The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Sudan opposition chief, US demand probe on protest crackdown Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Sudan opposition chief, US demand probe on protest crackdown

More than 100 protesters were killed last week [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 June, 2019

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Sudan's veteran opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi's call for an international probe into the massacre was backed by top US envoy Tibor Nagy.
Sudan's veteran opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi called on Friday for an "objective" international investigation into last week's deadly crackdown on protesters, after the ruling military council rejected such a probe.

Mahdi's call was backed by top US envoy Tibor Nagy, who urged an "independent and credible" investigation into the June 3 killings.

Thousands of protesters who had camped outside the army headquarters in central Khartoum for weeks were dispersed in an operation which left dozens dead.

The crackdown followed the collapse of talks between protest leaders and generals, following the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir.

The generals had repeatedly pledged they would not disperse the sit-in, but on Thursday admitted that "mistakes" had been made.

Mahdi, speaking after attending Friday prayers at a mosque in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman, condemned the operation.

"The protest's dispersal was wrong. There should be an independent international investigation into it," he told AFP. 

"It's important that the probe is objective and not biased in favour of the authorities."

Mahdi's elected government was toppled in a 1989 coup led by Bashir, who then ruled for three decades before being ousted in April following mass protests.

'Independent and credible'

Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for Africa, also called for an investigation.

"The USA believe very strongly there has to be an investigation which is independent and credible which will hold accountable those committing the egregious events," he said in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, after a two-day visit to Khartoum.

Along with the newly-appointed US special envoy to Sudan, Donald Booth, Nagy met with military council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Thursday.

The June 3 crackdown left about 120 people dead and hundreds wounded, according to doctors linked to protesters, while the health ministry put the death toll at 61.

Read more: Sudan: Who is Hemedti? The man behind the massacres

On Thursday, the United Nations raised concerns over reports that Sudan's militias and Rapid Support Forces gang-raped women protesters and medical personnel during the crackdown on demonstrators.

The UN's top official on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, said a UN human rights monitoring team should be quickly sent to Sudan to "examine the situation on the ground, including alleged cases of sexual violence."

"I demand the immediate and complete cessation of all violence against civilians including sexual violence," said Patten, adding that the UN was seeking to verify reports of rapes.

"These include the rapes and gang rapes of protesters, women's human rights defenders and women medical personnel working in hospitals near the sit-in," said Patten's office in a statement.

The RSF have their origins in the Janjaweed militia, which was sent to fight insurgents in Darfur, and in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The militia in accused of war crimes in the Darfur conflict between 2003 and 2004 in a campaign against ethnic groups suspected of supporting rebels.

Rights groups have accused the militia of abuse against civilians in Darfur, such as rape, extrajudicial killings, looting, torture, poisoning wells and burning villages.

Read more: Why is everyone on social media changing their profile pictures into blue?

The protest movement has also called for an international probe - a move rejected by the military council.

"We do not accept an international investigating committee. We are a sovereign state," council spokesman Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters late on Thursday.

Expressing "regret" over the crackdown, Kabbashi said the plan had been to clear an area close to the sit-in - but "excesses happened".

He said the military is carrying out its own inquiry, whose findings are to be released on Saturday.

Bashir in court

Calls for an international probe into the massacre came as reports confirmed deposed Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir will appear in court next week facing charges of corruption and possessing foreign currency, Sudan's prosecutor general told reporters on Saturday.

The prosecutor general had previously announced that Bashir would also be questioned over financing terrorism and killing protesters, as well as legal action for presiding over the 1989 military coup which brought him to power.

It remains unclear whether Bashir will be prosecuted on all of those charges.

He investigation into the charges of corruption and possessing foreign currency has been completed, prosecutor general Al-Waleed Sayyed Ahmed said according to AFP.

After being ousted by the military, more than $113 million worth of cash in three currencies was reportedly found in Bashir's home.

The announcement came more than two months after the military seized power from Bashir on 11 April after months of nationwide popular protests against his 30-year rule.

Earlier this week, an unnamed Sudanese official told state news agency SUNA that Bashir was facing charges including "possessing foreign funds, acquiring suspected and illegal wealth and ordering (the state of) emergency".

Bashir in late February imposed a nationwide state of emergency in an effort to quell growing protests against his regime.

The prosecutor general also said on Saturday that another 41 charges against "symbols of the ousted regime" were under investigation.

Those accused were not named but Ahmed said most of the charges were related to the "possession of land".

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More