Sudan protesters rally one year after bloody crackdown

Sudanese PM Abdalla Hamdok flashes the victory sign during a ceremony for the first anniversary of the uprising that toppled Omar Al-Bashir. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 04 June 2020

Sudan protesters rally one year after bloody crackdown

  • PM Abdalla Hamdok vows justice for all those killed in pro-democracy protests
  • The demonstration was the culmination of weeks of protests that led the army to overthrow veteran leader Omar Al-Bashir

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protesters took to the streets of Khartoum on Wednesday, angrily demanding justice for scores of pro-democracy demonstrators killed a year ago in a bloody crackdown.

The popular mass movement had already brought down long-time ruler Omar Bashir but was still on the streets demanding further reforms when it was attacked by men in military fatigues on June 3, 2019.

“We won’t forget and we won’t forgive,” read one Arabic-language protest sign held up by a mask-clad Sudanese woman as scores of other protesters rallied and the smoke of burning car tires blackened the sky.

At least 128 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in the attack outside Khartoum’s army headquarters, according to doctors linked to the protest movement. Official figures say at least 87 died.

The attackers in military fatigues perpetrated “murder, torture, rape, sexual violence, enforced disappearance of persons and potentially other inhumane acts,” says a March report by the US-based group Physicians for Human Rights.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, under post-Bashir civilian-military transition authority, pledged justice for the pro-democracy protesters killed.

“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,” Hamdok said in a televised speech on Wednesday.

“We are awaiting the completion of the independent investigation committee’s work, which will be followed by referring all those found guilty of participating in the massacre that dispersed the sit-in to fair and public trials.”

Protesters on Wednesday hung up effigies of soldiers of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the paramilitary group they blame for the bloodbath — a charge firmly denied by Sudan’s military leaders.

One protester held up a large photo of Abdulsalam Kisha, a 25-year-old protester who was killed in the attack last year in the capital’s eastern Riyadh district.

The dead man’s father, Kisha Abdulsalam, told AFP days ago that he still held out hope the killers would be brought to justice by post-revolution authorities.

“We demand an international probe to ensure justice for those killed,” said Kisha, a leading member of a campaign group for the families of protest victims.

A memorial portrait of his slain son has been painted on the Khartoum house of the bereaved father, who has two other sons and a daughter.

He recalled the day he heard the shocking news.

“I rushed to the protest site after receiving multiple random phone calls saying my son had died,” he said, only to find out later the young man was killed by multiple gunshots.

Sudan’s transitional authorities, which came to power in August last year, with Bashir behind bars, have formed a committee to probe the violence, but it has yet to announce its findings.In July last year, 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.

Military officials insist the operation had been planned to purge an area near the protest camp where people were allegedly selling drugs.

Hamdok in October tasked veteran lawyer Nabil Adib with leading the investigations and to present findings within three months.

Adib told AFP that three months was “not enough, especially given that this is a crime with political overtones and involves a large number of defendants. “It may even involve powerful figures,” he said.

He said 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.

International rights groups, which have documented multiple witness accounts, have called for a transparent investigation.

Physicians for Human Rights said the violence “could rise to the level of international crimes for which there should be no immunity, including crimes against humanity.”

Adib said the committee has so far received many testimonies but did not elaborate.

“We gave them assurances that their identities will remain anonymous,” he added.

But families of the victims remain skeptical.

“I don’t believe this committee will bring justice to the martyrs,” said Amna, Abdulsalam’s mother, as she tearfully showed an album of photos of her son.

“We will not forgive those who shed blood and we will not give up on the martyrs’ rights.”


Microsoft says Iranian hackers targeted conference attendees

Updated 41 min 29 sec ago

Microsoft says Iranian hackers targeted conference attendees

REDMOND, Washington: Microsoft says Iranian hackers have posed as conference organizers in Germany and Saudi Arabia in an attempt to break into the email accounts of “high-profile” people with spoofed invitations.
The tech company said Wednesday it detected attempts by the hacking group it calls Phosphorus to trick former government officials, policy experts and academics.
The targets included more than 100 prominent people invited by the hackers to the Munich Security Conference, which is attended by world leaders each February, and the upcoming Think 20 Summit, which begins later this week in Saudi Arabia but is online-only this year.
“We believe Phosphorus is engaging in these attacks for intelligence collection purposes,” said Tom Burt, Microsoft’s security chief, in a prepared statement. “The attacks were successful in compromising several victims, including former ambassadors and other senior policy experts who help shape global agendas and foreign policies in their respective countries.”
Microsoft didn’t identify the nationalities of the people targeted. It said the activity is unrelated to the upcoming US elections.
Wednesday’s announcement refers to the hacking group as an “Iranian actor” but doesn’t explicitly tie it to the Iranian government. Microsoft calls it Phosphorus, while others call it APT35 or Charming Kitten.
The Redmond, Washington tech company has been tracking the group since 2013 and has previously accused it of trying to snoop on activists, journalists, political dissidents, defense industry workers and others in the Middle East.
Cybersecurity researchers have said the group typically tries to infiltrate a target’s personal online accounts and computer networks by luring them into clicking on a link to a compromised website or opening a malicious attachment.