Security allows holding of ‘Port Sudan Massacre’ anniversary

After initially cancelling the commemoration festivities of the ‘massacre’ of Port Sudan in 2005, Red Sea State authorities allowed the commemoration of the Beja tribesmen who were killed during a demonstration against the government.

After cancelling the commemoration festivities of the 'massacre' of Port Sudan in 2005 on Wednesday, Red Sea State authorities now allowed the commemoration of the Beja tribesmen who were killed during a demonstration against the government's policies.

Today marks eleven years after more than 20 Beja demonstrators were killed, at least 70 were injured – including women and children – and hundreds were detained in Deim El Arab district in the capital city of Red Sea on 29 January. The peaceful protesters called upon the central government to allocate more resources to the marginalised and poor eastern Sudanese region, that is mainly inhabited by the Beja and Rashaida tribes.

The committee of the martyrs and victims organises the commemoration each year, but its efforts were cancelled by the authorities on Wednesday.

Ibrahim Omar, head of the committee, told Radio Dabanga yesterday that the orders were said to come from the federal government. His committee and Port Sudan citizens managed the government to reverse its decision and allow the anniversary, held on the grand square.

Photos of the commemoration at the Port Sudan Square today:

Organisers detained

Five organisers were detained by security service officials, however, when they made announcements through loudspeakers on top of a vehicle driving through the harbour city. They were released on Thursday.

Last December, the Sudanese Prosecutor-General instructed the prosecution office of Red Sea state to file a criminal case against those accused of being involved in the ‘Port Sudan Massacre’. “The prosecutor finally accepted the request of the lawyers,” said Najla Mohamed Ali, lawyer of the families of martyrs of the Beja uprising.

“We will refer the case to courts outside Sudan, should our courts not perform their duty.”

“What happened eleven years ago amounted to genocide,” Ali claimed. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, she said that the security service targeted people of the Beja ethnicity during the protest. Many have condemned the Red Sea state authorities for closing the case without disclosing its contents, and not taking any legal action against the perpetrators, and demanded compensation for the victims.

Identifying the perpetrators

Ali pointed to the possibility of the referral of the case file to courts outside Sudan, in the event that the Sudanese courts do not perform their duty to adjudicate the case. She stressed the need for the addition of a report by the Ministry of Interior about the incidents, that should determine the identity of the perpetrators.

“We await the response from the Minister of Justice to our memorandum, and expect the report of the Ministery of Interior on 30 January the latest.”

The suspects, she said, include the former director of the National Intelligence and Security Service, the former Red Sea State Governor, his deputy, and the directors of security and police agencies in Red Sea and the locality.

Students detained

Eight students, belonging to the Beja ethnic group, stood trial in the Red Sea Port City of Port Sudan on 17 January, for organising a demonstration in commemoration of the victims of the September 2013 massive riots against hikes in fuel prices, Sudan Tribune reported. The United Popular Front for Liberation and Justice (UPFLJ) stated that it considered the trial an attempt to block possible protests today, during the Port Sudan commemoration.