al-Giref West neighbourhood in the east of the capital Khartoum.

Located just over 3 kilometres from the headquarters of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) which the RSF is trying to capture, this residential neighbourhood has been under the control of the RSF since the war began on April 15, 2023.

The besieged neighbourhood “lacks food”. “There is no running water and electricity. Most people have fled from there. The homes they left behind have been looted by the RSF,” a friend and comrade of Haitham who chose not to be identified told Peoples Dispatch.

“Haitham is among the few who remained. Giref is a historical area where people have ancestral roots. They don’t usually have relatives in other parts of Sudan. So some people like Haitham chose to stay back in their ancestral homes despite the dangers,” he added.

Calling for the “immediate release” of Dafallah and his brother, the Sudanese Journalists Union appealed to “all human rights organisations and those working for press freedom to.. pressure the leaders of the Rapid Support Forces to prevent the arrest and intimidation of journalists”.

A number of leftist parties and people’s organisations have also issued similar calls. In a statement, the Arab Maghreb Region Secretariat of the International Peoples’ Assembly demanded the release of Dafallah and called on “media outlets and journalists worldwide to condemn the targeting of civilians in Sudan, including journalists and activists”.

In the meantime, RSF’s commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, aka Hemeti, is in Uganda, attending the 42nd Extraordinary Summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Heads of State and Government which started on January 18.

SAF chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan boycotted the meeting and announced through Sudan’s foreign ministry that the Sudanese government has suspended co-operation with IGAD in protest against its invitation to Hemeti.

Both Burhan and Hemeti were close confidants of former dictator Omar al Bashir, who was ousted in April 2019 by mass protests that have come to be known as the December Revolution, in which the SCP had played an important role.

However, Burhan and Hemeti thwarted a democratic transition by seizing power and instituting a military junta, with Burhan as its chair and Hemeti as its deputy. The internal competition for power between the two ruling partners broke out into a war on April 15, pitting the SAF and the RSF against each other.

The RSF has since taken over most of the capital Khartoum and its sister cities of Khartoum North and Omdurman, the whole of the Darfur region where the SAF had spawned it to commit atrocities during the civil war in 2000s, the breadbasket state of Gezira and parts of Kordofan.

More than 7.4 million people have been displaced by the fighting, causing the world’s largest displacement crisis. 40 percent of the population has been plunged into acute hunger.

Pavan Kulkarni is a journalist and an author at Peoples Dispatch

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch

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