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NGOs ‘outraged’ by Sudan lawyers’ hot mic racist slurs

File graphic: EU Parliament
File graphic: EU Parliament

A group of 20 Sudanese and international human rights and civil society NGOs have addressed an urgent appeal to the international community “to draw attention to the growing threats of racism, hate speech and intolerance in Sudan”. Hate speech and public calls for incitement to ethnic violence, particularly through social media platforms, are growing unabated in the silence of the Sudanese authorities, the NGOs lament.

“We are utterly outraged by the racist comments made by prominent Sudanese lawyers on the defence team of leaders of the disposed regime, who are currently under trial in Khartoum.”

As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, two defence lawyers were caught on a hot mic uttering racist comments against the recently dismissed Director-General of the Public Authority for Radio and Television, Luqman Ahmed, during a live broadcast of his trial by the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA). The agency later removed the video from its site.

The hot mic incident caught the two defence lawyers during an intermission in the trial, describing the former director as a ‘slave’ and having ‘a big nose’. The two lawyers, Abubakir Abdelrazek and Mohamed Shawkat, were also on the defence team during the trial of the former leaders of Omar Al Bashir’s dictatorial regime.

“In their racist wrath, the lawyers used disparaging language and uttered insults against the sanctity of Islam to show further contempt for and denigrate the outgoing Director-General of Sudan Radio and TV Corporation,” the NGOs lament.

“Of special concern is the absence of any response from the Sudanese authorities to this reprehensible verbal assault. The revelation of this racist insult sent shock waves across Sudan and provoked a nationwide outcry yet neither the Transitional Sovereignty Council nor the Acting Minister of Justice or the Minister of Information addressed the public and explained the official position of government on the matter, which constitutes a threat to Sudan’s fragile social fabric and peace,” the statement reads.

“The apathy of the Sudanese authorities towards this racist assault amounts to condoning this criminal act in flagrant violation of the country’s obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to which Sudan acceded on 21 March 1977.”

The statement points out that Sudan is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious country and any unwarranted use of racist slurs and derogatory language or calls for ethnic hatred, discrimination, and intolerance, severely endangers its unity and may lead to social conflicts.

Among their demands, the NGOs call on the government of Sudan to seize this opportunity to thoroughly investigate this criminal offensive and to hold the individuals responsible accountable under article 125 (Insulting Religious Creeds) and article 160 (Insult and Abuse) of the Sudan’s “Criminal Act, 1991” as amended in July 2020.

They also call on the Sudanese civil society groups and media to mainstream issues of hate speech and ethnic and racial intolerance in their agendas, to work out advocacy plans to address the root causes of racism, discrimination, and intolerance in Sudan and to combat the growing dangers posed by the ongoing hate speech and ethnic and racial superiority propaganda.

The statement is signed by:

1.            African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Banjul

2.            African Centre for Human Rights, Khartoum

3.            Centre du Commerce International pour le Développement, Geneva

4.            Community Development Association, Khartoum

5.            Darfur Bar Association, Khartoum

6.            Darfur Civil Society Forum, Khartoum

7.            Darfur Network for Monitoring and Documentation, Khartoum

8.            Darfur Women Platform, Khartoum

9.            Human Rights Advocacy Network for Democracy (HAND), Khartoum

10.          Justice Africa – Sudan, Khartoum

11.          Omar Al-Mukhtar International Association, Geneva

12.          Pan-African Congress (PAC-SD), Khartoum

13.          Pan-African Forum on Rights and Development, New York

14.          Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), Dakar

15.          Save Sudan, Khartoum

16.          Sudan Documentation Centre, Geneva

17.          Sudan Linguistic Circle, Khartoum

18.          Sudanese Civil Society Initiative, Khartoum

19.          Sudanese Secular Society for Human Rights, Khartoum

20.          Sudanese Women against Violence, Khartoum

Read the complete (updated version April 19) statement here

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