Sudan uprising – continued protests this week

(UPDATE 17:15) Today, new protests are planned throughout Sudan, to be concluded on Thursday with the Sudan Unity March towards the presidential palace in Khartoum. Politicians and intellectuals stress the need to find a path out of the current cycle of violence.

Demonstrators in Sai Island in Sudan's Northern state on February 18, 2019 (RD)

Today, new protests are planned throughout Sudan, to be concluded on Thursday with the Sudan Unity March towards the presidential palace in Khartoum. Politicians and intellectuals stress the need to find a path out of the current cycle of violence.

A group of residents of Sai Island in Sudan’s Northern State held a protest march calling for the departure of President Omar Al Bashir from government on Monday. The march was organised in response to calls by the signatory groups of the Declaration of Freedom and Change.

Sai Island, 18 February

On Monday, workers at Murouj food packing company in Khartoum North staged a protest in support of the popular movement in Sudan. They condemned the killing, beating, and suppression of peaceful demonstrators.

Workers also praised the statement of colleagues in the private sector companies, who have taken the initiative to publicly join the Sudanese revolution.

The statement, which appeared this week, called on people who have remained neutral in the ongoing demonstrations throughout Sudan since December, to join the popular movement “[…] because the homeland is always above everyone”.

ACJPS: '116 activists detained'

Today the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) reported on the arbitrary arrest and detention of 116 political activists between December 2018 and February 2019, for their participation or suspected involvement in the ongoing anti-government protests.

At least three detainees, including a woman, have been subjected to detention for six months under the emergency law in North Kordofan and North Darfur states. According to the human rights advocates, Sudanese authorities have also targeted opposition party leaders.

Of the 116 political activists detained, 31 are members of the Sudanese Communist Party, 49 are Baath Arabic party members and 36 are members of the Sudanese Congress Party. The detainees are being held incommunicado by the security apparatus in Khartoum Bahri offices and sections attached to prisons across Sudan, including Omdurman women’s prison, Port Sudan prison, Shala prison in North Darfur and El Fasher prison.

ACJPS says it has received reliable information that detainees have not had access to lawyer or family visits since their arrests.

Threats against demonstrations

The National Umma Party (NUP) dismissed threats made by the government, pointing out that it is illegal for the parties of the Declaration of Freedom and Change to go out in peaceful demonstrations.

“We reject this policy of double standards practiced by the regime,” a statement issued by the NUP said.

“All the forces under the Declaration of Freedom and Change do not fear the threats of a regime of incompetence and illegitimacy, as the people, the highest authority in the country, issued their decision for the regime to leave.”

The party also stressed the dangers of the presence of organs that are parallel to the official organs of the state, such as the Popular Security forces and so-called shadow battalions. “All of whom operate outside the law, which is considered illegal activity.”

The NUP therefore holds the regime fully responsible for any acts of violence that target party and civil society leaders, media professionals and protesters.

Boy holding Sudanese flag

Police distance themselves’

Several Sudanese intellectuals and political thinkers have stressed the need for the Sudanese police to distance themselves from the use of “unjustified violence” against demonstrators and detainees, and to take legal measures to hold those responsible accountable.

The call was made during a forum on “the challenges of democratic transition in Sudan” in Khartoum, organised by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies of the Doha Forum.

Attendees of the forum concluded in a joint statement that the current popular movement “reflects the aspirations and hopes of large segments of the people and derives its legitimacy from the Constitution”.

The forum called for the promotion of peaceful solutions that would establish a way out of the current cycle of violence and called for adherence to the peacefulness of the movement and the guarantee of human rights in every direction.

Starting 19 December 2018, the increasing fuel and bread prices sparked protests in Atbara in North-Eastern Sudan. In less than a week’s time, the anti-government protests spread across the entire country and were answered with brutal violence by the Sudanese security forces. Multiple sources have confirmed that tear gas and live ammunition is being used against demonstrators. Human Rights Watch reported that Sudanese activists estimate at least 50 people have been killed since the start of the protests.