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UN rights chief urges restored civilian rule after Sudan military takeover

Michelle Bachelet says those responsible for human rights violations must be held fully accountable

Peter Kenny   | 05.11.2021
UN rights chief urges restored civilian rule after Sudan military takeover

GENEVA

The military takeover in Sudan is “deeply disturbing” and that the civilian rule should urgently be restored, the UN human rights chief said Friday.

Michelle Bachelet was speaking at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the implications of the ongoing situation in Sudan following the Oct. 25 coup in the northeastern African country.

This, she said, “recalled a somber page in the country’s history when freedom of expression was stifled, and human rights were comprehensively repressed.”

“It betrays the courageous and inspiring revolution of 2019, and contravenes both international human rights law, as well as the country's own constitutional document and other foundational documents of the transition,” Bachelet said in Geneva.

The special request for the session was made by the UK, US, Norway and Germany, and supported by more than 45 nations which noted the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council to suspend Sudan from participation in all AU activities following the military takeover.

They are calling on the Sudanese military to engage in dialogue with civilian leaders to enable the immediate re-establishment of the transitional government of Sudan.

Nations such as China, Russia and Venezuela opposed the holding of the session, saying it infringed on Sudan’s sovereignty.

“Numerous people – including government ministers, members of political parties, lawyers, civil society activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and protest leaders – have been arrested and detained,” said Bachelet.

She recalled that the UN Security Council called last week for the immediate release of all those arrested and detained since the military takeover, saying this is essential for starting urgently needed dialogue and a swift return to civilian rule.

“Massive street protests since Oct. 25 have in several instances met with excessive use of force, including use of live ammunition,” said Bachelet.

She cited medical sources for at least 13 civilians killed by military and security forces since Oct. 25, and more than 300 injured.

The UN rights chief said that the disproportionate and deadly use of force by the Sudanese military and other security forces must end immediately and those responsible for human rights violations must be held fully accountable.

“In a country where women and girls have been active leaders in the movement for democracy and human rights, many women activists have reportedly been arrested, harassed, threatened, and in many cases, beaten while participating in protests,” said Bachelet.

“I am informed that all radio stations and television channels in the country have ceased broadcasting, with the exception of Sudan national television and Omdurman radio, which are controlled by the military authorities.”

She said newspapers have ceased printing and raids have also taken place at several offices of civil society organizations.

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