The crackdown on demonstrators continues. Thousands of Sudanese converged on Sunday, January 2, towards the presidential palace in Khartoum, braving tear gas canisters, cutting telecommunications and massive deployment of armed soldiers.
As with all the demonstrations that have taken place since General Abdel Fattah Al-Bourhane’s coup d’état on October 25, the authorities tried, in vain, to nip the mobilization in the bud by erecting roadblocks.
Khartoum has been cut off from its suburbs for several days by containers placed across bridges over the Nile. The Internet and cell phones have stopped working since morning and, on the main roads, members of the security forces perched on armored vehicles armed with heavy machine guns keep watch on passers-by. Despite everything, thousands of Sudanese responded, at midday, to the call of activists to demonstrate. “In memory of the martyrs”.
Two demonstrators were killed while marching in Omdurman, a northwest suburb of Khartoum, one of whom was shot in the chest, reports a union of doctors supporting democracy.
Since General Al-Bourhane’s coup d’état, 56 demonstrators have been killed and hundreds more have been injured. The country saw a resurgence of violence on Thursday: five demonstrators demanding civilian power were shot dead in Khartoum, according to a union of pro-democracy doctors.
Violence which took place behind closed doors that day, because the security forces had installed with cranes containers which still block the bridges connecting Khartoum to its suburbs. Authorities also suspended telephone communications and mobile internet, while officers arrested and beat journalists from two Saudi channels.
Violence behind closed doors
Sunday, they were however thousands to chant “The soldiers at the barracks” and ” Power to the people “, while people on motorcycles crisscrossed the crowd, ready to pick up the wounded because, at each mobilization, the ambulances were blocked by the security forces.
Activists call for making 2022 “The year of the continuation of resistance”, demanding justice for the dozens of demonstrators killed since the putsch, but also for the more than 250 civilians killed during the “revolution” of 2019. That year, popular pressure forced the army to dismiss one of its own , Omar Al-Bachir, after thirty years of military-Islamist dictatorship.
At the time, generals and civilians were agreeing on a transitional timetable that provided for a full handover of power to civilians, before free elections in 2023. But on October 25, General Al-Bourhane shuffled the cards: he extended by what he calls his “Correction of the course of the revolution” his de facto mandate at the head of the country for two years.
However, the general struggles to present to the 45 million Sudanese the civilian government he promised by reinstalling the civilian prime minister, Abdallah Hamdok, on November 21, after a month of house arrest. The latter has not appeared in public for days as rumors of resignation keep swelling.
In a country that has only lived under the rule of the army since its independence sixty-five years ago, the demonstrators also want, as their slogans proclaim, that “The soldiers return to their barracks” and that the country takes the path of democracy. The street chants as much as it wants “Neither partnership nor negotiation”. In the power camp, an adviser to General Al-Bourhane ruled on Friday that ” events [n’étaient] that a waste of energy and time ” who would not lead “To no political solution”.
Thirteen protesters raped
On Sunday, the Sudanese authorities will be observed by the international community which denounces an escalation of violence. In addition to the deaths and the cut in telecommunications, the security forces are also accused of having resorted in December to a new tool of repression: the rape of at least thirteen demonstrators, according to the United Nations (UN).
Every day and in each neighborhood, the resistance committees – the small groups that organize the demonstrations – announce new arrests or disappearances from their ranks. Europeans have already expressed their outrage, as have US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the UN. All regularly plead for a return to dialogue as a prerequisite for the resumption of international aid interrupted by the putsch in this country, one of the poorest in the world.
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Sudan: new anti-Putsch demonstrations, at least two dead