Bookseller faces the Locality Orders in Khartoum
Muntasir Ibrahim Al-Zain, a husband and father to two children , graduated from Sudan University of Science and Technology. He has a higher diploma from the University of Khartoum in Afro-Asian studies and is currently working on his master’s thesis. Muntasir sells books; this is how he supports himself and his family. On 12 December, the sweep (kasha) of the Khartoum locality came and they arrested Muntasir along with his valuable books. He was put in jail and the police officers filed two complaints against him. This is his story
“ Every human being has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his/her person, which shall be protected by law; no one shall arbitrarily be deprived of his/her life.” Life and Human Dignity ( Article 28) of the Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan, 2005
“ Every person has the right to liberty and security of person; no person shall be subjected to arrest, detention, deprivation or restriction of his/her liberty except for reasons and in accordance with procedures prescribed by law.” Personal Liberty (Article 29)-of the Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan, 2005
“When these people came, I didn’t think I should take my things and run, people were running, but I stood there and was collecting my books in an organized way, the books are new and they are valuable.
They came and began collecting the books in a way, like they are other things sold in the market
They don’t think these are books that they are valuable and it should be dealt with differently.
The challenge facing all people is the challenge of the locality, mainly the “sweeps” (kasha) it carries out.
We have been living this “sweep” (kasha) with people, tea-ladies, shoe-shiners, petty traders, and others who are already victims of economic marginalization.
I found myself starting to talk to people around me, tea-ladies and petty traders, I am instigating them, telling them , how are you living? Can you live with this?
The police came again with an employee from the Khartoum locality. We went and they opened two complaints against me, one for standing in the way of an official employee while doing his job, and the second complaint is “standing against locality orders” “
The locality orders are mainly used against those working in informal sectors such as tea ladies and petty traders.
Locality orders are created by the governor or the mayor or other officials and it is mainly a paper that is only valid for one month. During this month, if the locality order is not approved by the specialized legislative bodies, it becomes invalid and shouldn’t be implemented.
“The books were put on the locality’s kasha truck, this truck is chaotic, it has coal-stove, plastic chairs, juice buckets, it has everything, it embodies the economic activities that are marginalized in the economy.
What they call as marginalized at least… it is the livelihoods of those people who line up the streets.”
Many of the capital’s residents are employed in the informal or marginalized professions due to many reasons: lack of skills due to unequal access to education in conflict areas that some of the capital’s population hailed from.
Lack of employment opportunities due to lack of government expenditure on agriculture and industry and these industries are the ones that absorbs those who end up working in the informal sector.
Finally, many men and women from marginalized parts of Khartoum state lack the resources to invest in large projects that needs investment.
“Until this minute, I haven’t said anything, the policeman was telling the officer that I said that the right to work is a constitutional right and that I stood in their way.
The officer said you know this guy talking about the constitutional right, this guy who is pretending to be an intellectual, watch him.
Anywhere he is working, don’t leave him, bring him to me here and I will open complaints against him.
Most of the suffering is on the shoulders of tea ladies and food sellers due to the lack of transparency between them and the police and the locality that gives them different rules each time concerning their registration and organization of their work.”
The main problem with locality orders is that it is a surprise to the groups that it impacts and are only made known when the police carries out a sweep (kasha) after that, the locality order are used for months or years after they become invalid.
“I don’t have a background in the issue of locality orders, but the locality order they referred to is “any product or item on the pavement or ground is against the law”.
In their eyes, anyone not practicing organized work is against the law, displaying goods on the street is against the law to them.
Their argument is that there are places they create in markets that they rent to those people to work in it. But there are those unable to rent from the locality or get a permit to practice this marginalized work because also this works needs a permit.”
Muntasir was released on bail and with the support of the Darfur Bar Association
He is now writing a short story about the sweep or Kasha