During each ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘The African Commission’), Commissioners present their activity reports which provides an overview of the work done in between two sessions. On 23 November 2021, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and Focal point on reprisals presented his report.
Sudanese Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) and peaceful protesters have been facing growing violations since the military coup on 25 October 2021. The internet blackout ongoing since 25 October has increased the risks faced by WHRDs in Sudan and severely restricted their efforts of monitoring and documenting the violations committed by the military and security forces all over Sudan. Women’s rights groups are working under complete closure of civil space and restrictions in movement and communication. WHRDs in Sudan are facing an unprecedented crackdown as the coup leaders are targeting journalists, members of resistance committees, union leaders, lawyers, students and civil society activists.
During and after the protests in several neighbourhoods in Khartoum and other cities, videos of Sudanese women being beaten by members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and other security forces reflected the amount of violence exhibited against women on the streets. Women protesters were beaten and subjected to verbal abuses from the joint forces. On the first night of the coup, military forces raided the dorms of female students of Khartoum University. These young women were beaten, verbally abused and forced to evacuate the dorm in the middle of the night. One of the students said: “We were shocked by the soldiers carrying guns and sticks and beating us while looting our belongings. They verbally abused us and ordered us to evacuate the dorms. We didn’t know where to go as the internet was cut off and we were not able to contact our families. It was a night of horror for all of us.”
Sit Alnfor Ahmed, 24 year old nurse and WHRD was killed on 17 November protests in Bahry. She was shot in her chin by security forces. Dozens of women protesters were injured during Wednesday protests. The violations against peaceful protesters during the 17 November march included arrests of medical professionals and raids on hospitals and civilians’ homes. Neighborhoods in Northern Khartoum were put under siege, and ambulances were prevented from entering the area to evacuate injured protesters. Local communications and electricity were cut off from Khartoum for hours. At least 9 women protesters were arrested on 17 November in Khartoum and transferred on 18 November to Omdurman women prison. They are in detention according to the emergency laws without a trial nor no clear charges. In addition, on 17 November, two women protesters were detained in Madani.
Seven people were killed and dozens of women were injured during the protests on 13 November 2021. Remaz Hatim, a 13 year old girl was shot with a bullet in her head while she was standing in front of her house, and she died in the hospital on 14 November 2021. In Nayala, South Darfur, at least 12 women were arrested during the protests, and another 6 women were reported to be detained in Omdurman.
Women in Sudan at the moment are facing rapidly growing militarisation of the state in daily life. Women’s movement in the public space is threatened by the heavy deployment of troops around Khartoum and all over Sudan. Working women, especially street vendors, are living under constant fear of harassment and violence while working on the streets. A women street vendor said “We are intimidated by the numbers of soldiers on the streets, we do not feel safe to work early morning or in the afternoon anymore”.
Women’s peace and security in Sudan is under significant threat with the increasing deployment of armed forces in different cities and the control of movement by the military, including checkpoints and constant closure of bridges and roads, and beating and sexual harassment on streets. As a result, Sudan women’s freedom of movement was restricted for the last 3 weeks. Women in conflict areas and displacement camps are facing increased threats of sexual violence with the absence of protection and support services in these regions. The restriction of movement and shutdown of the internet is hindering women’s access to information, health care and protection from sexual violence.
Dozens of women protesters were injured during the protests on 30 October 2021 due to the excessive use of force by the joint forces including police, RSF and the military. Among them were two women in Omdurman and three women in Alfao town in Al Qadarif State, Eastern Sudan. Anisa Digna in Omdurman was injured with a bullet in her shoulder, and Taysir Ahmed was injured with a tear gas canister to her leg. In a statement made on 6 November 2021, the Doctors Committee announced “many of those injuries are in critical condition and some with a permanent disability.”
The joint forces have arrested several resistance committee members in the last weeks. A woman member in the resistance committee in Khartoum was detained for 3 days from 25 October to 27 October 2021. She was released after being threatened not to continue her activism. Sudanese women activists outside Sudan reported threats to and questioning of their families in Sudan. The crackdown on Sudanese W/HRDs is increasing everyday through arrests, intimidation, house raids and surveillance.
Three women union activists of the Khartoum water authority were arrested on November 4th, 2021, including the chairwoman of the Steering Committee for the Workers of the Khartoum State Water Authority, Rasha Al-Mubarak, and another two union women activists, Asmaa Osman and Huda Khidir. Sawakin Ishaq, a member of the Zalinji resistance committee of Central Darfur was arrested on October 30th, 2021, and she was badly beaten and verbally abused by the security forces.
Amna Almaki, governor of River Nile State has been under house arrest since 26 October 2021. She was one of the first two women governors in Sudan’s history. She received several threats during her detention from members of the former regime. She remains at serious risk of mistreatment as reports from recent days have confirmed she has been transferred to military intelligence detention.
In Alfao in Al Qadrif State, three women human rights defenders and protesters were arrested by the joint forces in the town. Tahlil and Qawarir AbdAlrahaman were detained with another activist. And two others were arrested on 9 November 2021 during protests in Alobied city of North Kordofan, among them members of the Central Doctors Committee, Dr. Nazeifa Awad. She reported being sexually harassed by security officers during arrest.
Iman Quraini, member of the Steering Committee of the Workers Union of Saudi Bank was dismissed from her job for her participation in organising the strike and civil disobedience. Other union activists and workers were also dismissed or intimidated by authorities for participating in the civil disobedience.
Moreover, the WHRD MENA Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders and North Africa documented the following violations: raid of houses and arrest of women and men, cut of internet and telephone lines, use of live ammunition on protestors, beating of protestors violently and the targeting of women, arrest of the leaders of Forces of Freedom and Change lawyer Taha Othman, Hamza Farouk and Sherif Mohamed Aly after they finished meeting with a UN representative. On 7 November 2021, more than 90 teachers were arrested by the Sudanese military including 48 women teachers after the Teachers’ Committee conducted a demonstration rejecting the coup. The arrested teachers reported use of violence by the police and the joint forces, and beating of detainees. This resulted in one teacher having a miscarriage, and broken legs for two other teachers. The Doctors Committee reported several injuries among teacher protesters. Rihab Hassan broke her leg during the protest as a result of the beating by the security force. The teachers were released after spending five days in detention in inhumane conditions, and they were forced to sign declarations to stop participating in any protests or any political activity. Furthermore, the number of those killed has reached 40 people and more than 500 have been injured since the beginning of the coup on 25 October. During the protests on November 13th, more than 215 people were injured and 7 were killed. Sudanese security arrested 140 protesters on November 13th in different areas in Khartoum, among them 10 children were detained in Omdurman and the police refused to release them on bail on 17 November protests more than 150 people were injured, but the actual numbers are not confirmed due to the communication shutdown.
We the undersigned groups call for:
- We call on the Sudanese government to immediately release women protesters and WHRDs in detention, and provide health services to those injured.
- We call on the Sudanese government to immediately end the targeting of WHRDs, women’s rights groups and women protesters and protect the rights of WHRDs to advocate and promote women and human rights.
- We call on the United Nations Security Council to take action to ensure protection of women in conflict areas and urge the parties involved in the Juba peace agreement to comply with the provisions of the agreement related to the UNSC No. 1325, including ensuring effective, meaningful and genuine participation of WHRDs, women activists and women peacebuilders in the peace agreement.
- We call on the newly appointed expert on Sudan Adama Dieng to conduct an immediate investigation of the violations and gender based violence against women protesters and WHRDs, and engage in inclusive and wide consultations with civil society including women human rights defenders.
- We call on relevant UN Special Procedures, in particular the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, to request a visit to Sudan and to issue a statement condemning the increasing violations against WHRDs and women protesters and women rights groups in Sudan.
- Sudanese Women Rights Action
- Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in MENA
- International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
- Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
- Sisters Trust, Canada
- Front Line Defenders
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