Sudan protesters rally, defying a year of post-coup crackdowns | News

Sudan’s security forces used tear gas, rubber bullets and sonic bombs on Tuesday to disperse tens of thousands of protesters who marched across the country to mark the first anniversary of an coup military rule and demanded full civilian rule.

According to the Sudanese Doctors Committee, security forces was killed At least one person was passed by a large truck. More than 100 people have been killed in regular anti-coup protests since the October 2021 coup.

“Our goal today is to bring about a civilian democratic government. We want a civilian government that can help the people of Sudan. Yassin al-Khalifa, a 33-year-old man wearing a yellow coat and riding a motorcycle, said.

Coup authorities cut internet access a few hours before the march began, but that didn’t stop people from taking to the streets. Protesters waved Sudanese flags as well as images of young men killed by security forces.

In addition to the capital Khartoum, protests have also taken place in other states, including Port Sudan and South Kordofan.

Protesters march during a demonstration against military rule after the last coup, in Khartoum, Sudan, October 25, 2022
Protesters march during a demonstration against military rule, in Khartoum, October 25, 2022 [Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]

‘No negotiation’

The mass protests also signaled a popular rejection of ongoing US-led talks aimed at creating a new military-civilian partnership between a loose coalition of political parties known as the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and coup military leaders.

During Tuesday’s protests, many chanted: “No negotiation, no dialogue, no partnership,” alluding to popular demands for a fully democratic civilian government. rights without the involvement of the military or armed groups.

The night before the protest, Friends of Sudan – an alliance of countries including the European Union (EU), the UK and the US – release a statement reaffirming their support for a civilian-led government, which they say is necessary to stem the country’s economic decline and deepening humanitarian crisis.

The country’s pro-democracy movement, however, is wary of the term “civil-led”, seeing it as a loose euphemism for its reformed partnership with military figures because it was also the language used to describe the civilian-military government before it was overthrown. five.

“We do not want any negotiations with the military. We want the army back to the barracks and we want all the armed groups to join the army so we have a single army,” said Shahinaz Osman, a 40-year-old mother.

Other protesters also expressed anger at reports that an amnesty for coup leaders Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamad Hamdan Dagalo – better known as Hemeti – had been given.

The former is the commander of the Sudanese armed forces, while the latter is the head of a powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Force (RSF).

At least 120 protesters were killed when security forces, including the RSF, stormed the roadblock in Khartoum on June 3, 2019, in the worst violence since President Omar al-Bashir was killed. was ousted from power in April same year.

“Street people want accountability. Burhan and Hemeti have killed a lot of people and not only since October 25th but since disbanding people sitting in [on June 3, 2019]“Shahinaz Gamal, a member of one of the resistance committees, said the neighborhood groups are at the forefront of the pro-democracy movement.

Human rights groups also stress the need for accountability to end punishment for the coup authorities.

“Over the past year, Sudan’s military leaders have faced no consequences for their suppression of the protest movement,” said Mohamad Osman, Sudan researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW). their love.

“The world should stand behind [protesters’] demands for a future where rights are respected and makes it clear that the punishment of serious crimes that are taking place, even at the highest levels, will not be tolerated”.

Total fines

Security forces have continued to crack down on peaceful protesters because they are not responsible for past abuses. Witness speak on Tuesday that they noticed an increase in people carrying light weapons chasing protesters and trying to steer them into smaller streets.

Many protesters suspect that there are plainclothes security personnel mixing with the crowd of protesters.

“In the past, these plainclothes officers would normally only supervise residential areas but they would not be involved in violent incidents. Today was different,” Dania Atabani, a 22-year-old protester, told Al Jazeera.

Protesters march during a demonstration against military rule after the last coup, in Khartoum, Sudan, October 25, 2022
Protesters march during a demonstration against military rule in Khartoum, October 25, 2022 [Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]

Many protesters are bracing for more violence after police issued a statement saying some people at today’s march had threatened security officers.

The statement calls on the Justice Department to give police special powers to confront “organized insurgent groups” and “sleeping cells” during protests and bring them to court for summary trial .

Since the coup, various branches of the security forces have similarly stated that some of the protesters were violent.

Human rights groups and protesters say the message provides an excuse for security forces to violate human rights with impunity.

“They always give the same reason,” said Atabani. “[The police statement is why] I predict the upcoming protests will be much more violent.”

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