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Rights Groups Urge Halt to Crackdown on Protests in Sudan

  • VOA News

People take part in protests over fuel subsidy cuts in Khartoum, September 25, 2013.

People take part in protests over fuel subsidy cuts in Khartoum, September 25, 2013.

Two human rights groups have called on the government of Sudan to halt violence against protesters in cities around the nation.

Amnesty International and the African Center for Peace Studies are expressing concern for Sudanese protesters who were shot or arrested by security forces after demonstrations Tuesday and Wednesday. The groups say they have confirmed at least 50 protesters were killed after being shot in the chest or head. They say they are still receiving reports of shootings and use of excessive force.

Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director for Amnesty International, said shooting to kill, including by aiming at the head or chest, is a "blatant violation of the right to life." She said Sudan must immediately end what she called "violent repression" by its security forces.

The government says 29 people have died since the rioting erupted on Monday.

The demonstrations began after a government decision to cut fuel subsidies, which caused a sharp rise in fuel prices and sparked public anger. Some demonstrators are calling for the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir.

Sudanese security forces have been guarding key installations and gas stations after rioters set buildings on fire and blocked roads. On Thursday, security forces fired tear gas at protesters in the capital, Khartoum, and in Port Sudan, on the Red Sea.

The escalating unrest has become one of the biggest challenges to Bashir's government since he seized power in 1989.

Sudan's fuel crisis began after South Sudan became independent in 2011. The new nation took over about three-quarters of Sudan's crude oil production.