CAIRO – Human Rights Watch called on Monday on the United Nations to launch an investigation into the alleged use of violence by the Sudanese security forces against anti-government protesters.
Thousands of people have been demonstrating in the streets of Khartoum and other cities since December last year calling for long-time President Omar al-Bashir to step down.
“There is irrefutable evidence that Sudan is using ruthless violence and brutality against peaceful protesters and critics of the government,” Jehanne Henry, HRW associate Africa director, said in a statement.
“These violent tactics, which violate the very core of Sudan’s international human rights obligations, should end immediately, and those responsible should be held to account,” Henry added.
HRW released a video showing government forces in Sudan clashing with people during the peaceful demonstrations that erupted after a sharp hike in bread and fuel prices.
In the video, security personnel are seen firing live ammunition and teargas canisters at protesters, as well as beating them.
They also arrested people arbitrarily and stormed hospitals using tear gas against patients and medical staff, according to HRW.
The human rights organization highlighted the case of 25-year-old doctor Babiker Abdul Hamid, who was shot dead on Jan. 17 when he was trying to help people who were injured during the protests.
The Sudanese government’s official death toll for the massive protests across the country stood at 31, while HRW, citing activists, has placed the number of dead at “over 50 people.”
With protesters taking to streets almost daily since Dec. 19, Henry stressed that “with each passing week the situation is getting worse.”
“It is high time for the UN Human Rights Council to ramp up monitoring and reporting on the situation and to send investigators to the country at once,” she went on.
Since the country split with South Sudan in 2011, Sudan has been increasingly paralyzed by protests and instability and a worsening economic crisis.
In 2013, the government cracked down on a wave of protests, killing over 170 people, HRW said, which added that none of the perpetrators had been brought to justice.
Bashir has been in power for almost 30 years after he led a coup in 1989.
Two international arrest warrants have been issued against Bashir for allegations of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in Sudan’s restive Darfur region.