Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (11 January) on the situation in the Sudan:
I am very concerned about the Sudanese Government’s reaction to the ongoing protests in the Sudan. In recent days, violence has been used several times against people who were exercising their right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
The deaths at demonstrations in recent days and reports on the alleged use of tear gas on 9 January in a hospital in Omdurman, where demonstrators had fled, are a cause of great concern to me.
I call on the Sudanese Government to investigate the use of violence by the security forces against peaceful demonstrators and to hold those responsible to account.
The journalists, members of the opposition and human rights activists who have been detained in connection with the protests must be released without delay.
I call on all sides to refrain from using violence.
For the past three weeks, there have been nationwide protests in the Sudan in which 19 people (according to official figures), but probably over 40 people (according to figures provided by human rights defenders via social media) have been killed so far. The security forces have mainly used tear gas, but have also repeatedly fired live ammunition, in order to break up the demonstrations, which began in response to increased bread prices and the catastrophic economic and supply situation. Despite great anger with the Government, the demonstrators have remained peaceful. However, the headquarters of the Government party were burned down in several cities. Over 800 demonstrators, as well as several members of the opposition, journalists and human rights activists, have been arrested so far. Many were released immediately, but have to report regularly to the security services. During the largest protest so far, which took place in Omdurman on 9 January, the security forces’ response was particularly brutal. At least three people were killed. Protesters who had fled to a nearby hospital or brought injured people there were pursued as far as the emergency room and beaten. According to several reports, tear gas was fired into the emergency room.