(8 January 2018) The Government of Sudan must condemn in the strongest terms the excessive use of force by its police and security forces in El Geneina, West Darfur on Sunday 7 January and conduct an immediate independent and impartial investigation into the death of one student and injury of six others and hold those responsible to account.
On 7 January 2018 at 10 AM, in Al Madaris neighborhood, El Geneina, hundreds of secondary school students organized a peaceful procession to condemn the increase of the price of bread. As the students marched towards the office of the state governor, located close to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) office, they came across a fleet of armored vehicles of the joint forces of NISS, Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Police who fired live ammunition into the crowd to disperse them. Seven students sustained gunshot wounds, one of whom was shot in the chest and died on spot. According to eyewitness accounts, the deceased is said to have been shot by an officer of the RSF. The RSF is a paramilitary government force under the command of the NISS.
In Sudan, the police are in charge of policing demonstrations, however, in some cases, the NISS and armed forces have concurrent powers during demonstrations as provided by article 6 (2) of the Armed Forces Act 2007 and article 50 (1) of the National Security Act 2010. The use of force to disperse assemblies is authorized in the Criminal Procedure Act 1991 and the Police Act 2008. In a news article by BBC, Babikir Digna, the Sudanese Minister of State for Internal Affairs is quoted to have said that the authorities would deal firmly with any acts of sabotage and chaos.
All seven students were taken to El Geneina hospital for medical attention. The six injured students are currently at El Geneina hospital receiving medical treatment.
Name of the deceased:
- Alzubair Ahmed Alsukairan, 19 years old, a student at Noor Almaarif secondary school, from Alnaseem neighbourhood.
Names of injured persons who sustained gunshot wounds:
- Issam Basshir Yahia, (m), 15 years old, secondary school student, lives in Umdewin, sustained gunshot wound on his arm.
- Muhammad Salih Abdullah, (m), 16 years old secondary school student, lives in Alkifah neighborhood, sustained gunshot wound on his leg.
- Ibrahim Aboot Yousif, (m), 15 years old, secondary school student, lives in Aljabel neighborhood, sustained gunshot wound.
- Azza Hamdan, (f) 15 years old, secondary school student, lives in Alsafia neighborhood, sustained gunshot wound on her arm.
- Safa Altigani Khalil Suleiman, (f), 15 years old, secondary school student, lives in Alsafia neighborhood, sustained gunshot wound on her thigh.
- Albdulhaleem Salih Zain Alabideen, (m), 16 years old, secondary school student, lives in Alshaty neighborhood, sustained gunshot wound on his head.
At about 3 PM, a number of people gathered at the hospital to receive the body of the deceased for the arranged funeral ceremony however the police fired tear gas at the crowd and only allowed the family of the deceased to receive the body.
The Minister of Education for West Darfur issued a decree suspending study for all students of primary and secondary schools for a week, beginning 7 January until 14 January.
ACJPS reiterates its calls for the security forces responsible for killing and injuring protesters to be held to account. Sudan should stop violently suppressing protests and demonstrations and guarantee the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, as provided under Sudanese and international law. The Government of Sudan should ensure that security forces carry their mandate in accordance with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. Ensure in particular that security forces refrain from using excessive and disproportionate force against demonstrators and that reports of such violations are thoroughly and
independently investigated with a view to bringing those responsible to justice promptly.
The Government of Sudan increased the import dollar rate from 6.7 Sudanese pounds to 18 Sudanese pounds. As a result of this, prices on basic commodities drastically increased to double or triple the price. The first attempt by the Government to increase the import dollar rate occurred in November 2016 which resulted into a call for civil disobedience from the Sudanese public.
Over the years, a deteriorating economy and other austerity measures have fuelled popular discontent amongst the Sudanese people, leading to a surge in demonstrations across the country. These demonstrations have been met with excessive use of force by authorities to disperse protests and public gathering in recent years. The unnecessary use of force by authorities to suppress protests has resulted into killing and injuring of many protestors.
In September 2017, ACJPS documented the killing of at least five people and injury of 29 others after Sudanese forces opened live ammunition on a crowd of protestors at Kalma camp of internally displaced persons in Nyala, South Darfur on 22 September, shortly before a planned visit by President Omar al-Bashir.
In January 2016, at least seven people, including one child, were killed when security forces opened live ammunition at a crowd of protestors outside the West Darfur state governor’s office. The crowd had gathered to demand protection after the nearby village of Mouli was looted and burned to the ground. The following day, three people were killed and seven others sustained gunshot wounds when security forces again fired live ammunition at the funeral for the deceased.
In September 2013, at least 185 people were killed around the country when government forces shot at anti-austerity protestors. Human rights defenders and victims’ rights groups calling for justice and accountability for the 2013 protest killings were subjected to arbitrary arrests and harassment
The protest killings have taken place in a climate of total impunity. Immunities provided in law to government officials, including members of the NISS, SAF and the police have prevented effective investigations into allegations of the excessive use of force and resulted in a lack of prosecutions for the perpetration of these and other human rights violations. This includes the failure, three years on, to hold anyone to account for the killing of 185 people during the protests in 2013.
Mossaad Mohamed Ali (English, Arabic, Swedish): +256 779584542, firstname.lastname@example.org; Cynthia Ibale (English) email@example.com