Monday, July 30, 2012

U.S. Aid Worker Faces Death Penalty in Sudan

Worked Closely With Former NBA Legend Manute Bol 

By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

KHARTOUM, SUDAN (ANS) -- Rudwan Dawod, an American resident, NGO aid worker, humanitarian and pro-democracy activist, who worked closely with former NBA Legend Manute Bol, continues to be on trial Sunday, July 29 in Khartoum, Sudan. If convicted, Dawod could be sentenced to death.

US Aid Worker Rudwan Dawod in Sudan (Courtesy: Sudan Sunrise).
According to a media release from Freedom Now Communications, on behalf of Sudan Sunrise,  , Dawod, a Darfurian, has worked for three years as a volunteer project coordinator with Bol's charity, the Washington-based NGO Sudan Sunrise.

Dawod worked extensively with Bol on his school in Bol's hometown of Turalei, and in 2011 Dawod led a team of fellow -Muslim peace activists who delivered relief food to refugees in Turalei.

Dawod left his expectant American wife in Oregon in May for South Sudan to lead a Sudan Sunrise initiative of Muslims helping to rebuild a Catholic Cathedral in Torit, South Sudan, as a symbol of reconciliation in the face of recent church burnings in Khartoum.

During a lull in the planning phase, Dawod traveled to Khartoum to see his family, renew his visa, and join in non-violent protests with the Arab Spring youth movement Girifna ("We are fed up" in Arabic).
Former NBA star Manute Bol with Rudwan Dawod and other aid workers for the U.S. NGO Sudan Sunrise (Courtesy: Sudan Sunrise)

After ten days in Khartoum he was abducted, beaten, tortured for days, and charged with terrorism. The media in Sudan has accused Dawod and his wife of working for the CIA and organizing a terrorist cell with plans to bomb Khartoum marketplaces. Girifna activists see this as a campaign to discredit the protest movement that could cost Dawod his life. 

While incarcerated, Dawod was severely beaten by government agents for opposing the burning of churches, and was tortured in an attempt to coerce a confession of working for the CIA.

The Government of Sudan led by Omar Al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, has responded to demonstrations in the past six weeks by jailing hundreds of protestors (estimates range from 500 to 2,000 protestors currently held by the government).
Rudwan with his wife Nancy. (Courtesy: Sudan Sunrise)

Available for interviews are Girifna members who can report on the Rudwan's trial, the movement and some give first-hand accounts of abduction and torture; Tom Prichard, Director of Sudan Sunrise, who work on closely with Dawod on his reconciliation and humanitarian efforts; and Nancy Dawod, who met husband three  years ago when they both volunteered with Sudan Sunrise to help Manute Bol's school effort. They are expecting their first child in September, a daughter who they have named "Sudan."


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