GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations' top human rights official on Friday condemned actions by military leaders following a coup in Sudan and said that excessive use of force by security forces had left at least 13 people dead and more than 300 injured.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also expressed concern about the “numerous” arrests and disappearances of civil society and protest leaders, journalists, and activists.
She made the comments during an urgent session of the organization’s top human rights body about Sudan on Friday after the military coup there nearly two weeks ago. Britain, the United States, Germany and Norway are leading a push to commission an expert to monitor the situation.
The Human Rights Council debate is taking place while the U.N. still recognizes the ambassador from the deposed Sudanese government as the country’s official representative in Geneva. No representative from among Sudan’s top generals seemed to be attending the session.
“Events since the coup have recalled a somber page in the country’s history when freedom of expression was stifled and human rights were comprehensively repressed,” said Bachelet, in reference to the 30-year rule of Sudan by former autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Last month's coup, strongly condemned by the U.S. and the West, came more than two years after a popular uprising forced the military’s removal of al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019. It has upended the country’s fragile planned transition to democratic rule.
The push for a human rights expert comes amid mounting international pressure on Sudan’s top general, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the forces loyal to him who dissolved Sudan’s transitional government and detained other government officials and political leaders on Oct. 25.
"Fundamentally, this is about respect for democracy and human rights," Simon Manley, Britain’s ambassador in Geneva, said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. “I hope that fellow council members will stand in solidarity with the brave people of Sudan today."
The four Western countries presented a draft resolution on Wednesday, and the final language still was being worked out. Human Rights Council spokesperson Rolando Gomez said a provision remained intact to create a “special rapporteur” to monitor the situation in Sudan for one year.
The draft also called for the immediate return to a civilian-led transitional government under Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was among those detained in the coup. He is now under house arrest but has been allowed to meet with U.N. and international diplomats as part of mediation efforts.
On Thursday, Sudan’s state-run news agency reported that Burhan had ordered the release of four government ministers who also were detained. A defense lawyer for the ministers said they had not yet been freed.
The Associated Press