Ousted President Bashir charged over killings of protesters, while protests met with new violence

Peaceful Assembly 

Ousted President al-Bashir charged over killings of protesters

On 13th May 2019, the Sudan public prosecutor charged the ousted President Omar al-Bashir "with inciting and participating" in the killing of peaceful protesters during the anti-government protests that started in December 2018 and lead to the end of his decades-long rule.

As the CIVICUS Monitor regularly reported during the protests, security forces under the former president Al-Bashir launched a violent campaign targeting protesters, including doctors, teachers, journalists, women activists and opposition political leaders. At least 45 people have been confirmed killed and 180 injured as a result of excessive use of force and live ammunition during the protests. Hundreds have been arbitrary arrested and detained, with reports of torture and severe beating, including allegations of sexual abuse mostly against women, and other forms of intimidation and abuse.

Since the ousting of the President Al-Bashir, there have been ongoing talks between the protesters and the military council that assumed power of the country on 11th April. Demonstrations have continued against the military takeover since then, demanding that power is handed over to a civilian-led administration. A recent interview by CIVICUS Monitor with one of the civil society leaders in Sudan, outlined the demands of the demonstrators, with the main call being for formation of a civilian government  "that represent people on the street, not the representatives of the previous regime."

As women in Sudan were at the fore front of the mass protests and have a leading role in the demonstrations, now they demand respect to their rights and more control over the politics of the country. Women activists called on the Sudanese generals who replaced the ousted President al-Bashir to give power to elected officials. 

Restrictions and renewed violence against ongoing protests demanding civilian-led administration 

Additionally, on 13th May 2019, violence against protesters broke out again, during which at least five demonstrators and one army major were killed and several others injured at a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum. Demonstrators blame the attacks on the military as some of the injured told reporters that they saw attackers wearing paramilitary uniforms. The transitional military council rejected these claims and reportedly said that “would never fire on peaceful protesters” blaming the attacks on “rogue elements” among the protesters.

Earlier, on the same day, there were reports of security forces disrupting protests and using violence against protesters. The security forces reportedly dismantled barricades and dispersed about 100 protesters who had blocked a road. The security forces also reportedly used gunfire and teargas to disperse protesters. Witnesses told Reuters News Agency that paramilitary forces were patrolling in vehicles armed with sticks and guns around the protest sites, while there have also been reports that the paramilitary forces have flogged civilians on public bridges and pedestrian walkways. Further, witnesses alleged that forces in military vehicles using the logo of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) "fired extensively" as they tried to clear demonstrators near the Foreign Ministry.

Additionally at least nine people were alleged to have been wounded on 15th May, as shots were reported while the security forces took steps to clear the protest barricades.

The renewed violence against protesters in Khartoum comes following some progress that has been made between the opposition and the military transition council. The parties agreed on a three-year transition period to civilian administration and on the structure of the future authorities - a sovereign council, a cabinet and a legislative body. However a final agreement on power sharing is yet to be signed. A military spokesman, said that as per the agreement, the alliance of protest groups would control two-thirds of the seats in a 300-seat transitional legislative council.

On 16th May, following the events when security officials opened fire on protesters, the military announced a 72-hours of suspension of talks, demanding "that protesters dismantle roadblocks in Khartoum, open bridges connecting the capital and other regions and stop provoking security forces.”

The opposition alliance vowed to continue sit-ins outside the Defense Ministry and across the country.

On 10th May, Amnesty International issued its "10 human rights priorities for the transition" in Sudan, calling on the Sudanese authorities, inter alia, to: respect the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association; allow protests, including the on-going sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum and end the use of lethal and excessive force against protestors. They also called for immediate and unconditional release of all people arrested for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.