Spokesperson for the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric explained that the UN is 'very, very much gravely concerned' by the use of excessive violence by government security forces during yesterday's June 30 Marches of the Millions, in which at least 9 protesters were shot dead. The marches have been the largest protests since the October 25 military coup.
"We've said this before and we'll continue to say that we're very, very much gravely concerned by the continued use of excessive force by the Government security forces in Sudan as they respond to protests and especially what we've seen today", Dujarric said during a UN briefing yesterday, commenting on the heavy repression of the June 30 Marches of the Millions that were timed to mark the 33rd anniversary of the coup d’état that toppled Sudan’s last elected government and began the Al Bashir dictatorship.
'It is imperative that people be allowed to express themselves freely and peacefully, and security forces in any country should be there to protect people's right to do that…' – Stéphane Dujarric
"It is imperative that people be allowed to express themselves freely and peacefully, and security forces in any country should be there to protect people's right to do that, not to hinder it", he added.
The spokesperson also referred to UN Special Representative for Sudan and Head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) Volker Perthes and his statement.
He explained that, as previously reported by Radio Dabanga, Perthes had called on Sudan's authorities to protect the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and "on all parties to refrain from violence against protesters". He also emphasised that Perthes had "warned against spoilers who could contribute to escalate tensions".
After he made his statements on social media, Perthes had been summoned by the Sudanese authorities who expressed their 'dissatisfaction' with his statements. The undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Perthes’s statements were “based on pre-conceived rulings and assumptions on conviction of the law enforcement organs in the country".
"The way forward is for all the parties to reach an inclusive political solution as soon as possible, leading to a return to constitutional order and democratic transitions', Dujarric added.
The Trilateral Mechanism of the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and UNITAMS also published a statement condemning "in the strongest terms possible the use of excessive force by security forces in response to today's June 30 anniversary protests, resulting in the death of at least nine people…".
Nine people were shot dead during yesterday's marches, the BBC reported this morning. Most victims died of bullet wounds after having been shot by security forces repressing the marches. The Unified Doctors Office in Sudan reported that security forces attempted to raid hospitals where injured protesters were being treated.
After the security forces attempted to raid hospitals and assaulted medical staff and patients, some protesters gathered outside of the hospitals to guard them against new raids and assaults. Many were still out there in the morning, witnesses reported.
Witnesses told press agency Reuters that they estimated the crowds in Khartoum and its twin cities Omdurman and Khartoum North (Bahri) "to be at least in the tens of thousands". The BBC reported that the protests are the largest since the military took power in a coup on October 25 last year.
It is in this group of cities that most deaths have been reported. Especially in Omdurman as government forces tried to prevent protesters from crossing into Khartoum. Many other protesters were injured by tear gas and stun grenades as the Khartoum demonstrations headed to the Republican Palace.
Protesters were determined to not let themselves be defeated by the heavy police repression. "Either we get to the presidential palace and remove al-Burhan or we won't return home," said a 21-year-old female student told Reuters from Khartoum North.
The internet and phone services have been cut off during the protests, marking the first time in months of protests an internet blackout was imposed. "After the military takeover, extended internet blackouts were imposed in an apparent effort to weaken the protest movement", Reuters wrote.
Protests also took place in most of Sudan's bigger cities, including Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira, state capital's El Gedaref and Kassala, En Nehoud in West Kordofan, El Daein in East Darfur, El Fasher in North Darfur, Zalingei in Central Darfur, Dongola in Northern state, and many more. Smaller villages also saw protests, such as Abu Houjar in Sennar.
"No city, town, or village was quiet yesterday", a journalist wrote on social media.