10 December 2010 -- International Human Rights Day was observed in Sudan over the past two days with speeches, a symposium on discrimination, a concert and street parades.
Dedicated to human rights defenders this year, the day was celebrated under the theme "Speak up and stop discrimination".
During a Malakal event today, Upper Nile State Deputy Governor Andrea Maya pointed to serious human rights violations in Sudan, especially before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) five years ago.
"The exercise of human rights and gender-based violence is very crucial and need to be addressed strongly, so as to allow room for every human being to express themselves freely without intimidation," the deputy governor said.
Held at River Transport Hall, the celebration was also attended by representatives of the state government, UNMIS and UN agencies.
Minister for Gender, Social Welfare, and Religious Affairs Martha Nyamal said her ministry had been campaigning for gender balance and respect for human rights.
"...All human beings have the opportunity to social services delivery, equal representation in politics and ... in civil society groups, where women and the children are believed to be the top layers of the communities' existence," said Minister Nyamal.
In Khartoum on 9 December, civil society, members of the government and the UN family marked the day at Friendship Hall with screenings of videos, a reading of the UN Secretary-General's message by Advisory Council for Human Right representative Mahmoud Digdig and a symposium.
"Laws to protect and promote human rights are indispensable. But quite often, progress comes down to people (...) striving to protect their own rights and the rights of others... determined to make rights real in people's lives," Mr. Digdig said, reading Ban Ki-moon's message.
Human rights defenders, who "investigate violations and help victims gain justice and support" were remembered, and issues of discrimination were raised during the symposium on "Discrimination in Sudan; strategies to embrace diversity and stop discrimination".
Discrimination exists in all societies, symposium panel speaker Samia Al Hashmi said, emphasizing the importance of awareness raising about general human rights.
Ms. Shashmi and other speakers noted that a national human rights commission needed to be established and functioning in Sudan (as called for by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Interim Constitution) for the protection of citizen's rights.
The formal Khartoum programme was followed by a concert performed by a popular Sudanese band in Omdurman.
The Khartoum event was organized by UNMIS Human Rights section in collaboration with the Government's Advisory Council on Human Rights, as were street parades in Abyei, Ed Damazin (Blue Nile State) and Kadugli (Southern Kordofan State) to celebrate the day.