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Criticism as El Burhan defends Sudan police amidst rising police brutality

November 15 - 2022 KHARTOUM / OMDURMAN
Online, activists pointed out that policemen are assisted by armed men in civilian clothes, likely undercover members of the security apparatus (social media)
Online, activists pointed out that policemen are assisted by armed men in civilian clothes, likely undercover members of the security apparatus (social media)

Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan accused ‘enemies of the Sudanese people’ of driving a wedge between the police and the people yesterday. Lawyers condemned El Burhan’s defence of the police.

El Burhan defended the performance of the Sudanese police in his address to newly graduated policemen at the Police College in Khartoum yesterday and considered the critical movement against the police the ‘targeting of Sudan’.

In his speech, El Burhan explained that the police are not the enemy of the youth, the demonstrators, or the people, but rather work to protect the Sudanese.

He accused political leaders ‘who were not familiar with the circumstances of the transition’ of believing rumours against the police and being drawn into defaming and humiliating them.

“The police are working under harsh conditions”, he said. Policemen are subjected to targeting, attack, and provocation, he stressed and praised the police's adherence to their professionalism.

Continued violations

Nafeesa Hajar, member of the Emergency Lawyers and Vice President of the Darfur Bar Association (DBA), told Radio Dabanga’s Sudan Today programme that El Burhan's defence of the police can be considered “a directive to these agencies to continue violating the law”.

'El Burhan's defence of the police can be considered a directive to these agencies to continue violating the law'

She said that El Burhan defended the police's practices instead of directing the formation of committees to investigate accusations of murder, rape, and other serious harm by the police against unarmed protesters.

“The perpetrators of these violations will be held accountable before the law and the judiciary, no matter how long or short the time is,” she stressed.

On social media, Sudanese activists have more than once pointed out members of the security services dressed in civilian clothes amongst the police forces shooting at demonstrators.

There are also significant rumours that say that various policemen have resigned and sought other jobs as they refuse to participate in the violence on the streets and the beatings and torture inside police cells.

Armed men in civilian clothes assisting police, likely undercover members of the security apparatus according to activists on social media (social media)


Police brutality

Recently, Radio Dabanga reported on a pattern of rising police brutality since the October 25, 2021, military coup. Last week, a young man died from torture in police custody after an arbitrary arrest, likely for the police to demand bribes, and another man was killed inside the military intelligence headquarters El Gedaref.

Two protesters were killed during pro-democracy marches at the end of last month and one of them was run over by a military vehicle after being shot.

At least 119 protesters have been killed during marches against Sudan's military junta and more than 7,000 were seriously injured in anti-coup protests before August this year. These numbers exclude other police violence.

In September, an 18-year-old woman was shot dead in front of her family’s home during a police raid in Omdurman. After her death locals said unpunished violent behaviour is normal during police raids and believe that they are targeted because of their ethnic and tribal background.

The government has failed to credibly investigate the police killings, despite calls from the United Nations to do so, news outlet Al Jazeera explained. Police officers "enjoy total impunity to unlawfully detain, beat, and kill civilians" since the coup, activists, lawyers, and rights groups told the news outlet.

Protest injuries

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) registered 23 injuries in Omdurman alone during marches on Sunday. The numbers include two injuries by rubber bullets and several injuries because of directly targeted tear gas canisters, stone throwing, and stampedes.

56 protesters were injured during large Marches of the Millions last week. At least five protesters were run over by military vehicles, a tactic security forces employ frequently.

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