UN 'outraged' over raid, arrest of Sudanese women's rights activist

UN 'outraged' over raid, arrest of Sudanese women's rights activist
2 min read
24 January, 2022
Amira Osman campaigned for women's rights under the rule of former President Omar Al-Bashir.
Amira Osman's whereabouts remain unknown [Getty]

The United Nations has expressed "outraged" after armed men arrested a prominent Sudanese women’s rights campaigner in a night-time raid on her home in Sudan on Saturday night.

Around 15 masked men allegedly detained Amira Osman after storming her house in Sudan's capital Khartoum her sister Amani Osman told Reuters on Sunday.

This comes after a series of arrests conducted by Sudanese security forces - including the detention of opposition politicians and journalists covering pro-democracy protests - as activists say there has been a campaign of arrests of pro-democracy figures since the 25 October military coup.

"Amira’s arrest & pattern of violence against women’s rights activists severely risks reducing their political participation in Sudan, we call for her release... Authorities must respect [the] right to freedom of assembly," the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan tweeted on Sunday morning.

Outraged by arrest of women’s rights advocate Amira Osman overnight
Amira’s arrest & pattern of violence against women’s rights activists severely risks reducing their political participation in Sudan, we call for her release Authorities must respect right to freedom of assembly pic.twitter.com/OLKfRbIxpa

— UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission Sudan (@UNITAMS) January 23, 2022

"We don't know where she [Amira] is or the security agency that took her. We are worried about the nature of her arrest and her critical health condition," the activist's sister said. 

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Osman campaigned for women's rights under the rule of former President Omar Al-Bashir - a longtime autocrat wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity - who was ousted during a 2019 uprising against him.

The activist was previously arrested in 2013 for refusing to wear a headscarf.

Osman was also convicted and fined in 2002 for "wearing trousers" - seen as "immodest" attire by the authorities who prosecuted her, according to Reuters.

Sudan remains a volatile state after former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok's resignation left the military in power just over two months after their coup and a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, which saw security forces kill at least 63 civilians.