Action Alert: SUDAN
In recent months, international organisations have raised concerns about serious violations of rights in the Sudan and urged action to halt these abuses, which include the alleged use of chemical weapons, indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations and detention of individuals exercising their rights of free speech and association.
Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Darfur
Amnesty International claims there is “credible evidence” that the government of Sudan has carried out at least 30 chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since the beginning of 2016. Its assessment was based on interviews and expert analysis of satellite images showing injuries. Two independent chemical weapons experts concluded that the evidence gathered by Amnesty “strongly suggested” that the victims had been exposed to “vesicants, or blister agents, such as the chemical warfare agents sulfur mustard, lewisite or nitrogen mustard.” Amnesty estimated that as many as 250 people may have died as a result of exposure to the chemical weapons agents.
The human rights watchdog has asked the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to conduct a formal and comprehensive on-site challenge inspection. It has also launched “Decode Darfur,” an ambitious initiative to recruit volunteers to help analyse thousands of square miles of satellite imagery using their phones and laptops.
Attacks against civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states
Amnesty International has accused the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) of carrying out “an unrelenting campaign of aerial and ground attacks” in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, concluding that many SAF attacks have targeted civilian areas with no legitimate military objective. The attacks have also involved the use of inherently indiscriminate weapons and tactics, such as cluster bombs or the arial bombardment of civilian areas using unguided bombs.
As a consequence of the targeted and indiscriminate aerial and ground attacks, as well as the denial of humanitarian access, civilians in South Kordofan continue to experience gross and systemic human rights violations, including to the rights to life, healthcare, education, food, safe water and adequate housing. Amnesty says that the attacks may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Prisoners of Conscience
A number of Christian news agencies have expressed concern about Hassan A. Kodi, Kuwa Shamal A. Zumam, Petr Jezek and Abdulmonem Abdumawla who are on trial in Sudan for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and religion. The four men were arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in December 2015 and have since been charged.
Hassan A.Kodi and Kuwa Shamal A. Zumam, pastors with the Sudanese Church of Christ, are facing charges under the 1991 Penal Code for ‘provoking hatred amongst or against sects’, ‘publication of false news’, and ‘joint acts in execution of a criminal conspiracy’. Petr Jazek, a Czech missionary, is charged with capital offences including ‘waging war against the state’ and ‘espionage against the country’, both of which carry the death penalty. Abdelmonem Abdulmawla, a human rights activist, is charged with ‘joint acts in execution of a criminal conspiracy’. Amnesty International has also taken up their cases, saying “the charges against the four men stem solely from the peaceful exercise of their rights and considers them prisoners of conscience. “
In addition, the whereabouts of ten medical doctors, arrested by the NISS during the week of 30 October, remain unknown. The ten were part of a larger group of 29 doctors arrested on 29 October and then released without charge after the Sudan Doctors’ Central Committee called for a 48 hours doctors’ strike to demand improvements in the national health service and fulfillment of a number of commitments that the government made to doctors previously. Amnesty fears that the doctors “are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”