Abdulrahman Saleh (28) is recalling, almost in tears, the details of the bloody night Khartoum saw on Monday, May 13th, when an armed militia assaulted the peaceful protestors in the sit-in opposite the Sudanese Army headquarters. His recollection is of a scene reflecting the magnitude of the atrocity that left dozens dead and injured.
“Ten heavily armed vehicles continued to pick on us and fight with us from Monday afternoon onwards. We were guarding the northern direction into the sit-in venue, overlooking the Nile and were trying to protect the barriers. Having stopped the vehicles and after our refusal to move the barriers, the armed forces began to capture some of the soldiers protecting us. They went on to beat us with whips and breechblocks before they ultimately fired on us with live bullets,” Saleh said.
Saleh indicated that he escaped certain death during the assault, but his friends died and many others were injured.
Saleh and other sit-in protestors believe that those killed during the protests had shouldered the responsibility of fulfilling the demands of the uprising, that broke out five months ago, as well as ensuring justice for the perpetrators who killed and whipped their mates; something that made them more determined to pursue the path of peaceful resistance.
The protestors confronted the armed attack steadfastly, refusing to open up the roads leading to the sit-in venue for the armed groups, in spite of a long-lasting shower of live bullets and tear gas. Ultimately, the armed groups retreated in the face of the clashes which lasted for nearly four hours, an eye-witness told 7Dnews.
The protestors have expanded the sit-in venue to include large areas to the east and west, including blocking the Jumhurya and Jamea roads opposite Mac Nemr bridge, near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters to the west of the sit-in venue.
In addition, the protestors blocked Sayed Abdulrahman St., west of the Army Leadership headquarter, and Nile St. They also blocked the Armed Forces bridge, 700 metres east of the sit-in venue, in a bid to secure the place and prevent a possible repetition of Monday’s atrocity that left dozens killed and injured.
From the morning of May 14th, protestors have also blocked main roads in Khartoum, a long way from the sit-in venue, using roadblocks, barricades and burned tires, in what seemed precautionary measures to ensure their safety.
Saleh, being one of those appointed to guard the inlets leading to the sit-in venue, said of Monday’s incident, “Ten heavily armed vehicles arrived at the venue on Monday afternoon whilst we were standing guard over the northern direction, near the Blue Nile. They ordered us to remove the concrete barricades so that they can pass and take their wounded mates to the hospital. We denied their request, as we were aware that this was a trick aimed at dispersing the sit-in.”
“As the sun went down, that military force began to severely flog and whip us, and kick us with their feet and breechblocks; wounding men, women and the elderly. Having remained steadfast and refusing to open the way, they fired on us with live bullets and used tear gas, killing and wounding a large number of our brothers,” Saleh said.
Saleh went on to say, “A military officer with the rank of major tried to protect us by addressing the assaulting force and demanding them not to open fire on the civilians. But they shot him dead whilst standing amongst us.” Following his death, Sudan’s Interim Military Council announced that an army major called Karouma was killed during an assault by armed groups.
“They were deliberately shooting us. Mercilessly. Despite chanting: Peaceful, Peaceful. When we tried to take our wounded mates to the hospital and carry off those who died, they went on beating us with whips and sticks and kicking us with their feet. They injured at least 200 people,” said Khaled Soliaman (25), another sit-in protestor who was standing guard near Saleh.
“Our main concern was to increase the barricades to protect the elderly and the children in the venue. It was a hard night, but we were never scared and stood firmly in spite of the bullets; to protect our uprising. As a result, the armed group had to retreat,” Soliman said in a statement to 7Dnews.
The protestors in the sit-in venue, opposite the Sudanese Army Leadership headquarter, now seem more determined than ever before to achieve the uprising demands. The demands include transferring authority to a civilian government and having the perpetrators of the killings brought to justice. This is happening despite the hot weather, exhaustion and the deep sorrow caused by the bloody Monday atrocities.
“Such desperate and cowardly attempts to disperse the sit-in has only increased our resolve to continue our uprising in order to uproot the corrupt Islamic regime,” said Al-Nour Abdullah, a protestor coming from the western Darfour province.
“We will not turn back after we have gone half the way. We will not accept a military dictator’s rule in place of another dictator. We took to streets to fully liberate our country and have a democratic shift, something that would not happen unless authority is transferred to a fully civilian government,” Abdullah added in a statement to 7Dnews.
He added, “We will continue our sit-in no matter what happens until authority is transferred to civilians and until all symbols of the former regime are held questionable for the killings and genocides they committed.”
The Interim Military Council and the liberation and change movements leading the protests in the Sudan accused unknown persons of attempting to abort the uprising and fail the progress being made in the negotiation process so far.
Similarly, in statements to the press, Chief of the Interim Transitional Council, Abulfattah Al-Burhan, accused known persons of blending in with the crowds and assaulting the protestors, stressing that the council and the liberation movements would work jointly to ensure the safety of civilians.
The liberation and change movements leading the protests have declared their unequivocal rejection of assaulting the sit-in protestors or using violence, stressing that what happened was a desperate attempt by the remnants of the former regime, which is trying to abort the progress being made in the negotiation process.
The liberation and change forces demanded the Military Council to shoulder its responsibility for ensuring the safety of civilians.
None of the Sudanese parties have named the aggressors who assaulted the peaceful protestors, in spite of the masses’ insistence to know the persons behind the bloody attack.
The Sudanese Rapid Support Force and the Security and Intelligence apparatus soon denied any linkage with the assault. In an official statement, the apparatus said its mission had been limited to collecting and analysing information, and presenting it to the competent authorities. Whilst the Raid Support Force said it is committed to its old pledge not to disperse protests by force.
On Monday, May 13th, the Military Council and the protests’ leaders announced that they have reached an agreement whereby the interim authority’s structure will be three-levelled: Sovereign, executive and legislative. Consultations continued on Tuesday to decide the powers of each level.