Protesters demand justice a year after Sudan's sit-in massacre

Protesters demand justice a year after Sudan's sit-in massacre
Protesters demand justice a year after Sudan's sit-in massacre

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Thousands took to the streets of the Sudanese capital on Wednesday to commemorate the anniversary of a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by security forces a year ago that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

Prime Minister Abdala Hamdok marked the anniversary with a pledge that those behind the crackdown would be brought to justice. “I assure you all, that achieving comprehensive justice and retribution for the souls of our hero martyrs… and for the wounded and missing is an inevitable and irreversible step,” he said in televised comments.

Sulaima Shareef, a prominent activist in Khartoum, told The National that demonstrators were out across much of the capital and that many were carrying portraits of the victims of the June 3 crackdown and marched to demand that the culprits be brought to justice.

She said some of the demonstrators gathered on streets named after the victims to commemorate their memory and press demands that the perpetrators be identified. Some protesters burned tyres, sending columns of black smoke piling up in the sky above the city.

Protesters also hung up effigies of soldiers of the Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary force many blame for the crackdown, according to a report by AFP from Khartoum. The military has consistently denied the RSF, which is now part of the armed forces, was involved in the dawn raid.

“It’s a difficult day. There is so much sadness. It’s a shock that many have yet to recover from,” said Mrs Shareef. She was alluding to the death of at least 128 people, hundreds wounded and scores still missing in the crackdown. The 128-death toll was arrived at by doctors linked to the protest movement. Official figures say at least 87 died.

The crackdown took place after months of deadly street protests against the 29-year rule of dictator Omar Al Bashir prompted Sudan’s generals in April last year to remove the country’s leader, who was detained shortly after his ouster and was later convicted of corruption.

The protesters remained on the streets after his removal, continuing a sit-in protest outside the army headquarters to force the generals to hand power over to civilians. They were attacked by men in military fatigues on June 3, 2019.

The military and the pro-democracy protest movement reached a landmark power-sharing agreement last August, ushering in more than three years of transitional rule before elections are held.

An official probe into the June 3 killings remains underway to identify the culprits for the brutal attack that, according to activists, included sexual harassment, racially-motivated abuse and rape.

Last July, an initial probe by Sudan's military officials and prosecutors showed that some members of the RSF and other security forces were involved in the killings.

Nabil Adib, the head of the ongoing probe, described the events of June 3 as a crime with political overtones and involves a large number of defendants.

"It may even involve powerful figures," Mr Adib was quoted by AFP on Wednesday. He did not elaborate.

The investigation had been further hampered by the coronavirus pandemic which has so far infected more than 5,000 people and killed over 300 in Sudan, he said.

Updated: June 3, 2020 10:12 PM

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