Security forces in Sudan arrested scores of Sudanese activists in the lead up to the one year anniversary of massive public protests against the lifting of government fuel subsidies in September 2013. The United States is deeply concerned over reports of the arrests, which included journalists, political and civil society leaders.
Security forces were deployed in strength throughout the capital, Khartoum, in the days leading up to the anniversary of the September 2013 demonstrations, and no major protests were held. Nearly 200 people were killed during the demonstrations last year, in the worst violence in the capital since President Omar al-Bashir came to power in 1989.
While some of the demonstrations called for al-Bashir's ouster, most of the protestors were angry over the government’s decision to cut fuel subsidies due to Sudan’s economic problems. Bashir accused the demonstrators of using "recent economic decisions" as a pretext to topple his government, and took stern action.
A senior official from Sudan's ruling party denied that the most recent arrests were politically motivated, telling state media that the security forces were deployed in order to provide "reassurance." He added that the 2013 killings were "made by mistake."
The United States echoes United Nation’s Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Mashood Baderin, in his September 24 statement calling on the Government of Sudan to establish an independent judicial inquiry into human rights violations and abuses, including those involving killings that occurred during the September 2013 demonstrations.
The national dialogue proposed by President al-Bashir between the government, opposition groups and rebels contesting the government’s authority can succeed only in an environment conducive to the meaningful participation of all of the country’s diverse constituents. We urge Sudanese authorities to respect universal human rights, including freedom of assembly and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention.