Sudan Political Uprising Threatens Bashir's Presidency

dosage geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>The United Nations human rights office during the weekend called for restraint after dozens of people were killed across Sudan amid protests against the Government’s decision to suspend fuel subsidies.

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“We are deeply concerned about reports that a significant number of people have been killed during the demonstrations taking place across Sudan since Monday,” Cécile Pouilly, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.

Media reports say over 30 people have been killed during the demonstrations, which began in Sudan’s central state of Gezira and then spread to other parts of the country, including the capital, Khartoum.

Sudanese in Egypt gathered at their embassy in Cairo on Sunday to show support to anti-Bashir protesters carrying banners calling for his resignation.

Bashir faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.


Having captured power in 1989 in a bloodless coup, Bashir has ruled Sudan with an iron hand and is well known for employing repressive state machinery to crack down on popular dissent.

However, the fast-spreading protests, possibly inspired by the Arab Spring, have since threatened Bashir’s hold on power.

Grappling with tight economic sactions by the United Nations, a deadly rebellion in the South and a sinking economy, Sudan has been moving closer to the edge of bankruptcy.

And with the international community exhibiting determination to put an end to the reigns of dictators who kill their own people in such political uprisings, Bashir’s future as Sudan’s President looks bleak.

Ms. Pouilly said that in Khartoum, violent clashes erupted between demonstrators and police forces, resulting in an unknown number of casualties.

“Security forces are reported to have used excessive force in suppressing the protests, with security agents allegedly firing live ammunition at some protesters and beating others,” she stated.

“Witnesses speak of bodies of dead demonstrators with gunshot wounds in the upper torso and head. There have also been reports of destruction of property by demonstrators.”

OHCHR reminded the authorities that under international law, intentional lethal use of firearms can only be justified when strictly unavoidable and only in order to protect life.

“We therefore call on law enforcement officials to show utmost restraint and make sure that they comply at all times with international human rights obligations and international standards on policing,” said Ms. Pouilly.

“We call on all parties to refrain from resorting to violence and on protesters to maintain the peaceful nature of their demonstrations,” she added.

“We also urge the authorities to respect the civil liberties of those protesting and, in particular, their right to assemble peacefully and express their views.”

The resulting price hikes are the latest in a series of measures that have negatively affected living conditions across the country.

Many of the protests turned violent as protesters vandalized and set fire to gas stations and police stations, and threw stones at police and security forces. In response, the police and national security forces fired teargas, rubber bullets, and according to credible reports, live ammunition into the crowds. Sudan has also deployed military forces to contain protests in some locations.

Witnesses in Khartoum and Omdurman told Human Rights Watch that they saw police and national security forces fire shots at protesters. Sudanese activists have alleged that pro-government militia are also responsible for some killings. Sudanese officials have denied unlawful killings.

The government has sought to suppress information about the events. On September 19, officials from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated editions of three national newspapers in Khartoum.

Journalists arrested

Authorities have also arrested journalists in Wad Madani covering the protests there. On September 25, Internet access across the country was shut down for several hours, a move Sudanese activists believe the government orchestrated.

The wave of protests comes on the heels of a harsh crackdown on September 19 on protesters in Nyala, South Darfur. The sharp rise in insecurity and large presence of government-backed militia in Nyala had provoked a public outcry against the central government.

Thousands of Nyala residents gathered to protest the killing by militiamen on September 18 of Ismail Ibrahim Wadi, a prominent Zaghawa businessman. Wadi was the seventh person killed this year by militia members, according to media reports.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that some protesters set fire to several cars, including the governor’s, and attempted to force their way into government buildings. Police shot teargas and live ammunition. Three people were killed on the spot including two boys aged 11 and 12, and scores more were injured.

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