New evidence has been revealed on the systematic killings of protesters during Sudan’s crackdown on protests against the government of deposed President Omar al-Bashir in 2018 and 2019.
Involvement by all branches of the country’s security forces has been documented by Amnesty International.
In the report titled “They descended on us like rain”, Amnesty International documents how the police, the National Intelligence Security Service (NISS) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) at different times led deadly assaults on protesters.
“During our research many victims and their families clearly pinpointed specific arms of the security forces that ruthlessly attacked protesters. We have documented evidence of the specific killings and which of the security forces were involved,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
“We are urging Sudan’s transitional authorities to hold thorough, effective and independent investigations into all protester killings and other human rights violations. The investigations must cover all phases of the protests, particularly from mid-December 2018 to June 02, 2019. Every victim must get justice.”
The security forces used excessive force to inflict maximum harm on protesters committing egregious human rights violations, including arbitrary mass detention of thousands of people, torture and other ill-treatment. They also invaded hospitals, arrested and beat medical staff and patients.
The report also documents gruesome incidents and testimonies of rape and sexually assault of female protestors.
The NISS, renamed the General Intelligence Services (GIS) in July 2019, and its shadowy armed operational units were responsible for the first lethal crackdowns on protesters in December 2018 and led attacks on protestors until April 2019 when Omar al-Bashir was deposed.
Its armed operational unit in Atbara ‘Hyaṯ Alamlyat’, shot at protesters on December 20, 2018 resulting in the first deaths of the Sudan protests – three people in Atbara, the city where the Sudanese protests were sparked off by the sky-rocketing price of bread.
“This deadly crackdown in Atbara, which despite its long history in trade unionism and resistance had never witnessed protester killings, threw the city into a state of shock and mourning,” said Deprose Muchena.
Amnesty International documented 77 protestors killed between mid-December 2018 and April 11, 2019, while the government said 31 had been killed.
After Al-Bashir was deposed by the military, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) was deployed to help disperse protesters.
On June 03, RSF officers led a deadly raid on peaceful protesters at the sit-in area outside the military headquarters in Khartoum in which at least 100 people were killed. Those who survived the attack identified not only RSF officers, but also NISS officers and the police as having been involved in the massacre.
On June 13, Lieutenant General Shams al-Deen al-Kabashi, spokesperson of the Transitional Military Council which was running the country at the time, publicly admitted that the Council had ordered the dispersal of protestors on June 03.
“The unprovoked attack on protesters who were filled with hope and peacefully looking forward to a quick resolution of the political crisis was a despicable violation of the Sudanese people rights. All those found responsible, including through command responsibility, must be brought to justice through fair trials, but without resorting to the death penalty,” said Deprose Muchena.
Based on data from various credible sources, including the Committee of the Families of the Martyrs of the December 2018 Revolution, Amnesty International estimates that at least 100 people were killed, and more than 700 others injured in the June 03 attack.
Hundreds of protesters were also arrested, many of whom were subsequently released. At least 20 are still missing, according to Fadia Khalaf, founder of the Initiative for Missing People. (Source: Amnesty Intl.)