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Protest in support of Lubna Hussein’s campaign
London, September 4th, 2009

The organisers were a group of women and men who are outraged about what has happened to Lubna Hussein and thousands of other women in Sudan. We want to show our solidarity with them and to add our voices to those calling for an end to this barbaric treatment of women.

The demonstration was held on Friday September 4th between 13.00 – 14.00
outside the Embassy of Sudan, 3 Cleveland Row, London SW1 1DD.

The turnout was good – about 70 people, mixed in age, gender and nationality.  It looked great - with a banner saying, 'Stop beating women in Sudan....Pants to Article 152' and we hung many pairs of colourful trousers on a washing line opposite the embassy. The Sudan Civic Forum brought banners with photos and slogans calling for an end to the oppression of women. BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour started their programme on Friday with a discussion about Lubna's case and why more women in the West are not supporting her campaign. They mentioned our protest and that inspired people to come and join us. Journalists from The Times and Independent on Sunday were there.

We chanted 'Support Lubna Hussein!' 'Stop flogging women in Sudan!' 'Human rights for all in Sudan!' etc. and slogans in Arabic, through a megaphone  Carrie Supple, co-organiser of the protest, welcomed everyone, explained the origins of the protest quoting Martin Luther King, ‘Injustice anywhere is an attack on justice everywhere’ and read the message of thanks from Lubna Hussein, I am so grateful for your solidarity and support for me, and I understand very well that this solidarity transcends me as a person. Your solidarity is with Lubna as a representative of women victims in Sudan, and of the repression that is shown by the official state in Khartoum. In 2008 43 thousand women were victims of the public order law at the hands of the police, let alone victims of rape and atrocities in Darfur. Thank you again. I assure you that in the end, whatever suffering there is, justice will prevail.
She then introduced our excellent speakers,

Dr Amal Sidahmed from Sudan
Ajok Wek Athian, Chair of Sudanese Women for Equality & Peace (SWEP International)

They spoke about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the need for human rights to be respected, the vagueness of the Public Order Law, especially Article 152, its arbitrary implementation by the authorities and the maltreatment of women In the North and South of Sudan and Darfur.

Messages of support were received and read out from Lynne Featherstone MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, (Liberal Democrat),

I never cease to be amazed at man’s inhumanity to women. Men’s laws which subjugate women and demand obeyance have existed through history. How brave are these women in Khartoum - who have the stature and the bravery to say that I will not accept this unfair law that cedes dominance to men. That pardons are not good enough. That the punishment is unwarranted. That this is a struggle for so much more than all of that. This is a struggle for women's freedom and women's rights. I salute these brave women and send them all the strength and resolve that they need in their fight.

Journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown:
Muslim women the world over are finding their freedoms increasingly curtailed - this case is one more example of the barbarity of male leaders who distort and use Islam to silence, control, violate and destroy women. The Sudanese government and judiciary colludes and leads this crusade. We, the women of the world, of all faiths and no faith must fight this latest phase of institutionalized female oppression.  
And Massoud Shadjareh, Chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission,
The Islamic Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned about the arrest and treatment of Lubna Hussain and calls for an investigation into the reported mistreatment of those arrested. IHRC respects each nation’s right to their laws and standards of morality. However, IHRC feels that the current law constricts the broad interpretation of Islamic law and has the subsequent effect of criminalizing many practicing Muslims across the world. The interpretation of dress code needs to take into consideration the wider consensus of the Muslim world from Turkey, Indonesia and the sub-continent who wear trousers while preserving their Sharia requirement.


A highlight of the protest was when we were in touch with Lubna Hussein by telephone. She could hear the volume of support for her and Dr Sidahmed translated her words.

Ajok, Amal, Carrie and Louise Morris (co-organiser of the protest) went into the embassy to present a letter to The Ambassador of Sudan, Omer Mohamed Siddig. Most staff were friendly, others had been angry when they saw and heard the demonstration.

Our film maker will put the protest on You Tube,
 
Finally we went to hand out hundreds of leaflets urging people to sign
the petition at:
www.care2.com/news/member/338686546/1215811

and to contact their MPs; the Sudanese Ambassador and David Miliband, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, asking them to:

condemn the whipping and punishment of women for wearing trousers in Sudan;
call for the elimination of Article 152 of the Sudanese Criminal Code;
ask President al-Bashir to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and respect the human rights of all Sudan’s citizens.

And send messages of support to Lubna Hussein’s campaign:
iawos152@hotmail.com
Initiative Against Women’s Oppression in Sudan.

The demonstration was a success and many signed up to be kept in touch with future action. We are thinking of you this weekend in anticipation of Lubna’s trial on Monday.

 
 

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