The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

STAND Statement on the Removal of Omar al-Bashir from Sudan Presidency

As an organization founded during the height of the movement to end genocide in Darfur, STAND celebrates the removal of Omar al-Bashir from the presidency, while continuing to support Sudanese protesters on the ground. We urge authorities to lift the state of emergency and curfew and facilitate an inclusive civilian-led transitional process alongside the opposition coalition, the Freedom and Change Forces (CFC). Additionally, Bashir, Ahmed Haroun, and Ali Kushayb must be extradited to stand trial at the International Criminal Court.

After months of anti-government protests, Sudan’s military ousted President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday. Defense Minister and First Vice President Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf announced that the government had been dissolved and the Constitution suspended, ending Bashir’s 30 years of authoritarian rule. Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Count on counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, has been taken into custody by the Sudanese military.

Lieutenant General Ibn Auf, who was the head of military intelligence in Sudan during the most violent period of the Darfur genocide, also announced that a three-month state of emergency would be instituted and a two-year transitional government administered by the military would be put into place. He declared that all political detainees would be released and that Sudan would continue to abide by all regional and international agreements.

Several Sudanese activist groups have rejected the military announcement and demanded that power be handed to a civilian government. Protesters have begun chanting against Ibn Auf, who is seen by many as a holdover of Bashir’s regime. Organizers have called on citizens across the country to converge on army headquarters for further demonstrations. “The regime has conducted a military coup to reproduce the same faces and entities that our great people have revolted against,” the Sudanese Professionals Association said in a statement.  

Since late December, mass protests across Sudan with the slogans “peaceful, peaceful” and “we are all Darfur” have demanded Bashir’s removal. The former Sudanese government responded to demonstrations with undue force, killing 37 protesters in the first five days. Thousands of demonstrators began a sit-in outside army headquarters and presidential palace in Khartoum on April 6, the 34th anniversary of the 1985 revolution that overthrew former president Ja’afar Numeri. These sit-ins formed the largest rally since protests began. The Ibn Auf has imposed a curfew in an effort to restore order and protect his power, clearly in the hopes of disbanding the sit-in. UN Special Rapporteur Clement Nyaletsossi Voule has condemned the curfew as an infringement on the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

The removal of Omar al-Bashir is a crucial step for the future of Sudan. However, it is important to manage expectations and remain vigilant during this delicate transition. Ibn Auf, according to a 2008 U.S. State Department cable, “acted as liaison between the Sudanese government and the Government-supported Janjaweed militias.” As Lieutenant General, Ibn Auf  “also provided logistical support for the Janjaweed and directed attacks.” Sustainable peace in Sudan is predicated on the creation of a civilian administration that constitutes a true break with the former order. We support the demonstrators in their demands for an inclusive transition that will satisfy the democratic hopes of the Sudanese people.

Omar al-Bashir’s Tightening Grip on Sudan

Since mass protests erupted in December, events in Sudan have developed rapidly. On February 22, President Omar al-Bashir declared a one-year state of emergency in an effort to quell mass protests demanding an end to his 30 years in power. In a widely anticipated speech, the embattled president announced that he would dissolve the country’s central and state governments for one year and postpone his push to secure a third term in office. President al-Bashir has now stepped down as the leader of the National Congress Party (NCP), the ruling party, handing power to his deputy, Ahmed Harun. Harun, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide and war crimes, will serve until the party’s next general convention, when members will elect a new leader.

Al-Bashir seized power in a 1989 coup and is also wanted by the ICC on counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for crimes committed in the Darfur region of Sudan. Beginning in late December, thousands of protesters from all parts of Sudan have staged demonstrations with the slogan “peaceful, peaceful.” Initially sparked by dramatic price hikes and food shortages, the protests quickly incorporated broader anti-government sentiments and demanded al-Bashir’s resignation. While accurate death counts are hard to come by, rights groups, including Doctor’s Syndicate, the doctor’s union in Sudan, have counted at least 60 people dead—in addition to hundreds imprisoned—at the hands of the regime since December. Thousands of journalists, opposition leaders, demonstrators, and bystanders have been detained and tortured in the crackdown.

Even with existing limits on press and opposition parties, the state of emergency places even heavier restrictions on these groups while giving security forces further freedom in quelling protests through any means necessary. Additional prohibitions announced on February 25 banned unauthorized public gatherings and demonstrations.

U.S. Acting United Nations Ambassador Jonathan Cohen expressed “deep concern  about the state of emergency and called on the government of Sudan to “bring an immediate end to the violent repression of peaceful protests.”

The United States government should take a strong stance in support of the protests and express its concern for the treatment of protesters, and opposition to Ahmed Harun’s ascension to NCP party leader. STAND supports a peaceful and democratic Sudan, which requires al-Bashir to step down and for those responsible for genocide and atrocities against the Sudanese people to face justice for their actions.


IsabelWolferIsabel Wolfer is a senior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and serves as Communications Coordinator for STAND USA. Prior to working with STAND, Isabel interned at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and was a Junior Resident Fellow at the Center for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap, Cambodia.



Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 3.28.47 PMHannah King is a senior at Clark University, studying Sociology, Political Science, and Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She currently serves as the Campaigns Coordinator for STAND USA, as well as the president of STAND’s chapter at Clark. Last spring, she studied post-genocide peacebuilding in Rwanda.

US Fails to Act in Wake of New Report on Atrocities in Burma

The US government should develop a decisive and swift policy response as new findings emerge on Burma’s campaign against the Rohingya. On September 24, the US State Department released a report documenting atrocities perpetrated since 2016. While delineating instances of murder, rape, arson, forced displacement, abduction, and mutilation, the much-anticipated report did not recommend action or classify the ongoing ethnic cleansing as genocide.

Beginning on August 25, 2017, Burmese security forces carried out a campaign that has triggered the mass exodus of approximately 725,000 Rohingya – nearly three quarters of the entire Rohingya population – from Burma’s Rakhine state. In the wake of killings, rape, and mass arson, the Rohingya population has fled largely to Bangladesh where refugees now live in makeshift refugee camps. The State Department report identifies this campaign as one of two phases of violence, with the first occuring in October 2016, following attacks by the Rohingya insurgent group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

Despite the urgency of the issue, international response has been dismal. China has blocked attempts to address Burma’s abuse of the Rohingya in the UN, while India has threatened to deport 40,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled there for asylum. Domestically, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has denied persecution of the Rohingya and has consistently failed to take action against the atrocities in her country. As of July 2018, however, the EU and Canada have placed sanctions on seven military officials. Canada has also recently declared the Rohingya crisis a genocide.  

The State Department report released Monday surveyed over 1,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in the spring of 2018 and aimed to document atrocities in Rakhine State during the past two years. Three-quarters of respondents claimed to have witnessed members of the army commit murders, and one-fifth witnessed a mass-casualty with more than 100 victims. 45% of refugees witnessed instances of rape, the majority of which were committed in whole or in part by members of the Burmese army. Perpetrators include army officials, police, unidentified security officials, and armed civilians. The 20-page report contributes to a growing body of evidence surrounding crimes committed by Burmese security forces. However, its silence on a policy response and failure to label the atrocities as genocide is a critical point of concern.

Given these findings, it is alarming that the United States has taken little action to address the plight of the Rohingya aside from much-needed humanitarian aid contributions to refugees in Bangladesh. While the State Department report is welcomed, international government research is most valuable when translated into actionable policy recommendations. It is clear that not enough has been done to stop the violence in Burma, and the lack of timely intervention has had grave consequences for one of the world’s most vulnerable populations. It’s time for the United States to step up and serve as a global moral leader on behalf of the Rohingya.

IsabelWolferIsabel Wolfer is a senior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and is serving as Communications Co-Coordinator for STAND USA for the 2018-2019 academic year. Prior to working with STAND, Isabel interned at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and served as a junior fellow at the Center for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Isabel is grateful for the contributions of the STAND team in developing this post.

Featured image is satellite imagery shown in the State Department report, available here.