Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Sudan‘s security forces of planning deadly attacks on protesters in the country earlier this year, warning that the violence could amount to crimes against humanity.
In a report released on Monday, the US-based rights group called on Sudan’s transitional authorities to commit to “genuine accountability” for the violence in June perpetrated against the protesters.
“Sudan’s new government needs to show it is serious about holding those responsible for the lethal attacks on protesters to account after decades of violent repression and atrocities against civilians,” Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at HRW, said in a statement.
“They should start by pursuing justice for the brutal attacks on protesters since last December, ensuring that all investigations are independent and transparent, and conform with international standards,” he added.
On June 3, armed attackers in military uniforms raided a sit-in camp outside the military headquarters in central Khartoum, shooting and beating pro-democracy protesters who had occupied the area for months.
More than 100 demonstrators were killed following the raid on the sit-in site, according to the protest-aligned Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, while more than 700 others were reportedly wounded in the attack and subsequent days of violence. Authorities put the death toll at 87, including 17 inside the sit-in area.
The HRW report also documented attacks by security forces on protesters in the days before and after the sit-in raid, as well as an attack on protesters in the city of Omdurman on June 30.
In July, government-appointed prosecutors said members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were involved in the sit-in raid along with some members of other security forces.
The inquiry blamed the deadly dispersal on “rogue” military personnel and said they had acted alone.
During the June 3 attacks, RSF forces raped, stabbed, and beat protesters, and humiliated many, cutting their hair, forcing them to crawl in sewer water, urinating on them, and insulting them, according to HRW.
Demonstrators first took to the streets in Sudan in December last year, following a rise in the price of bread, a staple food in the northeast African country.
Following a crackdown by security forces, demonstrators called for the removal of longtime President Omar al-Bashir. After the country’s army forced al-Bashir out of office on April 11, protesters started demanding that the generals who overthrew him cede power to civilians.
After months of negotiations, pro-democracy protesters and military leaders formed an interim administration tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian democratic rule in just over three years.