Protestors in Sudan Demand an End to Military Rule

Sudanese women at protest in London, England (Shutterstock) After severe crackdowns by the military, the Freedom and Change alliance--protestors in Sudan who favor a transition from military to civilian rule--are now urging night protests. This is what civilian leaders term a “revolutionary escalation.” This escalation is designed to put increased pressure on the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to transition sooner rather than later to civilian rule. The dispersal of the protest camp on June 3, the action which has now precipitated night protests, came after a breakdown in talks between the Freedom and Change alliance and the TWC, according to Al Jazeera.

The military crackdown occurred on a massive protest against military rule in Khartoum on June 3. Members of a special military unit called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group, are blamed for the crackdown. Reports vary as to the number of those killed in the attack. However, some reports, including civilian accounts, places the death toll at 100 with an estimated 600 people injured. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, which is also part of the protest movement, released the names of 128 persons who were confirmed dead. Hundreds were injured in the attack and a number of rapes were reported, according to The Guardian. No one was spared in the government crackdown--not even children. Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director reported that at least 19 children were killed in the attacks. She also indicated that children were being detained, sexually abused, and recruited to join the military. “Many parents are too scared to let their children leave the house, fearful of violence, harassment and lawlessness.,” she explained in a press release. “Water, food and medicine shortages have been reported across the country, putting children’s health and wellbeing at risk. Children throughout Sudan are already bearing the brunt of decades of conflict, chronic underdevelopment and poor governance. The current violence is making a critical situation even worse,” Fore added.

As part of the crackdown, the military has imposed an internet blackout. They cut off mobile data, which the majority of Sudanese people use to access the Internet.

The RSF has been in the forefront of the crackdown. They have taken steps to erase any evidence of the revolt from the streets. They have painted over all the art and murals created by the protestors, and presently control the streets of Khartoum. They patrol the streets in pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, and are also arresting, beating and scalping anyone who looks like a threat, according to the Telegraph.

Despite intense repression, The Freedom and Change Alliance is calling for demonstrations at night. These protests will take place in residential areas of Khartoum and in other regions starting on June 25, with protests also planned for June 26 and June 27. They will focus on the call for transitional government and the massacre on June 3. Freedom and Change is “calling on our people in villages, towns and all over the country to participate,” according to Al Jazeera.Even though street protests are increasingly risky and could lead to crackdowns and death, Freedom and Change is hopeful. It is widely believed talks between protestors and the TMC will resume. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has offered to serve as a mediator between the parties. Ethiopia is widely viewed as an important player in the African Union and many believe that it will be a reliable neutral third party. It has remained impartial in the confrontation between the protestors and the military. Despite securing a mediator, no one knows when the talks will resume, according to Al Jazeera.

The protests and military response have drawn attention worldwide. On Monday, the European Union laid blame for the crackdown on the military in Sudan and demanded an investigation. The statement said in part: "It is clear that the responsibility lies with the Transitional Military Council as the authority in charge of protecting the population… All human rights violations and abuses committed must be investigated in an independent and transparent manner, and perpetrators held accountable for their acts."

About the Author

Stephen G. Hall is a sections editor for The North Star. He is a historian specializing in 19th and 20th century African American and American intellectual, social and cultural history and the African Diaspora. Hall is the author of A Faithful Account of the Race: African American Historical Writing in Nineteenth-Century America and is working on a new book exploring the scholarly production of Black historians on the African Diaspora from 1885 to 1960.