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Amnesty urges sanctions on Sudan military junta after Khartoum sit-in massacre

The sit-in massacre has been met with international condemnation [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2019

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Amnesty International, the UN, EU and African Union have all condemned the violence on Monday.
Amnesty International on Monday called for the international community to impose sanctions on Sudan's military rulers after armed forces violently dispersed a sit-in in the capital Khartoum, killing protesters.

At least 13 people, including an eight-year-old boy, were confirmed dead on Monday by the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) after armed forces under the command of Sudan’s transitional military council attacked at dawn.

Activists on the ground say the death toll is likely to increase overnight, with many bodies at the sit-in site impossible to count at this time.

The human rights organisation urged the international community to put pressure on "those members of the Sudanese transitional authorities responsible" for the attack.

One method of pressure would be targeted sanctions against those responsible, Amnesty suggested.

The storming of the 58-day-long sit-in, which began in April with protesters calling on the military to help oust former President Omar al-Bashir, was reportedly led by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The RSF is an officialised offshoot of the Janjaweed militias accused of widespread war crimes in the Darfur conflict. More recently, the RSF has been accused of major human rights abuses in Sudan's conflict zones.

The paramilitary force is led by Mohammad Hamdan Daglo, widely known by his nickname Himedti, who is the current deputy leader of the transitional military council.

Police and other security forces are also said to have involved in the attack.

Read more: Sudan uprising: Echoing the voices of the youth

"Many of those attacked this morning were sleeping when the Rapid Support Forces and other Sudanese security agencies began unleashing deadly violence. With this senseless slaughter the [transitional military council] has completely destroyed the trust of the Sudanese people and crushed the people's hope for a new era of respect for human rights and respect for the right to protest without fear," Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said.

"The Sudanese people suffered for decades under the repressive rule of Omar al-Bashir, and his ousting should have represented a new chapter of respect for human rights," Jackson said.

"Today's bloodshed shows that the transitional authorities have utterly failed to turn the page on Sudan's appalling human rights record, and the international community must take immediate action to show this will not be tolerated."

RSF forces gathered in a Khartoum street on Monday morning [AFP]

Jackson called on the United Nations Security Council to take action and pressure the military to end its attacks on peaceful protesters.

Without identifying anyone in particular, she called for the UN to consider "targeted sanctions on members of the [transitional military council] and others involved in the attack".

The African Union Peace and Security Council should also convene an emergency meeting to "ensure respect for human rights and the right to peaceful protest" in Sudan, Amnesty said.

International condemnations

African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat on Monday called for an "immediate transparent investigation to hold all those responsible accountable" and urged the military to "respect the rights of citizens".

Mahamat was among several other international officials to condemn the crushing of the sit-in.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called eyewitness reports of armed forces firing into medical facilities "extremely alarming" and urged the military to "immediately halt such attacks, and to ensure safe, unimpeded access to medical care".

A spokesman for the German foreign ministry added: "Nothing justifies the violence and it must stop immediately. The violent clearance of the protest area greatly endangers the process of handing over governing powers to a civilian-led government."

The German stance was echoed by the European Union, who said its priority was the "rapid transfer of power to a civilian authority".

Statements by both the US Embassy in Khartoum and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt levelled blame on the military council, with Hunt claiming "the international community will hold it to account" over the violence.

Qatar's foreign ministry also "expressed its regret" at the decision to "forcibly disperse peaceful and unarmed Sudanese protesters", and called on the military council to cease such attacks.

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