Keep the Spotlight on Sudan

The People’s Power Defying Violence in Sudan 

Darfur Women Action Group is deeply concerned by the great amount of violence inflicted by the Sudanese armed  civilians during pro-democracy protests on December 19. In commemoration of the December,  2019 Revolution’s third anniversary, the Forces for Freedom and Chance (FFC) organized protests across Sudan to pressure the military to handover the ruling to civilians leadership and to push for reform in response to the coup and unsatisfactory agreement between Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. The protestors aimed to organize a sit-in within the Presidential Palace and reached its gates. 

The anti-riot forces fired tear gas on the protestors as they inched towards the palace. Alarmingly, Its extremely alarming that the Forensic Physicians Syndicate indicated that security forces used “types of nerve gas” to suppress the demonstrators in Khartoum, as “quite a few” protestors experienced symptoms aligned with the use of chemical agents. The armed forces eventually opened fire on the civilians during the protest, leading to one death, almost 300 injured, and three in intensive care after they were shot in the head. The casualty was identified as 28-year-old Muhammad Majzoub Muhammad Ahmad. The United Nations has reported at least thirteen cases of rape and sexual violence during and in the immediate aftermath of the protests and the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) confirmed several incidents of sexual violence. According to the testimonies of some of the sexually assaulted women, the attackers threatened to open criminal reports against them for engaging in prostitution in order to force them to remain silent; therefore, DWAG fears there may be many more that have gone unreported. 

Reports on the ground also state that some members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were seen shaving the heads of protestors, driving through crowds in military vehicles, as well as stealing their mobile phones and money. Demonstrations were also held across cities in Sudan. However, there have yet to be reports about the casualties and injuries. DWAG is concerned that the lack of eyes on cities outside Karthoum allows the Sudanese armed forces and RSF to use even more excessive force against peaceful protestors and civilians. 

Prime Minister Hamdok has since directed police commanders not to resort to excessive use of violence against protestors. DWAG is appalled but not surprised by the lack of action from Hamdok to prevent or respond to the violence. It is now evident that the power-sharing agreement established between Hamdok and the Sudanese military has done nothing to stop attacks against innocent civilians.

Nevertheless, the resolve of the protestors and the will of the people of Sudan cannot be ignored by al-Burhan, Hemeti, Hamdok, nor the international community. The Sudanese people are determined to see a democratic future for their country. DWAG stands in solidarity with the protestors and asks our supporters to do the same. DWAG echoes the call of protesters for greater institutional reforms, accountability and the protection of the rights and dignity of the people of Sudan. Without justice, the formation of strong independent institutions and the advancement of the rule of law, Sudan can’t be transformed.

We call on the United States and the UN Security Council members to demand an swift end to the violence against civilians in Sudan and pursue measures for accountability for those responsible for perpetrating violence. Join us in speaking out against violence perpetrated against protestors, particularly the women and girls that fell victim to the continued use of sexual violence particularly in the historically-marginalized regions of Sudan where armed forces continue to act with impunity.