Rania Mamoun, an award-winning novelist was arrested in Madani with her sister and brother while protesting on September 23. They were released in the evening of September 24. This is her testimony.
A Day in Hell: my testimony from our arrest
What happened to my brother, sister and I is not an oddity, it is aligned with the policy of this state and its methodology of country management and subjugating its citizens. This continued happening for nearly a quarter of a century, Sudanese people were killed, some disappeared and many were displaced. The occurrence of many illnesses; physiological, psychological and mental are endless, and the fate of the rest is still unknown.
For nearly a quarter of a century, Sudanese have been arrested, violated, tortured and killed in cold blood, without the blink of an eye or shiver of the heart . Who hasn’t heard of ghost houses and what takes place inside; the egregious violations of the body uprooting the spirit and scratching human dignity with sharp nails, dropping sad and fresh blood on the floors and walls of these prisons.
How many tears were shed; not out of fear, panic or a collapsed will, but tears of humiliation. How many tragedies and suffering flooded young and old, women and men, and all those who fell in the clutches of the organs of the Northern-led totalitarian Islamic state.
The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and police, as well as informal brigades and factions are trained and brainwashed to channel hatred towards the people. Looking closely you can observe that those carrying out the orders of the authority generally belong to a particular segment of society. Most of them are uneducated or have minimal education and their families have been nestled in poverty and a hard economic state for generations. These oppressed people are also distressed by the injustice despite their surrender to it. Thus, recruiting members from this segment is ideal, whereas they are exploited to transform their sense of deep injustice into hatred and hostility.
They are brainwashed into whatever mold and trained to use violence and even killing. Eventually they are released to vent out their feelings of injustice perpetrated by the authorities towards them, but instead of directing this towards the regime, their rage is towards the people.
This anger, hatred and revenge is exactly what came out on the bodies of my brother, sister and I. Brutal beating, stemming from cruel hearts that enjoy torturing like a walk in the park. I can’t describe what happened as a beating or even cruel beating, or any other attribute; because what I experienced overrides any characterization. One can’t get the exact feeling of indescribable pain unless one lives through it; pain can’t be described it has to be experienced.
While inside my cell, I thought about those who went through this experience and felt how strong they must have been. Before that, I felt their pain and united with it, as I united with the pain of my brother bleeding without treatment and united with the psychological pain of my sister (a diabetic) for having to go through such a bitter experience.
This happened on Monday, September 23, 2013 , about five forty-five in the evening. We were arrested from a peaceful demonstration in a nearby neighborhood condemning the decision of the removal of fuel subsidies, which would deteriorate the already terrible economic situation.
My brother, Sheikh was hit on the head in three places according to the medical report, causing 6 cm, 2 cm and 1cm wounds. His collar bone is broken and he has bruises scattered all over his thin body. Regardless, we were not allowed to go to a hospital to stop and clean the bleeding wounds. My brother bled all evening and night until he lost consciousness.
I was hit by a large number of soldiers, who circled me like flies. The beating was intense and meant to hurt and abuse and many rods were used that I lost count. I can trace the effect on my body where marks are many. They dragged me on the ground and called me all sorts of names then threatened me with gang rape. I was even harassed by one of them, imagine.
With the continued beatings I reached the stage where I did not feel pain with every new strike that followed. Numbness, stiffness, or my body sagging or becoming a bag of cotton has enabled me to become indifferent or senseless. To be made senseless by beating is the ultimate level of pain and torture.
According to the medical report I have sporadic bruises in the body, a blow on the right shoulder and was wounded in the right arm. I also have bruises on the head, bleeding under the skin in the upper and lower eyelids of the left eye and bleeding under the conjunctiva with swelling and redness.
My sister Arafa has a bruise on the head and on the forehead and bruises on the left elbow as a result of being dragged on the ground.
We spent about an hour at the Southern police station. They cuffed my brother and forced us all to sit on the floor while subjecting us to sustained provocation. I was once again threatened with rape inside the station in front of a few more detainees and the police officers! We were verbally abused and given inhumane treatment with an intimidating threatening tone. My brother was hit several times with soldiers’ boots. We were then deported to the Central Station.
So this is what happens in the state security centers
The eight of us–six men and two women- were put in the cells and officers placed complaints against us under Article 163, for rioting. We demanded to go to the hospital, but they refused on the pretext that there was no car to take us, as all were at protests sites. They lied and told us they gave us the authorization and we are just awaiting the car to transport us. No car came and we only got to a hospital almost twenty four hours later, and my brother was swimming in a pool of his own blood.
Inside the cell we spent the night in the company of locusts, grasshoppers and small sneaky black insets that find their way to the folds of the body. This was certainly a method of torturing; we would try to remove the locusts off our clothes only for a grasshopper to approach, followed by an insect’s pinch anywhere on the body. The cell was dark, with a light bulb at the top of the yard which was roofed by a mesh.
The main complaints office was small and dark, with the cell behind it separated by a small yard. The whole area was infested by insects clustered in the offices, fence and cell. We tried to sleep after sitting exhausted us, but woke up on the hard floor surrounded by insects. I told the soldier that my sister was diabetic and they must take account of this , especially as she did not eat all day and night , he mocked me replying: God help her, and walked away.
We refused to eat and asked to go to the hospital first, but who would hear? Who listens to the plea? It was a cruel treatment, devoid of any sense of humanity.
The bathrooms were shared between men and women, dark and without an internal lock. In the yard dedicated to men, about 56-57 detainees brought after midnight lay on the ground. A few more were brought in before, but they were small in number. At four in the morning, the men were sitting up in the yard, unable to find sleep.
I sat in a dark corner of the cell after a tiring attempt to ward off insects. The heat was suffocating, but I felt weak and couldn’t get up; so I chose heat over insects. I crawled closer to the door facing the fence and pondered the beautiful portrait drawn by the insects on the walls and floors. It was five in the morning and I was contemplating how such beauty could exist in such an ugly place. I pushed one away from me and it fell on its back. I watched it attempt to straighten itself, with tired by interested eyes. It shuffled fast then slow, perhaps in an attempt to not exhaust itself. Even such simple creatures, which we are surely more superior to, have willpower to stand and fight for their freedom. Blessed is freedom, blessed are the free people.
The next day after our release they did not want to giving us the hospital authorization. We insisted and were told to talk to the head of the station. We found him with a number of journalists and only then did he order the authorization, although he had seen my brother before and did not lift a finger! They took their time as much as they could, but in the end we got it and went to the hospital.
Some experiences strengthen you, while others break you. When you’re beaten to a pulp, your dignity is assaulted, your safety compromised, your freedom stolen, there is only one way forward – to continue what others initiated. There is no return , we can only go ahead, and that’s what they do not know.
Your beating and your torture does not frighten me nor break me. It will not force me to retreat, but rather strengthens me and inspires me. You ask me: Are you not afraid? And I say: I’ve become stronger.