Hawa Abdullah needs your help. Ms. Abdullah is a well known community activist in Darfur who works for the United Nations/African Union Mission In Darfur (UNAMID) at the Abu Shouk refugee camp. On May 6th, Ms. Abdullah was arrested by National Security personnel at her home. According to UNAMID information officers, she was “detained in contravention of the Status of Forces Agreement between UNAMID and the Government of Sudan.” Additionally, the Darfur Bar Association agreed that Ms. Abdullah should have immunity under that agreement. According to a Post-Gazette article, a northern Sudan government-backed website ran a photograph of Ms. Abdullah posed with a Bible and “accused her of converting from Islam to Christianity and trying to spread Christianity in the camps — a crime punishable by death under Islamic Sharia law.” Those who know her vehemently reject the charge. Prior to her arrest, the local Pittsburgh Sudanese community had been in contact with the 26 year-old Ms. Abdullah in an attempt to find out information on Darfur from someone on the ground. She had described the terrible conditions in the refugee camps and had said that the Northern Sudanese government would not let aid groups in to assist — the same Sudanese government which now holds her captive.
The situation in Sudan is both fluid and violent. Southern Sudan is scheduled to become its own country next month. There have been attacks by North Sudan along the border of Southern Sudan. The Darfur region (Western Sudan) has been the recipient of air strikes last month in what the UN has said is an attempt to ethnically cleanse non-Arabs. The UN has also said that Sudanese authorities have restricted the movement of humanitarian workers. Amid all the conflict and violence in that part of the world, it is easy for us here to ask, “What can I do? I’m only one person.” But you can, as one person, help one person. You can help Hawa Abdullah as she has helped numerous refugees of the violence there.
The Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition is asking you to contact U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ask her to advocate for Hawa Abdullah. Here’s the link to do so. Congressman Mike Doyle and Senator Bob Casey, Jr. have already written to Secretary Clinton. Six members of Pittsburgh City Council — Peduto, Harris, Shields, Kraus, Rudiak, and Dowd — have also written to Clinton under the lead of Councilman Peduto (you can see a copy of their letter below). Experience has proven that one of the best ways to help in situations like this is to keep up the pressure — you can add your voice to the cry for justice. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a letter he wrote while imprisoned at the Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Please help to right the injustice being inflicted upon Hawa Abdullah.