31 July, 2019.Ruling military council orders nationwide schools closure after schoolchildren die in Monday protest
Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council has ordered all schools in the country shut for an indefinite period after security forces killed four students in El-Obeid city on Monday as they were protesting over the rising costs of living.
Following their funerals, similar protests broke out across Sudan, calling for justice for the repeated attacks on demonstrators.
This complicates the political process, now in a deadlock after the ruling military government agreed on an initial deal, yet to be fleshed out, with the opposition bloc.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reports from Addis Ababa in neighbouring Ethiopia.
Hope and Resurrection Secondary School in South Sudan’s Western Lakes State reopened on 8 July, almost two months after the killing of two of the school’s teachers.
On May 26, two Ugandan teachers of the secondary school were shot and killed by gunmen in Atiaba area.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Friday, the school administrator, Deborah Awut Mayom said the closure of the secondary school followed the May 26 incident in which the two teachers were killed.
“We were supposed to reopen the school on May 27, 2019 and before reopening is when the teachers were killed. We sent other teachers back home for one month,” Awut said.
She added, “So on July 8, 2019, the Uganda teachers who had been sent home to mourn reported back to Hope and Resurrection secondary school and the school reopened on July 10, 2018”.
Awut further said a few issues arose between the school and host community, but were resolved before the school officially reopened. “All of us have a mission to run the school,” she stressed.
Awut urged authorities to apprehend those who killed the two teachers. “We heard that the state government has arrested relatives of the suspects who killed the two Ugandan teachers, but no real suspect has been apprehended. This is a shame on the government,” she said.
According to Awut, a suspect arrested by authorities in connection with the incident escaped leaving behind his AK-47 rifle.
The school has nine Ugandan teachers and five from South Sudan.
Army ruler says killing of five schoolchildren ‘regrettable and unacceptable’ as protest leaders cancel planned talks.
military ruler has condemned the killing of five schoolchildren at a rally as protest leaders called off planned talks with the generals and thousands of students took to the streets to denounce the latest bout of violence.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling military council, told reporters on Tuesday the killings in the North Kordofan city of El-Obeid was “unacceptable”.
“What happened in El-Obeid is a regrettable and upsetting matter and the killing of peaceful citizens is unacceptable and rejected and a crime that requires immediate and deterrent accountability,” he was quoted as saying by the official SUNA news agency.
Protesters accuse the feared Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by al-Burhan’s deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, of shooting dead the five teenagers at Monday’s rally against shortages of bread and fuel.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF in a statement on Tuesday called on Sudanese authorities “to investigate and hold all perpetrators of violence against children accountable”.
“No child should be buried in their school uniform,” the agency said, adding the students killed were between 15 and 17 years old.
The killings came ahead of planned talks between the ruling Transitional Military Council and protest leaders on the remaining aspects of installing civilian rule following the toppling of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.
The two sides signed a power-sharing agreement on July 17, and were to sit down on Tuesday to discuss the powers of the joint civilian-military ruling council and immunity for generals over previous deadly violence against protesters.
But negotiators for the Forces of Freedom and Change, the umbrella group that represents protest and opposition groups, told AFP news agency that Tuesday’s talks would not take place because they were visiting El-Obeid.
“There will be no negotiation today with the Transitional Military Council as our negotiating team is still in El-Obeid and will return only tonight,” said Satea al-Haj.
Meanwhile, thousands of students – heeding a call for nationwide protests against the El-Obeid “massacre” by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) – rallied in Khartoum and other cities to condemn the violence against their fellow students.
The SPA, which spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir, also called on all schools in North Kordofan state to suspend classes.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Addis Ababa in neighbouring Ethiopia, said there was a lot of anger and condemnation on the streets of the capital, Khartoum, because of the renewed violence in El-Obeid.
“But [the protesters] are also condemning the silence of the opposition coalition Forces of Freedom and Change… The protesters are saying these talks have not wielded any results and they’ve been going on for three months.
“People are saying at the moment negotiations are not the way and that what the opposition should focus on is demanding justice and accountability.”
Earlier on Tuesday, a prominent protest leader called for the talks to be suspended.
“We cannot sit at the negotiating table with those allowing the killing of revolutionaries,” Siddig Youssef said in a statement.
Doctors linked to the protest movement say more than 250 people have been killed in protest-related violence since December, when demonstrations first erupted against al-Bashir. More than 100 were killed during and after an RSF raid on a sit-in outside the military headquarters on June 3, they said.
But a joint investigation by prosecutors and the ruling military council concluded just 17 people were killed on June 3, with a total of 87 deaths between that day and June 10.
Protest leaders rejected the findings, saying the inquiry exonerated the military council and gave a far lower death toll than their own.
The investigation “was commissioned by the military council … [but] the military council itself is accused in this case”, SPA said.
Death toll given by senior investigator appointed by public prosecutor is higher than previous official figures.
27 July, 2019
An investigation has found “rogue” military personnel were responsible for killing dozens of Sudanese protesters in the worst violence since the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir.
The violent break-up of a protest site by security forces in Khartoum last month left 87 people dead and 168 wounded, a higher death toll than previous official estimates, a chief investigator said.
Fath al-Rahman Saeed, the head of the investigative committee appointed by the public prosecutor, said on Saturday some members of the security forces opened fire at protesters demanding the military cede power.
He told a news conference three officers violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in area outside the Defence Ministry, a focal point for protests that led to al-Bashir’s removal on April 11.
An order was also issued to whip demonstrators, he added.
The committee found members of the joint force tasked with clearing the Columbia area “exceeded their duties and entered the sit-in square … and fired heavily and randomly”, leading to the killing and wounding of dozens.
The health ministry previously put the death toll at 61, while opposition medics said 127 people were killed and 400 wounded in the dispersal.
“Some outlaws exploited this gathering and formed another gathering in what is known as the Columbia area, where negative and illegal practices took place,” Saeed said.
“It became a security threat, forcing the authorities to make necessary arrangements to clear the area.”
Crimes against humanity
Ismail al-Taj, an opposition representative, told a news conference the investigative committee “was formed not establish the truth, but to conceal the truth” and he questioned the new death toll.
“Reality says that there are closer to 130 martyrs,” AL-Taj said, adding the committee relied on health ministry records, which he said were inaccurate.
The opposition coalition Forces of Freedom and Change is currently negotiating with the ruling military council to finalise an agreement for a three-year transition to elections.
Saeed gave the ranks and initials of officers he said had been charged with crimes against humanity, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment under military law. He did not give their full names.
A brigadier general, referred to only as AAM, mobilised a riot force of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on the orders of two senior officers but not members of Sudan’s top leadership, and told them to whip protesters, Saeed said.
The committee had not uncovered any incidents of rape, although the US-based Physicians for Human Rights cited local medics as saying women had their clothes torn off and were raped, he said.
Sudan’s military council, which took power after former military officer-turned-President al-Bashir was deposed, has previously denied any rape took place.
Published: 12:25 BST, 29 July 2019 | Updated: 12:25 BST, 29 July 2019
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met in Cairo Monday, the powerful Sudanese military General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, whose forces have been accused of carrying out a brutal crackdown on protesters.
In his first official visit to the Egyptian capital, the deputy chief of Sudan’s military council widely known as Hemeti, “presented the latest developments on the current situation in Sudan”, the Egyptian presidency said.
Sisi, the former general turned president, reiterated Egypt’s “strategic support” in maintaining “the stability and security” of its neighbour Sudan, the presidency added.
Cairo has been a steadfast ally of Khartoum’s military leaders after long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled on April 11 after months of protests.
Hemeti, commander of the Rapid Support Forces – the feared paramilitary group accused of war crimes in Darfur under Bashir – has also shored up support from Gulf allies, meeting with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in May.
Triggered in December with the tripling of the price of bread, the protests in Sudan quickly transformed into a challenge to the Bashir regime, in power for 30 years.
Demonstrations continued after his ouster to demand civilian rule.
On June 3, at least 127 protesters were killed and scores wounded in a raid on a sit-in at the epicentre of the demonstrations, according to doctors linked to the protest movement.
A joint probe by prosecutors and Sudan’s ruling military council showed that security forces, including an RSF general, took part in the raid on the protest camp — despite having no orders from their superiors to do so.
Hemeti has consistently denied that his men were involved in the crackdown, which triggered international outrage.
The general’s meeting with Sisi comes a day after Sudanese police fired tear gas at scores of protesters demanding an independent probe into the June raid.
On July 17, Sudanese protesters and ruling generals signed a power-sharing deal that aims to form a joint civilian-military ruling body which in turn would install civilian rule.
Talks are to resume Tuesday to iron out remaining issues between the two sides.
Published: 12:15 BST, 29 July 2019 | Updated: 12:15 BST, 29 July 2019
Five protesters including four students were shot dead and several wounded at a rally in a town in central Sudan on Monday, a doctors committee linked to the protest movement said.
“Five martyrs succumbed to direct wounds from sniper bullets during a peaceful rally in Al-Obeid,” the committee said in a statement.
The reason for the rally was not immediately clear but it came as protest leaders and the ruling generals prepare to resume talks in Khartoum on Tuesday.
The two sides are to meet to resolve remaining issues concerning the transfer of power from the ruling military council to a new civilian administration.
The generals and protest leaders agreed on July 17 to form a new joint civilian-military governing body that would install an overall civilian rule in the country.
That is the main demand of a nationwide protest movement that led to the April ouster of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir and has since demanded that the military council which took his place cede power to civilians.
24 July, 2019 .General Hashim Abdel Muttalib Ahmed and several officers arrested after coup attempt this month, state media reports.
Sudan’s military said it has arrested a number of senior officers in connection with the coup attempt earlier this month, the state news agency said.
The military council, that took over the country after overthrowing longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in April, said it arrested at least 16 active and retired military officers over an attempted coup on July 11.
The military “revealed a coup attempt involving General Hashim Abdel Muttalib Ahmed, head of the joint chiefs of staff, and several high-ranking officers from the armed forces and the National Intelligence and Security Service, along with leaders of the Islamic Movement and the National Congress Party”, SUNA said on Wednesday.
“They have been detained and investigations with them are going on so that they can be tried.”
Talks between the military and Sudan’s pro-democracy movement have dragged out over the final and crucial part of a power-sharing deal for the nation’s transitional period.
“The failed coup attempt’s goal was to abort the people’s glorious revolution and to return the former National Congress regime to power, and to disrupt the path before the expected political solution that aims to establish a civilian state,” SUNA cited the military as saying.
Since April, Ahmed had appeared loyal to General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling military council, and only last week visited Egypt with a top-level Sudanese delegation.
Ahmed was appointed chief of staff just days after Bashir’s removal following months of street protests against the president’s 30-year rule.
Sudan’s ruling generals and pro-democracy factions have yet to sign the second and final part of the power-sharing deal.
They signed a political declaration that outlines the deal last week, after agreeing on a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organised.
Both sides say a diplomatic push by the United States and its Arab allies was key to ending the weeks-long standoff between the military and the protesters that raised fears of an all-out civil war.
The second, more contentious part of the power-sharing deal, the so-called “constitutional agreement”, is meant to specify the division of powers during the transitional period. But that part has now stalled.
Leaders of the pro-democracy movement, known as the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, have been meeting in Ethiopia with leaders of the Revolutionary Front, an alliance of Sudanese rebel groups who are also part of the movement.
The Revolutionary Front had rejected the power-sharing deal, arguing it fails to meet their demands for peace.
KHARTOUM — A Sudanese civilian detained and allegedly tortured by security agents in a central town has died in custody, a doctors committee linked to the country’s protest movement said Sunday.
The man died on Saturday in the town of Dilling in the state of South Kordofan after he was detained by agents of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), the doctors committee said in a statement.
The detainee “passed away on July 20, 2019, from torture while in detention at the NISS office in Dilling,” the statement said without elaborating on the circumstances of his arrest.
“NISS continues to torture and claim innocent civilian lives illegally without facing any consequences.”
Officers of NISS were not immediately available for comment.
Rights groups and activists had regularly accused NISS agents of cracking down on dissidents and restricting freedoms during the regime of veteran leader Omar Al Bashir who was ousted in April.
It was NISS that led a sweeping crackdown on protests against Bashir’s rule that first erupted in December.
Dozens were killed and hundreds of protesters, activists and opposition leaders were arrested during the months-long campaign that led to Bashir’s overthrow and subsequent demonstrations calling for civilian rule.
Last week a power-sharing deal was inked between the protest leaders and the ruling generals who seized power after ousting Bashir.
More talks between the two sides to thrash out some pending issues have been suspended following differences within the protest movement itself over the power-sharing deal.
A Christian leader was released last week in Aweil State after six months of imprisonment without trial.
South Sudan’s transitional constitution requires detainees to be produced before a court within 24 hours.
Rev. Malong Baak Malong of Jenina Christians’ Tabernacle (JTC) was arrested on 4 January after his church members opposed a government decision to demolish the church buildings in Aweil town over a land row.
During independence celebrations on 9 July, Aweil state governor Tong Akeen Ngor announced the release of the detained pastor as part of activities marking the country’s 8th independence anniversary.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Sunday, the director for criminal investigation department, David Dut said the pastor had been released after several months in jail.
On his part, Pastor Malong Baak applauded Aweil state governor for ordering his release from prison.
“I am now free after my release from prison on 11 July. I thank the governor and I call upon all South Sudanese to embrace forgiveness,” said Malong. The religious leader has called on authorities to guarantee freedom of worship across the country.