Minister of Defence Lt Gen Yasin Ibrahim announced that members of government forces accused of firing live bullets at peaceful demonstrators have been detained and will be charged within a few days. Two demonstrators were killed on Tuesday as armed forces violently dispersed a peaceful gathering.
The announcement by the defence minister was made during an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok yesterday after live bullets were shot at peaceful demonstrators in Khartoum on Tuesday evening.
The protesters had gathered near the General Command of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF*) in downtown Khartoum to break the Ramadan fast together in commemoration of the June 3/Ramadan 29 massacre* two years ago.
Despite Tuesday’s protest being peaceful, security forces dispersed the gathering with force and used live ammunition, which killed activists Osman Ahmed and Mudasir Mukhtar wounded dozens of other demonstrators.
During the emergency meeting, the Minister of Defence briefed the Council of Ministers on the details of the painful events. He expressed the military’s regret for what happened and delivered condolences from the army’s leadership for the nation’s martyrs.
In a statement after the meeting, the council stressed that the right to protest is guaranteed by the law and there is nothing that should prevent Sudanese from demonstrating freely in accordance with the law.
The SAF announced that they have formed a committee to investigate who ordered the shooting. In a statement yesterday, the army expressed its full cooperation with the judicial authorities to uncover the facts and said that it is fully prepared to bring to justice anyone who proves his involvement in Tuesday’s violent dispersal.
In a press statement yesterday, Attorney General Tajelsir El Hibir announced that he officially ordered the armed forces to hand over those accused of being involved in the killing of the two young activists.
He explained that he also issued a number of orders prohibiting the use of excessive force against peaceful gatherings and stressed that peaceful assemblies and the right to expression are guaranteed by the Constitutional Document and the law.
El Hibir confirmed that the gathering on Tuesday was peaceful and there were no signs of violence and that it was people in SAF uniforms who attacked the demonstrators, killing the two young activists.
June 3 investigations
In its emergency meeting, the Council of Ministers also decided to call for a briefing from the national investigation committee into the June 3 massacre, headed by prominent lawyer Nabil Adib, about the progress of the investigations and setting a deadline for the completion of the investigation and presenting its outcomes.
Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok said in a statement that what happened on June 3, 2019, the 29th of Ramadan, is “a full-fledged crime as live bullets were used against peaceful demonstrators, which can never be tolerated nor ignored”.
Hamdok called on the responsible authorities to complete their investigations immediately and without delay. and hand over the perpetrators so they can be brought to justice.
The June 3 Massacre investigation committee was founded in September 2019. Many Sudanese have been wondering why the commission has not been able to round up its report.
At Tuesday’s protest, a member of the Association of Families of the December Revolution Victims addressed the crowd. She set coming June 3 as a deadline for “those responsible for the crime [..] to admit their involvement in the massacre to the Sudanese people”.
* Officially, the SAF consists of the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), set up by the ousted Al Bashir regime in 2013. In the Constitutional Document, signed on August 17, 2019, by the then ruling Transitional Military Council and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change, it was agreed that both the Sudanese army and the RSF would fall under the command of the “Supreme Commander of the Sudan Armed Forces”. At the same time, however, the RSF militia stays a force unto itself, commanded by Mohamed Dagalo ‘Hemeti’, Deputy President of the Sovereignty Council.
* On June 3, 2019, two days before the end of Ramadan, the large sit-in in front of the army command, was broken up with excessive violence. More than 127 protestors were reportedly killed. The bodies of 40 of them were found floating in the Nile. More than 700 other protesters sustained injuries and at least 100 people went missing in what is now called the June 3 or Ramadan 29 massacre.