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On the 15th of January, Baroness Cox (crossbench) talks in the House of Lords and asks the UK Government which specific requirements it is making to the Government of Sudan’s perpetration of human rights violations against peaceful protesters. Click on the video below to watch her speak:
A copy of the full oral question and responses can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.
What led to the demonstrations?
A wave of protests began in the northern city of Atbara before spreading across Sudan, sparked by a hike in fuel and bread prices, of which the latter increased by 3-fold.
The protests quickly morphed into anti-government rallies, demanding the fall of President Bashir.
The ruling party’s efforts to push through alterations to the constitution that would enable Bashir to stay in office beyond his present term –which ends in 2020- has further fueled civil unrest in the capital.
Officially, 22 people have been killed and more than 800 arrested since protests erupted, yet Human Rights Watch put the death toll at 40, including children.
Protesters are repeatedly chanting “freedom, peace, justice” and “revolution is the people’s choice”.Opposition leaders, activists and journalists have been arrested in an attempt to prevent protests from spreading.
A Timeline of the Protests in Sudan
- The US, Britain, Norway and Canada issued a statement that they are “appalled by reports of deaths and serious injury to those exercising their legitimate right to protest, as well as reports of the use of live ammunition against protesters”.
- The four countries urged Sudanese authorities to release all journalists, activists and opposition leaders.
- President Bashir refuses to step down, telling a thousand-strong gathering of his supporters that he would only step down “through election”.
- With growing demonstrations against Bashir’s 30-year rule, the President claimed in televised comments that “there are no other options but national dialogue and elections”, advising opposition parties to prepare for elections in 2020.
- Bashir went on to blame unnamed foreign powers for provoking weeks of almost daily protests through economic sanctions.
- Hundreds of pro-regime supporters gathered in Khartoum in a show of support for their President.
- Hundreds of riot policemen, soldiers and security agents (some armed with machine guns) were deployed around the site of the pro-Bashir rally, for what was the largest rally in Khartoum in support of the President since the protests erupted.
- Meanwhile, at a rival anti-government demonstration, police used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse protests that they classify as ‘illegal’, in which 3 people died.
- In Khartoum, Sudanese demonstrators marched in the streets after Friday prayers, calling for Al Bashir to step down. A protester declared that “Friday protests have become a ritual” that Sudanese have to perform.
- Reports from different towns across the country also told of spontaneous demonstrations after the weekly prayer. Protests were registered in Jabra, Halfaya, Aljaili, Jabra and other towns in Khartoum State. Videos from several mosques have shown preachers criticising the Government of Sudan.
- The office of EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs issued a statement calling for the release of activists and political detainees, asking Khartoum to ensure the right for freedom of assembly, association and expression and to refrain from violence.
- Armed groups made the decision to postpone Darfur peace talks in support of Sudan’s uprising. Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Gibril Ibrahim said: “We cannot betray the Sudanese Revolution at this critical moment”.
- A draft military agreement is signed with Russia, a major ally to the government of al-Bashir, which could allow a Russian military base to be set up on the Red Sea. This news comes days after The Times reports the presence of Russian mercenaries of a private military firm in Khartoum, as part of “an attempt to prop up the autocratic regime of al-Bashir”.
- In Bahri, the Northern district of Khartoum, police forces continued to use live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse ‘massive’ demonstrations.
- Residents of Al-Amlak and Al-Danagla neighbourhoods told Sudan Tribune that the security forces have stormed their homes and fired tear gas inside the houses. Eyewitnesses also reported masked men on white vehicles with no license plates brutally attacking protestors.
- Sudan’s opposition groups announce plans to launch a mass civil disobedience, described as a crucial stage in the ongoing nationwide protests. The opposition groups claim that the next step is a “decisive” one as “the path to a general strike has become paved”.
- After protests in four big cities on Sunday 14th January, a joint statement from the opposition groups was released, stating the government had failed to turn peaceful protests violent through their tactics of aggression because the “belief of revolutionaries that the peaceful revolution is the secret of its success and continuation.”
- Security forces fired teargas and live bullets on Khartoum North Hospital and other medical facilities, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate. Doctors had to treat three cases of suffocation and one wounded patient as a result of the attack.
- Al Bashir stated the ongoing protests will fail to topple his regime and vows to punish those guilty of carrying out acts of “sabotage”.