Sudan: Relatives of December Revolution victims demand justice
On Friday afternoon, the Families of the Victims of the December Revolution handed a memorandum to the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers, in which they demand justice. The chairman of the committee investigating the violent dispersal of the Khartoum sit-in on June 3 says they may round up their work within three weeks.
Mohamed El Faki, member of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, and Feisal Mohamed Saleh, Minister of Information and Culture, officially received the requests at the premises of the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) in Khartoum.
Commemorations of the June 3 massacre, the violence on June 30, and other killings of protesters by government forces “deserve to be heard,” Saleh said. “We draw inspiration from it to complement the goals and programmes set by the Sudanese people for the transitional period.”
The Minister further said that all items mentioned in the memo of the Resistance Committees working in town districts and villages all over the country “find all respect from the government”.
El Faki commented by saying that the marches planned for June 30 will “remind the government of the goals of the revolution”. He said that they are allowed, provided that the demonstrators remain committed to the health measures taken by the authorities to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
As for the memorandum of the Resistance Committees, he indicated that the transitional government will discuss their demands and respond accordingly.
In December 2018, mass demonstrations against the policies of the government of President Omar Al Bashir broke out. The protests led to his ousting within less than four months. As the new military rulers initially did not seem to be willing to hand over power to a civilian government, the protests continued. The large sit-in in front of the army command in Khartoum became the centre of the uprising.
On June 3, at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, the people present at the sit-in were violently dispersed. At least 118 people were killed, and more than 700 others were injured in the “June 3/Ramadan 29 massacre”. About 70 people were raped, and dozens went missing.
When people went to the streets in the March of Millions in Greater Khartoum on June 30, protesting the June 3 killings and again calling for civilian rule, government forces again used live ammunition to disperse the protests, and killed at least ten people.
Between June 3 and July 18, at least 16 people were killed during commemoration rallies and anti-junta protests, according to the Sudan Doctors Central Committee. They reported on July 18 last year that since the outbreak of the anti-government protests in December 2018, at least 246 people were killed, and 1,353 others injured.
On August 17, the Forces of Freedom and Change (that include the Sudanese Professionals Association, the driving force behind the uprising) and the military junta signed a Constitutional Charter that paved the way for a civilian government of technocrats during a transitional period of 39 months – after which general elections will be held. It was also agreed that the ‘June 3 massacre’ would be investigated.
Four days later, the Sovereign Council was established, with five military members and six civilian members, and Dr Abdallah Hamdok was sworn in as Prime Minister. On September 5, Hamdok presented his transitional government.
Later that month, the Prime Minister ordered the formation of a national committee of inquiry into the June 3 Massacre. In October, the names of the committee members, chaired by prominent human rights defender Nabil Adib, were announced, and investigations started.
Last week, the committee updated Hamdok about its work, that has been delayed because of the coronavirus lockdown in the country.
So far, the testimonies of more than 3,000 witnesses have been heard. The about 150 video recordings the committee received from protestors and other people present at the sit-in on June 3, are still being studied. Sophisticated tools however are needed to analyse the visual and verbal information on the videos and to determine the contents can be used as evidence or not.
On Saturday, the Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) quoted PM Hamdok, who said that to serve the goals of the revolution and to achieve justice, the great work of the national investigation committee requires full support from all.
He promised to identify all the difficulties facing the committee, and to provide all the possible assistance to help it complete its work.
Lawyer Nabil Adib explained to MadaniaNews in end May that the results of the investigations have been delayed. This is not only due to the Covid-19 crisis, but also because the committee “insists on accuracy and the submission of an integrated criminal case to the court”.
Adib noted that much of the evidence received is a “great help” in determining what happened. Yet, the committee did not receive all required documents. “.. some of the documents we are looking for, have not been found. Other files not obtained consist of state documents, or belong to private media, political figures, and others.”
The largest part of the investigations has been concluded. “We could finish the work within three weeks,” the committee’s chairman said.
In a report on ‘Sudan’s Violent Crackdown on Protesters in Khartoum’, issued in November last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) regrets that the investigations are limited to the violence on June 3.
The organisation advised the Sudanese government “to revise the investigation committee it established on September 21, or form a new committee that is independent and empowered to investigate abuses against protesters committed since December 2018, including sexual violence.
The authorities should not only ensure that “families of the victims are involved in the investigation conducted by the committee and that the investigation is subject to public scrutiny”, but also that “the Legislative Council, when formed, is empowered to lift immunities for any official including members of the Sovereign Council as envisioned in the August 17 agreement”.
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