Increasing numbers of Sudanese Women Rights Defenders (WHRDs) are receiving threats that are risking to put their lives in danger since the beginning of the war in Sudan on April 15th, 2023. Three female healthcare professionals, two of them are prominent activists, received alarming threats within the last week. The threats were made against the WHRDs and their families, following a defamation campaign against W/HRDs calling for ending the war. Members of the former regime with some supporters of the military led this defamation campaign on social media.
At least four women healthcare professionals received direct threats on their phones and social media. The threats were clear in the language used that it was coming from former regime members or supporters. Other WHRDs inside and outside Sudan have reported similar threats, some of them are lawyers, journalists and activists. The lives and safety of dozens of WHRDs in Sudan has been at serious risk since April 15th. WHRDs in Darfur and Khartoum reported different forms of worrying threats, including receiving information about assassination lists as part of former regime members’ retaliation plans after their escape from prison on April 25th, 2023.
Former regime leaders’ escape from prison on April 25th, increased fears of retaliation against W/HRDs who organized resistance that toppled the Albashir regime. AbdAlhai Yousif, a religious leader supporting the military and former regime, gave a ‘Fatwa’ to the military to kill leaders of the pro-democracy movement, including W/HRDs.
On May 6th, the Sudanese military arrested two volunteers from resistance committees in North of Khartoum while driving an ambulance evacuating medical staff from one of the hospitals in the conflict zones. The doctors unions condemned this arrest and called on both parties in the conflict to refrain from targeting civilian activists and NGOs responding to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan.
Women professionals working in healthcare and other local humanitarian initiatives are facing accusations of allegiance with RSF from senior military officers. Allegations of treason against activists and professionals trying to work professionally without taking sides is threatening the work of NGOs, professional Syndicates and local crises responses.
WHRDs calling for justice, accountability and peace are increasingly becoming targets of the parties involved in this conflict. Sudanese WHRDs are working in an increasingly hostile environment threatening their lives and ability to respond effectively to the current crisis. False accusations of treason and threats from both parties in the conflict and the smearing campaigns are putting the safety and lives of WHRDs and women working in healthcare and volunteers in local humanitarian initiatives, at imminent risk.
WHRDs in Sudan are living in fear from reprisals against them and their families due to their work and calls for peaceful solutions and democratic governance in Sudan.
Amid the continuation of fighting and escalating violence, the safety of WHRDs is at immense risk. The communication and internet disruption, lack of access to healthcare, safety networks, and shutdown of banking services are some of the rising challenges facing WHRDs’ protection and safety.
Our organizations/groups urge::
- Both parties in the conflict and the international community to ensure the protection of women human rights defenders, in line with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the General Assembly Resolution 181 on protection of Women Human Rights Defenders
- Humanitarian aid international organizations need to identify means and pathways to provide emergency relief services needed, and to support the work of local WHRDs and feminists
- the UN Human Rights Council to establish an international investigation mechanism with sufficient resources including to investigate the threats and reprisals against WHRDs for their work, and to document SGBV
- Women and feminist movements around the globe to amplify the voices of Sudanese WHRDs
International Service for Human Rights
Sudan Doctors for Human Rights
Governance Programming Overseas
Confederation of Sudanese Civil Society Organizations (CSCSO)
Sudanese Women Unionists
Justice Center for Advocacy and Legal Consultations
Sudanese Women Rights Action
MENA Coalition for WHRDs
Women Civil and Political Groups ( MANSAM)