United Nations, United States | AFP | Sudan faced calls from Western powers at the UN Security Council on Thursday to respect the rights of anti-government demonstrators and investigate violence that has left at least 24 dead.
The council was meeting to discuss the situation in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region but the United States, France, Britain and others raised serious concerns about the protest violence.
Britain slammed as “unacceptable” the use of deadly force by Sudanese security troops against the demonstrators and called for those responsible for the deaths of protesters to be held accountable.
“Security forces’ use of lethal force and arbitrary detentions in response to peaceful protests is unacceptable and it should stop,” said British Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen.
“We are appalled at reports that security forces have used tear gas and violence within hospitals against those being treated and against doctors providing medical assistance.”
In Khartoum earlier, police fired tear gas to break up a demonstration that headed toward the presidential palace to demand President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation.
Sudan has been shaken by the protests that began on December 19, initially to vent anger over a hike in bread prices but which have since morphed into a challenge to Bashir’s rule.
Clashes have killed 24 people, according to an official toll. Rights groups say many more have been killed.
Sudan’s ambassador told the council that his government was “fully committed to giving citizens a space to peacefully express their views” but would act to “protect lives and public property against sabotage and arson and all other forms of violence perpetrated by some demonstrators.”
Ambassador Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed complained that the demonstrations “were not related remotely” to the topic of the council meeting.
The United States urged Sudan to respect the right to freedom of association, called for the release of detained protesters and activists, and said the deaths of demonstrators should be quickly investigated.
A transparent investigation should be “followed by accountability for any excessive use of force,” said US political coordinator Rodney Hunter.
France called for restraint from all sides to bring calm to the situation and said the government must respect the right to freedom of assembly and to freedom of expression.
Russia echoed Sudan’s complaint, saying the protests were a “purely national Sudanese issue” and should not be discussed at the Security Council.