At least fifteen Darfuri individuals were detained and nine are still in detention without charge in Nierteti in Central Darfur. The United States is gravely concerned about the government of Sudan's incarceration of these people and immediately expressed its concern about the reported detentions to senior Sudanese officials. The United States calls on the government of Sudan to immediately release all those detained.
The detentions followed a visit by U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth to Sudan's North and Central Darfur states, as well as internally displaced persons camps at Sortoni and Nierteti in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur in late July. Many others who were not detained were nonetheless questioned by security officials about the nature of their contact with the Special Envoy.
These actions are particularly unfortunate as they undercut the government of Sudan's initially granting permission for the Special Envoy's fact-finding visit and allowing him to travel to areas and speak with individuals of his choosing. Such firsthand knowledge is important to shaping future U.S. engagement with the government of Sudan and opposition groups and leaders regarding Darfur.
As Sudan seeks to pursue an inclusive national political dialogue, the Sudanese people need to be free to voice their opinions. The United States urges the government of Sudan to respect its citizens' rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including by the press. These are vital elements for an environment conducive to a national dialogue.