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)
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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.”

Egyptian-Cypriot-Greece summit discusses Turkey’s provocations

Updated 21 October 2020

Egyptian-Cypriot-Greece summit discusses Turkey’s provocations

  • El-Sisi underlined the need to enhance the tripartite cooperation mechanism with Greece and Cyprus

CAIRO: A tripartite summit was held on Wednesday in the Cypriot capital Nicosia between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades, along with Greek Prime Minister Kyriacos Mitsotakis.

The summit, the eighth between the leaders of the three countries, focused on discussing means of cooperation and coordination regarding issues of concern. 

Bassam Rady, the spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, said: “The tripartite summit was held to evaluate the development of cooperation among the three countries in various fields, and to follow-up on joint projects currently implemented as part of the trilateral cooperation mechanism.”

Rady added that the summit also sought to “exchange visions on means of facing the challenges in the Middle East region.”

El-Sisi underlined the need to enhance the tripartite cooperation mechanism with Greece and Cyprus, saying: “We have decided to counter acts of provocation and violations in the Middle East.”

He indirectly accused Turkey of committing violations, transferring mercenaries to conflict zones, and blackmailing Europe with the issue of immigration.“We have signed the founding charter of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum,” he added.

Regarding the Syrian crisis, the president said: “We reject any foreign existence on Syrian territories.”

Meanwhile, the Cypriot president stressed that Turkey was causing more tension in the area, jeopardizing regional stability, interfering in the Syrian crisis, and sending mercenaries to Libya and the Nagorno-Karabakh region. 

Anastasiades said: “We underlined the need to take strong measures against those who support militant and terrorist groups in the region.” He pointed out that the trilateral relations were not against any state, but rather aimed to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East. 

He also called on Turkey to respect international laws and not to violate Cypriot sovereignty.

“We discussed means of enhancing tripartite cooperation in various fields especially energy,” he said. “We welcome the establishment of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum,” he added, whilst reiterating the need to stop the flow of illegal immigration via the Mediterranean.

The Cypriot president also described Turkey’s hunt for gas in Greek waters in the Eastern Mediterranean as “illegal.”

Meanwhile Mitsotakis said that the practices of the Turkish leadership were unfair to its people. “We don’t want to exclude Turkey but its practices lead to that action,” he warned.

This is the eighth such tripartite summit between since 2014. It coincides with Greece’s calls on the EU to consider suspending the Customs Union Agreement with Turkey.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias delivered a letter to the European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyito, to consider the measure as a response to Turkey’s repeated violations of the agreement, in addition to its unilateral measures of gas and oil excavations in the Eastern Mediterranean.