Protesters Claim Sudanese Militia Raped Men and Women During Crackdown

A rebel soldier poses with his gun in Touch Riak, Leer county, on March 7, 2018, where famine has been declared since February 2017. International NGOs have left the area after heavy fighting erupted between the government army, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), and the rebels in July 2016, …
STEFANIE GLINSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Eyewitnesses claim Sudan’s notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary unit working for the ruling junta, committed sexual assault against both men and women in the course of dispersing a sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum.

The bloody crackdown on protesters a week ago claimed over 100 lives but did not bring an end to the demonstrations. Four more people were killed in clashes between demonstrators and military forces on Monday, bringing the death toll since June 3 to 118 according to the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), one of the principal opposition groups. The Sudanese health ministry claims 61 people have been killed.

The SPA issued a statement on Sunday calling for nationwide “civil disobedience” to continue until “a civilian government announces itself in power on state television.” Opposition leaders credited a general strike with bringing Khartoum to a virtual standstill on Sunday.

The Sudanese opposition said over the weekend that groups of armed men seized several of its leaders after they met with visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was attempting to broker a peaceful resolution to the political crisis.

Critics said these legally dubious arrests were a sign the Transitional Military Council (TMC) has no plans to surrender power. The TMC has also been criticized for failing to hold soldiers and paramilitary forces accountable for violence perpetrated against demonstrators.

A women’s rights activist named Nahid Jabrallah told Germany’s Deutsche Welle on Sunday that video recordings were made of RSF fighters sexually assaulting women during the violent breakup of the sit-in at military headquarters last week.

Jabrallah said some of the bodies recovered from the River Nile last week were women who had been sexually abused, while others who were clad in army uniforms may have been soldiers who were murdered while trying to “protect women and girls from being raped.” She said some regular soldiers have been disarmed and relieved of duty for showing excessive sympathy to the demonstrators.

“Everyone was threatened with being raped if they resisted the RSF’s orders,” Jabrallah charged.

The TMC denied the allegations of human rights abuses, claiming “unknown elements” among the demonstrators have stolen army uniforms so they could commit false-flag crimes while disguised as soldiers.

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