Lawmakers sound alarm over violence in Sudan

Lawmakers sound alarm over violence in Sudan
© Camille Fine

Lawmakers at a House hearing Tuesday voiced concern over violence against pro-democracy protesters in Sudan as the country's military rulers tighten their grip.

Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassCBC marks 400th anniversary of slaves' arrival in US Senate could protect girls from sexual exploitation — but will it? King incites furor with abortion, rape and incest remarks MORE (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, said “the situation has deteriorated” and warned of “blatant human rights violations” since Sudan's military took over the country.

In April, Sudan’s authoritarian leader of 30 years who oversaw the genocide in Darfur, Omar al-Bashir, was ousted after months of massive protests. Al-Bashir was replaced by a military government. The Transitional Military Council originally said it would work to transition to a civilian-led government but talks with the opposition broke down after a paramilitary group killed over 100 pro-democracy protestors.

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Ranking Member Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithHouse approves Democrat-backed bill ending mandatory arbitration US meddling in Hong Kong could trigger a tragedy Republicans plot comeback in New Jersey MORE (R-N.J.) said the ouster of al-Bashir gave him hope for the future of the country but no worried Sudan was no closer to democracy.

“We had hoped that his removal would lead to a transition to civilian-led democratic government, which respected human rights, and thus ultimately would lead to sanctions relief," Smith said. "But those hopes have been delayed."

On June 3rd, a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Security Forces (RSF) reportedly killed over 100 peaceful demonstrators in the capital of Khartoum. The RSF, which grew out of the Janjaweed, the group which committed the violence in Darfur in the early 2000s, reportedly dumped the victims bodies into the Nile. The commander of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo serves as deputy head of the Transitional Military Council.     

Malika James, the deputy assistant secretary for East Africa and the Sudans at the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs warned at the hearing that there would be consequences for further violence in the country. 

“No more violence will be acceptable under any circumstances and ... there will be a cost to pay,” she said.

James went on to say that the Trump administration was considering all options, including sanctions, if violence against protestors continues. 

Earlier this month, the State Department appointed diplomat Donald Booth as a special envoy to Sudan to assist in the transition to civilian-led government.