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HRW flays Sudan for abuses against protestors

March 4, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The global watchdog Human Rights Watch has condemned Sudan for committing a wide array of abuses against anti-government protestors, demanding local authorities to refrain from such actions and release all remaining detainees.

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Sudanese anti-riot police beating anti-government protestors in the capital Khartoum (Photo circulated on Facebook)

The New York-based rights watchdog said in a press release on Friday that agents of Sudan’s national intelligence and security services (NISS) had subjected a large number of youth protestors to severe physical and sexual abuse following anti-government protests in January and February.

Small anti-government protests broke out in late January in the capital Khartoum and a few other towns in response to a campaign organized via the internet by youth groups inspired by the wave of revolts convulsing the Middle East.

Sudanese anti-riot police supported by NISS agents used heavy force to break up the demonstrators, arresting more than 100 people on January 29, 30, and 31 in Khartoum and Omdurman alone, HRW said.

HRW also said that NISS agents were implicated in the rape of the female activist Safia Ishaq who publicly told her a story in a Youtube video last month.

“These heinous allegations clearly show that Sudan’s abusive national security apparatus is using torture and harassment to silence dissent,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. He called on the Sudanese authorities “to take immediate measures to stop torture, ill treatment, and harassment by the national security officials.”

According to testimonies collected by HRW, the forms of abuses used by NISS agents ranged from beatings, sleep deprivation, electric shocks, death threats and threats of rape.

HRW warned that at least 13 protesters, including four journalists, are still in detention at Bahri and “are at risk of similar ill-treatment.”

In a related development, the UN’s independent expert on the human rights issues in Sudan, Justice Mohamed Chande Othman, is expected to visit Sudan on Saturday, leading a fact-finding mission of the UN Human Rights Council to ascertain reports of human rights abuses.