Thousands of Sudanese have rallied in Khartoum on the second anniversary of a bloody crackdown by security forces on a large pro-democracy sit-in in the capital, demanding justice for dozens of people killed.
The June 3, 2019 crackdown on the protest camp outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, and others elsewhere in the country, came weeks after the military overthrew longtime President Omar al-Bashir after months of protests against his nearly 30-year rule.
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Protest organisers, who had initially gathered to resist al-Bashir’s rule but stayed after his removal to demand a transition to civilian, say security forces killed at least 128 people during the violence. Many saw the incident as a turning point in the relationship between the military generals, who have denied ordering the killing, and the protest movement.
The transitional military-civilian government that currently rules Sudan established an independent committee in 2019 to investigate the crackdown, which also involved what activists describe as a campaign of rapes and sexual misconduct by troops ordered by the military to crush the pro-democracy movement.
However, the investigatory panel has repeatedly missed its deadlines for reporting, angering victims’ families and rights groups.
Reporting from Khartoum, Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, said while it is not the first time Sudanese protesters have taken to the streets to demand justice since the massacre, “the frustration this time is very obvious”.
She said promises that the government would work to speed up the investigation have done little to calm the anger.
“People say that they’ve heard these promises and these statements from the government over and over again. They say that this is not the first time the government has promised to speed up investigations and to deliver justice,” Morgan said.
“They say that they’ve gotten … fed up with the promises that this government has been given to them so they’ve taken to the streets once again.”
Carrying the Sudanese flag and banners demanding justice, the protesters marched to the cabinet building and the public prosecutor’s office, some singing the national anthem.
“We came here to mark the sit-in massacre and to show that even after al-Bashir’s ouster, people are still suffering,” 24-year-old Eman Babiker, who complained of rampant unemployment, told the AFP news agency.
“We want to send a message to the government that we can always take to the streets if they fail to bring justice to those killed,” said Walid Shazli, another protester.
‘Slowed down justice’
On Wednesday night, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said his government has done its best to achieve justice.
However, he admitted that the “complicated ties” with security agencies overseen by the military generals “has sometimes slowed down justice and delayed the submission of information” prosecutors need for their investigations.
Before Thursday’s protests, Sudanese authorities had closed off the main roads leading to the army headquarters and urged demonstrators to stay away from the site.
In May, security forces dispersed a similar demonstration, killing two people and causing injuries to dozens.
Sudan’s army later said it had handed prosecutors a list of army personnel suspected of involvement in those killings.