Tens of thousands of protesters rallied across Sudan on Sunday against the ruling generals as organisers called for a march on the presidential palace in Khartoum, in the biggest mass demonstration since a deadly crackdown on demonstrators.
The ‘million-man’ march is being seen as a test for protest organisers whose push for civilian rule has been hit by the June 3 raid on a Khartoum sit-in and a subsequent internet blackout that has curbed their ability to mobilise support.
Dozens of demonstrators were killed and hundreds wounded when armed men in military fatigues stormed the sit-in outside army headquarters, shooting and beating protesters who had camped there since April 6.
On Sunday, police fired tear gas in the northern Khartoum district of Bahri and in Mamura and Arkweit, in the capital’s east, as thousands of protesters chanted ‘Civilian rule! Civilian rule!’, witnesses said.
Security forces also used tear gas against demonstrators in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman and the eastern town of Gadaref, witnesses said.
Sudanese protesters chant slogans demanding civilian rule during a rally in Khartoum’s southern al-Sahafa district
People shout slogans as they march on the streets demanding the ruling military hand over to civilians during a demonstration in Khartoum
People shout slogans as they march on the streets demanding the ruling military hand over to civilians during a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan, today
Tear gas fumes rise amidst Sudanese protesters during a mass demonstration against the country’s ruling generals in the capital Khartoum’s central ‘Khartoum 2’ district today
Protesters chanted anti-military slogans like ‘Burhan’s council, just fall’, according to video clips circulated online. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan is head of the military council.
Video clips showed protesters running away from security forces in the streets of Khartoum and seeking shelter from clouds of tear gas.
On a highway leading to Khartoum’s international airport, a convoy of troops and riot police allowed some demonstrators to pass through as they headed toward the house of a protester who was killed earlier this month.
The protester’s mother was standing outside and joined the demonstration. They waved Sudanese flags and chanted slogans calling for civilian rule.
The latest demonstrations come at a time when Ethiopia and the African Union (AU) are jointly mediating between the protesters and generals.
The European Union, several Western nations and rights groups have called on the generals to avoid any violence.
Men and women flashing victory signs and carrying Sudanese flags flooded the streets of Al-Sahafa neighbourhood of Khartoum, an AFP correspondent reported.
Sudanese protesters march in a mass demonstration against the country’s ruling generals in the capital Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman today
Sudanese run away from teargas fired to disperse a demonstration demanding the ruling military hand over to civilians in Khartoum North, Sudan, today
A group of Sudanese, living in Istanbul gather at Sarachane Park during a demonstration to protest against implementations of military council in Sudan
Many people chanting ‘Blood for blood, we don’t want compensation’ took to the streets of the Jabra district
Men and women flashing victory signs and carrying Sudanese flags flooded the streets of Al-Sahafa neighbourhood of Khartoum
‘We are here for the martyrs of the (June 3) sit-in. We want a civilian state that guarantees our freedom. We want to get rid of military dictatorship,’ said Zeinab, 23, as onlookers cheered and motorists honked horns.
‘No one gave a mandate to the military council, all the people are against the council,’ said another protester who shouted out: ‘I’m the next martyr.’
Others chanting ‘Blood for blood, we don’t want compensation’ took to the streets of the Jabra district, witnesses said, while rallies were also under way in other neighbourhoods of the capital.
On the road to airport, security forces moved to block off crowds of demonstrators, an AFP correspondent reported.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that first launched protests against now ousted ruler Omar al-Bashir, urged supporters to march on the presidential palace in Khartoum.
‘We call on our revolutionary people in the capital to go to the republican palace… to seek justice for the martyrs and for an unconditional transfer of power to civilians,’ the SPA said in a statement on Twitter.
Thousands also protested in the cities of Port Sudan, Al-Obied, Madani and Khasma el-Girba, witnesses said.
People shout slogans as they march on the streets demanding the ruling military hand over to civilians during a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan
The Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that first launched protests against now ousted ruler Omar al-Bashir, urged supporters to march on the presidential palace in Khartoum
The opposition called for a mass protest in Khartoum and other cities against military council ruling
Sudanese protesters chant ‘Civilian rule’ during a mass demonstration against Sudan’s ruling generals in the northern Khartoum district of Bari
The feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were deployed in pick-up trucks mounted with machineguns in several Khartoum squares and many shops were shut.
RSF chief General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo warned he would not tolerate any ‘vandalism’ at the protests.
‘There are vandals, there are people who have an agenda, a hidden agenda, we don’t want problems,’ Dagalo, who is also the ruling military council’s deputy chief, said Saturday.
In the run-up to the protest many Sudanese said they feared new violence.
‘I expect large numbers… and it’s very possible that security forces will use force,’ said Mustafa, 25.
Another demonstrator, Talal, 29, said: ‘Even if only a few rallies take place in Khartoum, they will break the barrier of fear and more people will take to the streets’ in coming days.’
The umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, said demonstrators in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman would also march to the homes of some of the protesters killed on June 3.
Dozens of demonstrators were killed and hundreds wounded when armed men in military fatigues stormed the sit-in outside army headquarters
Protesters had initially gathered at the military headquarters to seek the army’s support in ousting Bashir
Sudanese protesters wave the former and current national flags during a mass demonstration against Sudan’s ruling generals in Khartoum
The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) opposition coalition called for a million people to turn out on Sunday – the 30th anniversary of the coup that brought Bashir to power in 1989, and the African Union’s deadline for the military rulers to hand over to civilians or face further sanctions.
A senior member of Sudan’s military leadership said unknown snipers had shot at three paramilitary soldiers and at least six demonstrators today.
About 130 people have been killed since the crackdown, the majority of them on that day, according to doctors close to the alliance.
The health ministry says 61 people died nationwide on June 3.
The military council insists it did not order the dispersal of the sit-in, but acknowledged ‘excesses’ after orders were given to purge a nearby area allegedly notorious for drug peddling.
The council has warned it would hold the alliance ‘entirely responsible if any soul is lost’ in Sunday’s protests.
Tensions remain high since the June 3 raid, which followed the collapse of talks over who should lead a new governing body — a civilian or soldier.
Sudanese protesters carry a large stone to block a road that leads to the square where they are demonstrating against the ruling military council
Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were deployed in pick-up trucks mounted with machineguns in several Khartoum squares
Sudanese protesters line up broken pavement bricks to form a perimeter around the mass demonstration against
Ethiopia and the AU have proposed a blueprint for a civilian-majority body, which the generals say could be a basis for resuming talks.
Protesters had initially gathered at the military headquarters to seek the army’s support in ousting Bashir.
They kept up their sit-in to demand civilian rule after the generals deposed the president on April 11.
Demonstrators’ ‘right to peacefully protest and express their views on 30 June, or on any other date, remains key,’ the European Union said.
Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said the military council ‘must not allow the country to slide back into yet more repression.’
‘The world is watching.’