Saturday June 22, 2024

Protesters urge new night-time rallies over ‘massacre’: EU spurns Sudan’s military council

June 18, 2019

LUXEMBOURG: The EU on Monday blamed Sudan’s military authorities for a bloody crackdown on protesters that left dozens of people dead, demanding a full investigation.

Foreign ministers from the bloc issued a statement hailing the protest movement that swept away former strongman Omar al-Bashir after three decades in power as "a historic opportunity for Sudan".

A top Sudanese general on Sunday pledged to hang those responsible for the June 3 crackdown, in which armed men in fatigues dispersed thousands of protesters camped for weeks outside the Khartoum military headquarters. But the EU pointed the finger at the transition regime itself.

"It is clear that the responsibility lies with the Transitional Military Council (TMC) as the authority in charge of protecting the population," the ministers said in their statement.

"All human rights violations and abuses committed must be investigated in an independent and transparent manner, and perpetrators held accountable for their acts." More than 100 people were killed in the crackdown, according to doctors linked to the protest movement, while the health ministry put the nationwide death toll at 61.

Spokesman General Shamseddine Kabbashi on Thursday expressed "regret" over the crackdown, but the council insists it did not order the dispersal, saying a purge had been planned for an area near the protest camp where people are said to sell drugs.

The EU called for "an immediate cessation of all violence against the Sudanese people" and backed African Union efforts to begin political mediation in the country.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese movement whose protests triggered the ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir called on Monday on its supporters to begin new 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 the generals collapsed over installing a civilian rule.

At least 128 people have been killed in the crackdown on demonstrators, the majority the day the sit-in was cleared, according to doctors linked to the protest movement. The health ministry put the June 3 death toll nationwide at 61.

On Monday the alliance called for new night-time protests as it released its "time-table" for this week. In a statement, it called for night-time demonstrations in residential areas in Khartoum and other regions starting on Tuesday to "ask for our main demands, which are transitional civilian rule and condemning the massacre of June 3".

The alliance said 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 and to print and distribute this time-table," the alliance said.

During the anti-Bashir campaign, the alliance had managed to mobilise supporters by posting such calls on social media networks, but since the June 3 crackdown the authorities have cut internet services across the country, making it difficult for protest leaders to connect with supporters.

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