By Jim Kouri
The trial of an American NGO (non-governmental organization) aid worker, humanitarian and pro-democracy activist, Rudwan Dawod, who worked closely with former NBA legend Manute Bol prior to his untimely death, is scheduled to continue on Sunday in Khartoum, Sudan.
Dawod is accused of being involved in espionage for the Central Intelligence Agency.
“If convicted, Dawod could be sentenced to death,” said Maria Sliwa, founder and CEO of Freedom Now Communications. Sliwa, a former law enforcement officer, is the sister of talk show host and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.
Although a Muslim, Dawod and his fellow aid workers were hard at work helping to bring about peace between the nation’s Muslims and Christians when he was arrested by corrupt government officials who turn a blind eye to religious persecution in their country, according to Ms. Sliwa.
Dawod is originally from Darfur, the scene of one of the world’s worst episodes of genocide.
He has worked for three years as a volunteer project coordinator with Bol’s charity, the Washington DC-based NGO Sudan Sunrise. Dawod worked extensively with Bol on his school in Bol’s hometown of Turalei, and in 2011 Dawod led a team of fellow Muslim peace activists who delivered relief food to Christian refugees in Turalei.
Dawod left his expectant American wife, Nancy, in Oregon in May and headed for South Sudan to lead a Sudan Sunrise initiative of Muslims helping to rebuild a Catholic Cathedral in Torit, South Sudan, as a symbol of reconciliation in the face of recent church burnings by Islamic extremists in Khartoum.
“During a lull in the planning phase, Dawod traveled to Khartoum to see his family, renew his visa, and join in non-violent protests with the Arab Spring youth movement Girifna (“We are fed up” in Arabic). After ten days in Khartoum he was abducted, beaten, tortured for days, and then charged with terrorism,” stated Sliwa, a former NYPD police veteran.
The media in Sudan has accused Dawod and his wife of working for the CIA and organizing a terrorist cell with plans to bomb Khartoum marketplaces. Girifna activists see this as a campaign to discredit the protest movement that could cost Dawod his life.
While incarcerated, Dawod was severely beaten by government agents for opposing the burning of churches, and was tortured in an attempt to coerce a confession of working for the CIA.
The Government of Sudan led by Omar Al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, has responded to demonstrations in the past six weeks by jailing hundreds of protestors (estimates range from 500 to 2,000 protestors currently held by the government).