Al-Bashir’s Government Accused of Torturing Sudanese Protesters

al Bashir
Al-Bashir is wanted for genocide in Darfur

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir’s government is torturing detained protestors, human rights groups have alleged.

The groups say although the protests had largely remained peaceful, the government’s response had been heavy handed.

On Friday, police were unleashed on protesters and people were shot with rubber bullets, smashed with exploding tear gas canisters and beaten up.

According to the Organization for Defense of Rights and Freedom, over 1 000 people were detained and hundreds left nursing various injuries.

Among prominent people who were arrested were journalist Talal Saad who was taking pictures for a French news agency,AFP in Khartoum.

According to eyewitness reports, armed national security agents raided the AFP bureau and ordered an AFP correspondent to delete the photos before taking Saad away.

The Organization for Defense of Rights and Freedom told reporters that Saad was unreachable for about 21 hours.

“The figure of those arrested Friday was about 1 000 in the whole country,” an official told journalists. “Many are still being held in prisons or ghost houses, the location of which is unknown.”

There was a dramatic increase in the number of arrests on the 14th day of anti-regime demonstrations sparked by inflation on Friday.

“They don’t tell you where they are. You are not even allowed to ask,” the official added.

Foreign governments have condemned the arrests of bloggers, journalists and political activists.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay urged the Sudanese government to avoid “heavy-handed suppression” of protests and to immediately release those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

Bashir seized power from democratically elected Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi on June 30, 1989. 

Mahdi currently leads the opposition Umma party.

On Friday anti-regime protesters gathered in a square beside the Umma party mosque in Khartoum with banners that read: “The people want the regime to fall.”

Protester burned tyres and threw stones at police while some chanted similar slogans that were used by protesters during the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

But the government says the demonstrations cannot be compared to the Arab Spring in terms of turnout.

Information minister, Ghazi Al-Sadiq, called the protesters “rioters” threatening the country’s stability.

He claimed Sudanese people had a right to peaceful expression without resorting to violence “to allow the enemies to exploit these protests to carry out foreign agendas against the country.”

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide allegedly committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.