Sudan protesters urge return to night-time rallies over 'massacre'

Tuesday June 18 2019

Sudanese protesters wave flags and flash victory signs as they gather for a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum on May 19, 2019. PHOTO | AFP


The Sudanese movement whose protests triggered the ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir called Monday on its supporters to renew night-time rallies to condemn the "massacre" of demonstrators at a Khartoum sit-in.

Thousands of protesters who had camped outside the Khartoum military headquarters for weeks were violently dispersed by gunmen in military fatigues on June 3, leaving dozens dead and hundreds wounded, according to doctors and witnesses.

The sit-in was held for weeks, initially seeking the ouster of Bashir and later to demand that the army generals who toppled him hand power to a civilian administration.

The protest camp was dispersed after talks between the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the umbrella protest movement, and a transitional military council collapsed over installing civilian rule.

At least 128 people have been killed since the June 3 crackdown, the majority the day the sit-in was cleared, according to doctors linked to the protest movement.

The health ministry put that day's death toll nationwide at 61.


On Monday, the alliance called for night-time demonstrations in residential areas of Khartoum and other regions starting Tuesday to "ask for our main demands, which are transitional civilian rule and condemning the massacre of June 3".

Protests would also be held on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

"We are calling on our people in villages, towns and all over the country to participate," the alliance said.

During the anti-Bashir campaign, the alliance had managed to mobilise supporters by posting its calls on social media networks, but since the June 3 crackdown the authorities have cut back internet services across the country.

Talks between the protest leaders and the military council are, however, expected to resume following mediation led by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, but it is still unclear when they are to begin.

"We welcome the mediation by Ethiopia," protest leader Mohamed Naji al-Assam told a press conference on Monday.

But Assam condemned what he said were "the horrors committed by the forces affiliated with the (ruling) military council" on June 3 at the protest sit-in.

"There are 12 documented cases of rape," Assam said, as he also accused these forces of "premeditated murder" and "throwing bodies (of protesters) in the Nile" river.

Last week, military council spokesman General Shamseddine Kabbashi angrily dismissed such allegations as "lies".

He insisted the council did not order the dispersal, saying it had actually planned to purge an area near the protest camp where people were said to have been selling drugs.

Kabbashi, however, expressed "regret" over the "excesses" that happened on June 3.

On Sunday, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy chief of the military council, vowed that "whoever committed any fault" would be held to account.

"We are working hard to take those who did this to the gallows," he said.