Sudanese security forces have used live rounds of ammunition in an attempt to clear a peaceful pro-democracy protest and sit-in in the capital, Khartoum, on the 3rd of June. At least 30 people have reportedly been killed, including an eight-year-old child. Doctors linked to the protestors claim that the number is as high as 100. Protestors have been calling for civilian rule throughout this long-running protest, going on for over 2 months, in rejection of the current governance of the transitional military council that has been in power since President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in a coup on 6th April.
The group that is seen to be spearheading the protests, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), confirmed ‘an attempt is taking place to disperse the sit-in’. In various tweets, they spoke of the ‘firing of live bullets at unarmed protestors’ and the ‘firing of tear gas and the burning of the sit-in and its tents’. However, the Transnational Military Council (TMC) denies the use of excessive force. In a conversation with U.A.E. based Sky News Arabia, a TMC spokesperson said: ‘Sudanese forces did not disperse the sit-in outside the army headquarters by force, but rather targeted a nearby area which has become a threat to the safety of citizens’.
The denial of wrongdoing strikes concern, various sources and videos confirm the brutality of the TMC’s security forces. International condemnation has followed the violence, with the UN calling for the Sudanese government to lead an independent investigation to hold those responsible accountable. The negotiations between protestors and the military government have since broken down, whilst they had previously come to some agreement on the process towards civilian rule this was scrapped after Monday’s events. The SPA called for ‘total civil disobedience’ whilst the TMC stressed they will ‘cancel what had been agreed upon’ and instead call an election in 9 months time under ‘regional and international supervision’. With this lack of communication and openness to the alliance’s pro-democracy demands, it seems this election could act as an easy way for the old powers to re-emerge – with Bashir’s regime so deeply entrenched following his 30-year rule. This presents a real danger of continued violence and conflict as the tension between both sides persists.
These protests began back in December last year as a result of increasingly high bread prices reflective of the deep economic crisis the country faced following the secession of the southern region. People from all walks of life took part in the protests, with the main organizer seen to be the SPA but this group has since formed a relationship with other protestors to become the Alliance for Freedom and Change. This culminated in president Omar al-Bashir’s, ousting. Yet, following on from this, the military took power which led to a continued pro-democracy protest by the alliance centering in the sit-in outside the military’s headquarters; where the shooting and events of Monday took place.
With brutality and violent reactions coming from the military government, alongside a breakdown in communications between pro-democracy and military forces; a peaceful transition to civilian rule seems increasingly unlikely. Khartoum remains deserted with residents afraid of leaving their homes for fear of being beaten or shot by security forces, more reports of rapes and killings by the Sudanese security forces emerge and internet access has been cut off – a serious humanitarian crisis presents itself in the current situation in Sudan.
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