Press release June 3, 2021
Sudan: Freedom House Commemorates the June 3rd Massacre in Khartoum
Calls for justice and accountability for the killing of at least 127 peaceful protesters remain unanswered amid reports of increasing violence and disappearances of activists.
In commemoration of the second anniversary of the June 3rd, 2019 massacre in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Freedom House stands in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the June 3rd massacre and joins Sudanese civil society in calling for the prompt conclusion of the government-appointed investigation into the massacre and disclosure of the findings to the public,” said Jon Temin, director of Africa programs at Freedom House. “Almost two years have passed since Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok formed the investigative commission into the June 3rd massacre, yet no definitive steps have been taken to prosecute those responsible for murder or sexual and gender-based violence. We urge the transitional government to bring those responsible for these horrendous crimes against peaceful civilian protesters to account.”
“On this somber anniversary, Freedom House strongly condemns the recent increase in attacks against civil society leaders and civilians, including forced disappearances, torture of activists, and organized attacks against people in camps for the internally displaced,” said Ali Eltayeb, Freedom House’s Sudan project director. “In both accounting for the June 3rd massacre and responding to renewed threats to freedoms, leaders must confront the widespread impunity and weak rule of law that have long plagued Sudan.”
In December 2018, Sudanese citizens launched a peaceful protest movement that placed pressure on longtime president Omar al-Bashir before the military ousted him in April 2019. On June 3rd, 2019, during a period of military rule, security forces attacked a protest outside military headquarters in Khartoum, killing at least 127 people. That August, civilian leaders and military representatives formed a transitional government with a mandate to prepare the country for elections, in part by achieving justice and accountability for atrocities committed against protesters during the revolution. That September, the transitional government initiated a formal inquiry into the massacre, which has yet to report its findings to the public or recommend charges against individuals responsible for the massacre.
Sudanese civil society activists have been increasingly targeted in recent months. Activist Mohamed Ismail Abaker, also known as Wad Akair, disappeared after participating in a sit-in protest in Khartoum in April 2021. Abaker’s body was found several weeks later. Signs of torture were discovered in a subsequent autopsy.
In mid-May, families of those killed in the June 2019 massacre organized a commemorative gathering at the site of the incident, demanding justice and accountability on behalf of their slain relatives. Security forces used live ammunition and tear gas on the crowd, killing two protesters and injuring at least 15 others. Other activists have reportedly gone missing since that protest.
Civilians in Sudan continue to face violence and lawlessness despite the October 2020 signing of a peace agreement with rebel groups. Over 400 people died and over 150,000 were displaced during several days of fighting in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur State, in January. Witnesses accused the Rapid Support Forces, a military wing known for al-Bashir-era human rights abuses, of involvement in those clashes. In April, at least 125 people were killed in another round of intercommunal fighting in El Geneina. The Sudanese government has thus far proven unable to uphold the rule of law or protect civilians from ongoing insecurity.
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