Sudan’s police authorities have defended their use of force during protests that led to several deaths and injuries in Khartoum on Wednesday.
Reports from the law enforcers indicate that the officers were forced to respond to the protesters after they charged at them with violence.
Khartoum Police Director Lieutenant-General Zine El Abidine Othman said on Thursday that some of the demonstrations in Sudan during the past days “were not peaceful and were interspersed by attacks on the security forces," stressing that the police "are working to secure protests, and will continue to protect state institutions.”
Othman rejected claims the police had acted with unproportioned violence instead argued they had good relations with all manner of peaceful protesters over the years, referring to how they guarded the marches that led to the ouster of then leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
Bashir was removed by the military, which had been late to the party, but crossed the street and joined protesters after it became clear Bashir would not last long.
Now in charge, the military which toppled the transitional government under Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok on October 25, is facing the same charges of brutality against civilians who are opposed to the coup.
“During this period, the police are working to secure the movement and the demonstrators. All these were passing peacefully under the guard of the security services,” he said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, condemned the Sudanese security forces' use of live ammunition against peaceful demonstrators, after the killing of 15 protesters on Wednesday, according to the Sudanese Doctors Central Committee. It was the first deadly incident since protesters began marching in cities to demand restoration of Hamdok’s government. There had been violent dispersals, nonetheless, in some parts of the country.
“The use of live ammunition again yesterday (Wednesday) against demonstrators is completely shameful,” Bachelet said in a statement.
“After our repeated appeals to the military and security authorities to refrain from using unnecessary force it is completely shameful, as live ammunition was used again yesterday, Wednesday, against the demonstrators.”
But even as the police chief in Khartoum spoke to journalists, police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of protesters in Al-Muasasa, a suburb north of Khartoum. Demonstrators remained all night in front of the barricades they set up in north Khartoum, continuing to protest the military coup of 25 October and defying a complete blackout of the internet and phone call Thursday. Later on Thursday, Sudanese authorities switched on internet service, following a court order.
Security forces deployed heavily on main streets and junctions, used tear gas to keep protesters away from assembly points, and closed bridges across the Nile that connect the capital, Khartoum, to the cities of Khartoum North and Omdurman.