Sudanese accused of abusing, torturing protesters

WASHINGTON — A leading human rights group on Friday accused Sudan’s security officials of having beaten, sexually abused and tortured students involved in protests resembling those in other Arab states.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the abuses occurred following mass arrests during anti-government protests at the end of January in the capital Khartoum and in the neighboring city of Omdurman.

“Sudanese national security officials subjected large numbers of youth protesters to severe physical and sexual abuse following protests in January and February,” HRW said in a statement.

It said it collected testimony and information showing that “the students and youth, some as young as 18, were subjected to harsh beatings, electric shocks, and other abuses that amount to torture.”

The organization said security officials are “also implicated in sexual violence and harassment of female activists, including the brutal rape of Safia Ishaq, a young activist and artist,” which it said occurred in February.

It called on the authorities in Khartoum to “publicly condemn the use of torture, including sexual violence and other abuses committed by national security officials after the protests.”

It also urged the government should to “immediately release or bring to trial those still in detention and ensure the rights of detainees are fully respected.”

The organization said “at least 13 protesters, including four journalists, are still in detention at Bahri and are at risk of similar ill-treatment.”

It said those freed told HRW “that many who are still in detention had already been subjected to torture and mistreatment, including electric shocks, sleep deprivation, and being forced to strip down to their underwear.”

A student beaten by police during a January 30 anti-government demonstration outside Ahlia University in Khartoum had died of his injuries in a nearby hospital, fellow protesters told AFP. Police denied the claim.

The demonstration at Ahlia University, in which around 500 students chanted anti-government slogans, was one of several on January 30 in Khartoum, its twin city Omdurman and El-Obeid, a city west of the capital.

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