Protection, Justice and Accountability must be prioritized!
On 5 December 2022, the Sudanese military and some political parties and civic groups signed a framework agreement to pave the way for a power transition to civilian forces. But the agreement was not widely welcomed by local resistance movements, including resistance committees and some women groups. The protests continued across the country demanding a comprehensive transitional process that respects the people’s demands for accountability, peace, and justice. In the meantime, the security forces crackdown on protests is sustained, while the violations of freedoms of assembly, expression, and association continues. Following the political framework agreement, attacks on women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and women groups continued as the violence in conflict areas escalated.
Jameela Adam, 30 years old, mother of 3 children was killed on 31 December 2022 while fetching wood in South Darfur. On 6 January 2023, members of the former regime kidnapped and raped a 15 year old girl, who is the daughter of Osman Altayeb, one of the members of the dismantling committee of the Albashir regime. Hundreds of women have been displaced in Darfur since 15 December 2022. Dozens were injured and at least one woman was killed during militia attacks in Central Darfur. In Khartoum, one woman protester lost her eye during protests on 13 December 2022, in Omdurman. She was shot by a gas canister shotgun in her eye when the security forces violently cracked down on the protests. On 14 December 2022, the office of Alharisat, one of the prominent women groups, was raided by security forces, and the staff were threatened.
On 14 December 2022, the office of Alharisat was raided by a force of plain cloth men who presented a warrant for violations of the city garbage disposal law. But the force searched the offices and looked for the cabinet of the director in particular and broke into her office in her absence. The forces harassed and threatened two of the organisation’s officers who were in the office. They threatened the group’s members with arrest and detention if they did not allow them to search the computers of the organisation. On 5 January 2023, another women group reported a raid from plain cloth security to their newly opened office. The security forces were looking for the officers and searched the organisation’s computers. These forms of intimidation, attacks and arbitrary use of the law present serious threats to the safety and work stability for women groups in Sudan.
The kidnapping and rape of Osman Altayeb’s 15 years old daughter on 6 January came as the political deal with the military has reached its final stages, where the dismantling committee work is provisioned to be reinstated. The daughter was kidnapped from outside her home, she was taken by three men who attacked her and then threw her under a bridge in Khartoum on the morning of 6 January 2023. This horrific event is putting an unprecedented threat to women, especially those working on the issues of corruption and the former regime dismantling process. The incident is bringing to the light the historical pattern of the use of rape as weapon in Sudanese political conflicts. Women’s bodies have always been one of battlegrounds for Sudanese political and social conflicts.
The signing of the political framework last month was welcomed by members of the international community and considered a step towards restoration of the democratic process in Sudan. But the increasing violence against women, WHRDs and women civil society following the framework signing is sending alarming concerns about the ability of this agreement to provide security and freedom from violence for Sudanese women. The framework deal failed to finalise agreements on the issues of justice and peace. Women civil society groups and WHRDs are under serious threats amid these circumstances. In conflict areas, women are victims of the escalating conflicts and rising humanitarian crisis.
We, the signatories of this statement:
- Call on the international community and stakeholders to take urgent action to stop the escalation of systemic violence against Sudanese women.
- We call on the Sudanese government to immediately end the violence against WHRDs, women’s rights groups and women protesters and protect the rights of WHRDs to advocate and promote women and human rights.
- We call on the United Nations Security Council to take action to ensure protection of women in conflict areas and urge the parties involved in the Juba peace agreement to comply with the provisions of the agreement related to the UNSC No. 1325, including ensuring effective, meaningful and genuine participation of WHRDs, women activists and women peacebuilders in the peace agreement.
- We call on the OHCHR and the designated expert on Sudan to conduct an immediate investigation of the violations and gender-based violence against women protesters and WHRDs, and engage in inclusive and wide consultations with civil society including women human rights defenders.
- We call on relevant UN Special Procedures, in particular the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, to request a visit to Sudan and to issue a statement condemning the increasing violations against WHRDs and women protesters and women rights groups in Sudan.
- We urge the Sudanese political actors and international community to prioritise justice and accountability in any upcoming political solution.
- Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
- International Service For Human Rights – ISHR
- WHRD MENA Coalition
- Sudanese Women Rights Action