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Sudan: Protect women journalists and protesters from attacks and sexual violence

Women journalists and protesters are doing a vital work to advance democracy and human rights in Sudan. They should be supported but instead, State police attacks and intimidates them. This must change!

On 16 June 2022, three women journalists were subjected to arrest, prosecution and intimidation. Two young women protesters were arrested, threatened and sexually assaulted on the same day. 

Woman journalist, Hanady Osman, was arrested from her car by a police force from the criminal investigative department in Khartoum on 16 June. The officers arrested her and took her to several police stations and federal investigative departments in Khartoum. She was questioned on providing financial support to the protesters. Hanady was released after more than 12 hours of investigation on the condition of signing a self declaration to not join any protests. 

Zamzam Khatir, a woman journalist from North Darfur state, was publicly threatened by the state police chief in a press conference with the Governor of North Darfur on 16 June 2022. The police chief threatened Zamzam with taking legal action against her for publishing a story about police officers arrested after being involved in looting incidents. 

Shirin Abubakr, a woman journalist was summoned on 16 June by prosecutors in Khartoum. Three prosecutors interrogated Shirin and put her under immense pressure to reveal her sources. The prosecutors questioned her about a story on prosecutors planning to organise a general strike. She was threatened to reveal her sources within the prosecutor offices. 

During the 16 June protests, at least two young women protesters between 19 to 22 years old were arrested and sexually assaulted by police officers. One of the young women was brought to the police station with shredded clothes and several injuries according to lawyers. “She was shaking all over her body, it was clear that she was beaten and dragged on the ground,” said a lawyer. 

Since the military coup on 25 October 2021, Sudanese women human rights defenders, women protesters and journalists are facing mounting threats to their lives. These attacks on women journalists are part of the crackdown on freedom of expression and journalism in Sudan by the coup authorities. Dozens of women journalists are working under increasingly dangerous and restrictive conditions. Women protesters and human rights defenders are risking their lives every day in Sudan to defend democracy and human rights. Sexual violence is being used as a weapon by the coup forces to intimidate and silence Sudanese women protesters and defenders. International actors must take firm actions to protect freedom of expression and freedom of assembly for Sudanese women, and end all forms of sexual violence against women protesters. 

The undersigned organisations call on:

  • Sudan to end the crackdown on women journalists and women’s right to freedom of expression and opinion. 
  • Sudan to end sexual violence on Sudanese women protesters and WHRDs and investigate the reported cases. 
  • OHCHR and all mandate holders at the office to take urgent action to condemn these crimes against women journalists and women protesters, call for independent international investigations and accountability, and urge Sudan to put an end to the systematic violence conducted by the Sudanese government against women and peaceful protesters 

Signatories:

  1. International Service for Human Rights
  2. Sudanese Women Rights Action
  3. Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in MENA
  4. Nora Center for Combating Sexual Violence 
  5. Sudanese doctors for Human rights
  6. Governance Programming Overseas GPO

 

 

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HRC50: Sudan must end violence against peaceful protestors and women human rights defenders

On 15 June 2022, the Human Rights Council held the interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights since, and human rights violations and abuses committed during, the period of the military takeover in the Sudan. ISHR delivered a joint statement on behalf of MENA Women Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Sudan Women Rights Action and Nora Center for Combating Sexual Violence, on the situation of women and human rights in Sudan to shed light on the struggle for equality, freedom and democracy.

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