Thousands of Sudanese people demonstrated in the capital of the country and towns in Darfur, Kordofan, and eastern Sudan on Thursday, demanding the overthrowing of president Omar Al Bashir and his regime. Protest organisers call for marches heading towards military command posts next week.
The so-called Salvation Marches that were announced by the signatories to the Declaration of Freedom and Change to be held across Sudan on Thursday generated much response in Khartoum's districts of El Shajara, El Azozab, Jabra, Abu Adam, El Kalakla, Burri El Lamab and El Mamoura.
People in El Shaabi, Ombadda, Wad Nubawi, Abrof, El Galaa, Wad El Banna and El Sawra in Omdurman, and El Mazad, El Doroshab, Halfaya, El Shaabiya and Kafouri in Khartoum North also went out in demonstrations demanding the immediate step-down of president Al Bashir from ruling Sudan.
Police and security forces faced the peaceful demonstrations with violence, witnesses reported, as they used batons and electric wires to beat people, and tear gas to disperse them. A number of people were arrested and immediately referred to Emergency Courts that have been established under the national State of Emergency which has been active for weeks.
Also El Fasher in Darfur, El Obeid, En Nahud and Bara in North Kordofan, Ghibeish in West Kordofan, Sennar and Kassala in eastern Sudan, El Duweim in White Nile state, and El Talbab, El Tedribat and Wad Madani in El Gezira witnessed protests. One of the slogans of the demonstrations that have been going on since mid-December, “Just fall, that’s all”, was widely heard, several witnesses reported to Radio Dabanga.
On Wednesday, the densely populated area west of Soug Libya in Omdurman witnessed spontaneous demonstrations in the lead-up to Thursday's large marches.
New marches head to army
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an initiative of doctors, teachers, lawyers and other professionals and one of the main drivers of the ongoing protests against the Sudanese regime, has announced new protest marches on April 6. The marches are planned to head to the general or local command posts of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Sudan’s 18 states. They called upon citizens, professionals and politicians to participate.
The association stressed in its statement yesterday that junior military officers, officers of intermediate ranks and soldiers in general are stakeholders in the changing of government. “They are affected by the suffering, distress and humiliations. They and their family members and neighbours know well that the army is kidnapped by a few chief of staff and the Ministry of Defence.
“The army, by its legacy and history, knows very well that it has played a pivotal role in overthrowing the Abboud and Nimeiri regimes [in 1964 and 1985, RD] and taking sides in favour of the people and democracy.” The association openly wondered if the Sudanese army “is satisfied with the killing, torture and the use of excessive force by the security apparatus and the militias of former Vice-President Ali Osman Taha against innocent civilians”.
The Sudanese Professionals Association was formed years ago by groups of professionals, many of them working in the medical sector. They have been actively, although quietly, involved in protests against the government’s policies in former years, and repeatedly demanded improvement of their work environment in sit-ins and strikes, and presenting memoranda. Many of them have been dismissed and detained for their actions.
When the Sudanese took to the streets in December last year, in protest against the policies of the ruling National Congress Party under the leadership of President Omar Al Bashir, the leading members of the Sudanese Professionals Association “were happy to have an organised body already to join the protests together with other opposition groups”, and called for a big protest march in Khartoum on 25 December, the first of many that led to other protest actions and strikes.
On January 1, young doctor Mohamed Naji El Asam, member of the Sudanese Professionals Association secretariat, announced the Declaration of Freedom and Change in a video message, one hour after it was posted on the website of the Sudanese Professionals Association. The declaration was signed by the Sudanese Professionals Association, the Sudan Call forces, opposition parties allied in the National Consensus Forces, and the Unionist Gathering.