Amnesty International has condemned an unprecedented assault by Sudanese military forces on a hospital in the city of Omdurman on Wednesday.
In a bid to quell ongoing protests that have rocked the country over the past three weeks, security forces stormed the city’s central hospital on the justification of seeking demonstrators. Tear gas and live bullets were fired into the compound, before soldiers marched into the emergency and medical sections of the facility, assaulting both patients and doctors.
The attack was slammed by Sudanese medical unions as “barbarous” before they declared a strike, stating that the hospital was not a secure facility to treat patients.
“This attack on a hospital is an outrageous violation of international law,” Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said. “There must be an urgent investigation into this horrific attack, and all officers involved must be held accountable. The Government of Sudan must also take immediate action to stop the practice of shooting protesters and respect the Sudanese people’s right to freedom of expression.”
Yesterday, Sudan’s Health Minister Mamoun Humaida condemned the attack as “unacceptable” and announced that an investigation of the incident “with the concerned authorities” was underway, without elaborating as to the details.
At least 40 people have been killed and nearly 500 have been injured in over 380 protests against austerity measures and the political autocracy of President Omar Al-Bashir that erupted across the country last month.
Despite the demonstrations’ peaceful nature, security forces have responded with violence. Some 1,000 are believed to have been arrested and tortured, particularly students who have been detained en masse, with many claiming they were forced to confess to being part of a terror cell.
Amnesty International has also called on Sudanese officials to release a severely injured man who is being detained for taking part in a rally. Fifty-seven- year-old Yasser Elsir Ali was shot on 25 December, with the bullet fracturing his ribs, puncturing a lung, and becoming lodged in his spinal cord. After being stabilised in hospital, Ali was due to travel to the UAE for specialised spinal treatment but was arrested by security officers on 5 January; he has not been seen since.
Sudan’s latest protests were triggered by a government decision to triple bread prices from one Sudanese pound ($0.02) to three Sudanese pounds ($0.063). Food prices have soared since the start of this year after the government stopped state-funded imports of wheat.
The African country has been facing heightened economic uncertainty in recent years with an acute shortage of foreign currency, resulting in the Sudanese pound plunging against the dollar. Despite the US lifting economic sanctions last year, international banks have continued to be wary of doing business with financial institutions.