Protesters have taken to the streets of the Sudanese capital to demand justice for pro-democracy demonstrators killed a year ago in a violent crackdown by security forces.
Early on June 3, 2019, gunmen in military fatigues had stormed a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, the focal point of months-long protests that led to the removal of President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
Following al-Bashir’s military overthrow, the sit-in continued as protesters demanded that the generals who overthrew him cede power to civilians.
“They got down from their trucks and started beating people at the sit-in until they emptied the site,” Mustaffa Yassen, a protester, told Al Jazeera, recounting the attack a year ago.
“They were using batons and gunfire. It seemed like a war zone with the sounds of intensive gunfire.”
At least 128 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in the attack that ended the sit-in, according to doctors affiliated with the protest movement. Official figures put the death toll to at least 87.
But those were not the only atrocities recorded on the day. Rights groups reported women and men were raped and sodomised, and witnesses said bodies were thrown into the Nile River. Many others who were present remain missing.
At the rally on Wednesday, a mask-clad woman held a banner reading, “We won’t forget and we won’t forgive” as many other protesters rallied and smoke billowed from burning tyres.
In a televised statement marking the anniversary, Abdalla Hamdok, the new prime minister under a civilian-military transition authority, promised justice.
“I assure you all that achieving justice and retribution for the martyrs of the sit-in … is an inevitable and irreversible step,” he said.
But a year on, some say the investigations are slow and justice is being delayed.
“When we took to the streets in December 2018, we demanded freedom peace and justice,” Khalid, witness to the attack, told Al Jazeera.
“Sudan can’t go forward without peace and freedom – but more importantly, it can’t go forward without justice.”