Two more protesters were killed in Sudan, bringing the death toll to 81 since the military took over.
Regular mass demonstrations have shaken the fragile northeast African country since a military takeover led by army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25, and the fatalities on Monday bring the total number of those murdered in the unrest to at least 81.
The power grab jeopardized a delicate power-sharing arrangement struck between the army and civilians after the overthrow of longstanding tyrant Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
Thousands marched in Khartoum and its twin city, Omdurman, on Monday. According to witnesses, demonstrations also took place in the eastern city of Port Sudan and the western Darfur area, according to an AFP report reviewed by NCMP.
Protests in Khartoum began with masses waving national flags and holding red balloons since the marches coincided with Valentine’s Day.
One banner said, “Today is the nation’s love day.”
Some chanted chants asking that the government free activists who had been detained, while others brought photos of protestors who had been slain.
“We are seeking the release of members of the resistance group and politicians who were wrongfully jailed and are facing bogus accusations,” demonstrator Khaled Mohamed added.
However, when masses attempted to reach the presidential residence, security personnel launched tear gas canisters.
According to the independent Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, one demonstrator was murdered after being shot in the “neck and chest by coup troops” in Khartoum.
Another demonstrator was subsequently slain in Omdurman by “live gunshots to the left shoulder that pierced the chest,” according to the committee.
Strike Against Hunger
Sudanese police reported in a statement that at least 102 officers were “severely injured,” with one receiving a “gunshot to the foot.”
Protesters also “smashed the front” of the parliament building, started a fire in a nearby petrol station, and destroyed multiple cars and a mosque in Omdurman, according to the report.
Damage was also reported to numerous portions of the city’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, and objects belonging to security officers were robbed, according to the report, which added that police only “used proportionate lawful force” in response.
While Sudanese troops have frequently denied firing on protestors, witnesses have told Human Rights Watch that security personnel used “live ammunition” and sprayed tear gas canisters “directly” at people, a method that may be lethal in close quarters.
Authorities have also detained a large number of individuals suspected of being members of “resistance committees” that have been helpful in organizing demonstrations.
“The number of persons imprisoned unjustly and without criminal accusations has surpassed 100,” the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) said on Monday.
Detainees at Khartoum’s Soba jail went on hunger strike to protest prison conditions, according to the Sudan Doctors Central Committee.
“Some have been imprisoned without charges, while others are currently being investigated,” the medics said in a statement.
Authorities detained Mohamed al-Fekki, a civilian former member of the governing Sovereign Council that administered the nation under the now-stalled 2019 power-sharing deal, on Sunday.
Authorities detained ex-minister Khaled Omar Youssef and Wagdi Saleh, spokesperson for Sudan’s major civilian group, the Forces for Freedom and Change, last week (FFC).
Those arrests happened only a day after they joined an FFC team for negotiations with UN Special Representative Volker Perthes in an attempt to address Sudan’s escalating situation.
The October military takeover, Sudan’s second coup since independence, drew significant international criticism and severe penalties – but officials have shown little willingness to negotiate.
According to an official statement issued by Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Burhan met with the Emirati ambassador to Sudan on Monday, who delivered him a formal invitation from President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to visit the UAE.
The UAE, along with the United States and the United Kingdom, has urged for the reinstatement of Sudan’s civilian-led transition.