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End co-operation with Sudan, NGOs demand

14 June 2019


A man walks past barricades on an empty street during a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience in Khartoum, Sudan, on Monday. Security forces killed about 100 people and injured about 300 others during a crackdown on a mass sit-in in the capital. Demonstrators were reportedly shot, beaten, and chased away, tents burned, and bodies thrown into the Nile

A man walks past barricades on an empty street during a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience in Khartoum, Sudan, on Monday. Security forces kille...

ATTACKS on hospitals are among the crimes alleged by 35 NGOs who have called for an end to international co-operation with Sudan until rule is transferred from the military to civilian leaders.

The attacks on a protest camp last week, in which at least 100 people were reported dead, were evidence that the Transitional Military Council (TMC), in power since the arrest of President Omar Bashir in April (News, 18 April), was determined to “consolidate control by the harshest elements in the security services”, the charities said. They include Christian Aid, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), and several African civil-society organisations.

In the House of Lords last week, Baroness Cox repeated reports that bodies had been found in the Nile.

The attack happened on Monday, when security forces fired on pro-democracy protesters. The authorities put the death toll at 62; the opposition put it at 118.

The Government’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Lord Ahmad, told peers on Thursday of last week that the TMC bore “full responsibility” for the attack. “The United Kingdom calls for the human rights of all Sudanese people to be respected, the resumption of the political process with the protesters and the opposition, and an agreed transfer of power to a civilian-led government, as demanded by the Sudanese people, in a swift, orderly, and peaceful manner.”

Disagreements over the part played by sharia are among the sources of contention between the TMC and civilian-led groups, CSW reports. A statement from the Troika — the governments of the UK, the United States, and Norway — condemned the TMC’s announcement that it would cease negotiations with the Forces for Freedom and Change, retract all previous agreements with them on formation of an interim government, and hold elections within nine months.

“The people of Sudan deserve an orderly transition, led by civilians, that can establish the conditions for free and fair elections, rather than have rushed elections imposed by the TMC’s security forces,” a statement said.

During a mediation visit to Khartoum last week, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, proposed the formation of a 15-member transitional council, comprising eight civilians and seven army officers.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN human-rights office, called last week for an independent investigation into the use of “excessive force”, including the alleged involvement of the Rapid Support Forces: a militia that includes troops linked to systematic human-rights abuses in Darfur.

The regional director of the World Health Organization, Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, reported that mobile health tent clinics, set up to treat injured protestors, had been “set on fire and destroyed, medical equipment looted, and health-care workers assaulted”. There are reports that female health workers have been raped.

Dr Mohammed Abdel Rahman, a doctor at the Royal Care International Hospital, in Khartoum, told Reuters that militia who had raided the sit-in surrounded the hospital to hunt protesters who were taking refuge inside.

“People were crying and screaming,” Dr Rahman said. “They were desperate to leave . . . while we were trying to cope with hundreds in serious condition who were arriving.”

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