Sudan coup: Human Rights Council hears calls for return to democratic rule

International calls for the restoration of democratic government in Sudan continued on Friday, as the UN Human Rights Council met in a special session in Geneva to discuss the Oct. 25 military coup.

Leading condemnation for the military takeover, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that at least 13 civilians had been reportedly killed by military and security forces since then and more than 300 injured.

Looking on as Bachelet spoke at a special session convened, the Sudanese permanent representative and his deputy, who reportedly associated with different sides in the crisis, sat sandwiching an empty chair usually occupied by Sudan’s head of delegation.

Neither spoke during the debate that followed.

“This disproportionate and deadly use of force by the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces and other security forces, including military police and intelligence elements must end immediately.

“Those responsible for these and other human rights violations must be held fully accountable for their actions,” Bachelet said.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also cited disturbing reports of violence committed against women, including an early morning raid on a dormitory of female students near the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum, on the day of the coup.

“The students were terrorised and beaten, resulting in injuries,” Bachelet told the council.

The coup had betrayed “the courageous and inspiring revolution of 2019”, she insisted, in reference to the grassroots protest movement that led to the overthrow of President Omar Al-Bashir, who had ruled for three decades.

The development came as UN aid teams reported that the blockade of Sudan’s main sea port was lifted on Wednesday and that aid relief cargo and fuel have been transported to other parts of Sudan, where there are some 13 million people in need.

“Container clearing processing is set to resume on (Sunday) November 7,” the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“Since the announcement (about the port reopening), humanitarian organisations have not reported issues with movement of commodities out of Port Sudan or within the field, interstate movements have not been hindered and field operations continue despite the limited fuel availability.”

OCHA also noted that the situation remained “calm but unpredictable” in the country.

Markets and shops were open across Sudan, along with banks, but support for humanitarian action was needed for “life-sustaining activities”, including people’s livelihoods, the UN Humanitarian Office insisted.

To support this vital work, UN Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) has resumed regular flights, after operating throughout last week. Some commercial airlines have also resumed their flights, OCHA said.

Echoing the UN rights chief’s condemnation of the coup, independent rights expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz told the council that Sudan’s military leaders had shown “utter contempt for democracy” and efforts to restore democratic governance and human rights in the country.

Peaceful protesters had faced violent crackdowns by the military and its forces after calling for the reinstatement of the civilian government, added Madrigal-Borloz, who also highlighted reports that live ammunition had been used to disperse demonstrators.

He was speaking in his capacity as chair of the Special Procedures Coordinating Committee, which represents UN-appointed independent experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.

They are elected for a three-year mandate that can be renewed for another three years. (NAN)

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