'Organised massacre': Sudan protesters killed as security forces storm Khartoum sit-in

'Organised massacre': Sudan protesters killed as security forces storm Khartoum sit-in
Leading protest organisers the Sudanese Professionals Association called for a countrywide 'civil disobedience' campaign as reports indicated between five to 13 people had been shot dead in the capital.
5 min read
03 June, 2019
The UK and US embassies have called on the military to stop the violence [AFP]
At least nine people were shot dead and scores wounded on Monday morning as paramilitary forces stormed an ongoing sit-in in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) said.

Eyewitnesses said large numbers of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led a dawn attack on the sit-in outside the military's headquarters where thousands of pro-democracy protesters have been gathered for 58 days.

The number of people killed by mid-morning local time may be as many as 14, activist and medical volunteer Nazim Siraj said, adding that another person had been killed in Omdurman.

The RSF - an officialised offshoot of the infamous Janjaweed militias accused of war crimes during the Darfur conflict led by deputy leader Mohammad Hamdan Daglo - had been aided by police and other security forces in the raid, eyewitnesses reported.

The RSF also stormed the Royal Care and East Nile Hospitals, medical facilities to which wounded demonstrators have been taken for treatment, firing live bullets inside the premises, the CCSD said on Monday mid-morning.

Multiple eyewitnesses on social media said that RSF forces had also stormed Muallem Hospitals, firing live bullets inside the building.

A handwritten list of casualties circulated on social media claims to show at least 113 
wounded at the Royal Care hospital in Khartoum

A sit-in in Gadarif, eastern Sudan, was also "dispersed" by the RSF on Monday, activists claimed. As the sit-in outside the military headquarters appeared to have been dispersed on Monday, activists also reported that RSF forces were in the process of storming homes in the Khartoum neighbourhoods Burri and Bahri, which have been protest hotspots since demonstrations against since-ousted President Omar al-Bashir began in December.

Calls for 'civil disobedience'

Leading protest organisers the Sudan Professionals Association (SPA) have called for a "political strike" and a full-scale "civil disobedience" campaign in the wake of the sit-in raid.

"The transitional [military] council was not able to be very patient in offering its false promises or bear using false slogans and positions for just a few days before revealing its true face, betraying thousands of demonstrators today at dawn," the SPA said in a statement on Monday.

"In a time when the honourable hands of this nation were extended to this council at the negotiating table for the transfer of power to the people, the same bloodthirsty soul only extended the treacherous rifle, which will inscribe this 'transitional council' with the blood of the martyrs and wounded in the pages of history."

Read more: Sudan uprising: Echoing the voices of the youth

Calling for the "overthrow of the military junta", the SPA called on protesters to blockade streets across the capital and the country, to go out on peaceful protest marches, and to create sit-ins on "every patch of land in our country", in addition to the complete "paralysis of public life" through a general strike.

Demonstrators in the capital's sister city Omdurman appeared to have answered that call on Monday, "thousands" blocking roads with burning tires and stones, Reuters reported.

The opposition group also called on the Red Crescent, International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders to intervene and provide medical care for the wounded "trapped in the sit-in area, homes and some hospitals".

The response is the SPA's toughest yet.

Failed negotiations with the military council, stalled over the question of whether a civilian or general should lead a proposed joint civilian-military transitional council, led the SPA to organise a two-day general strike last week.

The group has previously warned of "civil disobedience" if the military fails to relinquish power to civilians.

Protesters are pointing to the role of Saudi Arabia and the UAE as the military's backers.

Such an attack could not have happened without the "green light" of their Gulf allies, activists on social media said.

Council leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was in Saudi Arabia last week to take part in a series of emergency meetings called for by Riyadh in response to rising tensions in the Gulf.

Protesters set up roadblocks on 60 Street, Khartoum, following the sit-in raid [AFP]

Embassies respond

The US and UK embassies in Khartoum have levied their most severe criticism yet of the military junta over the violent sit-in dispersal.

"Extremely concerned by the heavy gunfire I've been hearing over the last hour from my Residence and reports that Sudanese security forces are attacking the protest sit-in site resulting in casualties," British Ambassador Irfan Siddiq said in a tweet.

"No excuse for any such attack. This. Must. Stop. Now."

Washington's Sudan envoy placed the blame for the violence squarely on the military council.

"Responsibility falls on the TMC [transitional military council]," the US Embassy in Khartoum said in on its official Twitter account.

An initial tweet from the embassy stating the council could not "responsibly lead" Sudan was later deleted.

Reports of casualties cannot be independently verified at this time.

Independent journalist Jason Patinkin said on Monday that "government forces" were preventing foreign journalists staying in a central Khartoum hotel from leaving the premises or even exiting onto the hotel's balconies to view ongoing events.

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