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Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces kill 118: Calls for a civil transition authority peak as protests continue

The political crisis in Sudan has reached a peak after last week’s brutal military crackdown. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a feared paramilitary unit, are reported to have killed 118 people in the crackdown, with at least 40 bodies pulled from the River Nile in Khartoum on 4 June. The international community has also been calling for an end to the violent and unjust use of excessive and deadly force by the RSF, and the African Union has suspended Sudan from participation until peace is restored.

The 3 June crackdown came as a disproportionate and violent response to protestors by the RSF. The growing pro-democracy movement in Sudan has called for ‘civil disobedience’ as a response to the murderous military suppression. The civil disobedience movement is being led by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) who also advanced the drive to oust former president Omar al-Bashir. The SPA released a statement regarding the ongoing campaign:

“the civil disobedience campaign will only end when the ruling generals transfer power to a civil transitional authority in accordance with the Declaration of Freedom and Change (DFC).”

The SPA defines civil disobedience as ‘making it as difficult as possible for the military to govern Sudan.’ This includes a number of services and agencies going on a nationwide strike, meaning that banks, shops and other services are closed today. Confirming the aims of the civil disobedience movement, the SPA said in a statement,

“Disobedience is a peaceful act capable of bringing to its knees the most powerful weapons arsenal in the world.”

Activists on the ground report that peaceful tactics have been used and any further demonstrations will continue to be.

Reem Abbas, a Sudanese activist told CNN,

“The RSF is the main legacy of the Omar al Bashir era.”

Background

Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April 2018 and his exit was swiftly followed by a military take over. Sudan’s military authorities promised that this new military authority would be a transitionary and temporary solution, that would end in civilian governance. But the ongoing violence from military authorities means that pro-democracy campaigners feels they cannot trust the military council to oversee the transition to a new government.

South Sudan

In an important move for human and civil rights in Sudan, South Sudan’s legislative assembly, South Sudan Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) took a unanimous vote on 7 June to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and their respective First Optional Protocols without reservations. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan has commended the TNLA on its decision that has been in discussion since 2015.

The ratification of these laws means that civil and human rights in South Sudan face much greater protections, giving legal force to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More importantly, the ICCPR enforces a state to protect and respect its citizens civil and political rights such as the right to political participation, equality, freedom of thought, religion and expression and freedom from torture and other inhuman treatment; rights that are currently being abused by the Sudanese authorities.

Response

On 6 June the African Union responded to the crisis by suspending Sudan’s role in all African Union activities, they tweeted:

‘The #AU Peace and Security Council has with immediate effect suspended the participation of the Republic of #Sudan in all #AU activities until the effective establishment of a Civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to allow the Sudan to exit from the current crisis.’

Amnesty International has supported the withdrawal of the RSF from the civil situation on the ground in Sudan. Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said,

“What we have witnessed in the past three days is horrific and barbaric. The senseless killing of protestors must be stopped immediately, and those responsible for the bloodbath, including at command level, must be held fully accountable for their dreadful actions,”

“The Transitional Military Council of Sudan must immediately withdraw all members of the Rapid Support Forces from policing and law enforcement anywhere in Sudan and especially in Khartoum.”

Valerie Peay Director of IOHR called for,

“An end to the senseless killing by removing the RSF from the streets of Sudan and for the authorities to ensure a peaceful transition of government.”

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