Sudan's crackdown on protests left 40 dead in nearly a month

Demonstration against the Sudan coup in a northern suburb of Khartoum on 17 November 2021 – AFP

Opponents of the coup in Sudan returned to demonstrate this Saturday (20) and called for new massive protests for Sunday, despite the repression that has killed at least 40 people in almost a month.

On October 25, General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, commander of the army and author of the coup, ended the unstable transition that had been taking place in the country for months. He ordered the arrest of nearly all civilians in power, ended the civil-military union, and decreed a state of emergency.

Since then, massive protests against the army have taken to the streets, especially in Khartoum, to demand the return to power of a civilian government. In general, these demonstrations have been harshly repressed by the security forces.

On Saturday, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Khartoum North, on the outskirts of the capital, building barricades and burning tires, according to an AFP correspondent. “No to military power,” they shouted.

– Police station burned down –

A police station in the area was set on fire. So far, it has not been clear who the perpetrators of the attack were.

Pro-democracy activists made calls on social media for mass demonstrations on Sunday, under the motto of the “March of the 21st of November”.

The Sudan Professionals Association (APS), one of the spearheads of the 2019 popular uprising that prompted the army to remove Omar al Bashir after 30 years in power, urged the population to keep up the pressure for a return to civilian rule.

The movement continues despite the lethal repression of the security forces against the protesters.

Wednesday, November 17, was the deadliest day, with the death of 16 people. Most of the deaths occurred in Khartoum North, a suburb linked to the capital by a bridge over the Nile, according to information from a union of pro-democracy doctors. One of the victims was hit by a bullet and died this Saturday.

“A 16-year-old boy was severely shot in the head and leg on November 17 and became a martyr,” the union said in a statement.

Police say that 89 of their soldiers were injured and said they never opened fire on the protesters. These represent the majority of deaths in protests registered since 25 October.

According to the police forces, which have a very different balance, so far, one person was killed and 30 injured, due to the use of tear gas.

After the violence escalated, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday he was “deeply concerned” about the crackdown and urged the army to authorize peaceful demonstrations, noting the need to “re-establish the civilian-led transition” .

The African Union, which suspended Sudan, also condemned the crackdown and called for a “democratic transition”, according to a statement on Saturday.

In the face of these appeals, General Burhan remains adamant. It was reassigned to the head of the highest institution of the transition, the Sovereign Council, redirected all of its military or pro-army members, and appointed non-political civilians.

But the military has yet to name a new government, as promised for weeks after Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok was detained under house arrest.

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