Peaceful Sit-ins Demand Civilian Protection, Some End in Violence
Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) is gravely concerned about the intensification of violence across Sudan and would like to express solidarity with the people gathering to demand immediate action from the government. Since August 31st, Sudanese residents have organized a mass array of sit-ins, vigils, and protests for civilian protection in many parts of Sudan, especially in Darfur. Recently, six people were severely injured in the violent dispersal of demonstrations, which earned strong condemnation from multiple civilian organizations. On August 31st, nomads organized a vigil in West Darfur after handing the newly appointed governor a memorandum of their 20 demands. According to Radio Dabanga, in El Geneina, the group sought peace, disarmament, and neutrality along with “an inclusive conference about peaceful coexistence with the participation of all communities in West Darfur.” Repeated violent outbreaks in the region has left many displaced, and basic public services are inaccessible for most. With insecurity and scarce resources, the vigil intended to bring government attention to the people’s basic needs. On September 4th, members of the Resistance Committees stood vigil in the Sudan capital, Khartoum, to protest the harsh punishments of the Information and Cybercrime Law. A number of Resistance Committees members are currently on trial for posting on social media about the corruption of a police officer, who filed a complaint in response. The Committees released a statement condemning the Information and Cybercrime Law because of its role in the former regime, made to infringe on the people’s freedom of speech and to silence opposition. Calling for its amendment, members were protesting against the severe penalties of the law, which included a prison sentence up to six years with heavy fines. Previously, contributors to news outlets, including DWAG report sources, have been detained under similar laws. On September 7th, a peaceful sit-in in Duma, Darfur was violently dispersed, leading to six severe injuries. The sit-in began last week when at least one person was killed and many others were injured during clashes between the police and a group of gunmen. Calling upon the government to provide immediate action towards their safety and security, protesters blocked the Duma-Nyala road and demanded the dismissal of the locality’s director after he dismissed the people’s demands. On Monday, the police responded to the sit-in by shooting in the air and beating demonstrators. Of the six wounded, two were transferred to the hospital for emergency care. The South Darfur Women’s Forum condemned the government’s response and called for the effective action to meet the demands of the people. Regarding the intensification of political and social turmoil across Sudan, DWAG strongly urges the Sudanese interim government to quickly implement steadfast response plans to secure the security of Sudanese civilians. Recent developments in Sudan reveal a state of unrest, and the government has the responsibility to address and apply effective action where it is needed. As presented in the numerous violent outbreaks, abuse of power from government forces, and rising death toll, remnants of the former regime remain embedded in multiple parts of the current Sudanese government. The lack of appropriate response to the protests of civilians—not only demonstrates the failure of the government to govern—but also the need for international intervention. For almost a year since the start of the interim government, the people of Sudan have yet to experience peace or security within their borders. Perpetrators of violence are not held accountable for their crimes, and an increasing number of civilians are killed, injured, or displaced due to the Sudanese government’s lack of action and the presence of violent militia groups. DWAG strongly calls on the interim government of Sudan to take swift action in stopping its forces from perpetrating attacks against civilians. DWAG further urges the international community to provide immediate assistance for the people of Sudan. UN peacekeeping forces must ensure the protection and safety of civilians before the unchecked violence takes more innocent lives. Moreover, the international community must exert pressure on the Sudanese interim government to take detailed measures in an extensive action plan to guarantee that government forces and militia groups are fit to protect the people.