On Wednesday morning, agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Khartoum North detained an 80-year-old member of the Secretariat of El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Association. He was released that evening.
Hasabo Ibrahim, who was detained from his home in El Doroshab in Khartoum North on Wednesday morning, was released on the condition that he daily reports himself at the NISS headquarters near the Shendi bus station in Khartoum North.
His daughter Shahd told Radio Dabanga that a security force took her father, who is suffering from heart disease, at 7:00 am with them to an unknown destination. “They did not respond to our questions about the reasons for the detention.”
Mohamed El Jak Abushama, his colleague at the Secretariat, told Radio Dabanga that Ibrahim was held and questioned after he addressed a seminar organised by the Democratic Lawyers Alliance in Khartoum last week.
During his speech, Ibrahim revealed a number of documents that show the authorities’ obstruction of the establishment of a cooperative farmers’ movement at the El Gezira Agricultural Scheme, and called on lawyers to adopt the case and bring the matter to justice.
Asim Kanoun, another member of the Farmers Alliance Secretariat, condemned the detention of Ibrahim and his having to report daily to the security service. “This is a clear attempt to obstruct the Association’s efforts to re-establish the Farmers Union.”
On Thursday, security forces stormed a meeting of the Farmers Alliance in El Hoda in El Managil and detained one of its members, El Amin Abdelnabi.
In Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira, NISS agents summoned Kamal El Nima, a member of the El Ugda Farmers Association branch.
Kanoun told this station on Thursday that the targeting of outspoken members of El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Association started after the members agreed on the re-establishment of “a genuine farmers union in the region” during the El Maejeena conference in mid-October.
The El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Association has called on Sudanese and international human rights organisations to stand with the farmers for the attainment of their legitimate rights.
El Gezira Scheme Act
The El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme, located between the Blue and White Niles, south of Khartoum, used to be one of the world’s largest irrigation projects. For nearly eighty years, it remained the sole source of hard currency for the country, through the cultivation of cotton. During the last few decades, however, the cotton production was reduced to less than 100,000 acres.
In late 2014, President Al Bashir described the Scheme as a burden on the country’s budget.
Early September 2015, the Agriculture Ministry amended the El Gezira Scheme Act, aimed at transferring land ownership to the private sector and foreign investors. The Farmers Union was replaced by ‘work associations’.
Abdeen Bargawi, the spokesman for the El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Association, told this station in December 2016 that Scheme’s administration mortgaged assets with the value of SDG341 million (more than $52 million) to Sudanese banks.
Hasabu Ibrahim warned in June 2016 for the consequences of the “destructive agricultural policies”. He said that a large number of channels have been removed by the authorities during the past years. “This has led to the destruction of a part of the irrigation system as the desperate farmers resorted to digging wells arbitrarily. The situation in turn led to widespread destruction of farmlands in El Gezira and El Managil.”