Sudan regime says thousands detained in protest crackdown

Sudan regime says thousands detained in protest crackdown
Sudan's interior minister has said that seven people had died since Saturday, when a mass sit-in began outside of the Army General Command in Khartoum, raising a long-static death count.
3 min read
08 April, 2019
Thousands of protesters have been staging a sit-in in the capital since Saturday [AFP]

The Sudanese regime on Monday evening acknowledged that seven protesters have been killed and thousands detained following a crackdown since protests in the capital intensified on Saturday.

Khartoum said that 2,496 had been arrested on Saturday alone, as protesters held a sit-in outside the army headquarter's - viewed as the centre of power in Sudan.

On Monday, the demonstration in Khartoum entered its third night with thousands taking part in the action.

"While the demonstrations were being dispersed seven citizens died, six of them in Khartoum state and one in Central Darfur," interior minister Bushara Juma told parliament on Monday, without explicitly acknowledging how the protesters had died.

Four men were killed by the security services during the ongoing sit-in outside the Army General Command in the capital Khartoum on Sunday morning, the Central Committee for Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) said on Sunday.

A man was killed in Omdurman and a woman in Central Darfur on Saturday, the CCSD said in the same statement.

Later on Sunday, the doctors' committee announced the killing of a man in al-Obeid, southwestern Sudan.

A soldier was killed while defending protesters at the Khartoum sit-in, and a man was killed by the security services elsewhere in Khartoum, the CCSD added in a Monday statement.

Soldier Sami Sheikh al-Deen appears not to have been included in the regime's updated count of the dead.

Juma's remarks are the first time in months that President Omar al-Bashir's regime has acknowledged the deaths of protesters.

Until Monday, a regime tally of deaths since mid-December had stood frozen at 30 people for at least two months, while the regime now says 38 people have died.

A tally of deaths recorded by activists on the ground now stands at 69.

An additional 15 civilians and 42 members of the security services were wounded on Saturday, Juma added, again not clarifying how the civilians or security service personnel had been injured.

The interior minister also claimed that just 10,000 protesters had rallied in front of the military headquarters on Saturday, according to AFP, flying in the face of eyewitness reports which say hundreds of thousands of people continue to gather, and increase in number, in front of the General Command.

More than 2,000 people were arrested by Sudan's security forces on Saturday alone, Juma claimed.

As the security forces only had access to the protesters staging a sit-in in front of the army headquarters for an hour or two overnight on Saturday, it is likely that the majority of those arrests took place in other neighbourhoods of Khartoum, where activists had reported the heavy presence of security services, and in other towns and cities.

He also claimed that six police vehicles had been destroyed in Khartoum.

A protest march from various neighbourhoods of the capital towards the General Command on Saturday - planned to coincide with the anniversary of Sudan's 6 April Revolution, when mass protests led to the ousting of President Gaafar Nimeiri - who seized power in a 1969 military coup - soon turned into the largest in the country's most recent uprising.

Thousands of Sudanese converged on the army headquarters to call on the military to stand with them against Bashir's regime

Despite repeated attempts by the security forces to disperse demonstrators with tear gas and rubber and live bullets, the sit-in has continued unabated for three straight days.

Demonstrators have been protesting against Bashir since mid-December.