Last Thursday Dr El Hadi Bakheet, a member of the Sudan Doctors’ Committee, was reportedly seen in el Amal Hospital, an institution of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). NISS cadre arrested Dr El Hadi Wednesday last week in front of Khartoum Hospital. Eye witnesses who saw him in el Amal Hospital reported that he was in a state of confusion and had sustained several injuries marked by a facial haematoma presumably as a result of torture. Following a brief visit to the hospital Dr El Hadi was transferred back to his unidentified location of detention.
There are serious concerns regarding the well-being, and considering the track record of the NISS vis-à-vis striking doctors, the life of Dr El Hadi Bakheet. In the first instance of organised civilian resistance to the NIF military coup of 30th June 1989 Sudanese doctors went on a strike that started on the 26 November 1989. Endangered and angered the security apparatus of the NIF hunted down the leaders of the doctors’ movement and arrested among other Dr Ali Fadl Ahmed on 30th March 1990. Dr Ali Fadl survived 52 days of security ‘hospitality’ and passed away in the casualty department of the Military Corps Hospital in Omdurman as a result of severe injuries to the head and internal bleeding.
Compared to the November 1989 strike the current one has a wider base and a more precisely defined target. The doctors on strike are demanding better terms of service, not the overthrow of ‘government’. In response the Ministry of Health has gone a long way in attempting to fracture the unity of the doctors, and in a twist from labour dispute to security threat the NISS freaked out threatening with its firm fist. As such, a negotiable conflict over service terms escalated to become a headline national affair.
The intolerance of the ‘democratically’ elected government towards organised civilian demands is however expected, bearing in mind the ‘democracy’ it preaches, paralleled only by the Orwellian notion of war is peace, in this case autocracy is democracy. In the gaze of the organised mass the NCP security cabal can only see ‘insurrection; as such today it is merely fighting its nightmarish fantasies, rather than an actual threat to its rule. One thing however is sure; the striking doctors have ripped down a wall of fear, and demonstrated a novel model of organisation and leadership, intuitively decentralised and democratic, well beyond lame opposition politics.
Dr El Hadi still in security custody is in his mid thirties, married and a father of two sons ages 2 and 4 years. Since his detention he was allowed to communicate with his family once per telephone. His whereabouts remain unknown.