Sudan: Geneva Council condemns the arrest of protesters and the repression of peaceful gatherings in Khartoum


GENEVA  – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties condemns the Sudanese security forces’ use of force to disperse peaceful gatherings in the country, and the arrest of a number of the participants, and calls for the immediate release of the detainees.
The Sudanese security forces mobilized on Thursday, September 30, 2021, to disperse a demonstration in the capital, Khartoum, in which thousands participated, calling for the establishment of a civilian transitional government. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators who gathered in the vicinity of the presidential palace and the Council of Ministers, as part of protests called by the Forces for Freedom and Change. Security forces also arrested a number of protesters

According to eyewitnesses, about 20,000 people participated in the demonstration, which lasted for several hours, during which some protesters threw stones at the security forces as they tried to prevent them from approaching the vicinity of the presidential palace, which led to dozens of cases of suffocation. The organizers of the demonstration stated that they wanted to reach the presidential palace to deliver a message containing their demands in support of democratic transition, the establishment of purely civilian rule in the country, and the rejection of military rule.
For its part, the local authorities announced the arrest of a number of participants in the Khartoum demonstrations by order of the Public Prosecution and accused the detainees of having led violent acts against the security forces. In the same context, the Public Prosecution requested to strengthen the security presence in the areas of central Khartoum, which include a number of strategic and public facilities. The cities of Kassala, Port Sudan, Gedaref (east), Darfur (west), and Atbara (north) witnessed similar peaceful demonstrations.
The Council recalls that peaceful assembly is a right guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights when it clearly decided that no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right except those imposed in accordance with the law and which are necessary measures in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety, public order, or to protect public health or morals, or to protect the rights and freedoms of others.
The Council expresses its concern about the current developments in the country, especially with regard to the crisis between the civil and military component of the government,  reiterates that peaceful assembly is one of the rights stipulated in the law and human rights charters, and calls for an end to the policy of repression and arbitrary detention.
Since August 21, 2019, Sudan has been living in a transitional period – during which power is shared by the army, civilian forces, and armed movements following the signing of a peace agreement on the third of last October – that is supposed to end with elections in early 2024.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties calls on the Sudanese judicial authorities to open an investigation into the incidents of suppressing gatherings, and to release the detainees, stressing that the stability of the country depends on the consolidation of democracy and appeal to the will of the people through free and democratic elections, which will lead to an elected government that respects the law and achieves justice.

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