Darfur Refugee, Mohamed Adam Yahya

Mohamed Adam Yahya is a refugee from the Darfur region of Sudan and is Executive Director of the Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy. He was born in a small village in Eastern Al-Geneina, the capital of Darmassaleit.

Both as a child and adult, Mr. Yahya experienced the brutal racism that permeates Sudanese society. He was beaten in school by his Arab teachers, along with the other black students, for speaking is tribal language instead of Arabic. While living in Khartoum as an adult, he witnessed the practice of kacha, in which black men are forced into cars by Sudanese police and army officers. The men are then sent to prison, made to work as servants, or taken back to their villages.

In 1993, his village in western Sudan witnessed the first attacks of the Sudanese government’s Arab militia raiders, known as janjaweed. Mr. Yahya’s village was completely decimated and most of is
relatives, along with other villagers, were killed, raped, or burnt alive in their huts. Mr. Yahya was studying at Al-Azhar University in Cairo at the time his village was destroyed.  He received word that his parents were safe, but he lost 21 other family members.  It was at this moment that Mr. Yahya realized action needed to be taken to save the people of Darfur from annihilation at the hands of the Arab militias and Sudanese regime.

Mr. Yahya recruited Sudanese friends and colleagues into an organization that would eventually become known as Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy. Damanga was the first group to each out to the international community about the genocide in western Sudan and has been demanding a cessation of violence and genocide for over ten years.

Speaking at rallies and conferences across the country, Mr. Yahya has spoken alongside activists Gloria Steinem, Ruth Messinger and Curtis Sliwa, demanding action to stop Sudan’s genocide.  Mr. Yahya asserts that the people of Darfur must be “protected, safe and free, so as to live like other human beings, in peace and dignity.”