By Fredrick Nzwili
Christian Aid and Christian Solidarity Worldwide are among 30 global agencies demanding urgent international action to halt violence in Sudan, where women have been leading pro-change and democracy protests.
Over 100 peaceful protesters have been killed during the last week in Khartoum, the capital, according to the Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors, which has been close to the protests. Nearly 40 bodies were pulled out the River Nile, even as government officials said 46 were dead. Hundreds more were injured, according to reports.
“The attack on peaceful democracy protesters in Khartoum….demands a strong international response to immediately stop such attacks and ensure accountability for this and other violence in response to peaceful protests,” said the agencies in a statement on 6 June.
Paramilitaries, with origins in the Janjaweed (men on horseback), the militias behind the deadly conflict in western Sudan region of Darfur, are believed to be behind the violence. The paramilitaries had been seen roaming the capital, and had flogged some women, while warning them dire consequences if they returned to the protests.
The violence intensified on 3 June when the security forces stormed a week-long sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital. At least three cases of rape were reported during the attack on the civilians who were sleeping, the agencies said. The security forces later pursued the protesters into their home and hospitals, with facilities being attacked and the doctors assaulted.
“The international community cannot afford to wait or stay silent. The consequence of chaos in Sudan for the stability in the neighbouring states, the wider region and global security would be extremely serious,” said the groups while stating that the horrific acts by the Transitional Military Council demonstrated the authority’s unwillingness to allow a peaceful transition to a civilian government.
“It highlights the risk of further political polarisation and mass violent confrontation if urgent action is not taken in support of a peaceful transition to civilian rule,” the groups said.
The African Union on 6 June suspended Sudan’s participation of all its activities until a civilian-led transitional civilian authority has been established. The Africa Wide organization also threatened punitive measures on individuals obstructing the formation of the authority.
“The peace and security council deplores the loss of innocent lives which took place in recent days in Sudan and expresses its condolences to families of the deceased,” said Smail Chergui, head of the Peace and Security Commission. “The council strongly condemns the violence that led to the loss of lives and injuries among civilians.”