UN condemns killing of civilians by Sudanese security forces

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The United Nations Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have condemned the killing by Sudanese security forces of at least 39 people since 25 October military coup.

Fifteen people were reportedly shot dead while dozens were wounded when thousands of Sudanese took to the streets on Wednesday which is now viewed as the deadliest day in a month of demonstrations against military rule.

Protestors in several cities, including Khartoum and the towns of Bahr and Omdurman, have been demanding a complete handover to civilian authorities and for the coup leaders to be put on trial.

Scenes of an injured man lifted onto a motorcycle after being shot by security forces in the capital were captured in one of the incidents that took place in the country.  Protestors have been seen chanting  “revolution” and that “the people are stronger and retreat is impossible,” as the death toll continues to rise amid flailing diplomatic efforts.

“Following the recent coup and the wave of protests in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities, we have seen yet again the de facto authorities use excessive force against protesters resulting in the deaths of reportedly 15 people so far, and an unconfirmed number of injuries.  This brings the death toll of peaceful civilian protestors to 37 since the beginning of the protests against the 25 October coup.  We strongly condemn this repeated use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators and renew our call upon the de facto authorities and the security forces to exercise restraint and refrain from committing further human rights violations,” says UN Secretary General’s Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

This echoed a lengthy statement issued by the High Commissioner for Human Rights who called the actions of the military utterly shameful in using live ammunition against protestors despite repeated calls for security authorities to refrain from using unnecessary and disproportionate force against demonstrators. The UN says according to reliable medical sources on the ground, more than 100 people were wounded during Wednesday’s protests – 80 of whom sustained gunshot injuries to their upper bodies and heads.

A new ruling council was formed despite the protests:

Police also issued a statement saying that 89 of its officers were injured.

“Freedom of expression and assembly are fundamental human rights afforded to every Sudanese, and they need to have the opportunity to express themselves peacefully and without fear of retaliation.  All those detained as a result of the protests and those held since the 25 October coup must be released,” adds Dujarric.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken – currently on a visit to several countries in Africa – tweeted that the United States was gravely concerned by the use of deadly force, urging authorities to respect the rights of all Sudanese. While Dujarric says the UN’s top official in the country Volker Perthes continues to work to release Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok from house arrest.

“Mr. Perthes continues to be in touch with all the relevant parties in Sudan. It is not so much as a fresh attempt as a continuous attempt to get him and all of the other detainees released, and that has been his work and the Secretary-General’s work since the beginning,” Dujarric concluded.

With warnings that Internet shutdowns and communications blackouts in the country will lead to an increasingly hostile environment, that threatens media freedom and independence.