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Sudan protesters mourn comrades killed in deadly June raid

The rallies were held to mark the 40th day of mourning [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 July, 2019

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Chanting "Blood for blood, we won't accept compensations," crowds of protesters marched in Sudan to mark the 40th day of mourning since the deadly June 3 raid.
Hundreds of Sudanese protesters rallied across three cities Saturday to mourn dozens of demonstrators killed in a brutal raid on a Khartoum sit-in last month, witnesses said.

Chanting "Blood for blood, we won't accept compensations," crowds of protesters marched through the main streets of the Red Sea coastal city of Port Sudan, and central cities of Madani and Al-Obeid, witnesses said.

Many protesters were carrying banners that read: "Justice for Martyrs" while others held photographs of demonstrators killed in the raid.

In the capital itself, witnesses said a march was staged in the Haj Yousef area, but more were expected later in the day.

On June 3, crowds of protesters were violently dispersed by men in military fatigues in a pre-dawn raid on a protest site outside the army headquarters, shooting and beating demonstrators who had camped there for weeks demanding a civilian rule.

The protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, had called for marches across the country on Saturday to mark the 40th day of mourning since the raid that triggered an international outrage.

The raid had come after talks between protest leaders and military generals, who seized power after the army ousted longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April, collapsed over who should head a new governing body - a civilian or soldier.

The current ruling military council insists it did not order the raid on the sit-in, which according to the protest movement left more than 100 killed and hundreds wounded on that day. 

Tension between the two sides had soared after the raid but following intense mediation by African Union and Ethiopian mediators a landmark power sharing deal was reached earlier this month that aims to set up a joint civilian-military governing body.

The new governing body aims to install an overall transitional civilian administration for a period of little over three years.

The agreement stipulates that the new governing body will be presided over by a military nominee for the first 21 months, and the last 18 months by a civilian.

Later on Saturday the protest leaders and generals were scheduled to hold more talks on the finer details of the blueprint, mediators said, before it is formally signed in the coming days.

Ethiopian mediator Mahmoud Dirir told reporters that the political declaration will be "debated on, discussed and signed at the same time".

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Gamal Omar, a member of Sudan's military council, said that a coup attempt took place late on Thursday, just days after the military and the pro-democracy coalition had agreed to the joint sovereign council.

In a statement, Omar said at least 16 active and retired military officers were arrested in the post-coup clampdown. Security forces were pursuing the group's leader and additional officers who took part in plotting the attempt to overthrow the existing junta, he said.

Read more: The lawyer who is suing Sudan's internet providers after blackout

"The attempted coup came in a critical time, ahead of the deal with the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change," Omar said, referring to the group that speaks for the pro-democracy demonstrators.

The council did not reveal the name of the attempted leader, his rank or other details. The statement also said five of the arrested officers were retired.

Meanwhile, internet services in Sudan were restored on Tuesday following a month-long blackout imposed by the ruling military junta, which said the services "posed a threat to national security".

Once the blackout was lifted, activists called for videos and testimonials of the June 3 massacre to be posted online.

The videos, collected under an Arabic hashtag, show protestors running away from shots being fired by paramilitary forces.

Other videos show Rapid Support Forces (RSF), an officialised paramilitary offshoot of the Janjaweed militias, beating and kicking protestors.

"Devastating after lifting of internet restrictions to see the footage surfacing out of Sudan from the violent dispersal of the sit-in, especially after an agreement was reached. There will be no redress, no accountability, it’s a v hard pill to swallow," one user wrote on Twitter.

The internet outage was an attempt to quell new protests against the generals, protestors claimed.

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