Sudan Protests

The world had been firstly encouraged by the sign of peaceful protesters in Khartoum calling for the end of the dictatorial regime of Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan which resulted in the president’s resignation and a Transitional Military Council taking control. The iconic image of the revolution was a woman, dressed in white to signify peace, standing on a car roof addressing the crowds. The unleashing of excessive violence on peaceful protestors on 3 June by so called Janjaweed militia (Rapid Support Forces), resulting in an estimated 200 deaths and many more injured, has caused outrage and the African Union has suspended Sudan. The political situation in Sudan is further complicated by Middle East tensions and the fact that Saudi Arabia wants to keep Sudanese troops fighting in the war in Yemen (Africa Confidential 14 June).

Peaceful protests against the 30 year dictatorship have often met with violence. Since Dec 2018 protesters have occupied parts of central Khartoum calling for a return to civilian rule. The medical profession has been particularly targeted by authorities because they report the injuries and the types of weapon used. Medical staff have been beaten in hospitals, dragged out and detained, even killed. Recently hospitals have reported the use of rape as a weapon. There are also reports of bodies of protesters being dumped in the Nile to disguise the true number of deaths. The use of the dreaded Janjaweed, infamous for the atrocities they committed on civilians in Darfur Province, is a tactic to spread terror and traumatise the protesters.

Fergal Keane reported for the BBC on the aftermath of the attacks on protestors. He writes “Sudan has been driven backwards by the conspiracy of a military elite whose priority is the survival of their power and privilege.” Freedom of expression has also been curtailed by the closing down of the internet in Sudan since 3 June. Despite this, reports have reached outside Sudan and inside people continue to mobilise. Young people in Cardiff staged a dramatic protest in Queen Street, walking while covered in fake blood. The Sudanese community in Wales called for solidarity with a global protest on 30 June against the silence surrounding the events in Sudan. 30 June is the 30th anniversary of Omar al-Bashir seizing power.

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