This time two years ago, Sudan was in the midst of an unprecedented revolution. Citizens of all ethnicities, religious beliefs and walks of life across the whole country had come together to call for justice, democracy, human rights, and an end to nearly three decades of repression under President Omar al Bashir. An Islamist army officer, al Bashir had seized power from an elected government in 1989, and had enjoyed support from the Muslim Brotherhood movement both inside and outside the country.
After several months of consistent demonstrations which saw the Sudanese people overcome a repressive and heavy-handed response from the government and its security forces, it seemed as though their vision for an inclusive Sudan was finally within touching distance. President al Bashir was arrested in April 2019, and in August a transitional government was appointed to oversee the country’s progression towards democracy, with the transition period scheduled to end in 2022.
While these welcome developments were praised by many as ushering in a new era for Sudan, progress since then has been frustratingly slow.
Human rights violations, including violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), continue to occur on a regular basis, and there is still a need to ensure that justice is served for atrocity crimes committed under the previous regime, and indeed by members of the current government who are alleged to have been complicit in crackdowns on protesters, including the shocking massacre of demonstrators in Khartoum on 3 June 2019.
Continue reading “‘Smoke and mirrors’ in post-revolution Sudan: Lessons from Egypt” →
Since June 2019, Hong Kong has seen unprecedented protests in which millions of citizens have taken to the streets calling for democracy and respect for human rights. Despite a repressive and violent government response, demonstrations remain ongoing seven months later.
CSW recently spoke to a Chinese human rights advocate, who shared his views on the current situation and what may lie ahead for Hong Kong.
The protests began in response to a proposed extradition bill. Now that the bill has been officially withdrawn, why are people still protesting?
The withdrawal of the extradition bill is just one of the Hong Kong protesters’ five demands, so the protests continue. They also want to be able to vote for their own leader, and for there to be an independent investigation committee to look into violations by the police. These things are also very important to the protesters, so just withdrawing the law couldn’t satisfy the public.
Continue reading “Hong Kong Protests 2: An interview with a Chinese human rights advocate” →
In several Latin
American countries, religious leaders often take on the roles of community
leader and human rights defender. As a result, these leaders often face
harassment, intimidation and even violence at the hands of state and non-state
actors. Over the next few weeks CSW will be presenting interviews with
religious leaders working in the region to highlight their experiences on the
frontlines of freedom of religion or belief.
David* is a religious
leader working in Venezuela. In his role, he has provided pastoral
accompaniment to victims of human rights violations.
“To do social work in Venezuela – distributing food and
other things, the work that I do – you have to be very discreet, you have to be
very careful, and even then it’s impossible not to put yourself at risk.
Continue reading “FoRB on the Frontlines: “A rival to the government”” →
In theory we have freedom of religion in Venezuela, but some priests and religious leaders are a target for the government, which is a kind of confederation of forces that aims to stay in power by trying to maintain social control over the people.
The people of Sudan have endured a long and winding road towards realising their dream of a free, just and peaceful country.
Since the arrest of former President al Bashir in April, protesters organised under the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), have been engaged in negotiations with the Transitional Military Council (TMC) over the creation of a civilian led transitional administration.
What is clear is that human rights like freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) must be upheld in order for such a transition to be successful. FoRB is a vital right in the context of a democratic society. Being able to live in a diverse society, where a plurality of opinions, beliefs, cultures and expressions are accommodated is key to promoting tolerance, peace, and development.
Continue reading “Towards an inclusive Sudan” →
In recent weeks Hong Kong has seen unprecedented protests in which over one million demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest a controversial extradition bill that would allow the extradition of suspected criminals to Mainland China. On 9 July the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, declared that the bill was ‘dead,’ however some protesters remain concerned that the bill is still on the official agenda and has not been formally withdrawn.
Near the beginning of the protests CSW spoke with a Chinese pastor who explained the main concerns regarding the bill, and what the bill may indicate about the general direction for freedom of religion or belief in Hong Kong.
Continue reading “Quick read: Hong Kong protests – an interview with a Chinese pastor” →