Why is the military junta killing pro-democracy demonstrators in Sudan

Terror, fear, panic, threats, and other series of attacks cover-up in Sudan as security forces firing tear gas assault pro-democracy demonstrators across Sudan, AFP correspondents and witnesses have argued.

Hoisting Sudanese flags and posters of activists killed in the past 12 months of protests, demonstrators on Sunday attempted to march on the presidential palace in central Khartoum as security forces used tear gas to disperse them.


On October 25, 2021, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan seized power, arresting civilian leaders and derailing a transition to civilian rule that had started with the 2019 ouster of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

According to pro-democracy medics, 119 people have been killed in the crackdown on near-weekly pro-democracy protests that have been held since.

Mass protests were reignited last week on the first anniversary of the power grab, when thousands marched across Sudan, demanding an end to the political and economic crisis that has gripped the country and one protester was killed Tuesday when he was crushed by a military vehicle in Omdurman, according to pro-democracy medics.

“We are continuing our movement, holding to our three principles: no negotiation, no partnership, and no legitimacy” for the military, Asma Harzaoui said in Khartoum, echoing the protest movement’s rallying cry.

The onlookers said thousands also demonstrated in the cities of Wad Madani and El Obeid, south of Khartoum, and Kassala, Gedaref, and Port Sudan in the east.  Tear gas, usually used against marches in the capital, was fired at protesters in Gedaref and Port Sudan as well as in Khartoum, Omdurman, and North Khartoum, where protesters tried to cross the bridge leading to the center of the capital.

Protesters demanded, “soldiers go back to the barracks and claimed a return to civilian rule as well as justice for protesters killed in the crackdown.   Furthermore, a broader security breakdown nationwide has left nearly 600 dead and more than 210,000 displaced as a result of ethnic violence this year, according to the United Nations.

The country, already one of the world’s poorest, has also been sinking deeper into an economic crisis. Western governments assert that  Sudan must return to civilian rule before crucial aid is halted in response to the coup.  

The death toll from days of tribal fighting in southern Sudan has risen to at least 220, making this one of the deadliest episodes of ethnic violence in recent years.

Fighting in Blue Nile province, which borders Ethiopia and South Sudan, reignited this month over a land dispute. It pits the Hausa people, who have origins across West Africa, against the Berta community.

The tensions escalated on Wednesday and Thursday in the town of Wad al-Mahi on the border with Ethiopia. The unrest added to the woes of a country mired in civil conflict and political chaos.

Bakheit said the first humanitarian and medical convoy reached Wad al-Mahi late Saturday to assess the situation, including counting the “huge number of bodies” and the dozens of wounded.

“In such clashes, everyone loses,” he said. “We hope it ends soon and never happens again, but we need strong political, security, and civil interventions to achieve that goal.”

Overall about 211,000 people have been displaced by tribal violence and other attacks across the country this year, it said.   Authorities ordered a nighttime curfew in Wad al-Mahi and deployed soldiers to the area. They also established a fact-finding committee to investigate the fighting, the state-run SUNA news agency reported.

People are demanding the governor of the region to resign because of the handling of the situation,” Morgan said.  They say that the security forces have not been unbiased and that some of them took sides in the conflict,” she said. “They are demanding that the security forces take a neutral stand and end the violence.

The fighting between the two groups first erupted in mid-July and killed at least 149 people by early October. It triggered violent protests and stoked tensions between the two ethnic groups in Blue Nile and other provinces.

The latest fighting comes at a critical time for Sudan, just a few days before the first anniversary of a military coup that further plunged the country into turmoil.

The coup derailed the country’s short-lived transition to democracy after nearly three decades of repressive rule under Omar al-Bashir, who was removed in April 2019 by a popular uprising.

In recent weeks, the military and the pro-democracy movement have engaged in talks to try to find a way out of the situation. The generals agreed to allow civilians to appoint a prime minister to lead the country through elections within 24 months, the pro-democracy movement said last week.

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