Sudan condemns EU diplomats’ visit to protest victims’ families
On Saturday, the British charge d’affaires and the French consul in Khartoum visited a number of families of demonstrators who died during the nationwide protests against the lifting of fuel subsidies late September 2013. A Sudanese official denounced their action as “inappropriate diplomatic behaviour”.
On Tuesday, the EU ambassadors in Khartoum called upon the Sudanese government to conduct an independent investigation into the September protests. They welcomed the government’s decision to compensate the families of the victims but noted that justice cannot be achieved by financial measures only.
During their visits to more than a dozen families in Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North, on Saturday, the British and French diplomats were accompanied by representatives of the Committee of Solidarity with the Victims of the September Demonstrations. They plan to visit the rest of the families next month.
Demonstrations broke out in several Sudanese states on 23 September 2013 following the government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies. The authorities responded by using tear gas, rubber and live bullets. Rights groups said that at least 200 people were killed in Khartoum only. The government put the death toll at 85.
After much pressure, the Sudanese authorities said they formed a commission of inquiry into the incidents. However, the findings of the investigation are yet to be revealed. Last month, President Omar Al Bashir directed the Ministry of Justice to compensate the families of the protest victims.
Siddig Yousef, the chairman of the Solidarity Committee told Radio Dabanga that “they asked the family of the Dr Sara Abdelbagi in El Doroshab district in Khartoum North about her death in 2013 and about the seriousness of the competent authorities in conducting their investigations with regard to the complaints filed by the families.
“They told them that the relatives of the dead and wounded have waited for more than a year for an inquiry committee, formed by the government, to bring them justice and prosecute the killers. To no avail.”
Rajaa Mousa Hameema, mother of the late Esam Mohamed Bakheet and who represents the parents of the September 2013 victims, said that the British and French diplomats asked her about the compensation promised by the Sudanese President.
Hameema told them that the government “has done nothing regarding the promises it has made. It has not even bothered itself by asking simple questions about the death of my son”.
She told Radio Dabanga that the relatives of the victims continue to meet each other “for support and coordination, and to make sure that the blood of our children was not wasted in vain”.
A senior official of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) strongly criticised the two European diplomats’ readiness to support the families of the September 2013 victims.
In a press statement on Sunday, Osama Feisal, head of the NCP Secretariat for Europe and the Americas, described the diplomats’ tour “together with activists of the opposition” as “improper diplomatic behaviour.
“This move is unacceptable, inconsistent with the diplomatic norms, and is considered a violation of the state’s sovereignty and a flagrant interference in the country’s internal affairs,” he stated.
He urged the competent authorities “not to let this peculiar behaviour by the Western officials pass without accountability”.
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