Conflicts & War

Sudan marks somber anniversary amid coronavirus restrictions

By Al Nur al Zaki

Khartoum, Jun 3 (efe-epa).- Sudan marked on Wednesday the one-year anniversary of the violent dispersal of a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum that left more than 100 dead.

With a 3.00 pm-6.00 am curfew in effect as part of efforts to contain Covid-19 and temperatures hovering around 43 C (110 F), only a few hundred people took to the streets of the capital to commemorate the event.

April 2019 saw the start of a broad-based mobilization to force out strongman Omar al-Bashir, who seized power in 1989 in a military coup and subsequently won three presidential elections of questionable legitimacy.

The armed forces ousted al-Bashir on April 11, but protesters remained encamped at various spots in Khartoum to press for rapid democratization.

On June 3, 2019, soldiers, including members of the elite Rapid Support Forces, broke up the camp outside the military HQ, setting fire to tents. Troops were accused of raping women and dumping the bodies of slain protesters into the Nile River.

The high command justified the crackdown with the claim that “delinquents” had infiltrated the protest.

Khaled Abdul Rahman, who lost his brother Waleed that day, told Efe that he feels “great sadness” looking back on the events of last year because the revolution did not achieve its “real objectives.”

Though al-Bashir is behind bars, Abdul Rahman said that the old regime retains power through the military brass and the Sovereignty Council, “which controls everything.”

“We are very far from achieving the liberty, peace and justice the revolution sought,” he said.

The modest rallies that took place Wednesday should be seen as “symbolic,” given that the pandemic precautions did not allow for large mobilizations, Salma Ibrahim, a member of the Resistance Committee for east Khartoum, told Efe.

“We will not forget or remain silent on the massacre of the dispersal of the sit-in and we want to see the criminals on the gallows,” she said.

Abud Taher, coordinator of a Resistance Committee in the southern part of the capital, said that the families of the “martyrs” – 128, according to protest leaders – are growing impatient over authorities’ failure to identify and punish the perpetrators.

Last September, Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, who leads Sudan’s transitional government, ordered the formation of an independent panel to investigate the killings of June 3, 2019, and deliver a report in 90 days.

The report has yet to be issued.

“Those involved in the camp eviction massacre will be brought to fair and public trials” as soon as the investigative panel concludes its work, Hamdok said Wednesday in a televised speech.

Abdul Rahman, however, said that the investigation committee was “specifically designed to exonerate the president and the members of the military council” ruling Sudan in June 2019, some of whom remain in positions of power.

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Gwi-Yeop Son, issued a statement Wednesday calling on authorities to “credibly and independently investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the reported violations of human rights.” EFE az-ta-fc/ta-dr

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