On January 22nd,2022 at 1 am, security forces with arms raided the house of the President of No for Women Oppression Amira Osman and arrested from her home. They broke into her room and took her to an unknown place. Her sister and colleagues informed our organisations that the security forces identified themselves as a drug fighting force. Amira has a disability due to a work injury a few years ago, which requires continuous medical care that she does not have access to inside detention. She is an engineer by profession and prominent woman human rights defender and feminist activist. Amira was not allowed to have access to lawyers, or medical care. Her family expressed their extreme worry for her wellbeing, as her whereabouts remain unknown.
On January 15th, 2022, three women were arrested from Royal care hospital while visiting their friend who was injured, one of the detainees is a medical professional. Security forces raided the hospital and arrested 6 people among them the injured young male protester who is a minor of 17 years old. The police framed charges against the women and their friends for participating in the mysterious killing of a police officer on the 13th of January. According to the detainees’ lawyer, the 5 detainees were detained in very difficult conditions, as they saw signs of torture on their clients. Lawyers and one of the women detainees confirmed to our organisations that they are facing verbal and physical harassment inside the detention. Two of the women detained were released for one day after the charges were dropped by the prosecutor on January 20th, 2022 and rearrested again the next day following their release. They remain in detention inside the police investigative unit in Bahry. The lawyers of these detainees sent an appeal and tried to meet with the general prosecutor to inquire about the rearrest of the detainees, but they were prevented from meeting the prosecutor. The lawyers issued a statement accusing the prosecutor of abandoning his duties in protection of the law, the detainees rights and their lawyers rights to be informed of the reasons for their arrest.
On January 17th 2022, the council for defense and security formed by the military decided to form a new anti-terrorism force. The meeting statement started using the word “terrorists” to describe the protesters and their resistance actions, such as describing streets barricades as terrorists’ attacks against community. The statement of the military council said that protesters crossed the red-lines of State sovereignty. These remarks and decisions are highly worrying as it will lead to more use of legal fabrications to frame charges against protesters and activists.
The military is closing the civic space for women’s rights groups and women human rights defenders using anti-terrorism terms to describe the resistance movement in Sudan, including women’s rights groups. The recent arrests of women activists are part of a systemic attack against women WHRDs in Sudan. The military and security is using social media and traditional media to defame women protesters, using different terms including calling women protesters groups of abusing drugs. Women’s rights groups and WHRDs are facing a new wave of attacks that include framing charges to prolong the detention of WHRDs and defame the women’s rights movement. The military reinstated the authorities of the former regime’s security forces in December 2021 in the emergency order number 3. The new emergency order gave Sudanese security complete impunity and protection from accountability for any form of violations on duty. Sudanese security forces has a well-documented history of sexual abuse and torture of women detainees. WHRDs in detention are at risk of maltreatment, torture, and sexual violence. We express our deep concern about their safety and wellbeing.
We, the undersigned groups, call for:
- Immediate release of WHRDs in detention and reveal their whereabouts.
- To refrain from using fabricated charges to hinder the work of WHRDs in Sudan.
- To ensure those arrested access to lawyers, medical care and family members.
- Accountability and lifting of impunity of government officials and security forces responsible of violations against WHRDs, especially for torture and sexual harassment in detention
- We call on the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to take immediate actions and issue statements on the threats to WHRDs in Sudan and call for lifting of impunity of security forces.
- We call on the United Nations Security Council to take action to ensure protection of women in conflict areas and urge the parties involved in the Juba peace agreement to comply with the provisions of the agreement related to the UNSC No. 1325, including ensuring effective, meaningful and genuine participation of WHRDs, women activists and women peacebuilders in the peace agreement.
- We call on the recently appointed expert on Sudan Adama Dieng to conduct an immediate investigation of the violations and gender based violence against women protesters and WHRDs, and engage in inclusive and wide consultations with civil society including women human rights defenders.
- We call on relevant UN Special Procedures, in particular the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, to request a visit to Sudan and to issue a statement condemning the increasing violations against WHRDs and women protesters and women rights groups in Sudan.
- Global Fund for Women
- MENA Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders
- Interpares Canada
- International Service for Human Rights
- Sudan’s Doctors for Human Rights
- Sudanese Women Rights Action