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Sudanese professionals demand dissolution of Rapid Support Forces

January 5 - 2021 KHARTOUM / KADUGLI
Know Your Right poster of the Sudanese Professionals Association calling for the rule of law (sudaneseprofessionals.org)
Know Your Right poster of the Sudanese Professionals Association calling for the rule of law (sudaneseprofessionals.org)

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) has launched the campaign Know Your Right, to protest the violence of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) against “ordinary citizens”. The association further demands the dissolution of the militia.

The SPA, the driving force behind the 2018 December Revolution that led to the ousting of Omar Al Bashir in April the following year, has given the authorities a week to close the RSF detention centres in the country.

The campaign was triggered by the killing of young activist Bahaeldin Nouri who was tortured to death in an RSF detention centre in Omdurman on December 21. The reason for Nouri’s abduction and detention has not been made known.

On Sunday, the SPA submitted a memorandum to the justice minister and the attorney general, demanding them to inform the Sudanese about their right to a secure life.

They should also take urgent steps “to criminalise the abduction and detention of citizens by these forces”, and “to clearly restrict the right to arrest people to the police,” the memo reads.

The SPA urges the Sudanese authorities to form a committee that must “review all the detention centres of the Rapid Support Forces and other forces” and transfer the detainees who have been charged to police stations”.

All “illegal detention centres” and “ghost houses of the security apparatus” are to be closed.

The attorney general should also form “a permanent commission with all competences to investigate all complaints about (human rights) violations committed by RSF members.

The government must further take steps to dissolve the RSF militia. “In order to prevent any future violations, we demand the amendment of Article 35 of the 2019 Constitutional Document, to make the armed forces the only military protector of the homeland,” the memo reads.

“The RSF Act should be repealed and RSF members integrated into the Sudan Armed Forces within the known timeline. [..] Those who meet the conditions for joining the army will be integrated and those who do not, will be dismissed.

“We won't stand idly in light of the systematic violence practiced by various state organs against citizens. We will work with our beloved people to achieve the demands of the revolution,” the SPA concludes.

Impunity

Sudan’s armed forces, the RSF militia, security and police forces, are still protected by impunity, a measure imposed during the former Al Bashir regime. Yet still, each time a case is raised against their members, the prosecution has to demand for the lifting of the immunity of the accused.

The Sudan News Agency reported on Sunday that the Public Prosecution urged the Police Director General to speed up lifting the immunity of policemen accused of being involved in the death of Ezzeldin Hamid in Omdurman on December 26.

Know Your Right poster of the Sudanese Professionals Association demanding
the Rapid Support Forces be dissolved (sudaneseprofessionals.org)

 

Reports

Several reports come from Darfur about RSF paramilitaries attacking and detaining people. Recently, RSF members shot a university student dead in North Darfur. Rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement under the leadership of Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) in mid-December accused an RSF force of attacking one of its sites in Jebel Marra.

As for South Kordofan and Blue Nile state, the Sudanese Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO) regularly issues reports about attacks by RSF militiamen on civilians. In early December, they reportedly killed two farmers near the South Kordofan capital Kadugli.

On December 27, residents of Kadugli organised a demonstration and delivered a memo to the state government condemning the rampant insecurity in the region.

'A force unto itself'

The RSF was established by the Al Bashir regime in August 2013 to fight the rebel movements in the country. Since the start, the paramilitary force is commanded by Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, who was sworn in as deputy president of Sudan's Sovereign Council on August 21, 2019.

The large paramilitary force which grew out of the janjaweed militias which fought for the Sudanese government in Darfur since the war broke out 2003, is widely believed to be responsible for atrocities in the Kordofan and Darfur regions in the past years. They are also held responsible for the violent break-up of the Khartoum sit-in in June 3 last year.

The militia has reportedly built up a vast business empire that captures not only a large part of the country’s gold industry, but has huge interests in many sectors of the Sudanese economy as well.

Tens of thousands of RSF troops joined the Saudi-led campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015.

In the Constitutional Document, signed on August 2019 by the then ruling Transitional Military Council and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change, it was agreed that the RSF were to be integrated into the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in August last year. At the same time however, the militia would stay a force unto itself, commanded by ‘Hemeti’.


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