US State Dept cautions Sudan govt against arbitrary detention, excessive force

The United States is concerned about the increasing number of arrests and detentions, as well as the escalating number of people injured and killed, following four weeks of protests across Sudan.

US Capitol, Washington DC (File photo)

The United States is concerned about the increasing number of arrests and detentions, as well as the escalating number of people injured and killed, following four weeks of protests across Sudan.

In a press statement issued today, Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson for the US Department of State in Washington DC, emphasises that “the United States supports the right of the Sudanese people to gather peaceably to voice their demands for political and economic reform and a more peaceful and inclusive Sudan. We condemn the use of violence, including the use of live fire, and the excessive use of tear gas by the Sudanese security forces.”

Palladino’s statement warns the Sudanese government: “A new, more positive relationship between the United States and Sudan requires meaningful political reform and clear, sustained progress on respect for human rights. This must include prohibiting the security services’ use of arbitrary detention and excessive force against protesters, and ending the government’s harassment and intimidation of journalists, human rights defenders, political opposition, medical personnel, students, and other civil society actors.”

The US department of State urges the government to release all journalists, activists, and peaceful protesters who have been arbitrarily detained, and to allow those facing charges full access to legal representation and the opportunity to seek legal review of their detention. “We also call on the government to allow for a credible and independent investigation into the deaths and injuries of protesters. Moreover, to address the legitimate grievances of the population, the government must create a safe and secure environment for public expression and dialogue with the opposition and civil society in a more inclusive political process.”

Al Bashir defiant

Sudan’s beleaguered President Omar Al Bashir, who is being called on to step down by the mass popular uprising that has now entered its second month, has remained defiant in the face of increasing domestic and international pressure.

Earlier this month, referring to foreign intervention, he told a meeting of his ruling National Congress Party that “Sudan has been subjected to a siege and support for the insurgency and some countries have tried to blackmail us with wheat and Dollars saying we will support you if you meet simple conditions, but we will not bow to anyone other than Allah”.

On January 14, he told a crowd of supporters in Nyala, capital of North Darfur,  that ”The government does not change through demonstrations.” 

The president also mentioned the upcoming elections in 2020, for which he will be running for a third term. He said, ”There’s only one road to power and that is through the ballot box. The Sudanese people will decide in 2020 who will govern them.”

Act for Sudan

Last week, a group of 93 Sudanese scholars, human rights organisations, and leading activists published an open letter strongly urging the US government to support the participants in the current Sudan uprising, by calling for President Omar Al Bashir to step down and by supporting democratic transformation in Sudan.

In the open letter addressed to the President of the USA, heads of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the group under the umbrella of Act for Sudan, urges the US government “to support their [the opposition’s] aspirations, as well as greater regional stability”.

The letter suggests: “Any consideration of normalising relations with the Sudan regime sends the wrong message, not only to the regime in Sudan, but also to bad actors worldwide, putting the United States and its allies at additional risk. US policy must pivot to advance freedom, justice and democracy in Sudan. Please support the people of Sudan and their call for an end to Bashir’s genocidal regime.”