“Across sub-Saharan Africa, protesters have braved gunshots and beatings to defend their rights in the face of ongoing conflicts and repression,” Amnesty said in its annual report on human rights in the region.
In a document copied to APA, the human rights organization says it has analyzed the “main developments” observed in sub-Saharan Africa since the previous year, including the dismissal of Sudanese President Omar el Bashir, the reaction of the Zimbabwean government to the large-scale protests and increasingly frequent attacks targeting civilians in Mozambique and Mali.
Amnesty “commends the courage and defiance of those who have taken to the streets to demand change and show that their hopes have been dashed by states, which continue to perpetrate human rights violations across the region.”
But “in 2019, we saw the incredible power of the people expressed in large-scale protests held across sub-Saharan Africa. From Sudan to Zimbabwe, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Guinea, people have braved brutal repression to defend their rights,” said Deprose Muchena, Director of the East and Southern Africa Office at Amnesty International.
“In some cases, these protests have resulted in significant changes: after the fall of Omar el Bashir, who had ruled Sudan for a long time, the new regime has promised human rights-friendly reforms and, following protests, a series of human rights reforms have been launched by the Ethiopian State,” he went on, deploring the other necessary changes” that have been blocked by despotic governments, whose violations continue unabated.”
According to the International NGO, human rights activists have been “persecuted and harassed” for having openly defied the authorities, citing examples from Malawi, Guinea, Zimbabwe and Burundi.
“Persistent human rights violations have forced hundreds of thousands of people in the region to flee their homes in search of protection. There were 600,000 displaced people in the DRC, more than 222,000 in Chad and over half a million in Burkina Faso,” AI said.
“Despite this dark environment, some significant victories were obtained last year in the field of human rights,” Amnesty International added.
While large-scale demonstrations in Sudan resulted in the collapse of Omar el Bashir’s “repressive regime” in April 2019, AI announces that for their part, the DRC authorities “have announced the release of 700 detainees, including several prisoners of opinion.”
Amnesty also noted “progress” in 2019 in Mauritania, where the blogger Mohamed Mkhaitir was released and in Somalia, where the population saw “a ray of hope” when the United States Command for Africa (AFRICOM) first admitted in April 2019 to killing civilians in airstrikes targeting Al Shabaab, thus opening the door for victims to seek reparation.”
Besides, ordinary courts in the Central African Republic have made progress in the examination of cases dealing with human rights abuses by armed groups, Amnesty International applauds, adding that the Special Criminal Court “last year, received 27 complaints and started its investigations.