The crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Sudan continued on Saturday, January 15, as security forces detained more anti-coup protesters. The protesters had been injured during the January 13 demonstrations and were leaving the Royal Care Hospital in Burri in eastern Khartoum when they were arrested.
The injured protesters, along with their companions, were reportedly seized outside the hospital by men in civilian clothes and taken away in vehicles with no number plates to unknown locations.
Among those arrested is 17-year-old Mohamed Adam, aka Tupac, who was being treated in the hospital for two gunshot injuries. He is reportedly being charged for the alleged murder of a police brigadier general who, according to the police, was stabbed to death by a protester on January 13.
Many observers have raised suspicions of foul play in the case, pointing out that on January 13, the police had already claimed to have arrested and extracted a confession from a protester they had originally accused of stabbing the police officer.
Shot in the abdomen that day, 21-year-old El Rayeh Mohamed became the 64th protester confirmed to have been killed by the security forces since the military coup on October 25. Several dozen others were wounded by live bullets, tear gas canisters and stun-grenades that the security forces are known to fire directly at the bodies of protesters.
Majority of the injuries were reported from the three cities of Khartoum State. In the capital Khartoum city, rallies starting out from several neighborhoods broke through the heavy security cordons and reached the Presidential Palace, the seat of army chief and coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Here, the protesters were surrounded by army vehicles and dispersed with force.
To prevent protesters from neighboring Khartoum North and Omdurman from reaching this venue, the army opened fire. The army had blocked the bridges connecting the three cities divided by the Nile.
Resistance Committees in Khartoum North claimed that several protesters were detained and beaten and stabbed with knives before being released. Shootings were also reported from Wad Madani, the capital of El Gezira State in Sudan’s east-central region.
Radio Dabanga reported that mass demonstrations were also witnessed in cities in several other States across the country, including in Kassala, Blue Nile, While Nile, Sennar, River Nile and also the restive State of South Kordofan and the Darfur region.
The States of Red Sea, North Kordofan and North Darfur had witnessed demonstrations a day earlier, on January 12, when this round of ‘March of Millions’, which has become a regular resistance exercise since the coup, was originally scheduled.
“Resistance Committees showed the security forces who controls the streets”
“However, just one hour before the protests were set to begin, the Resistance Committees announced that the protest was postponed to January 13. And the thousands who had already set out immediately responded by retreating from the streets while others stayed home,” said one protester who regularly attends Resistance Committee meetings in a neighborhood in Khartoum.
What then followed was an embarrassment for the police, the army and the militia. The forces were stationed along all the main roads with bridges blocked and communications cut, only to find that the protest was postponed and no one was going to turn up. There are two important conclusions to be drawn from this, he argued.
“Firstly,” he said, “the Resistance Committees showed the security forces who controls the streets. This showed that the streets are not in chaos, they are highly organized and have a very effective leadership. Secondly, it shows the poor intelligence the state has about the protest movement. Security forces have totally failed to infiltrate it. Many of us knew one day in advance that the protest would be postponed at the last moment. And yet, it seemed that security forces had no clue. They are simply reading statements on Facebook.”
Hundreds of thousands of protesters have been taking to the streets across Sudan on the time and dates decided by the Resistance Committees. On January 12, the Resistance Committees showed that even an hour before a scheduled protest, their organization can ensure that a mobilized security force finds nothing but empty streets to confront.
A series of arrests since have reportedly targeted members of the Resistance Committees. However, the killings, maiming and arrests by the security forces have not fazed the protest movement, which is currently mobilizing for another ‘March of Millions’ on Monday, January 17.
The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) has announced that doctors and medics will also be holding vigils, reiterating the protest movement’s call for overthrowing the military generals who led the coup. The vigils are also to condemn the attacks on hospitals and medical staff on duty during the previous protests.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) is following with great concern the escalating crisis in Sudan, including 15 reported attacks on health care workers and health facilities since November 2021… 11 of which have been confirmed,” Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said in a statement on January 11.
“Most of these attacks were committed against health care workers in the form of physical assault, obstruction, violent searches, and related psychological threats and intimidation. Also reported were 2 incidents involving raiding and military incursion of health care facilities.”
This is a sharp increase in the number of attacks on medics as only one attack was reported in 2020. Even in 2019, when the December Revolution which began at the end of 2018 overthrew dictator Omar al Bashir, only seven instances of attacks on medics were recorded, the statement added.
It is amidst this escalation of violence by the security forces on medics, patients, old and the young alike, that the US and its regional and Western allies as well as the UN have been calling for a dialogue.
The centrist and right wing political parties – which had earlier entered into a power sharing agreement with the military, making way for the joint civilian-military transitional government which was dissolved after the coup on October 25 – have once again agreed to negotiate.
However, the Resistance Committees, the trade union coalition called the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) and the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), which appear to command the majority of the protesters on the streets, have firmly rejected this call. They have reiterated that only the complete overthrow of the military junta can make way for a democratic transition.
And so the slogan “No Negotiation, No Compromise, No Power-sharing” with generals will once again be chanted in demonstrations across Sudan on Monday, January 17, amid the sounds of live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas.