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Thousands of Sudanese march for justice and women

March 8 - 2019 KHARTOUM / OMDURMAN / EL GEZIRA / EL GEDAREF / SOUTH KORDOFAN
One of the protest marches on Thursday, the day before International Women's Day (social media)
One of the protest marches on Thursday, the day before International Women's Day (social media)

Thousands of men and women participated in more than 25 marches throughout Sudan against the ruling regime on Thursday, leading-up to planned demonstrations on International Women's Day which is today.

Witnesses, journalists and activists told Radio Dabanga yesterday that calls by the Sudanese Professionals Association and other signatories of the Declaration of Freedom and Change to demonstrate on Thursday and the International Women's Day have been answered by large numbers of people in the capital city and in El Gezira, El Gedaref, Kassala and South Kordofan states.

El Gezira state on Thursday (social media)

In solidarity with all detained protesters in Sudan, including women, the protest marches called for freedom, peace and justice, and to ouster incumbent President Omar Al Bashir. Last week the president announced the decision to delegate his powers as the head of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to its recently appointed deputy head and a former governor, Ahmed Haroun.

At several locations, security forces and police intervened in the marches using batons and plastic wires to disperse the demonstrators. They reportedly have arrested hundreds of demonstrators. According to witnesses at the scenes, most of the detainees are women.

The marches took place nearly a month after Sudanese people took to the streets in Omdurman against the detention of hundreds of women demonstrators.

Khartoum

In the capital Khartoum, demonstrations began in 11 districts at one o'clock in the afternoon. The largest protests were seen in Burri El Dareisa, El Andalus, and East Nile. The protesters closed a number of main roads in Khartoum, including Juba Street.

In Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, demonstrations took place in seven districts, among them El Bosta, Beitelmal, Wad Nubawi, El Abbasiya, and Ombadda.

The demonstrators chanted slogans praising the struggles of Sudanese women, demanding the departure of the regime and denouncing the imposition of a State of Emergency and Emergency Orders. These have led to numerous arrests and emergency trials against people who participated in or organised demonstrations.

Security forces and police had been stationed early in the day in a number of streets in Khartoum. According to witnesses the numbers of their vehicles totalled over 100. The forces used tear gas against the demonstrators and beat them with plastic wires. An unknown number of people were detained.

In addition, security forces raided houses in Omdurman and Khartoum in search of protesters. People on social media platforms shared footage of the assaults on demonstrators by members of the security forces at Street 60 in eastern Khartoum.

Another video on Facebook shows security officers in civilian clothes whipping people on the street with plastic wires.

One of the marches on Thursday shows a large number of people walking down the streets while chanting slogans. Ten minutes into the video, joint security forces appear and the crowd disperses while demonstrators are seen confronting the police.

Women marches

Eye-witnesses said that the Sudanese Women's March already started yesterday. Protests took place in Wad Madani, Halawin and Arbaji in El Gezira, and in eastern Sudan’s Kassala, in addition to residents in the areas under control of the armed movement in South Kordofan. All of them demonstrated in solidarity with the detained women protesters in Sudan.

Photos above: Young women and girls in South Kordofan with banners (RD)

Doctors of El Gedaref Teaching Hospital in El Gedaref state held a protest vigil in front of the hospital buildings in conjunction with the marches for women.

A witness at the scene told Radio Dabanga that the vigil was attended by a number of specialists, deputy specialists, general doctors and other medical staff. They carried banners calling for freedom, peace, justice and the release of the political detainees.

Photos above: Doctors in front of El Gedaref Teaching Hospital (RD)

Public anger in Sudan has been building up over price rises and other economic hardships, including expensive bread, fuel and medicines, as well as limits on cash withdrawals over a liquidity crisis. The demonstrations started in Sudanese states outside of the capital mid-December and have spread to other cities in the following months.

Their aim is to force president and NCP chairman Omar Al Bashir and his government to step down and make way for a transitional government.

These are the biggest and most wide-spread popular protests in Sudan since the demonstrations against the cuts to state subsidies in Khartoum in 2013. Dozens of civilians have been killed, hundreds injured, and unknown thousands detained as the Sudanese security forces routinely respond to peaceful protests with tear gas, batons, and live ammunition.

Step-down Bashir

Think tank International Crisis Group (ICG) suggested that President Al Bashir may have been pushed to step down as party leader due to internal factions in the party: “Leaders [of the Islamist wing] are said to advocate a more positive response to demonstrators’ demands. If the split deepens, it could raise the spectre of a dangerous confrontation between these well-organised and well-armed camps,” the ICG said.

Following the president’s resignation form the party, it has been reported that the NCP is also preparing to renew contact with opposition forces in the country.

The newly appointed NCP leader Ahmed Haroun is one of four Sudanese men wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, being one of the original commanders of the janjaweed militias in the region.


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