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Human rights activist detained for organising women's rights meeting

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights (ANHRI) denounces the detention of the Sudanese human rights defender Abdul Bassit Mirghani, manager of El Fanar Center for Human Rights, for hosting a meeting of the "No to Oppressing Women" Initiative. Mirghani was detained on 14 December 2010.

The "No to Oppressing Women" Initiative, which focuses on the rights of Sudanese women, was preparing to host a meeting on 13 December at the "Ajras el Horreya" newspaper office to stage a solidarity march for the rights of Sudanese women and to protest the degrading situation of women that are flogged for allegedly "sensual" apparel or for any other trivial allegation brought forth by the Sudanese government.

The newspaper board declined to host the meeting, so Mirghani offered to hold it at the El Fanar center. On the morning of 14 December, he was detained by security agents. No reason was given for his detention and his whereabouts are unknown.

ANHRI sees no justification for detaining Mirghani without charge. His only actions were to express himself, peacefully support women's rights, and participate in civic engagement to host a meeting to defend women's rights, as provided for by laws and tradition.

ANHRI said, "The continued limitation on Sudanese civil society and on freedom of expression has gone beyond all acceptable limits. Detaining Mirghani for hosting a women's rights meeting is a another stain on the bloody human rights record in Sudan ever since Bashir became president.

ANHRI added, "This incident is an indirect message aimed at intimidating human rights activists and women rights defenders so that they do not host any activities in support of women's rights specifically. It is one episode in a long series of incidents harassing activists and suppressing freedom of expression, and it is not limited only to gagging activists but also to silencing the media."

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