Previously: Egyptian-Sudanese Unity & Darfur in Diaspora (Part 1), Identity In An Egyptian Cafe & A Sudanese Restaurant (Part 2), Sudan’s Lost Generation (Part 3), Sudanese Refugees and Civil Rights in Egypt (Part 4) and Perspectives on Darfuri Activism in Exile (Part 5).
This is the final part of Matt’s series on Sudanese refugees.
As part of his community work, Abdel Rahman regularly interviews community members, conducting refugee testimonies for the purposes of basic needs, educational and service provisioning assessments. In the course of this work, which continues until today, Abdel Rahman shares relevant historical accounts of historical and sociopolitical importance, as among his exiled compatriots.
As Abdel Rahman introduces on particular case, “Mr. Nasir stands as a self-evident example of the suffering and challenges facing the true and brave refugees who have been resourceful and resilient in their struggle for durable solutions to the UNHCR resettlements section in asylum countries.”
Mr. Nasir is a refugee from East Sudan. He registered at the UNHCR in February 2004. As shown on his Yellow Card (Asylum Seeker Registration), Nasir’s mother and sister both lived in the United States of America. Nasir’s family reunification process was lengthy. It took him a decade in Cairo to hear the final result.
Mr. Nasir suffers from psychological and socioeconomic problems in Cairo, due to the void of promises from the UNHCR. The UNHCR office doesn’t seem an effective channel for Nasir’s family reunification. As result of the disappointing treatment by the office in Cairo, Nasir’s psychological conditions have increasingly deteriorated. More, the unjustified cut of his financial monthly allowances has worsened his mental health conditions.
Nasir registered at MSF (Médecins Sans Frontiérs) Cairo for counseling purposes. Mr. Nasir now speaks in public about the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Sudan, as well as the situation of Sudanese refugees in Egypt. In his public speeches he usually calls for the arrest of President Omar Al-Bashir, who was accused by the ICC (International Criminal Court) of committing genocide crimes in Darfur. [ICC issued two warrants of arrest for Bashir, in 2009 and 2010]
Mr. Nasir is a non-Arab refugee living in a country of Arab cultural dominance. Severely criticizing the government in Sudan, showing less respect to Islam, subjected him to ill-treatment, and the blocking of his status, as per the Refugee Convention, as with the indefinite hold on his family reunification process. Nasir’s case was also an apparent example of what I had suffered over the last decade in countries dominated by Arab-Islamic cultural dominance.
As an African migrant, Sudanese refugee and Darfuri activist, Abdel Rahman has also fomented solidarity by collecting shared experiences, as lived by other African migrants from Sudan. With respect to the experience of Africans-in-exile throughout the Arab-Islamic dominated region, the following two accounts detail the experience of two Sudanese citizens who lived in Libya in 1997, and Syria in 2001. Interviewed by Abdel Rahman in recent months, he personally attests that they represent an “example of the racist governmental laws and societal persecution that Indigenous African migrants, and Sudanese exiles face in countries dominated by Arab-Islamic culture.”
In 2001 Mr. Abdel Wahid, a young Sudanese forced migrant who lived and worked in Syria was detained by the Syrian national state security forces, and was brutally tortured to death on baseless allegations.
Before his death Mr. Abdel Wahid was under the custody of the Syrian security forces, called the “Palestinian Branch” and known for its brutality and ruthlessness. The Sudanese embassy in Damascus was later informed about the death of Mr. Abdel Wahid, though professedly as result of his contracting malaria.
The counselor of Sudan in Syria at that time had issued a notice to the Sudanese living in Damascus about the fact of the death of Mr. Abdel Wahid, asking if anyone who knew about the relatives of Abdel Wahid could provide said information to the counselor.
Mr. Abdel Wahid’s dead body was taken to the Damascus central hospital morgue. When Mr. Abdel Wahid’s elder brother came from Iraq to find out about the truth of his brother’s death, the security forces were instructed to transfer the dead body of Mr. Abdelwahid. They moved his body to the morgue of the Syrian military hospital to prevent his brother from seeing the dead body of Mr. Abdel Wahid who died in custody due to fatal injuries, and internal bleeding, caused by the security personnel who tortured him severely.
The civil central hospital forensic department in Damascus reported that the main cause of the death of Mr. Abdel Wahid was malaria, and not of torture. The elder brother of Mr. Abdel Wahid was subsequently threatened, and was forced to accept the forensics medical report about the death of his brother. But he refused to accept the report because friends of Mr. Abdel Wahid told him that his younger brother was tortured to death by the security personnel of the “Palestine Branch”.
He was denied the right to see his brother’s dead body at the civil hospital morgue. When he referred to legal assistance from the Sudan counselor in Damascus he was told that the case was over, and that he should accept the forensics report, and settle the case of his brother’s death.
The Sudanese diplomatic mission abroad generally does not provide protection to their subjects in need by intervening in any legal case. They do provide legal assistance, but only based on the features of the person, and his ethnic group. For example, if the person looks like an Arab from North Sudan, he is probably going to get a response from the embassy.
If the person was born in Darfur or the Nuba Mountain, or pertains to the Indigenous African ethnic groups in Sudan, he or she will never get the required proper legal assistance from most of the Sudan embassies abroad. They are monopolized by Northern, Arabized Nubians, as has been the case since the independence of Sudan in January 1956.
The following recounts the human rights situation in Libya, in 1997, substantiating Abdel Rahman’s personal account noted previously. As Abdel Rahman refers to the regional debacle, while less diplomatically, however with his characteristic emotional honesty, “Same ass, different shit.”
A young Sudanese forced migrant from Darfur came to Libya in the early nineties, by the name of Mubarak. He was lured by the job opportunities in Libya, as were many other young people his age. He was an active and brilliant man. I met Mubarak in Tripoli in 1997. Mubarak and I discussed the volatile human rights situations in Sudan in general, and in Darfur in particular.
Mubarak was brutally beaten to death by his employer, and the sons of his employer, on charges of having sex with his employer’s wife. She worked in the Libyan army as a high-ranking officer, according to Mubarak’s relatives. He was then thrown out on the yard close to the house where the rest of his relatives lived. He was unconscious when one of his relatives returned from a nightshift. The relative picked him up and brought him into the house.
Then, they took him to the nearest Libyan police station where they filed a complaint against his employer and his sons, who were responsible for the apparent physical injuries that they had inflicted. After they had finished with the police they took Mubarak to the central hospital in Tripoli for emergency medical aid. Mubarak left the hospital suffering from his injuries, and was not provided with any of the life saving that he would require medicines.
Mubarak died in the hospital on his bed as result of internal bleeding. The news of his death was heartbreaking to his relatives as well as his friends in Tripoli. The forensic report added another shock because it stated that the cause of death was a fever, from malaria, which was not true.
At the time, the Sudanese ambassador was informed about the case of Mubarak and the tragedy of his death. The ambassador had petitioned the senior medical officials at the Libyan hospital to be fair and honest about the forensic report of the Sudanese citizen, Mr. Mubarak, who died at the hospital as result of a fatal injuries brutally caused by his employer and sons, based on the Libyan police report extracted from Mubarak’s testimony before his death.
Instead, the hospital authorities supported the first forensic report. If they reported about the main causes of Mubarak’s death, the Libyan army officer, and his sons, could be hanged for homicide. The Sudanese ambassador had stopped following up the case with the hospital authorities, started calling both parties for reconciliation, to settle the case of Mubarak without referring to the Libyan criminal procedures.
In fact, Sudanese embassies abroad don’t protect subjects who pertain to Indigenous African ethnic groups, like Mubarak who belonged to a non-Arab ethnic group in Darfur. The Sudanese embassies were, and are quite dominated by pro-Islamic Arabized Nubians of North Sudan, who never practiced principles of reciprocity with Arab governments, and the Arab societies that oppressed the Sudanese citizens living and working in Arab countries. Conversely, the Sudanese government practiced principles of reciprocity with countries like the United States of America, and with the European Union.
Eventually, close friends of Mubarak told me that Mubarak was intentionally murdered by Libyan state security me. Three Egyptians were found dead near one of the farms close to the villa where Mubarak used to work as a guard. He heard the voices of the perpetrators, later revealing their identify publicly to the foreign workers who worked and lived within the scene of the crime, which included Egyptians eager to know the nationalities of the perpetrators.
Mubarak wasn’t aware of the fact that after the three Egyptians were killed the police arrested all the workers living and working there. They workers were placed in the custody of the Libyan security forces, as detainees, who were investigated indirectly. The Libyan state security wanted to know if any one of the migrants happened to know by chance anything about the killing of the Egyptians workers, as occurred in the suburb southwest of Tripoli.
The secret Libyan security, which had always avoided conversing with the detainees, found that Mubarak was the only person refusing to believe the Libyan account; how the death of the Egyptians was due to a fight that broke out between the Egyptians. Mubarak said he had not heard the voices of Libyan people who came with their cars to the place where the three Egyptians were found dead the next morning. Because they could not find the perpetrators, the police was instructed to release all the foreign workers in the area of the crime.
Mubarak was among those who had been released. A week later he was brutally assaulted by his employer and sons, who were likely partial to Libyan security forces. Forensic reports about the reasons for the death of Sudanese exiles in criminal cases are often attributed to malaria. The real cause of death is rarely mentioned, to ensure the impunity of the offender from punishment.
Egyptian-Sudanese unity is a double edged crescent sword, and particularly for Sudanese migrants in Egypt. On the one hand, mutual socio-economic, political and cultural realities merge interdependently, dissolving the national borders by the force of common sentiments, and shared histories of oppression and independence in the wake of English, Turkish, and the more ancient colorizations.
On the other hand, there is a surreptitious collusion amid the Egyptian and Sudanese political elite, marginalizing minority ethnic and sociopolitical identities. This sword, firmly in the hilt of the Arab-Islamic majority, has been used liberally, to draw lines in the sand, as to split bodies, and all in the exploitative tradition of former colonial masters, and at the behest of modern geopolitics under the shadow of Western hegemony.
During his recent visit to Cairo on the 18th of October, the Egyptian reception of the Sudanese dictator, and war criminal Omar Al-Bashir exhibited the infuriatingly compounded, byzantine saga of the Egyptian-Sudanese consensus. The Egyptian media covered the reception of the Sudanese president to the standards of the journalistic trifling so characteristic to the region. As Egypt had not ratified the ICC treaty in 2000, so El-Sisi would not condemn Bashir to justice for his crimes against humanity in Darfur. Regardless, the Egyptian government symbolized certain disdain by not flying the Sudanese flag. This political challenge, in full view, at the center of reception protocol, was considered humiliating for a sovereign state.
The visit was the very first to Cairo by Bashir since the El-Sisi presidency began in June of 2014. The theme of their meetings in Khartoum during El-Sisi’s first month in office resumed in Cairo. Their meetings revealed the immediacy of their geographic union in the midst of such projects as the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia. However, certain political analyses from Egypt have concluded that the decision not to fly the Sudanese flag during Bashir’s reception signaled a clear warning against harboring the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan.
One week leading up to the controversial visit, the government of Egypt implemented a severe crackdown against Sudanese human rights activists, including all members of the Sudanese opposition living in Egypt. This was carried out in continuity with similar actions since El-Sisi took power. In August of 2014, the Sudanese Broad National Front (BNF), led by Ali Mahmoud Hassanein, was barred from holding its second general convention in Cairo, as they publicly expressed intentions to foment political insurrection to overthrow the NCP.
Within the marginalized are the potentials for social change. The famed Syrian poet, Adonis, articulated this very point in his philosophical treatise,Sufism and Surrealism, with his characteristically visionary language:
Although heretics and atheists, members of religious cults associated with them and those who are marginalized socially and ideologically, such as cultural and racial minorities and the insane, etc, do not represent the social body and do not claim such representation for themselves, they are nevertheless storing up a power that is a much more able means of moving and changing the social body.
In a different era, typically remembered in the midst of the immediate post-WWII era, as international refugee law began to develop, refugees were naturalized almost immediately. The purgatorial terror of life in Egypt as a refugee is practically the exact opposite to the assimilative concept of immigration in the postcolonial West, as, for example, in America. Whereas in America, marginalized minorities must recover their social memory amid different, although not wholly dissimilar forms of state oppression, the impenetrability of assimilation into Middle Eastern societies such as Egypt is fitted with unique migrant struggles.
The Middle East, as with much of the world, simply does not tolerate immigrant integration, and minority civil rights (not to speak of majority civil rights). In the Global South, the potency of social change agents from within the marginalized, minority sectors of society, then, run a different course towards civil rights, with special respect to refugees. Community-led resolutions have yet to emerge due to an inveterate lack of transparency among a powerless public of silenced revolutionaries.
The multifarious issues attending refugee rights in the “Mother of the World” are an important source of reflection, as they speak to the multigenerational traumas that nearly all people across the globe share as descendants of forced migrants through the ages. There are no immediate solutions to the perennial crises of transnational forced migration through Egypt, or elsewhere. Still, the subject requires constant public discourse and commentary in order to adequately frame an awareness of human history within the politicized rhetoric of humanitarian aid, especially as set into policy and practice by Americans.
As noted by the American author and journalist Robert D. Kaplan, chronicling the origins of 21st century terrorism and genocide in his spry literary achievement, “Balkan Ghosts,” a tragedy to the proportion of Darfur will have an epochal regional affect. Likely, this page in history, bespeaking an era of genocidal nationalism and international law, will not turn over for the better part of the next thousand years, if history manages to last, not to mention humanity overall.
Adonis. (2005). Sufism and Surrealism. (Judith Cumberbatch, Trans.). UK: Saqi Books.
Chris Peters. (1996). Sudan: A Nation in the Balance. UK: Oxfam.
Deborah Scroggins. (2002). Emma’s War. USA: Vintage Books
Ted Dagne. (2010). Sudan: The Crisis in Darfur and Status of the North-South Peace Agreement. USA: Congressional Research Service.
Crossposted from Nation of Change.
Content posted to MyMPN open blogs is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to MintPress News.