Calls for Justice for Crimes Against the Sudanese People
In the past month, dozens of civilians in Sudan have died, demonstrating for freedom, justice and peace, and protesting against the military coup carried out by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the de facto head of state.
On October 25, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan ordered the sweeping arrest of civilian leaders, including Abdalla Hamdok, the prime minister, and announced he was dissolving the transitional government. Al-Burhan later insisted his actions did not constitute a coup, however, that’s exactly what it was – the forcible military seizure of power from civilians through military intervention.
Since then, thousands of protest movements, strikes, and riots have occurred on a daily basis on the streets of Khartoum and in other cities, led by the Association of Sudanese Professionals and Resistance Committees. Both civic organisations were at the forefront of the revolution that overthrew Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Despite repeated international calls for restraint during peaceful demonstrations, the Sudanese security forces have used excessive force against civilians including tear gas, batons, rubber bullets, and live ammunition. The security forces deliberately shot demonstrators in the head or stomach. Protesters also died from burns and suffocation as a result of the use of tear gas.
The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors has reported 42 people dead, including 5 children and a woman, and several hundred injured during numerous protests that have been ongoing since October.
The new authorities cut off the Internet in the country to isolate the Sudanese people from the outside world and prevent civilians from calling for new protests via social media. Despite the disconnection of communications, videos of the security forces firing on fleeing people and beating civilians with batons have been widely posted all over the web.
The largest number of deaths occurred on November 17, when Sudanese took to the streets to mark the day when the military was supposed to hand over the leadership of the ruling Sovereign Council to civilians. According to statements made by activists and the Committee of Sudanese Doctors, 16 people were killed as a result of the dispersal of protests in Khartoum, and more than 80 people were injured, many in serious condition. According to Amnesty International, at least nine of those killed were shot in the head, neck, or chest, including at least one shot by a sniper. The Committee of Sudanese Doctors accused the security forces of attacking civilians in their homes and hospitals and obstructing the work of medical personnel.
The deaths loom over the recently announced agreement to restore ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to office, and have hardened opinion against the security forces. According to a report from Reuters, witnesses and activists have said that the crackdown on protests became increasingly violent in the days leading to the deal with Hamdok. Protest organisers reject the deal to bring back Hamdok and have vowed to escalate their demonstrations until the military is driven from power.
Whatever happens, the international community must condemn the outrage of these crimes, and the Sudanese military authorities must be held accountable for the bloodshed and the murder of demonstrators. The International Criminal Court already has its hands full with al-Bashir, but prosecutors are taking note of the atrocities perpetrated by al-Burhan and his associates.