Rehman Chisti and Jeremy Barker: “Now is not the time to look away from the events in Sudan”

November 5, 2021

U.K. Member of Parliament Rehman Chisti, formerly the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief and currently an RFI Senior Fellow, and Jeremy Barker, Director of RFI’s Middle East Action Team, co-authored an article this week on the recent, attempted military coup in Sudan and the importance of preserving the critical gains that have been made there since 2019. 

They write:

On October 25, General Abel Fattah al-Burhan led a group of military officials in the unlawful arrest of Sudanese civilian officials, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok; and declared a state of emergency, the dissolution of the transitional cabinet and sovereign council, and the termination of the existing process of transition to civilian government.

Chisti and Barker explain that “A military-led government imposed by force was not going to be accepted by the Sudanese who had seen tentative progress on fundamental freedoms since the ousting of brutal dictator, Omar al-Bashir, in April 2019…” They continue:

As documented in a just-published Religious Freedom Institute report, Sudan – previously one of the world’s worst religious freedom offenders – has implemented substantial shifts in its religious freedom policy under the auspices of the new transitional government.

The transitional government that followed removal of Bashir from power had committed to “enshrining full religious freedom in the new constitution,” and had made substantial improvements such as removing the death penalty for apostasy violations and amending punishments for blasphemy.

However, with the return of unrest in Sudan, Chisti and Barker argue that three vital areas of concern merit close attention. First, they believe it will be crucial to integrate human rights into security sector reform, as security forces still play an outsized role in Sudan’s politics. Second, they believe that voices from all across Sudan’s religious, ethnic, and regional communities must be elevated.

Finally, they called for a multilateral response, to include using various levers available to the international community to pressure Sudan to abide by its previous commitments on religious freedom and to respect Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Read the full article: Now is not the time to look away from the events in Sudan.