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Four killed in Port Sudan protests

October 19 - 2020 PORT SUDAN / KASSALA / KHARTOUM
A protest against the dismissal of the Kassala governor in Port Sudan on Saturday (Social media)
A protest against the dismissal of the Kassala governor in Port Sudan on Saturday (Social media)

Violence continued in Red Sea state and Kassala over the weekend. In Port Sudan four people were killed on Saturday, and five were injured, among them a woman. Hospitals have been attacked by government forces.

Witnesses reported a heavy deployment of government forces in Port Sudan.

In total, 12 people died and 48 were wounded in Red Sea state since mass protests erupted against the dismissal of Kassala Governor Saleh Ammar on Tuesday.

Zaafaran El Zaki, director of the Ministry of Health in Red Sea state, told Radio Dabanga that three people were wounded on Sunday. He stated that no one died as a result of Sunday’s violence.

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander in eastern Sudan said that the RSF was able to control the situation in Port Sudan. He called on all parties to exercise restraint in order to maintain security and stability in the state.

Sources reported the seizure of a Kalashnikov, a pistol, and dozens of bullets in Port Sudan. Ten pickup trucks, some without number plates, and a number of motorcycles have been confiscated as well. About 30 people have been arrested.

Freedom of expression

Red Sea state Governor Abdallah Shangarai lifted the State of Emergency on Sunday, and instead issued an emergency order that provides for a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine for anyone involved in blocking the Khartoum-Port Sudan highway or other main roads in the state. Gatherings and carrying knives and sticks are prohibited. People who resist the authorities and refuse to obey orders will be brought to trial.

Posting news, pictures, and other information related to the violent events in Port Sudan on social media is forbidden. Spreading rumours and targeting anyone who holds a public office will be punished as well.

Journalist Amin Sanada told Radio Dabanga that not being allowed to publish information about the violence in Port Sudan events is a violation of the freedom of expression. He stressed the importance of disseminating information about the situation, the number of victims, and the behaviour of government forces.

Sanada was positive about the emergency order clauses that prohibit the carrying of arms. He also lauded the measures to ensure that the roads remain open because of the importance of the Port-Sudan-Khartoum road to the national economy.

He reported that the blockades of the Khartoum-Port Sudan highway and several ports have had a severe impact on the port's income.

Hospitals attacked

The Red Sea state Doctors Committee condemned attacks on three hospitals during the violent incidents that took place in Port Sudan on Friday and Saturday.

The Maternity Clinic and Italian Aid Hospital had to be closed after attacks on the buildings on Saturday. The patients were transferred to the Ports Hospital and the Port Sudan Teaching Hospital. El Ashi Hospital closed its doors when shooting occurred in front of the hospital.

The Doctors Committee called on the Red Sea state security committee to secure health care facilities and hospitals as a top priority. It fears that a suspension of medical services could exacerbate the crisis.

Kassala curfew

The government of neighbouring Kassala decided to extend the 18:00-06:00 curfew after violent protests against the dismissal of Governor Ammar continued.

The Kassala Teaching Hospital was attacked by government forces on Thursday. The United Doctors Office in Kassala state condemned this attack in a statement yesterday. “Firing live ammunition at the Kassala hospital campus is considered a violation of all human and ethical charters and norms.”

The doctors called on the government to stop the bloodshed, find a political solution, conduct a transparent investigation into the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

A number of markets in Kassala, Port Sudan and El Gedaref temporarily closed their doors on Friday in protest against the killing of seven protestors on Thursday.

Listeners told Radio Dabanga that most towns in the region are “paralysed”. Prices of basic commodities are soaring, due to the protests that blocked the main roads in eastern Sudan.

Rule of Law

In Khartoum, the Sovereign Council discussed the developments during a meeting on Sunday, which was chaired by its vice president and RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’. The meeting was attended by the Attorney General and security forces officials.

The Sovereign Council decided to strictly secure the Rule of Law and implement legal measures against persons or groups that incite or fuel “hate speech and racism in any form”. Maximum penalties will be imposed on those found guilty.

The meeting also decided to deploy more government forces in the three eastern Sudan states (Red Sea state, Kassala, and El Gedaref) to restore public life in the region. The borders with Eritrea and Ethiopia are to be secured, and the widespread smuggling of basic goods to be stopped.

Support for community efforts and civil society initiatives to work on peaceful coexistence must continue. The role of community leaders to heal the rifts in society must be maximised.

The Sovereign Council decided to instruct Sudanese media agencies and institutions to present specific programmes to raise community awareness about people calling for violence.

Protest in Khartoum

Dozens of activists organised a protest in front of the offices of the Council of Ministers in Khartoum on Sunday. They condemned the killing of protesters by government forces in Kassala on Thursday.

The portestors gave the government 48 hours to dismiss the secretary general of the Kassala state government, the police chief, and members of the Security Committee.

They also demanded that Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok clarify the reasons for the dismissal of the Kassala wali Saleh Ammar on the national TV within 48 hours.

The protestors called for the immediate arrest of those involved in the killing of protesters in Kassala and bringing them to a fair trial. An independent commission must investigate the recent events in Kassala.

Native administration leaders should stay out of politics, the protestors stated.

A memo of the protestors warned of “revolutionary escalation” if their demands are not met.


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