Sudan: Attacks May Be Crimes Against Humanity - HRW

Graffiti on the streets of Khartoum, Sudan

A prominent human rights groups said Monday that fatal attacks on protesters in Sudan in June of this year may amount to crimes against humanity.

Human Rights Watch has released a 59-page report entitled "They Were Shouting 'Kill Them': Sudan's Violent Crackdown on Protesters in Khartoum."

The report details the abuses the Sudanese security forces leveled on protesters, beginning on June  3, 2019 and afterwards in the protesters' camp in Khartoum.  The account also documents the security forces abuses leading up to the June attack.

The protests had first targeted price increases in Sudan but then expanded into protests against Sudan's president of 30 years, Omar al-Bashir and his administration.

Large numbers of security forces descended on the protesters' sit-in area on June 3, HRW said,  "and opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing many instantly."  It added," The forces raped, stabbed, and beat protesters, and humiliated many, cutting their hair, forcing them to crawl in sewer water, urinating on them, and insulting them."

At least 120 people were killed on June 3 and in the following days, the rights group said.  "Hundreds were injured and dozens more are missing.  Witnesses said they saw security forces throwing bodies into the Nile.  At least two were retrieved from the river with bricks tied to their bodies and gunshot wounds to their heads and torsos."

The government initially denied the attacks, but later a government spokesman apologized for "mistakes," according to the rights group.

Sudan has established a committee to investigate the June 3 violence.  "Victims' groups have raised concerns about the committee's lack of independence, with members including officials from the Interior and Defense Ministries, both of which oversee the armed forces.  The committee does not include women or experts on sexual violence," HRW said.

HRW is urging Sudan to establish a committee to investigate the crimes that meet international standards of fairness and independence.  "To this end," said HRW Associate Africa Director Jehanne Henry, "they should urgently request expertise from Sudanese, regional, and international bodies, including from experts in investigating sexual violence and serious crimes."
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