Sudanese barricade streets as strike over protest deaths begins

Anti-coup resistance committees and political parties call for two days of civil disobedience in Sudan over killings by the security forces.

People set up a barricades and burn tires as part of a civil disobedience campaign following the killing of 7 anti-coup demonstrators in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Jan.18, 2022. The pro-democracy movement condemned Monday's deadly shootings and called for a two-day civil disobedience campaign over the security forces' actions.
People set up a barricades and burn tires as part of a civil disobedience campaign in Khartoum, Sudan [AP Photo]

Protesters have erected barricades across roads in Sudan’s capital Khartoum and some shops and offices were shut as a two-day general strike and civil disobedience campaign began in response to demonstrators’ deaths.

Neighbourhood resistance committees and political parties called the strike starting on Tuesday after seven people were killed in Khartoum on Monday in one of the deadliest days to date in a series of demonstrations against a military takeover on October 25.

Protesters are demanding the military, which had been sharing power with civilian groups before the coup, quit politics completely.

“It is our duty to resist them until we are victorious or they rule an empty country after they have killed us all,” the Khartoum State resistance committees said in a statement.

Police confirmed the seven deaths on Tuesday, saying they used minimum force and had faced “systematic aggression”. Military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan promised an investigation.

At least 71 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured by security forces since the coup, according to medics aligned with the protest movement.

“Shop closed for mourning,” said a series of small signs posted on the closed outlets at the sprawling Sajane construction supplies market in Khartoum. One of the merchants, Othman el-Sherif, was among those shot dead on Monday.

Sudan’s University for Science and Technology suspended all activities as part of the civil disobedience, according to an official statement.

In several other parts of Khartoum, too, many pharmacies and other shops were shuttered.

Stone and brick barricades impeded access to some major roads in eastern and southern Khartoum, and the adjoining cities of Bahri and Omdurman. Protesters set fire to car tyres in some places and traffic was lighter than usual.

Groups representing doctors, teachers, engineers, and pilots announced support for the strike, as did resistance committees outside the capital, aiming to pressure authorities by cutting off state revenues and bringing life to a standstill.

As they do regularly, police on Tuesday fired tear gas at dozens of protesters setting up roadblocks, this time on the streets of east Khartoum, according to the AFP news agency.

‘Systematic aggression’

Authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition against demonstrators, and insist dozens of security personnel have been wounded during protests which have occurred regularly since the October 25 coup.

A police general was stabbed to death last week.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said Monday’s statement by the Khartoum police in which they stated they used “minimum legal force … has angered the protesters even more.

“[On Monday,]  there was the use of live ammunition in Khartoum, something that has rarely happened over the last two months or so.

“Protesters say they will continue to organise for civil disobedience and they will continue to organise for more protests despite the number of deaths,” Morgan said.

Several Western nations and the United Nations, which is pushing for negotiations to resolve the political crisis, expressed concern at Monday’s deaths.

The UN special representative Volker Perthes condemned the use of live ammunition and the US embassy criticised “violent tactics of Sudanese security forces”, the latest such appeals by world powers, which have not curbed a rising death toll.

Washington’s Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee and Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa David Satterfield were expected in Khartoum where they would “reiterate our call for security forces to end violence and respect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” spokesman Ned Price said.

On Tuesday, the “Friends of Sudan” group calling for the restoration of the country’s transitional government held talks in Saudi Arabia over the crisis.

“Deep concern about yesterday’s violence. International support and leverage is needed. Support for political process needs to go along with active support to stop violence,” the UN’s Perthes said on Twitter, after attending the meeting virtually.

The European Union said in a statement, “Through disproportionate use of force and continued detention of activists and journalists, the military authorities are demonstrating that they are not ready to find a negotiated and peaceful solution to the crisis.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies