Behind the Red Line

Political Repression in Sudan

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Since the National Islamic Front in Sudan took power following a military coup in 1989, it has created restrictions on daily life and political activity in an effort to maintain control. The Sudanese refer to these rules as the “red line,” and anyone who breaks the rules and crosses the line while expressing their political or civil independence is severely punished. The red line is enforced under the National Security Act, which allows security agents to arbitrarily detain anyone for up to six months without judicial oversight in secret detention centers referred to as “ghost houses,” where torture and ill-treatment are commonplace. Numerous subjects are off limits for discussion, but self-determination and slavery are especially forbidden. While Sudan has been involved in a civil war for much of the period since independence in 1956, claiming some 1.3 million civilians since 1983 as a result of targeted killings, indiscriminate fire, or starvation and disease, the conflict itself is deemed an inappropriate subject. Slavery continues today as tribal militias capture women and children as war booty in the civil war. These and other violations have created a repressive state “behind the red line.”
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