If the Sudanese detention and torture chambers are known as "ghost houses," then it is because their occupants see their humanity disappear as they become living ghosts. Here's an account by one Sudanese activist who survived several visits to these haunted houses:
In 1991, Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a professor of engineering at the University of Khartoum, was arrested by security agents and detained for seven months in what the Sudanese called "the ghost house." In 1997, he was detained again for five months. From 2003 to 2004, he was imprisoned for eight months, and again for five months in 2005. The reason? "The regime knew my views were against fundamentalism."
Mr. Mudawi speaks matter-of-factly about his experiences in the dungeons of Islamist dictator Omar Bashir. "You are taken in blindfolded," he says. "You go into a cell. Sometimes it's very dark. There's nothing in it except the floor. Sometimes you are placed in a small, crowded room; sometimes in a large, empty one. It all depends on the situation they want to put you in. They keep you up all night and cuff you to the door, forcing you to stand. Beating is the normal thing."
...In April 2005, the CIA received Sudanese intelligence chief Salah Abdullah in Washington. At the time, Mr. Mudawi was being prosecuted on espionage charges, which carry the death penalty. The case was suspended thanks to an international outcry, but the charges stand.
"If you are saying you are for democracy, well then, OK," he says. "This is the most brutal person in this government and you are rewarding him for helping you on terrorism. But you are doing it at the expense of the people of Sudan."
...Mr. Mudawi's answer is an international embargo on Sudan's oil exports--the government's main source of income--enforced by the credible threat of an international boycott of next year's Olympics in Beijing if China (the principal producer and customer of that oil) persists in doing Khartoum's bidding at the U.N. Security Council. His goal isn't to moderate the behavior of the regime, but to replace it with a secular, democratic, federal state, something he believes is doable. "[The fundamentalists] don't have the support of even 10% of the people," he says. "The first free election would be the downfall of them."
Is this simply the dream of a ghost?