As women’s rights organizations from 16 African countries, we wish to strongly condemn the gross human rights violations that have been visited upon peaceful protesters in Sudan over the past six months. The people of Sudan have suffered untold atrocities since December 2018 – when they started protesting against an oppressive regime by demanding that the rule of law and respect for human rights be upheld.
Although media reports now indicate that civilians and the military have agreed to establish a joint military-civilian sovereign council that will serve the people of Sudan on a rotational basis and with equal representation from each side, the unnecessary deaths, torture, unlawful detainment, and sexual violations witnessed during this period of unrest must be investigated and prosecuted.
It is unfortunate that the response by the Military Council which has been serving as the interim governance structure to these protests has been brutal, high-handed, and in outright violation of human rights and dignity. The council has overseen a raft of violations including merciless killings, brutal rape, and sexual violence meted out on peaceful demonstrators by state actors and state affiliates alike.
Hundreds of women, including numerous high-profile women’s rights activists, have been specifically targeted and some arrested by authorities for their leading role in calling for a democratic Sudan. We have been reliably informed by our partners, counterparts, and people working in Sudan on the frontline, about law enforcement representatives who have been sexually harassing detained women in addition to raping others on the streets in broad daylight.
As Africans, human rights activists and women’s rights advocates, we stand by the people of Sudan and their inalienable right to a peaceful context free from civil and political rights violations.
We, therefore, call on the Military Council to abide by the different international and regional human rights instruments that Sudan is a party to and we remind the Military Council that Sudan has signed up to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights – which stipulate the civil and political freedom of its citizens. It is incumbent upon the country’s leadership, even in transition, to respect and fulfill these rights.
In fact the Military Council has on previous occasions indicated to international media that they would not only to restore peace, order, and security, but also hold those who killed protestors to account. This is a clear indicator that the council is aware of the political and civil liberties that must be protected even in times of crisis. As members of the broader international community we demand accountability for the killing, maiming, and raping of peaceful protestors including on the 3rd of June 2019 where 100 protestors are recorded as having been killed.
We further call on the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, members of the diplomatic community, and friends of Sudan to call for an end to these violations and for a peaceful transition in Sudan.
We the undersigned:
- Women in Law and Development in Africa, Benin (WILDAF)
- Voix de Femmes
- Network of Ethiopian Women Associations (NEWA)
- Think Young Women
- Sauti Ya Wanawake Pwani
- Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET)
- Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW)
- Transformation Resource Centre (TRC)
- Alliance for Africa
- Women Rights Advancement and Protection Alternatives (WRAPA)
- Purposeful Productions
- Forum Against Harmful Practices (FAHP)
- Association des Juristes Sénégalaises (AJS)
- Legal and Human Rights Africa Centre (LHRC)
- Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA)
- Centre for Human Rights and Development (CEHURD)
- Women and Law Southern Africa (WLSA)
- Faith Minja Simukoko
- Jessie Majome
- Make Every Woman Count
- The Association of the Egyptian Female Lawyers
- Akina Mama Wa Africa
- Equality Now