Sudanese Authorities Must Cease the Arbitrary Detention of Activists

Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) expresses grave concern over Sudanese authorities arbitrarily detaining around 200 people in Soba prison, many of whom are activists, and the subsequent violence aimed at protestors calling for their release. We condemn the Sudanese authorities for detaining activists without any formal charges.  DWAG stands in solidarity with the 200 detainees in Soba prison, including 100 of those detainees who went on a hunger strike. We urge the international community to press Sudan to release activists who were merely exercising their right to peacefully protest.

In the aftermath of the October 25, 2021 coup, Sudanese forces are continuously arresting protestors who are calling for a full civilian government and an end to military rule. Sudanese forces are arbitrarily detaining many of these protestors in the overcrowded Soba prison, with reports stating that the detained account for more than 200. Sudanese forces are detaining protestors and activists, including artists who were painting murals, without any formal charges. The detainees are not allowed to see their families or lawyers and are denied medical care. It’s reported that due to these conditions, over 100 detainees went on a hunger strike in Soba prison. We condemn the arbitrary detention of these protestors and activists, which is a violation of international law. We call on the international community to demand their release as well as on the Sudanese forces to immediately free them. In addition, we stand in solidarity with the detainees who went on a hunger strike.

On the February 21st Marches of the Millions, large demonstrations called “Break the Chains” demanded the release of detainees. These demonstrations were met with excessive violence; military forces injured over 200 protestors. Military forces used live ammunition firing, stun grenades, tear gas canisters, and ran over protestors using their vehicles. Many protestors sustained serious injuries and needed to rush to the hospital. Additionally, military forces detained four teenage girls who were at the demonstrations and subjected them to an enforced disappearance for three days. The lawyers for the girls stated that they were detained in an unknown location and remained under the terror of security forces. We condemn the excessive violence and horrific enforced disappearances of protestors at the “Break the Chains” demonstrations.

We welcome the news that Sudanese authorities have released 36 detainees. However, there is more that needs to be done. Sudanese lawyers claim that the move was merely a false illusion of progress for the visiting UN Human Rights Envoy. The released are activists and leaders of Sudanese resistance committees. They were detained since January 17, according to lawyers. We call on the Sudanese authorities to release the rest of the detainees who are being held without any formal charges.

The United States and the international community must not exercise a normal relationship with the Sudan military while they are actively committing crimes against their own civilians. The international community and the United States must prioritize accountability against the military in Sudan for all crimes. DWAG calls upon the United States government, the international community and the United Nations Security Council to condemn the arbitrary detention and excessive violence aimed at activists, to hold Sudan accountable and press Sudan to meet the following demands;