“It is clear that Khartoum’s forces act with total impunity and control the region by creating a climate of terror”
After we obtained the video, we sent two citizen journalists to the town of Gardud al Badry to investigate the young boy’s kidnapping. We had to be extremely careful considering that it’s a very dangerous area that is controlled by the authorities in Khartoum. It was out of the question to travel by the main roads, because reporters risk being kidnapped by Sudanese security forces. That’s why it took them four days to cover the 100 kilometres [around 62 miles] to the village.As they gradually got closer to Gardud al Badry, they could see that there was no doubt of the video’s authenticity. Villagers who had fled the fighting confirmed what had happened, as well as how Naim had been rescued from a Sudanese jail by his father. Naim’s dad had to ask his family to help him put together 150 US dollars to free his son – in other words, the equivalent of six months pay.The villagers’ testimonies and the video clearly show how Khartoum’s forces act with total impunity and control the region by creating a climate of terror. We can hear the soldiers talking about Naim’s age – they immediately found his student ID on him – but they still decided to take him and tortured him for 10 days!The video also gives us a first look at agents of Abu Tira, the Sudanese police’s domestic intelligence branch, who we were able to identify because of their badges. We’ve heard about their brutality and the atrocities they’ve committed in the region, but it’s the first time we’ve ever seen them. The person who filmed the footage was actually wearing an Abu Tira uniform. The video’s quality makes us think that it was shot with a relatively new mobile phone, which the Sudanese government probably gave to its agents. We wonder if they filmed the incident as a way to show their superiors that they’re following its scorched earth policy in region to the letter.