Dozens of nations seek urgent UN rights council meeting on Sudan

Countries demand UN rights council hold a special session after deadly crackdown on anti-coup protests.

Pro-democracy groups called for mass protest marches across the country on October 28 to press demands for re-instating a deposed transitional government and releasing senior political figures from detention [Marwan Ali/AP Photo]

Dozens of countries have called for the United Nations Human Rights Council to host a special session on Sudan, following a deadly crackdown on mass rallies against last week’s military coup.

In a letter to the council president sent on behalf of 48 countries on Monday, British ambassador Simon Manley stressed the urgent need for the top UN rights body to discuss the situation in Sudan since the army’s October 25 power grab.

“We request that the Human Rights Council hold a special session this week to address the human rights implications of the ongoing situation in the Republic of the Sudan,” said the letter, the AFP news agency reported.

“A special session is needed because of the importance and urgency of the situation.”

The request came after top General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dissolved the government, declared a state of emergency and detained Sudan’s civilian leadership.

Tens of thousands of people turned out across the country for demonstrations on Saturday against the coup.

At least three people were killed and more than 100 wounded during Saturday’s demonstrations, according to medics, who said at least 12 people have been killed since the coup.

Police forces denied the killings or using live rounds.

In his letter, Manley said the call for a special session was being led by the United Kingdom, the United States and Norway, along with Germany and the government of Sudan, overthrown in the coup.

In all, 48 countries had signed on to the request, including 18 of the Human Rights Council’s 47 member states.

Calling a special session outside of the thrice-yearly regular meetings requires the backing of at least a third of the membership, so at least 16 states.

Bashir-era official re-arrested

Separately on Monday, the former head of the governing party under former President Omar al-Bashir was re-arrested less than a day after he had been released from jail, according to a source from his family.

Ibrahim Ghandour, head of Sudan’s disbanded former governing National Congress Party, was previously detained under orders of a task force intended to dismantle and prevent the return of al-Bashir’s three-decade rule, which ended in 2019.

The release of Ghandour and several other Bashir allies following the coup had come under criticism from opponents of military rule.

Last week, the UN Security Council issued a statement where it expressed “solidarity” with the Sudanese people and “called upon all parties to exercise the utmost restraint, refrain from the use of violence and emphasised the importance of full respect for human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression”.

It also demanded the immediate release of all those arrested and affirmed its readiness “to support efforts to realise Sudan’s democratic transition” and the peoples’ aspirations “for an inclusive, peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous future”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies