Petition: Free ALL women human rights defenders detained in Sudan

Petition: Free ALL women human rights defenders detained in Sudan

As protests, sit-ins and demonstrations escalate and continue, women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are leading, advocating and inspiring their communities. Women human rights defenders in Sudan continue to rise up against repressive and arbitrary policies.

The Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa has documented more than 100 violations against women human rights defenders committed in Sudan since the beginning of the protests in December 2018. These violations range from direct and indirect threats to torture in detention centers. Such violations aim to push WHRDs away from the ongoing movement in Sudan.

Since the beginning of the demonstrations, at least 100 WHRDs have been subjected to arbitrary detention, including  Hadia Hasballah, and at least 35 WHRDs that remain behind bars, such as Dr. Ihsan al-Fegeiri, Dr. Amal Jabrallah, Adila al-Zaebaq, Hadia Hassaballah and Khalida Saber, along with prominent  lawyers Hanadi Fadl, Hanan Hassan al-Qadi, and  Howaida Mohammed al-Hassan, who was arrested twice. More than four WHRDs were summoned for investigations and had fabricated charges against them, including  journalists Shamael Al-Nour, and Rishan Oshi, who are accused of “spreading false news on social media”. On 9 February, Omar al-Bashir  promised to release all detained journalists. While some have been released, most WHRDs who are also journalists remain behind bars such as Aziza Awad.

WHRDs are threatened in various ways, either by telephone or by shelling their homes with gas bombs and other weapons in order to intimidate. Women human rights defenders who carry out their peaceful activities away from mass-gathering areas such as the capital are certainly receiving a wider spectrum of threats and are told that they are “alone” because they are away from the “Center”, highlighting how the authorities are aiming at isolating women human rights defenders deliberately.

The brutal attack by the Sudanese regime led to the death of Ansaf Moussa in a demonstration in eastern Sudan’s Gedaref on 20 December and of Maryam Mohammed Abdullah, who was shot dead while participating in the peaceful Atbara protest three days later. In addition, dozens of mothers of protestors who were killed during the protests, are being subjected to several threats during their struggle to find justice for their murdered sons and daughters.

Throughout Sudan, WHRDs organize themselves in different and innovative ways to resist a hostile patriarchal context. They work without any legal protection mechanisms that allow them access to legal, psychological and medical assistance, despite their frequent and increasing exposure to torture and ill-treatment by the security forces when arrested, on the way or on arrival at detention centers. This rings true to the case of  Asil Abdou, a prominent young WHRD, who was severely beaten by security forces. One journalist has also documented that some WHRDs have been subject to sexual violence in detention centers.

We the undersigned stand in solidarity with women human rights defenders in Sudan and demand that the Sudanese government immediately release all WHRDs ; and that the trumped up charges against them  and journalists be dismissed. Ultimately, the Sudanese government must commit to refrain from prosecuting WHRDs \ and other civil society actors as a means of deterring or discouraging them from claiming their rights or freely expressing their opinions.

The Sudan government must respect WHRDs and women’s rights based on international and African human rights mechanisms such as Such as The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights requires states which have ratified it to ensure equal protection of the law (article 3), respect for personal integrity (article 4), respect for human dignity (article 5) and protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment (article 5) for all people. Sudan signed the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (The Maputo Protocol) on the 30th of June 2008 but has not ratified it. State parties to the in Maputo Protocol are committed to combating all forms of discrimination against women through appropriate legislative, institutional and other measures.

Based on the Maputo Protocol, we encourage the Sudan government to:

         End all of forms of persecution against women human rights defenders;

         Take effective measures to end the legitimization of violence against them;

         Establish mechanisms to protect WHRDs in Sudan.


  1.    Arab NGO Network
  2.    AWID
  3.    Bahrain Center For Human Rights
  4.    Charlotte Bunch, Distinguished Professor Women’s And Gender Studies, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA
  5.    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 
  7.    DEFAA for Human Rights and Freedom, Yemen
  8.    EL Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
  9.    Emília Novo, Portugal
  10.   Esraa Fehead, Horriya, Egypt
  11.   Faizun Zackariya, Founder, Centre for Development Initiatives , Sri Lanka.
  12.   Fatou Sow, Professor Of Sociology, Dakar, Senegal
  13.   Front Line Defenders
  14.   Ganoubia Hora Foundation
  15.   Gita Sahgal, Centre For Secular Space, UK
  16.   International Service for Human Rights
  17.   JASS
  18.   Lina Al-Hosny, Yemen
  19.   Marieme Helie Lucas- Algeria, Founder And Former International Coordinator International Solidarity Network Women Living Under Muslim Laws/ Coordinator Secularism Is A Women’s Issue
  20.   Maryam Al-Khawaja
  21.   Nazra For Feminist Studies
  22.   Nihal Zaghloul, WHRD, Egypt
  23.   Noorjahan Akbar, Free Women Writers, Washington, D.C/ Kabul Afghanistan
  24.   Regional Coalition of Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa
  25.   REPONGAC (Réseau Des Plate-Formes D’ong d’Afrique Centrale)
  26.   Rula Assad, Founder of Syrian Female Journalists Network
  27.   Shirkat Gah – Women’s Resource Centre
  28.   SIAWI/ Secularism Is A Women’s Issue
  29.   The Coalition Of African Lesbians
  30.   Urgent Action Fund-AFRICA
  31.   Women Media And Development
  32.   Women’s March Global
  33.   World Organization Against Torture
  34.   Yosra Akasha, Feminist Blogger
  35. MADRE
  36. Women Human Rights Defenders Project- Sudan
  37.  Rights for Peace Foundation
  38. Feminist Autonomous Centre for Research, Greece

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