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Sudan Urged to Stop Torturing Protesters by Rights Groups

Sudan must stop the torture and abuse of people detained during anti-government protests that started last month, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said.

“Torture and other ill-treatment ae absolutely prohibited under international law,” Aster van Kregten, London-based Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa, said in a joint statement. The groups urged the government to investigate the allegations and “ensure that the victims receive reparations.”

The demonstrations started on June 16 when the government raised transportation and fuel prices, boosted taxes and devalued the currency to cope with the loss of about 75 percent of the nation’s oil output when South Sudan seceded in July. The protests expanded later into a movement calling for an end to Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir’s 23 years in power.

Sudanese police have used tear gas, live ammunition and batons to disperse hundreds of protesters in the capital, Khartoum, and other major cities.

Police clashed with students today at Khartoum University, Al Jazeera television reported, citing a witness.

Al-Bashir said today that the protests aren’t comparable to the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

Arab Spring

“There is no Arab spring in Sudan, there’s just a burning hot summer that we will burn our enemies with,” the state run SUNA news agency quoted al-Bashir as saying.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said many detainees have reported “harsh treatment, including beatings and sleep-deprivation.”

“Instead of responding to the protesters’ concerns, the Sudanese government appears to be targeting select individuals for their presumed political views,” Daniel Bekele, Africa director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in the statement.

He urged the government to release detained protesters and “respect their right to exercise freedom of expression and association.”

Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman al-Obeid Murawih didn’t answer his mobile phone when called for comment today.

Security officials have “separately arrested and detained activists, journalists, lawyers, doctors, and members of youth groups and opposition parties not directly connected to the protests,” according to the statement. It cited reports that at least 100 people remain in detention in Khartoum alone.

Many detainees have been released within hours or days, often after signing a statement renouncing any political activities or participation in the protests, the groups said.

Others face lengthy interrogations in which they are accused of “being traitors, Communists, or spies,” the groups said.

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