This issue of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor provides an overview of recent political developments in Sudan, including the emergence of the Rapid Support Forces and the status of the National Dialogue. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is a new paramilitary force deployed by the Government of Sudan to support counterinsurgency efforts in conflict zones. This new force is led by former pro-government Janjawid militia leader Mohamed Hamdan Dogolo, known widely as “Hemeti”. Although “Hemeti” now has a formal title as commander in the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), the new force operates under the central command of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). In South Darfur violence escalated dramatically following the deployment of the RSF. In late February 2014 dozens of Fur and Zaghawa villages in South Darfur were attacked by the RSF and Sudanese Armed Forces. The UN estimated that at least 45,000 civilians were displaced in late February and early March. There have been an unconfirmed number of deaths and sexual violence cases.
A much anticipated speech made by Omar al-Bashir, televised live on 27 January 2014, was expected to deliver concrete offers of reform from the NCP. Several opposition party leaders, including Hassan al-Turabi of the Popular Congress Party, Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani of Reform Now, and Sadiq al Mahdi of the Umma Party attended in person. Bashir spoke of an NCP desire to prepare Sudan for the “leap” towards national reconciliation and expressed readiness for a political dialogue with all parties, including armed rebel groups if they renounced violence. No proposal for a coalition government was mentioned. The speech was criticized by opposition parties for failing to set out any concrete commitments for reform. On 1 April the NCP reiterated its commitment to reform and Bashir ordered the release of all political prisoners in the country, stating that the Government is committed to a “national dialogue” and “safeguarding the freedom of expression of individuals and groups”. He also directed authorities to allow political parties to carry out their activities inside and outside their headquarters in accordance with national legislation, and for press freedoms to be enhanced to contribute to the national dialogue. This promising rhetoric was directly contradicted by actions taken by authorities shortly after. Though a number of political detainees were released in the following days, others were subsequently arrested.
The human rights monitoring report includes incidents documented by ACJPS from February – June 2014, including freedom of expression and association, incidents of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill treatment, deaths of detainees in state custodies, and the banning of the Sudanese Republican Party. ACJPS also documented incidents of excessive use of force, sexual violence, public order cases, emergency laws, and insecurity and attacks on civilians in Darfur.
Read the full Sudan Human Rights Monitor, February – June 2014.