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Sudan’s grieving families seek justice for fallen martyrs

Gatherings have been staged in front of the homes of the “martyrs”, whose portraits have been painted on walls across the capital

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Sudan's grieving families seek justice for fallen martyrs
A man comforts Khadom, his mother and that of Al-Moez, as she mourns over the tomb of her son, killed when a bullet pierced the window of his workplace and lodged itself in his heart during an anti-government demonstration in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. (Photo by Claire DOYEN / AFP)

Amidst mounds of sand capped by hand-written signs naming the dead, Khadom embraces the tomb of her son, one of the more than 200 killed in Sudan’s months-long turmoil.

It was an April morning when a freshly-shaven Al-Moez drank his tea before heading out to the office from the modest home he shared with his parents in Al-Rimela, southern Khartoum.

His office was in the same building as Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera and near a longstanding protest camp outside army headquarters in central Khartoum.

“The building was under surveillance by the all-powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS),” Khadom told reporters.

Shortly after he arrived at work, a colleague started to take pictures with his mobile phone from a window of their office.

Out of nowhere, a bullet pierced the window and lodged itself in the heart of Al-Moez who was standing nearby. The 45-year-old died on the spot.

Khadom, the mother of Al-Moez visits the tomb of her son, killed when a bullet pierced the window of his workplace and lodged itself in his heart during an anti-government demonstration in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. (Photo by Claire DOYEN / AFP)

Like dozens of others who lost a son, uncle or brother, the family has paid a high price for Sudan’s revolution that toppled its longtime autocratic ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.

And now, Al-Moez’s family want justice.

His parents have called for an official investigation and for his killer to pay the “eye for an eye” penalty.

But Khadom says there is little chance the case will come to trial or that the NISS will be found guilty.

Anti-regime protests which first broke out on December 19 after the tripling of bread prices have cost the lives of more than 200 demonstrators, according to doctors close to the protest movement.

Gatherings have been staged in front of the homes of the “martyrs”, whose portraits have been painted on walls across the capital.

Outside a rundown apartment block in central Khartoum, two little boys, Ahmed and Asir, are often seen waving small Sudanese flags at motorists.

Their uncle, Ali, 25, was felled by a bullet in the back on June 3, the day gunmen in military uniform brutally dispersed the sit-in outside army headquarters that was in place since April 6.

“Blood for blood, we don’t want compensation!” they chant if security forces pass by in their pickups.

Ali Mohamed al-Fadel’s nephews wave Sudanese national flags as his brothers Youssef (L) and Mudther look on, at their home in the capital Khartoum. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

More than 100 lives were lost that day alone and over 500 people wounded, according to the doctors.

“My brother died a martyr. We’re proud and I’m also prepared to die for the revolution,” said Yussef, 35, as tears welled up in his eyes.

‘Blood has not been shed in vain’ –

Eman, 24, also lost a brother in the massacre at the sit-in, which the protesters had initially launched to demand Bashir’s ouster and later to call on the generals to transfer power to a civilian administration.

A student in England, Mattar was back to visit the family and had just celebrated his 26th birthday when he decided to spend a night with the demonstrators at the sit-in.

“They killed him without mercy,” said Eman, whose brother’s fate evoked a campaign of solidarity on social media under the hashtag #BlueForMattar. 

“Mattar gave his life. Now things in Sudan must change.”

Last Friday, crowds of jubilant Sudanese took to the streets to celebrate a landmark deal between protest leaders and ruling generals aimed at turning the page on seven months of political unrest.

Youssef (L) and Mudther, brothers of Ali Mohamed al-Fadel, rest at their home in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on July 7, 2019. – Ali, 25, was felled by a bullet in the back on June 3, the day gunmen in military uniform brutally dispersed the sit-in outside army headquarters that was launched since April 6. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Protest leaders said they had agreed on a transition period of three years and three months, with the first 21 months presided over by a military nominee, and the last 18 months by a civilian.

Demonstrators greeted the breakthrough with chants of “the martyrs’ blood has not been shed in vain” and “civilian rule, civilian rule”.

But Yussef, at the centre of the protests from the outset, said he would keep demonstrating because nothing significant would come from Sudan’s military.

“We still have a long way to go for a new Sudan… We must keep up the fight for future generations,” he said, glancing over at his sister’s boys Ahmed and Asir.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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North Africa

Army arrests 5 suspects for planning attacks in Algeria

The suspects “planned attacks against peaceful protests across different parts of the country”

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Algerian Army arrests 5 suspects planning attacks

The Algerian army has arrested five suspects for planning “attacks” against anti-government demonstrations that have started in the country since February 22, the defence ministry said on Sunday. The suspects “planned attacks against peaceful protests across different parts of the country”, it said in a statement, adding they were arrested in “anti-terrorist” raids last week in the Batna region southeast of the capital Algiers.

It identified the suspects as “terrorists”, a term Algerian authorities use to describe armed Islamists who have been active in the country since the early 1990s. Algeria has been rocked by months of protests since longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced in February he would run for a fifth term.

He quit office but protesters have kept up the mass demonstrations, calling for an overhaul of the “system” and departure of key Bouteflika-era figures. Interim president Abdelkader Bensalah has proposed a “neutral” national dialogue, without the involvement of the state or the military, to prepare for new presidential polls.

His proposals, backed by powerful army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah who has emerged as the country’s key powerbroker since Bouteflika’s departure, have failed to calm protesters. Massive rallies continue to be held weekly on Fridays in Algiers and other key towns.

In recent weeks, police have detained dozens of demonstrators – releasing them at the end of the Friday rallies. Observers say the detentions and other measures including heavy police deployments are meant to discourage protesters from taking to the streets.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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Sudanese demonstrators mourn dead protesters, demand justice for June 3 victims

Crowds of protesters were violently dispersed by men in military fatigues on June 3 in a pre-dawn raid that reportedly killed over 100

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Sudanese demonstrators mourn dead protesters, demand justice for June 3 victims
Sudanese protesters take part in a vigil in the capital Khartoum to mourn dozens of demonstrators killed last month in a brutal raid on a Khartoum sit-in. ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

Sudanese protesters lit candles and released balloons in Khartoum as thousands rallied across the country to mourn dozens killed last month in a brutal raid on a protest camp, correspondents reported.

Crowds of protesters were violently dispersed by men in military fatigues in a pre-dawn raid on a sit-in outside army headquarters on June 3.

Saturday’s commemorative rallies came as mediators said talks between generals and protest leaders to discuss the finer details of a recently agreed power-sharing accord had been postponed to Sunday, at the request of protest leaders.

READ: Sudan’s protest leaders and military reach landmark agreement on governing council

They were previously scheduled for Saturday evening.

Sudan's military announces foiled coup attempt, arrests 16

The protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, had called for marches  — dubbed “Justice First” — across the country on Saturday to mark 40 days since the raid.

Demonstrators who had camped outside military headquarters for weeks demanding civilian rule were shot and beaten, triggering international outrage.

Chanting “Blood for blood, we won’t accept compensations,” crowds of protesters marched in Khartoum’s northern district of Bahari, a protest hotbed since demonstrations first erupted in December against the then regime of now-ousted president Omar al-Bashir.

READ: Demonstrators killed in Sudan as military breaks sit-in

Many lit candles and some floated balloons, while hundreds bathed the area in a sea of light — holding their mobile phones aloft as torches, while chanting revolutionary slogans, a correspondent reported.

Hundreds also gathered on nearby open ground, chanting “civilian rule, civilian rule.” 

“We must take what is ours, we must free Sudan from its past. We want civilian rule now,” said Abdelqadir Omar, an English teacher at a rally in the Al-Sahafa area of the capital.

Waving a Sudanese flag, an 11-year-old boy said reportedly:

Sudanese demonstrators mourn dead protesters, demand justice for June 3 victims
Sudanese protesters take part in a demonstration in the capital Khartoum’s northern district of Bahri, to mourn dozens of demonstrators killed last month in a brutal raid on a Khartoum sit-in. (Photo by EBRAHIM HAMID / AFP)

“All the mothers were crying in their homes when their children were killed”.

‘Justice for Martyrs’ –

Groups of protesters sat in circles around Sudanese flags and candles in several neighbourhoods as the sun set over Khartoum.

Earlier, security forces had closed all roads leading to the presidential palace and deployed along the road leading to the airport.

Hundreds rallied and waved Sudanese flags in Omdurman — Khartoum’s twin city — while crowds also marched through the streets of Port Sudan, the country’s main economic hub, witnesses said.

Sudanese demonstrators mourn dead protesters, demand justice for June 3 victims

READ: Sudan protests: Military kills nine demonstrators during Khartoum sit-in

Protesters rallied in the eastern cities of Madani and Kassala and in the central city of Al-Obeid, witnesses told reporters by telephone.

Many protesters reportedly carried banners that read: “Justice for Martyrs” while others held photographs of demonstrators killed in the June 3 raid.

People also took to the streets of Atbara, where the first rally against Bashir’s government was held on December 19 in response to a decision to triple bread prices.

The protests in December swiftly escalated into nationwide demonstrations against the autocrat’s iron-fisted three-decade rule.

Bashir was ousted by the army on April 11, five days after the protesters had first massed outside army headquarters.

Protesters continued their sit-in, demanding that the generals themselves step down, ahead of the brutal dispersal on June 3.

The military council insists it did not order the raid, which according to the protest movement killed more than 100 and wounded hundreds in just one day. 

But after intense mediation by the African Union and Ethiopia, a landmark power-sharing deal was reached earlier this month that aims to set up a joint civilian-military governing body.

‘Real partnership’ –

Sudanese demonstrators mourn dead protesters, demand justice for June 3 victims
(Photo by EBRAHIM HAMID / AFP)

The new governing body aims to install a transitional civilian administration for a period of just over three years.

The agreement stipulates that the new governing body will be presided over by a military nominee for the first 21 months, and by a civilian for the last 18 months.

“We are not an enemy of the Alliance for Freedom and Change,” General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy chief of the ruling military council, told a rally in Nile State, broadcast on state TV.

“We are in a real partnership.”

Dagalo is also the commander of the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces which protesters and rights groups allege carried out the June 3 raid.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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Football match win over Cote d’Ivoire inspires protests in Algeria

The protest movement is also demanding the establishment of independent institutions to oversee fresh elections

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Football match win over Cote d'Ivoire inspires protests in Algeria
A young man puts in his hand on his chest by an Algerian national flag as protesters demonstrate in Algiers. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Crowds of Algerians defied a massive police deployment Friday to protest against the government, buoyed by the national football team’s qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.

After celebrating all night their side’s defeat of Ivory Coast on penalties, Algerians flooded the streets of the capital, Algiers to once again press their demands for an overhaul of the country’s political leadership.

Mass protests forced longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in early April, but demonstrators have kept up the pressure, calling for all regime insiders to step aside.

The protest movement — now in its 21st week — is also demanding the establishment of independent institutions to oversee fresh elections.

Calling for a “civilian -not military- state” the demonstrators flooded the streets of central Algiers, despite the deployment of large numbers of police from early morning.

Long lines of police vans were parked on either side of the road where protesters marched, significantly reducing the space available for demonstrators.

Engine oil was poured on steps, railings and other areas where protesters have been known to gather, reporters said, apparently to keep them at bay.

Police also detained a dozen demonstrators for no apparent reason, as in past rallies, reporters said.

“There is a clear will (by the police) to stop peaceful marches in Algiers,” tweeted Said Salhi, vice president of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, known by its French acronym LADDH.

He denounced an “impressive police deployment” which he said included “roadblocks” at the entrances to the capital to check the identities of protesters, carry out searches and detain demonstrators.

Protester Aicha Sahli said “I’m fed up with a government that is imposing itself on the people.” 

“The authorities must understand that we refuse elections (organised) by the kings of fraud,” she told reporters.

Friday’s protest comes as interim President Abdelkader Bensalah remains in post, in the absence of elections after his mandate expired on Tuesday.

Bensalah, last week, called for a national dialogue without the involvement of the state or the military to pave the way for presidential elections, after polls planned for early July were scrapped.

Algerian army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who has emerged as the country’s key power broker since Bouteflika stepped down, backs Bensalah.

On Wednesday, Gaid Salah said that Bensalah’s proposal was a “sensible approach” to end Algeria’s crisis, adding that elections should take place as soon as possible.

He also warned against portraying Algeria as a nation that was no longer a “civilian state”.

SOURCE: NEWS CENTRAL AND NEWS PARTNERS

 

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