At least 39 people have been killed by security forces in Sudan since the 25 October military coup, 15 of whom were reportedly shot dead on Wednesday, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
On Thursday, Michelle Bachelet condemned the killings, saying it is “utterly shameful” that live ammunition keeps being used against protesters.
“Shooting into large crowds of unarmed demonstrators, leaving dozens dead and many more injured, is deplorable, clearly aimed at stifling the expression of public dissent, and amounts to gross violations of international human rights law”, she said.
Violence against protesters
According to reliable medical sources, more than 100 people were wounded during protests on Wednesday in Khartoum, Khartoum-Bahri and Omdurman. Of the injured, 80 sustained gunshot injuries to their upper bodies and heads.
Tear gas was also used heavily.
Arrests were reported to have been made before, during and after the demonstrations. Police issued a statement saying that 89 police officers had also been injured.
From around noon local time yesterday, the military imposed a total shutdown of phone and mobile communications across the country, in addition to the continued shutdown of internet services, effectively cutting off Sudan from the world. Only satellite links continued to function.
Mrs. Bachelet explained that people are “unable to call for ambulances to treat injured protesters, families are unable to check on the safety of their loved ones, and hospitals are unable to reach doctors as emergency rooms filled up, to name just a few very real and serious consequences”.
For the High Commissioner, “blanket internet and telecommunications shutdowns violate core principles of necessity and proportionality and contravene international law”.
Since the military coup, journalists, particularly those perceived to be critical of the authorities, have been targeted.
Journalists have been arbitrarily arrested, attacked while reporting, and had their homes and offices raided by security forces. There have also been disturbing reports of their attempted abduction by armed assailants in plain clothes.
“With the internet shutdowns, the role of journalists in getting essential information out on the current situation is particularly crucial, but I fear the increasingly hostile environment against them may lead to self-censorship, and further threaten media pluralism and independence”, the High Commissioner said.
Mrs. Ms. Bachelet also urged the authorities to immediately release all those who have been detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as all detained political actors.
She upheld that all members of the security forces and political and military leaders responsible for unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against protesters must be held accountable in line with international human rights law.
The High Commissioner also stressed the need to ensure that healthcare workers are not targeted for providing medical care to injured protesters, and that their essential work is not hampered.