8 January 2019
The Asia Pacific Research Network is alarmed at the escalating violence in Sudan and reports of crackdown on civil society and political opposition by the country’s president Omar al-Bashir. Over the past few weeks, amid severe economic crisis exacerbated by IMF-backed reforms, Sudanese authorities have taken extreme actions against peaceful protesters and critics.
In December 2018, massive demonstrations rocked Khartoum and other cities following price hikes of prime commodities. Security forces retaliated by dispersing the crowd including through teargas. Some accounts pointed to the use of live ammunition by the police. Authorities said at least 19 people have been killed while human rights groups pegged the death toll at 37.
Civil society, academe, and media are being gagged. At least 400 activists, journalists and political opponents have been arbitrarily arrested by security forces according to human rights watchdogs. Many detainees are held incommunicado, without access to family or legal support and healthcare.
APRN stands with the civil society organizations around the world in denouncing the use of violence and repression against the protesters who are raising legitimate grievances and urges the Sudanese government to release all political detainees.
The Sudanese government must resolve its economic woes driving the civil unrest. In 2018, the government imposed a 15-month economic austerity program in line with the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund. Included in the austerity reforms were measures such as lifting government subsidies on basic goods and services such as bread, fuel, and electricity.
These have proved to have only hurt an ever growing population of economically vulnerable. The cost of medicines has more than doubled and inflation has hit 70 percent. The government has also devalued the country’s currency, the Sudanese pound, causing it to lose half of its value on the international exchange market.
The ruling regime must desist from criminalizing dissenters, and instead fulfill its commitment to foster inclusive dialog and implement legal reforms to promote the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including people’s right to free speech and assembly.
APRN calls on our members to stand in solidarity with the anti-austerity peoples’ movement in Sudan. We encourage you to also show, in whichever way you can, your support for the growing call for the defense of human rights activists, academics, and journalists under attack in the country.