Sudanese peace activist Rudwan Dawod is finally free and back in the United States! Following weeks of arrest, torture, threats, release and re-arrest, Rudwan will finally be able to re-join his wife in their Oregon home later this week.
It is almost exactly two months from the day that I met Rudwan in South Sudan telling me about his latest reconciliation project building a church and announcing that he was going to Khartoum to join the budding peaceful protest movement against the genocidal regime of President Omar al-Bashir. His release follows weeks of phone calls, email petitions and events drawing attention to the plight faced by Rudwan and an estimated 2,000 other peaceful protestors arrested by the Sudanese regime.
The first calls of “Free Rudwan!” began as early as our “We Choose Peace” rally in front of the White House in early July and continued until his release. Thousands of activists joined in spreading the word, particularly over social media, and the U.S. State Department took note, raising his arrest with Sudanese officials.
Rudwan was eventually found innocent of the trumped up terrorism charges he faced for participating in a peaceful protest only to be scooped up by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services moments later. United to End Genocide joined Sudan Sunrise in rejuvenating the call with a mass petition for his release.
On August 16th, after being forced to sign papers agreeing not to participate in further protests and to return back to the United States as soon as possible, Rudwan was finally released. But it was only this Thursday, when he touched back down on U.S. soil that we were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Before returning to his home in Oregon, Rudwan will be meeting with U.S. activists who helped to bring attention to his plight and that of so many other peaceful activists in Sudan. While he is now free, others are not so lucky and we continue our vigilant watch of the Bashir regime.