NEW YORK – After months of continuing protests in Khartoum and across Sudan opposing government corruption, economic mismanagement, and brutal repression, President Omar al-Bashir is no longer in power. The most recent protests this past weekend, which reportedly led to seven deaths in addition to the 60 already documented, are the latest in a string of peaceful demonstrations met by government violence and hundreds of arrests since December 2018.
Amidst a volatile transitional political climate in Sudan, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is renewing its call for al-Bashir, accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, to be handed over to the International Criminal Court. PHR has long been active in documenting torture, sexual violence, and brutal attacks on civilians in Sudan and in advocating for the prosecution of Sudanese leaders for perpetrating genocide in Darfur.
Maryam Al-Khawaja, Europe director and interim director of advocacy at PHR, said, “While Physicians for Human Rights is pleased that detainees who were held without charge or trial have reportedly been released, the international community’s attention must now shift to protecting the security and fundamental rights of civilians, and holding accountable those who are responsible for massive human rights violations in Sudan.
“The people of Sudan, including groups like the Sudan Professionals Association, need to be protected from further abuse of power. As the country’s leadership shifts, civil society must be included in the transition, to ensure that the people’s rights are protected and respected in any future government. International monitoring and support for human rights in the coming months will be essential, including safeguards for Sudan’s brave doctors and members of civil society standing up for their rights and dignity. Representatives of international and regional organizations must also be allowed access to Sudan and protected.”
Last week, PHR released a groundbreaking report, “Intimidation and Persecution: Sudan’s Attacks on Peaceful Protesters and Physicians,” highlighting the Sudanese government’s massive violations of human rights. The government has prevented medical professionals from attending to the wounded; arrested and detained these professionals; attacked medical facilities; and targeted, injured, and killed medical personnel who have sought to carry out their medical duties. Members of Sudanese medical professional associations have been targeted for participating in, and, in some cases, leading the protests.
“The abuse and attacks on peaceful protesters, doctors, and medical facilities represent an egregious violation of human rights at as time when health care is most needed in Sudan,” said Rohini J. Haar, MD, MPH, medical expert and research and investigations advisor at PHR. “Sudan’s new leadership must prioritize holding accountable the officials who have perpetrated these crimes.
“Even in this moment of volatility, it is imperative that medical facilities be protected from harm, doctors be allowed to do their work, and peaceful protesters be able to freely express themselves.”
PHR’s full list of specific recommendations for the government of Sudan, international bodies, and the United States and other governments, including Sudan’s obligation to uphold all human rights treaties to which it is party and to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens, can be found in its report.
Additional information for media:
Physicians for Human Rights representatives, including Haar and Al-Khawaja, are available for comment. Spokespeople are available in English, French, and Arabic.
PHR has long been active in documenting torture, sexual violence, and brutal attacks on civilians in Sudan and in advocating for the prosecution of Sudanese leaders for perpetrating genocide in Darfur. PHR’s previous research reports on Sudan can be found at:
- “Nowhere to Turn: Failure to Protect, Support and Assure Justice for Darfuri Women” (2009)
- “Darfur: Assault on Survival” (2006), cited in the International Criminal Court’s July 2010 second warrant of arrest for al-Bashir
- “The Use of Rape as a Weapon of War in the Conflict in Darfur, Sudan” (2004)
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.