The longest-serving detainee in Sudan … “The Communist” guardian of the mosque

23/4/2019

Honoring Yusuf friend in a mosque in Omdurman (Al Jazeera Net)

Muzdalifa Mohammed Osman — Khartoum

In his white robe (Jellaba) and his immaculate turban, he always shows up, with a spontaneous smile that reflects a pure soul and reconciliation from within that could hardly be matched by other politicians in Sudan.

This is how the mastermind and the most prominent communication and foreign relations strategist in the opposition Communist Party of Sudan, Siddig Yusuf, or “uncle Siddiq,” as everyone likes to call him, always looks.

Since the 1950s, he has been experiencing prison life. No sooner does he leave the prison, until he returns again, staying weeks, sometimes months and years, although he is the oldest politician stepping vigorously into his 89th birthday.

That was his life routine before the Sudanese youth revolution succeeded and toppled President Omar al-Bashir, thus saving Siddig Yusuf and companions from detention for the first time in 30 years.

Yusuf tells Al-Jazeera Net about the periods of long arrests in the prisons of Sudan (Al Jazeera Net)

Long imprisonment

his journey with prisons goes back to the late 1940s, and it went on during the rule of President Ibrahim Abboud in the sixties, but these were only “limited movements” sentences, the longest of which lasted 45 days, Uncle Siddiq tells AlJazeera.net.

He points out that the former President Jaafar Nimeiri is the one who introduced the country to “institutionalization arrests”. In 1971, Nimeiri threw him along with 45 others, in Kober prison. At that time, Hashem al-Atta led a coup against Nimeiri, and as a result, Siddiq and his comrades were released for three days, the period of the coup, before Nimeiri succeeded in regaining control of Sudan. They were then incarcerated for two years. half of the period was spent in Shala prison in North Darfur, and the second half in Kober prison, in Khartoum North.

In 1983, Yusuf was arbitrarily dismissed from his job as an engineer for the Sudanese government.

Until the uprising of April 1985 against Nimeiri’s 16-year rule, he was held for five years, the last of which was before the uprising against the regime.

Violence and torture

The Omar al-Bashir coup on June 30, 1989 did not bring any change for Yusuf. Six months after the coup, and more specifically in 1990, he was arrested for two years. He says that the first part of his imprisonment was at “ghost houses” where he was subjected to the most brutal forms of torture, beatings and terrorizing to a point where they made him think that he will be executed.

Since then and throughout Bashir’s rule, his arrests have continued in tandem with political developments. He was even surprised to see two of his sons join him in prison at one point.

His son Hashim tells Aljazeera Net about these old days and recounts his father’s story of spending no less than 12 years in prison under the successive regimes in Sudan.

“My father’s belief in his cause and his determination were reflected in the family, and made us accept the difficulty of being without him for long days when he was in custody,” said Hashim.

Hashim points that during the years of his father’s absence, his mother played a major role in bearing the heaviest budren especially in the early years of Bashir’s rule when the arrest meant “torture and belittling treatment.”

His wife Doria Mohammed Ibrahim calls for his release during one of his periods of detention (Al Jazeera Net)

The dream comes true

Today, Uncle Siddiq seems happy. The dream, what he struggled for his whole life, of having justice and democracy in Sudan is becoming a reality after the removal of Bashir. He explained while crossing the road to join the sit-in which is still going on in front of the army command center in Khartoum, to boost the youth enthusiasm.

Over the years, Uncle Siddiq built a good reputation among Politicians. Despite his loyalty to the Communist Party and despite holding high-ranking positions in it, he won the love and respect from all political forces, including the Islamists who had vowed open hostility to the Communists.

He reaped the fruits of the seeds he planted. Last year, after his prolonged arrest, dozens of young people of the Popular Congress, led by the late Hassan al-Turabi, carried banners and organized a sit-in in front of National Intelligence and Security Services, demanding the release of “Uncle Siddiq”.

A milestone pioneer and a symbol

After the last arrest of Siddiq in January, Rashed Abdul Qader, a well-known Islamist wrote on his Facebook page, talking of Siddiq, “A man who resembles millions of fathers and ordinary people.” He then added, ‘’He has a blurred face, but a clear mind. He is straightforward and well balanced, without warp or crack or refraction. He never caved in or was subdued or wavered in his positions.”

Abdul Qader goes on to add:

“Yusuf Siddiq is a milestone pioneer, a leading symbol, a principle and a way. He knows that there is no longer room for personal gain or special earning, rather he is fighting. He is fighting for people and for the land. Leadership is a responsibility and militancy a way of life.”

About his personality, journalist and human rights activist Hussein Saad tells Al Jazeera, “Uncle Sadiq is a unique, conscious person who is full of humanity and nobility. When he speaks, you feel his interaction with the event, he does not use hurtful words, takes into account the conditions of people; he speaks openly, away from lies and hypocrisy.’’

Siddig Yusuf during his visit to young protesters in front of the General Command of the army in Khartoum (Al Jazeera Net)

The price tag is expensive

Saad continues describing Siddiq as one of the political leaders who have a “high ability to absorb anger and deal with others away from tension.” He says that he became a reference to resolve differences between political forces.

He is also known for his strong organizational skills and commitment and has a wide range of relations. These skills made him the one in charge of communication and organizational tasks.

To hold such high profile positions, he had to pay the price by being the most frequently detained along with two of his sons. Even some of his grandchildren were jailed and some were shot during recent protests.

During the protests of December 2013, Siddiq devoted much of his time to assist victims’ families and the wounded by providing support, treatment, and legal advice, with the assistance of charities. He worked day in and day out to support these families across the capital.”I was a witness to all this, Uncle Siddiq does not like fame — he works in silence and with great determination,” said Saad.

Dove of the mosque

Last February, After his release from detention, Siddiq Yusuf was honored at a mosque in Omdurman. This event received a lot of social media attention and engagement, glorifying the communist-minded man.

the mosque in which Siddiq was honored was built by his father in Omdurman’s prestigious Al-Mulazimin neighborhood in 1959, he tells Al-Jazeera Net.

Since 1981, after the death of his father, he was in charge of the mosque care and follow-up. He headed its committee, while members of his family took turns leading prayers.

Despite the fact that the Communist Party of Sudan advocates the separation of religion and state, In its code of conduct, the party emphasizes “respect for the sanctities and religions of the people” in a religious and conservative society.

Source: Aljazeera.net (Original Content -Arabic)

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