WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 11, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was arrested and forced from power by a military coup after thirty years of dictatorship rule. Women were at the forefront, organizing peaceful protests against Bashir, that began on the eve of International Women’s Day on March 8. Their resistance was met with extreme violence by Bashir’s security services; 32 civilians were killed and hundreds were arrested.
Sudan has long been drowning in the blood of its people. In 2003, the Sudanese government under Bashir targeted non-Arab civilians in the Darfur region. Hundred of thousands of people died, thousands of women were raped and killed, and millions were displaced. While there was hope for Sudan’s future after the toppling of Bashir’s government, conflict has seized the country again. The Transitional Military Council (TMC) is now in power and in deadlock with civilian pro-democracy protesters. Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (nicknamed “Hemeti”) is the deputy chair of the TMC and also the leader of the tribal militia, the Janjaweed, which was responsible for the majority of the appalling rapes and killings in Darfur.
NOW is horrified to hear that the shocking massacre and rapes continue in regions across Sudan, including Darfur and the capital, Khartoum. Rapes, sexual assaults and violent attacks committed by the Janjaweed militia are all part of a deliberate strategy to terrorize and humiliate women.This week, sit-in camps led by pro-democracy groups in Khartoum were assaulted by the Rapid Support Forces , a militia with Janjaweed roots. Upwards of 100 people were murdered over the course of a few days and peaceful protesters, especially women, were subject to brutal beatings and rapes.Witnesses describe the RSF drowning the wounded in the Nile river and taking the bodies to an unknown location. In response to these atrocities, the African Union has suspended Sudan’s membership.
In a video to the Sudanese people, NOW President Toni Van Pelt insists that “the militia leaders must be brought to justice by the Sudanese men who believe in women’s human rights. We declare our solidarity with the Sudanese women and we call on the U.S. and UN officials to apply the pressure necessary to stop these toxic atrocities.”
The State Department and the United Nations have a responsibility to act to protect the human rights of the Sudanese people. NOW extends our sympathy and our solidarity to the Sudanese women and the men who stand with them. Rape is an illegal weapon of war and genocide. We will not stand silently as war is waged on Sudanese women.