Women’s rights campaigner and activist Nahid Jabrallah has told the German publication Deutsche Welle that the Rapid Support Forces, part of Sudan’s security services, raped numerous Sudanese women and men as they violently dispersed a pro-democracy sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum last week.
Sudan has been rocked by unrest since 11 April when military generals forced then President Omar Al-Bashir out of office following popular protests against his three-decade rule. Since then protesters have continued to pressure the Transitional Military Council to hand over power to a civilian government.
In the worst day of violence so far on Monday last week RSF paramilitaries shot at demonstrators and burnt their tents. The RSF attacked a field hospital where protesters were treating the wounded by shooting into the walls and beating the patients.
Since then, rape cases have been documented in hospitals and were apparent from some of the bodies that were pulled from the Nile, said Jabrallah. On 5 June the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said that their volunteers discovered some 40 bodies on the banks of the Blue Nile River north of Khartoum.
Jabrallah, who was at the sit-in, told DW: “Everyone was threatened with being raped if they resisted the RSF’s orders.”
Because of the internet blackout in the country and fear of reprisals from reporting attacks, exact numbers are unknown. The central committee of doctors put the figure at over 70.
Over the last several days Sudan’s opposition has implemented a general strike throughout the country which saw areas of downtown Khartoum and other cities completely desolate, with shops shuttered and streets barricaded. Many of the demonstrators have been forced underground.
The crackdown has been intense. Over 100 were killed and 700 injured in last Monday’s sit-in, yet the violence continues. At least 19 children have been killed and hospitals and medics attacked.
On Monday 11 people were killed and 20 wounded with RSF paramilitaries opened fire on residents in Central Darfur State.
UN experts of Sudan are calling for the UNHCR to establish an independent investigation into the atrocities in the country, warning that it is sliding into a “human rights abyss.”