Sudan: UN calls for investigation on killing of 3 activists in West Darfur by armed militias
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: October 2, 2022
UN experts have expressed their concerns about the excessive use of force by armed militias against human rights defenders in West Darfur, Sudan, which led to the killing of three of them.
About the three defenders:
The experts explained in a memorandum sent to the Sudanese authorities on August 3, 2022, which has not yet been responded to, that the human rights defender, Yagoub Ahmed (35 years), a graduate of Al-Neelein University, a member of the Darfur Human Rights Monitors Network (DHRMN), and he worked as a nutrition specialist with World Concern, a Christian relief and development nongovernmental organization.
The experts also added that victims include human rights defender Mohamed Ibrahim Yahya (27years), a graduate of Sudan University for Technology, a member of the DHRMN covering community health, a teacher and a member of the Reading for Change group, which advocates for rights and democracy in Sudan.
The third victim was human rights defender Mohamed Eldai Musa (28), a member of the DHRMN and of a grassroots resistance network in West Darfur, which organized civil disobedience campaigns against the ousted regime of Omar al-Bashir.
Murder and mutilation:
The experts noted that on March 5, 2022, Arab nomadic groups attacked the villages of Sallee’ah, Karka, Um Kharoba and Um Jumina in the Jebel Moon region of West Darfur. The three human rights defenders were working in Sallee’ah when shooting broke out at the entrance to the village, and Yahya heard that Sudanese intelligence agents said that his father, a mosque leader in a nearby town, had been kidnapped by armed militia, and that his mother was also missing. He, together with Ahmed, Musa and some 13 other activists set off to investigate the situation when they were caught in an ambush by militia and shot at. Ahmed and Mr. Musa were killed immediately by live bullets to the head and chest. On 6 March 2022, Mr. Yahya died of wounds to his chest.
The experts explained that the militia reportedly stabbed and dragged the dead bodies and took pictures of them which were later posted on Facebook pages, leading to the suspicion that the militia were backed by elements with access to the Internet, specifically the official Rapid Support Forces, a regular military force, which has been active in controlling peaceful protest demonstrations, often with lethal effect.
Targeting due to human rights work:
The experts noted that the three human rights defenders were deliberately targeted and killed for their work documenting human rights violations, including the violent clashes that day.
The experts expressed their concerns about the killing of the three human rights defenders, which appears to be related to their work in monitoring the outbreak of violence and human rights violations. The experts also expressed their concerns about the alleged desecration of the bodies of the human rights defenders, seemingly carried out with impunity.
UN demands from the Sudanese authorities:
The experts called on the Sudanese authorities to provide detailed information on any judicial or other investigations into the killing of the three human rights defenders, and to clarify whether they comply with relevant international standards.
The experts also called on Sudan to state the measures which have been taken to ensure that human rights defenders can work in an enabling environment and carry out legitimate activities without fear of endangering their lives.