Compendium of January 14, 2019 News Concerning Sudan’s Ongoing Uprising
Eric Reeves | January 14, 2019 | https://wp.me/s45rOG-9079
All the day’s news from Sudanese news sources in English and international wires services; datelines from Khartoum, Khartoum North (Bahri), Doha, Nyala, El Fasher, Port Sudan, Cairo, Paris
(emphases in bold have been added; commentary in blue bold italics is mine–ER]
• Sudan’s opposition groups say ready for mass civil disobedience | Sudan Tribune, January 14, 2019 (KHARTOUM) http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article66912
Sudan’s opposition professional and political groups announced their readiness to launch a mass civil disobedience, a crucial stage in the ongoing nationwide unrest, after successful protests on Sunday. On Sunday, the opposition groups held a number of protests in Khartoum North, three big cities of Darfur, El-Fasher Nyala and Geneina, and various Sudanese cities including Wad Medani, Port Sudan and Atbara.
The significant participation in the recent demonstrations and the growing socialization of the idea of regime change in the country push now the opposition to believe that the popular mobilization process has reached its peak and it is time to move to the stage of mass civil disobedience to cause complete paralysis of the administrative machinery.
In a joint statement released on Sunday evening after the end of the protests, the opposition parties and professionals said the peaceful demonstrations steadily faced the regime’s repressive arsenal.
“This regime has lost the ability to political and economic management, and failed to turn peaceful processions, marches and demonstrations to a battle of violence, despite the use of live ammunition and arrests, because of the belief of revolutionaries that the peaceful revolution is the secret of its success and continuation,” said the statement.
The opposition groups went further to say that the next step is a “decisive” one as “the path to a general strike has become paved.” “The realization of complete paralysis of the movement of the regime will be our line in the coming days,” they stressed. The opposition groups say they are deliberating on a draft political charter to prepare for the after al-Bashir regime. Also, the Sudan Call deputy chairman and head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) called on the opposition forces to an emphasis on the plight of the marginalized areas.
The Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and JEM declined to resume peace talks with the Sudanese government in Doha as scheduled this month fearing to disappoint their allies participating in the over three-week unrest.
The joint statement said the evening protests will take place on Tuesday 15 January in Al-Thora and Kallakla towns in Khartoum State, adding further demonstrations will be announced later.
Also, it indicated that the protest of 17 January will head to the presidential palace in conjunction with similar processions in several cities in the country. The peaceful protests began on 19 December 2018 over the increase in bread princes and a shortage of basic commodities. But, now Sudanese call on President al-Bashir to go saying his regime has caused the economic collapse and isolated Sudan internationally.
• Sudanese Doctors Committee reports excess security in hospitals | Radio Dabanga, January 14, 2019| KHARTOUM / PORT SUDAN / NYALA | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudanese-doctors-committee-reports-excess-security-in-hospitals
Yesterday, the Sudanese Doctors Committee reported an excess of security and police forces in hospitals, as doctors announce continuation of strikes in Omdurman and further afield.
In their report, the committee explained that there is an excess of security and police forces in hospitals in Port Sudan, Nyala, and Khartoum. The committee also pointed to an intensive presence of security forces inside and around hospitals in Khartoum North, where tear gas canisters were thrown into Bahri Teaching Hospital on Sunday. The doctors announced the extension of the comprehensive strike on all cases in Omdurman Teaching Hospital and Mohamed El Amin Hamid children’s hospitals for another 48 hours starting on Sunday as a result of non-implementation of their demands.
The Omdurman Medical Committee announced a comprehensive strike on Thursday for two days in protest against the security forces’ storming of the campus of the hospital and the Mohamed El Amin Hamid Hospital in the neighbourhood and the firing of bullets and tear gas inside of the hospitals, as well as the arrest of doctors. The committee conditioned the lift of the strike with holding those involved accountable, conducting the necessary investigations, and providing protection from the military police.
According to the Sudanese Doctors Syndicate, the current situation makes it impossible for the Sudanese doctors to conduct their ethical and professional duties.
On Saturday, dozens of pharmacies in Sudan staged a partial strike from 10am to 4pm that will continue until Sunday, while continuing to work in emergency pharmacies in solidarity with the popular protests. The Sudanese Central Pharmacists Committee confirmed that 400 pharmacies in Khartoum and El Gadaref had closed in response to calls for strikes in solidarity with the popular protests that have entered their fourth week. The Central Committee of Pharmacists condemned the killing of demonstrators and the storming of hospitals’ emergency departments. Members of various professional associations and trade unions have joined the call for these peaceful protests to object the unprecedented collapse of the public sector and the lack of public services provision in the public facilities.
• Darfur visit: Al Bashir defiant against change | Radio Dabanga, January 14, 2019 | DARFUR | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/darfur-visit-al-bashir-defiant-against-change
One day after a demonstration calling for the fall of the regime, Al Bashir visited Nyala today to tell the capital of South Darfur that the protests “will not change the government.”
The Sudanese president arrived in Nyala today, greeted by a crowd of supporters. This followed an announcement made yesterday by government vehicles, which roamed the city with loudpseakers calling for people to go out to receive the president. Security has been increased significantly in the region due to waves of protests which have been going on across the country for the past three weeks. “Sudan has many enemies and those enemies have few people among us who don’t want stability and security,” said Al Bashir.
Nyala turned into a complete military barracks on Saturday in preparation for the Sudanese president’s visit today. A peaceful demonstration took place in the centre of the city on Sunday despite the security services’ occupation of the place announced as the starting point of the march. The demonstrators could be heard shouting “peaceful, peaceful against the thieves” and “the people want to topple the regime.”
The security services, led by the Popular Security Apparatus beat protestors with batons and used tear gas to disperse crowds. They also allegedly detained over 50 people.
There was also a huge increase in the number of security personnel in the streets of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, on Sunday. As a result, planned protests did not go ahead. An activist told Radio Dabanga that large numbers of masked men dressed in civilian clothes walked through El Fasher market throughout the morning. In addition, security forces of all types were deployed within the market and neighbouring districts.
It was reported by the activists that arrests were carried out before the protest march began. The security forces have already undergone a large-scale campaign of detentions among activists and leaders and opposition political forces in Darfur. This includes Amani Hasabo, the head of the Sudanese Congress Party in North Darfur.
• Sudanese rebel leader refuses to “sit down with regime” | Radio Dabanga, January 14, 2019 | PARIS / DOHA | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudanese-rebel-leader-refuses-to-sit-down-with-regime
Jibril Ibrahim, head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), has rejected the resumption of negotiations with the government, due to be held in Doha in January, to protest the killing and detention of peaceful demonstrators in Sudan over the past three weeks.
During an annual ceremony held in Paris to commemorate the movement’s victims, Ibrahim said: “We have refused to sit down with the regime in Doha,” acting in solidarity with nationwide protests calling for president Al Bashir to step down from power which have just entered their fourth week. He said, “They asked us to go to negotiate but we refused, saying we cannot betray the Sudanese revolution at this critical moment.” Ibrahim also pointed out that “we fear the regime will exploit the negotiations in its propaganda, in order to quell the revolution.”
The JEM and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) of Minni Minawi leadership were due to discuss the resumption of negotiations with the Sudanese government in Doha this month. This was going to be the next step after all parties signed a pre-negotiation agreement on December 6, 2018.
The pre-negotiation agreement
At the time, Ibrahim said that the pre-negotiation agreement with the Sudanese government would pave the way for the resumption of peace talks. The first step of the talks in January would be to establish a suitable mechanism to implement outcome of the negotiations between the two movements and the government of Sudan.
The second step would be to resume negotiations, provided that the Doha Agreement for Darfur Peace in Darfur is the basis for this and that all issues which the two movements believe are needed to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace in Darfur are included. These involve issues related to the causes of war and the treatment of its consequences. An important focus for the two signatories is displaced persons and refugees and concerns about their return, compensation, and land rights.
[It is important to stress that the so-called “Doha Document for Peace in Darfur” (DDPD)—sponsored in large measure by the Obama administration and Libya’s now dead strongman Muamar Gadhafi—took no account of these critical issues. Nor was there any civil society participation in the DDPD. And yet the international community has been content to pretend that this is somehow a real peace agreement, a pretense that Khartoum has taken maximum advantage of—ER]
The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) was finalised at the All Darfur Stakeholders Conference in May 2011, in Doha, Qatar. On July 14, the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement signed a protocol agreement committing themselves to the Document, which is now the framework for the comprehensive peace process in Darfur.
[The Liberation and Justice Movement was an expedient contrivance of U.S. special envoy Scott Gration and Gadhafi—it was neither politically nor militarily representative of the people of Darfur or the significant rebel groups. It had no right to claim to represent the people of Darfur, who were furious with the whole process—ER]
• Live fire used during demonstrations in Khartoum North | Radio Dabanga, January 14, 2019 | KHARTOUM | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/live-fire-used-during-demonstrations-in-khartoum-north
The security services used live ammunition, tear gas, and batons to disperse demonstrators in Khartoum North yesterday, along with detention of several taking part in protests.
In response to the call of the Sudanese Professionals Association and allied opposition forces, thousands demonstrated in Khartoum North on Sunday as Sudan entered its fourth week of unrest. Five separate marches, described as “massive” and “well organised,” took place along the main streets in the northern part of the capital, according to eyewitnesses.
As people gathered at Bahri central bus station in Khartoum North, security forces began firing tear gas at the crowd. Smaller demonstrations inside the districts where the security forces fired live bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators inside the residential districts and homes.
In Khartoum North’s districts Shambat, El Shaabiya, Hillet Hamad, El Haj Yousif, El Managla, and Khartoum Bahri, security forces ordered shop owners to close their shops and stopped traffic. Witnesses said hundreds of security and police vehicles, as well as vehicles, roamed the area and were stationed on the main streets. Demonstrations lasted for many hours, moving to and fro between areas. Security forces fired bullets in some areas, shot tear gas, and detained demonstrators. The amount of demonstrators detained to this day is unclear.
In addition, the security services launched a random arrest campaign in Khartoum North before and after the demonstration. Those detained include journalist Mohamed Abdelmajid. Other journalists covering the protests, among them Mohamed Salman, Yousef El Jalal and Aisha El Samani, were severely beaten with electric wires, batons, and whips.
Witnesses and journalists also reported to Radio Dabanga that there were young people belonging to the Popular Security Apparatus in civilian clothes carrying pistols. The Popular Security Apparatus is the clandestine arm of the security apparatus in Sudan. Popular security personnel normally work among civilians and in ordinary posts, at the same time belonging to the security services. Witnesses in Bahri also reported that security agents raided a house at El Mazad North where the owner of the house was beaten and over 20 young men and women were detained.
Map of Khartoum North
• Sudan: Bashir dismisses protests as demonstrators push to keep up the pressure | Radio France International, January 14, 2019
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir vowed on Monday to stay in power despite ongoing protests calling for his departure. Demonstrators took to the streets of several Sudanese cities on Sunday as security forces responded with teargas while more protests are expected on Tuesday in the capital Khartoum and neighbouring Omdurman.
“Demonstrations will not change the government,” Bashir told supporters during a rally in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, according to reports from the AFP news agency, citing state television. “The Sudanese people will decide in 2020 who will govern them,” said Bashir, referring to elections next year in which he plans to stand for a third term as president. “There’s only one road to power and that is through the ballot box.”
The demonstrations over the past three weeks were originally focused on living standards and the price of bread. However, protests have now morphed into a more general anger directed at Bashir and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). “Bashir doesn’t understand that the game’s over for him and his party,” Amjed Farid, a spokesperson for the Sudan Change Now activist movement, told RFI. “He cannot rule Sudan anymore, the man is history now.” More than 40 people have been killed in a deadly crackdown on demonstrations since 19 December, according to rights group Amnesty International. Although Farid from Sudan Change Now said the death toll has exceeded 55 people.
“We have informal counts through our medical sources in the different hospitals in the different cities of Sudan,” said Farid in a telephone interview, describing the death toll since 19 December. Sunday’s protests were not met with the same level of deadly force, according to Amnesty researcher Ahmed Elzobier. “The government has scaled down the use of lethal force,” he told RFI, referring to increasing attention on social media, reporting from the international media as well as statements from the UN, European Union and human rights organisations.
Nevertheless, Elzobier said he is concerned about reports of an armed militia linked to the ruling NCP cracking down on protesters. He said the militia wore masks and were using vehicles without number plates to avoid identification.
The Amnesty researcher also said hospitals are being targeted as part of the crackdown with members of the security forces pursuing injured protesters, and doctors, who try to protect their patients, also being detained. “Security forces tried to arrest those who were injured and they tried to take them to a different hospital to hide the evidence,” said Elzobier, talking about teargas fired inside a hospital in Khartoum North district and a similar incident in Nyala, Darfur.
Activist Farid said the number of arrests is more than 2,000, considerably higher than 816 people, as stated by the Sudanese Interior Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman on 7 January. “Sudan Change Now and other political entities, we say the number is around 2,000 across the different cities of Sudan and this estimate was from last week,” said Farid, speaking from outside the country. Amnesty uses a more conservative figure, putting the number of arrests at more than 1,000, according to Elzobier. “Every day we receive from 20 to 40 names of people from different parts of the country,” he said in a telephone interview.
The Amnesty researcher characterises the protests as “peaceful” using slogans that “preach peace,” although he noted some isolated instances of stone-throwing at security forces. The Sudan Change Now spokesperson said Tuesday’s demonstrations are expected to be big following the call from the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, who have been spearheading the rallies. Farid describes the demonstrations as “very organised” with a schedule and breaks in between protest days.
“The revolution that’s on the streets of Khartoum is very focused and has a very clear vision that people are fed up with the mismanagement and the political corruption that led to this economic crisis,” he said.
• Sudan police fire tear gas as protesters press on with demonstrations | Agence France-Presse, January 14, 2019 (Khartoum) | https://www.philstar.com/world/2019/01/14/1884999/sudan-police-fire-tear-gas-protesters-press-demos
Sudanese police fired tear gas yesterday at crowds of anti-government protesters in Khartoum and war-torn Darfur as organisers called for more nationwide rallies against President Omar al-Bashir this week. The demonstrations in Darfur were the first of their kind since unrest erupted on December 19 over a government decision to triple the price of bread. The protests have since swiftly escalated into nationwide rallies widely seen as the biggest threat to Bashir’s rule in his three decades in power.
Protesters who took to the streets in the capital’s Bahari district chanting “peace, peace” and “revolution is the people’s choice” were quickly confronted by riot police, witnesses told AFP.
Authorities say the protests have left 24 people dead so far, while Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 40, including children and medical staff.
The European Union said on Friday that security forces have used “live ammunition” against protesters causing casualties, although Sudanese officials including Bashir have blamed the violence on “thugs” and “conspirators.” Protest organisers have called for near daily demonstrations across the country against Bashir this week, calling it a “Week of Uprising.”
In Khartoum on yesterday protesters were seen carrying the Sudanese flag as others held banners bearing the words “peace, justice, freedom”, which has become a key slogan in the rallies. Witnesses told AFP that police were pursuing protesters down Bahari’s streets and alleys. “It’s like a cat and mouse game,” a witness said.
Stench of tear gas
Many of the protesters were women who wore masks to protect themselves from tear gas as they whistled and clapped in the streets of Bahari, the hub of yesterday’s demonstration, witnesses said. Some residents in Bahari took protesters inside their homes and offered them juice as tear gas canisters stuck the facades of their buildings, a witness said. Video posted on social media showed police arresting several protesters. The footage could not be independently verified.
Police dispersed the rally later on yesterday, but the smell of tear gas lingered across the neighbourhood, witnesses said. Several streets remained blocked with burnt tyres and rocks thrown by protesters, a witness said, adding that riot police, some in vehicles loaded with machineguns, remained deployed in the area.
Protests broke out in Darfur after calls for rallies there by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has spearheaded the demonstrations. Police fired tear gas at demonstrators who took to the streets of El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state and in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, witnesses said.
Darfur, a region the size of France, has been torn by violence since 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum, accusing it of economic and political marginalisation.
Bashir, who seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has been charged by the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) with genocide and war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.
Protests were also reported in the central town of Madani and in some villages of the eastern impoverished, agricultural province of Gadaref. Anti-government demonstrations first erupted last month in towns and villages before later spreading to Khartoum. Rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began, including opposition leaders, activists and journalists as well as demonstrators. The crackdown has drawn international criticism, with countries like Britain, Norway, Canada and the United States warning Khartoum that its actions could “have an impact” on its relations with their governments.
Although the unrest was triggered by the rise in the price of bread, Sudan has faced a mounting economic crisis over the past year, led by an acute shortage of foreign currency. Repeated shortages of food and fuel have been reported in several cities, including Khartoum, while the cost of food and medicine has more than doubled. Bashir and other officials have blamed Washington for Sudan’s economic woes. The US imposed a trade embargo on Khartoum in 1997 that was lifted only in October 2017. It restricted Sudan from conducting international business and financial transactions.
But critics of Bashir say his government’s mismanagement of key sectors and its huge spending on fighting ethnic minority rebellions in Darfur and areas near the South Sudan border have been stoking economic trouble for years.
• Sudan’s al-Bashir defiant in face of weeks of unrest | Associated Press, January 14, 2019 (Cairo) | https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/sudans-al-bashir-defiant-in-face-of-weeks-of-unrest/2019/01/14/2bf74504-17f0-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html?utm_term=.6f093aba355e
Sudan’s longtime ruler was defiant Monday in the face of more than three weeks of protests demanding his resignation, reiterating at a rally in the west of the country that a change in leadership can only come through the ballot box. In power since 1989, Omar al-Bashir is already one of the region’s longest serving leaders. His ruling Popular Congress Party has nominated him to run for another term in office next year.
“The people brought this government to office and there is only one way (to change it) and that’s the ballot box,” al-Bashir told hundreds of supporters in the Darfur city of Nyala. “The ballot box is what decides and the people of Sudan will chose who rules them in 2020, God willing.”
[There has, of course, never been anything approaching a free and fair election under the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party. The elections of the past 30 years have all been transparent shams—ER]
Al-Bashir’s years in office have failed to lift Sudan out of its rampant poverty or bring peace and unity to the religiously diverse country. Sudan was Africa’s largest country until 2011, when the mainly animist and Christian south seceded, taking with it about three quarters of the country’s oil wealth.
He was indicted in 2010 by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur, where a revolt was brutally suppressed by forces loyal to the government, including militias. Tens of thousands died in that conflict and hundreds of thousands were displaced. The ongoing, anti-government protests erupted on Dec. 19, initially over price hikes and shortages but soon shifted to calling on the Islamist president to step down. The unrest has spread across much of Sudan, including areas north of Khartoum from which the country’s ruling establishment traditionally hails.
At least 40 people have been killed in the clashes, according to rights groups, but the government has acknowledged only 24 deaths. Authorities have also detained more than 800 people since the unrest began, along with dozens of opposition leaders.
Al-Bashir on Monday repeated his claim the unrest is the work of Sudan’s foreign enemies who use local agents for their schemes. “They don’t like the stability we’ve achieved,” he said. “There is an economic problem … and we are working to resolve it,” he said without elaborating. Last week, he pledged to continue state subsidies for basic items, raise salaries, improve health care and overhaul the banking system. He didn’t say how he intended to do any of that.
Also Monday, security forces detained at least 18 journalists, mostly from the independent Khartoum daily al-Jareeda. The arrests were made as the journalists gathered outside the newspaper’s offices before heading to the headquarters of the domestic security agency to protest state censorship.
• Sudan’s Bashir says protests will not lead to change in government | Reuters, January 14, 2019 (Khartoum) | https://www.nasdaq.com/article/sudans-bashir-says-protests-will-not-lead-to-change-in-government-20190114-00517
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir insisted on Monday that he would not step down after weeks of violent protests and calls for him to quit over a worsening economic crisis. Protests have rippled across Sudan since Dec. 19 in the most sustained challenge yet to Bashir’s near 30-year rule. Security forces have used live ammunition to disperse demonstrations. The official death toll stands at 24, including two security forces personnel. Amnesty International has said that more than 40 people have been killed.
“The government does not change through demonstrations,” Bashir said, speaking to thousands of supporters in Nyala [I find this crowd estimate suspiciously high—ER], the main city in South Darfur, a day after protesters demonstrated there for the first time.
Since the protests started nearly four weeks ago, more than 800 people have been arrested, the government said last week. Human rights activists say those detained include political activists, civil society members and journalists. Earlier this month the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Sudanese authorities to release at least three journalists who had been detained after publishing columns in support of the protests.
In Khartoum on Monday, Reuters witnessed a group of journalists being arrested as they attempted to deliver a petition protesting control of the press to the media department of the national security and intelligence service. The CPJ had earlier said that Sudanese authorities were attempting to censor news coverage of the protests. Sudanese authorities have blocked access to popular social media platforms.
Speaking in Khartoum last week, Bashir challenged his opponents to beat him at the ballot box and blamed unnamed foreign powers for provoking weeks of almost daily protests prompted by bread and currency shortages. The protests quickly spread and turned into demonstrations against Bashir.
Sudan has slid deeper into economic crisis since the southern part of the country seceded after a referendum in 2011, taking away much of the country’s oil resources. The crisis has deepened further since last year, when the country saw some brief protests over bread shortages.
On Monday, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi expressed concern about the situation in Sudan. “If the situation deteriorates further there could be displacement (of people) and there could also be external displacement,” he told reporters during a visit to Cairo. “But we hope that the situation will be stabilised in a peaceful manner, respecting the lives of the people of course, as soon as possible.”
The United States lifted 20-year-old trade sanctions on Sudan in October 2017, but many investors have continued to shun a country still listed by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of masterminding genocide in Darfur – charges he denies.