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Omar al-Bashir’s legacy – defined by oppression, war and genocide – has been brought to an end by the military that served under his rule for more than thirty years; Reuters has reported that the President of Sudan was forced to step down on April 10 after members of security and armed forces rebelled against his government. His removal is a testament to the unrelenting activism of the Sudanese people who fought for a nation that has suffered decades of corruption and impunity under its president. For 100 days we have seen reports of violence, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and people risking their lives in the name of revolution. Bashir’s regime has finally ended: a historic moment that brings with it hope for democracy and a future in which lives, rights and freedoms are reclaimed, and justice is finally served for those who died under his genocidal policies.
Omar al-Bashir came to power in 1989. In the years that followed, he persecuted religious and ethnic minorities, restricted political freedoms, committed extreme violations against his own people and shaped one of the most oppressive societies of the 21st Century. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide for his actions in Darfur where, in 2003, government-funded Arab militias attempted to systematically destroy Darfurians by burning villages, looting economic resources, polluting water sources and murdering, raping and torturing civilians. In the Two Areas, where HART’s partner organisations are working to deliver emergency aid, Bashir’s government continues to inflict a campaign of systematic attacks on civilians, including aerial bombardments and ground offences. The security and humanitarian situations in Blue Nile and South Kordofan are among the worst in Sudan, with the majority of civilians struggling with severe food insecurity as threats of violence persist. However, devastation, hunger and conflict has been widespread across the nation; Bashir’s divisive politics fuelled a civil war between Sudanese Arabs and indigenous Africans that took the lives of 2 million people, displaced entire communities and sent hundreds of thousands into exile across Sudan’s borders.
In 2013, peaceful protests were unsuccessful in removing Bashir. Security forces used live ammunition, tear gas and extreme levels of violence to silence voices of opposition, strategies that were used again in Sudan’s current Third Revolution protests. It is expected that more than 70 protesters (Human Rights Watch has been unable to verify the circumstances of all the reported killings) have paid the price for freedom and justice. Read below for a timeline of the most important events, from reports by the Sudan Tribune, leading up to Sudan’s liberation over the past few months:
- The National Congress Party Headquarters in Atbara is burned down in protest of rising bread prices and high living costs, marking the first event of the Third Revolution 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”.
- MPs call for the UK Government to protect Sudanese protesters, calling the killings ‘troublingly reminiscent’ of atrocities committed by the regime in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
- The President’s home town, Shendi, which was long seen as one of Bashir’s firmest powerbases and his tribe’s main town, engages in protests and claim that Sudan needs a new president.
- President Omar Al Bashir declared a State of Emergency. In a speech at the Presidential Palace, Omar al Bashir announced the suspension of constitutional amendment procedures, which would have allowed him to run for a new term.
- The UN expresses deep concern over Bashir’s declaration of a one-year nationwide state of emergency, calling for an inclusive political process towards elections where Sudanese people can exercise their rights.
- Protesters took to the streets in Khartoum and several other towns across their country calling for the downfall of the regime. The SPA dubbed the demonstrations of 21 March as the “Procession for Justice” to remember all of the war and political crimes committed by the government.
- Bashir acknowledges that the demonstrators have “legitimate” economic concerns. Two days later, thousands marched on Khartoum, gathering outside military headquarters and chanting “One Army, One People”. Setting up camp, a sit-in was staged, where protesters defied attempts by security agents to disperse them with tear gas and gunshots.
- The police follow a policy of non-intervention by the military and order their forces not to take action against the thousands of peaceful protesters that had gathered at the military headquarters, which houses the president’s residence.
- Reports emerge that the military has forcibly removed Bashir and consultations are underway to set up a transitional council.
Bashir is currently being detained in the same maximum security prison that was notorious for holding political prisoners during his regime. Read Baroness Cox’s press release on the removal of Omar al-Bashir and her letter to the people of Sudan here.