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Monday, March 2, 2015

READOUT: DRL DEPUTY ASSITANT SECRETARY FELDSTEIN'S TRIP TO SUDAN

FROM:   U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor: Readout of DRL Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein Trip to Sudan
02/28/2015 11:33 AM EST

Readout of DRL Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein Trip to Sudan

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
February 28, 2015

During his February 22-26 visit to Sudan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Steve Feldstein met with Sudanese government leaders, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and civil society activists, including representatives of Sudan’s religious communities, journalists, and humanitarian groups and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Blue Nile State. His visit highlights the importance of advancing democracy and human rights in Sudan and resolving the ongoing conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas. He also reiterated U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts. Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein said the United States will continue to emphasize key democracy and human rights priorities in Sudan. He underscored the importance of ending human rights abuses especially in Darfur and the Two Areas, increasing space for civil society, opposition political parties, activists, and journalists, and addressing concerns about religious freedom.

In meetings with Sudanese government officials Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein expressed his concern about targeted attacks against civilians in Darfur and the Two Areas, including aerial bombardments of civilian targets, and attacks on aid workers. He called upon the Government of Sudan to fully investigate and hold perpetrators of these acts accountable as a necessary step towards peace. Feldstein urged the government to allow the UN to investigate the allegations of mass rape in the town of Tabit, and bring the perpetrators to justice. Feldstein further called on the government to create a conducive environment for National Dialogue and pressed for the release of political prisoners including Farouq Abu Eissa, Amin Mekki Medani, and Farah Agar.

Members of Sudan’s human rights community and civil society highlighted a range of concerns, including harassment, intimidation, detention, government restrictions on their ability to operate, and severe violations of religious freedom.‎ Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein expressed concern that the Sudanese government had confiscated at least 15 newspaper print runs and stressed that respect for press freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association would demonstrate the government's commitment to National Dialogue.

In Blue Nile State Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein noted that the situation continues to deteriorate, hundreds of thousands remain displaced from their homes, and restrictions on access continue to limit the ability of humanitarian organizations to reach people in need. In meetings with local officials he raised allegations of human rights abuses, including those involving rape, beatings, assault, and restrictions of movement for displaced persons.

DAS Feldstein said the United States remains committed to the Sudanese people and pledged to continue our efforts to advance respect for human rights for the Sudanese people.

DAS Feldstein’s engagement with nongovernment representatives and government officials reinforces the United States’ belief that a comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue to address the deteriorating environment for human rights and civil liberties is urgent. The United States in the coming weeks will be working closely with international partners to encourage and support an inclusive political dialogue, including by continuing to press for a cessation of hostilities in all conflict areas. Finally, the United States will continue to condition development of its bilateral relationship with Sudan on the Sudanese government improving its respect for human rights and democratic principles.