Following the killing of at least seven demonstrators, and injury to more than 100 others, by security forces suppressing the January 17 March of Millions in Khartoum, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has lamented that repeated calls by the EU and international community on Sudan’s military authorities over the past months, to refrain from violence against peaceful demonstrators, have “once again fallen on deaf ears”.
Borrell’s statement highlights that yesterday’s death toll brings the total number of deaths during protests to more than 70 since the military coup d’état of October 25 2021. Military authorities have been limiting the freedom of expression and the freedom of association since the coup d’état last year. “Freedom of expression and information are fundamental rights that must be guaranteed. Democracy, which the military authorities claim to build, cannot exist without freedom of the media,” Borrell says.
‘Democracy cannot exist without freedom of the media’
The EU High Representative decries that “through disproportionate use of force and continued detention of activists and journalists, the military authorities are demonstrating that they are not ready to find a negotiated and peaceful solution to the crisis.” He emphasises: “Violence against civilians and the continued detention of activists and journalists, puts Sudan on a dangerous path away from peace and stability and jeopardises the opportunity for a peaceful solution which the UNITAMS-led consultations could bring.”
Borrell concludes that “the European Union has supported the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people from the start and will do so in the future with all means at its disposal,” and calls upon the military authorities to make their outmost efforts to de-escalate tensions. Avoiding further loss of life is of the essence.