New York / Brussels / London / Washington — The international community has strongly condemned the attacks by Sudanese forces on the sit-in in front of the army command in Khartoum and on protestors in Omdurman on Monday. At least 35 people are now known to have died.
In a statement via a spokesperson today, UN Secretary-General António Guterres "strongly condemns the violence" and "the use of force to disperse the protestors at the sit-in site", adding he was also alarmed at reports that "security forces have opened fire inside medical facilities".
Guterres reminded the Transitional Military Council (TMC) of its responsibility for "the safety and security of the citizens of Sudan", and urged all parties to "act with utmost restraint", including their responsibility to uphold "the human rights of all citizens, including the right to freedom of assembly and of expression."
UN Secretary-General António Guterres
He also called for "unimpeded access to deliver essential care" at the sit-in site outside army headquarters in the capital Khartoum, and in hospitals "where the wounded are treated" and urged the Sudanese authorities to "facilitate an independent investigation into the deaths and to hold those responsible accountable".
"The Secretary-General urges the parties to pursue peaceful dialogue and to stay the course in the negotiations over the transfer of power to a civilian-led transitional authority, as required by the African Union (AU)", the statement continued.
It concluded with the UN chief's commitment to working with the AU in support of the process, saying that the UN "stands ready to support the Sudanese stakeholders in their efforts to build lasting peace".
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called the peaceful demonstrations in Sudan "an inspiration" as the protesters worked "to engage with the Transitional Military Council".
"I utterly deplore the apparent use of excessive force in the protest camps" she said.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet
Bachelet noted that reports stating that live ammunition was used by security forces next to, and even inside, medical facilities are "extremely alarming".
'A real setback'
"I urge the security forces to immediately halt such attacks, and to ensure safe, unimpeded access to medical care for all", she asserted.
Bachelet stressed that "those exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression must be protected, not targeted or detained", calling it "a fundamental tenet of international human rights law".
"The use of excessive force must be promptly and independently investigated and those responsible brought to justice" she spelled out, adding that the human rights violations that have marked Sudan's history, and sparked the sustained protests over the past six months, "must not be allowed to continue".
"This is a real setback", she concluded.
From London, the UK Foreign Minister, Jeremy Hunt, condemned on Monday the violent dispersal of a sit-in protest outside in Khartoum.
"Condemn the attack on protestors by Sudanese security forces," Hunt wrote on Twitter. "This is an outrageous step that will only lead to more polarization and violence."
UK Foreign Minister, Jeremy Hunt,
"It will not help Sudan build the future the people are demanding. The Military Council bears full responsibility for this action and the international community will hold it to account," Hunt said.
The British ambassador to Sudan, Ifran Siddiq, says he is "extremely concerned by the heavy gunfire" he'd heard from his official home in Khartoum, as well as "reports that Sudanese security forces are attacking the protest sit-in site, resulting in casualties."
"No excuse for any such attack," he said via Twitter.
British Ambassador to Sudan Ifran Siddiq
The US Embassy in Khartoum is calling on Sudanese security forces to stop their "attacks against protestors and other civilians".
The embassy said via Facebook that apparent attempts by Sudanese troops to move against a months-long protest camp in the capital are "wrong," and that it holds the country's Transitional Military Council responsible for the attacks.
The European Union on Monday called on Sudan's military leaders to allow people to protest peacefully and urged a speedy transfer of power to civilians.
"We are following the evolution of the situation very closely, including regarding today's attacks on civilian protesters, and we call on the Transitional Military Council to act responsibly and respect people's right to express their concerns," an EU spokesperson told a regular briefing.
"Any decision to intensify the use of force can only derail the political process ... The European Union's priority remains the rapid transfer of power to a civilian authority," the spokeswoman said.
As reported by Radio Dabanga yesterday, the African Union (AU) has issued a statement strongly condemning the violence that erupted in Khartoum on Monday.
In a statement, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, called for "an immediate and transparent investigation in order to hold those responsible accountable". He also called on the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to protect civilians from further harm.
Human Rights Watch
New York-based international advocacy NGO, Human Rights Watch has also condemned the decision by the junta to unleash violence on protestors.
"These egregious rights violations require urgent international action to halt further violations, and to advance accountability of those responsible and to bring justice for the victims.
"The decision to unleash violence against peaceful protesters is absolutely unjustified and unlawful, and a slap in the face for those who have been pursing dialogue to achieve a handover to civilian government," said Jehanne Henry, Associate Africa Director at Human Rights Watch. "UN member states should urgently establish an impartial, independent UN inquiry into these atrocities, and ensure that those responsible for killings, detentions, destruction, and looting are held accountable."
The UN's Human Rights Council should continue scrutiny of the human rights situation in Sudan and ensure an investigation into violations and abuses committed since December 2018, including the most recent violence against protestors, Human Rights Watch said.
"Yesterday's violence reminds us of the serious RSF abuses against civilians in Sudan's war zones and it requires more than condemnations," Henry said. "Key international actors should impose targeted punitive sanctions against those responsible for the violence and urgently establish a UN inquiry."
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