In Sudan, the remains of 28 military officers have been discovered who were brutally executed 29 years ago, during the government of Omar Al Bashir.
This was announced by the chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Burhan, on Thursday December 12th.
The families of the dead officers have expressed their relief over the discovery, and that they are now grateful to finally know what happened to their loved ones, after three long decades.
They considered this step a positive move in the right direction, which would subsequently lead to more investigation into the case, and to lead to arresting accomplices, interrogating implicated suspects, and exercising justice for the dead.
Since 1990, the case of the executed officers, known to the Sudanese as “Martyrs of Ramadan 28th,” has long been of public interest.
Over the years the public have sympathised with relatives of the victims, who have been diligent in keeping the memories alive of those who were unjustly killed, regardless of the attacks the families had to endure under the former government, just for seeking answers about what had happened to their loved ones.
Over the years and since their disappearance, the victims’ families have never stopped campaigning either internationally or nationally, in an attempt to find the whereabouts of their sons’ remains, asking the question, where did you bury our sons?
Now, after 29 years, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereignty Council in Sudan, has passed on the information about the whereabouts of the victims, and shared it with the victims’ families. He conveyed his sympathy for the hard times they had to endure in their search for the truth, while welcoming them to the presidential palace, on Thursday December 12th, at a meeting that was organised, as well as broadcast, throughout the country
A unit was organized earlier to locate the burial site of the dead officers. Al Burhan later on stated that he would discuss the matter further with the families, proposing options that would suggest either digging up the graves to rebury their loved ones properly, or place a marker with their names on, in recognition of their current burial ground.
“Doctors would be consulted on the possibility of digging up the graves to better help identify the victims, however for this to be possible, we first need to obtain the family’s consent,” he added.
Background to the massacre
In April 1990, a year after the former general, Omar Al Bashir, had taken over the presidency in the June 30th coup of 1989, a group of military officers, led by the “Officers of Ramadan 28th,” had launched the National Salvation Movement.
According to a series of accounts provided by their families, the officers were never wanted to rule Sudan, they merely wanted to restore the government to its legitimate leader at the time, under Sadik al Mahdi.
Last April, in the aftermath following the fall of the former government, families of the victims started to increase their campaigns, calling for justice to be done. They have also introduced an appeal to both the ministerial council and the sovereign council, requesting immediate action, and urging them to resume investigation into the whereabouts of their sons and loved ones, as well as bringing to justice whoever was responsible for their deaths.
On November 14th this year, the general prosecutor in Sudan, Tag Al Sir Al Hibr, announced that an investigation committee has been placed to further look into the execution of the 28 officers.
The committee, headed by senior deputy attorney, Haider Hassan Abd Al Raheem, were requested by the general prosecutor that the committee put forward the facts and circumstances surrounding the execution, and whether the court order at the time had been justly placed. He also called for further investigation into the burial site, and the whereabouts of their personal belongings, as described by their families to the police.
In her interview with 7Dnews, chief of the legal committee, Manal Awad Khagoli said that “the discovery of the burial site of the 28 officers is a positive thing, and it has made us all happy because it stands as an answer to an unheard call, that has been echoing for three long decades, it is even more important to highlight some of the atrocities done by prominent figures in the former government, who used to be the untouchables, but now are waiting to be prosecuted and rightfully charged.”
Manal Awad Khagoli, chief of the legal committee, and sister to captain pilot Mostafa Awad Khagoli, who was one of the 28 victims, said “we want to dig up the graves, relocate their remains at a different site, and place a proper epitaph, that would stand as living memorial for their courage and self-sacrifice, however, we first need to co-ordinate with the military committee and the general prosecutor’s office, to ensure that such procedures would not interfere with the investigation, because our main goal is to arrest and detain whoever was responsible for such treacherous act.”
According to the secretary-general for the End Impunity Organisation in Sudan, Uthman Aly Gamea, the execution of the Ramadan 28th Movement is considered one of the most tragic and heinous crimes committed under the Al Bashir government, whose accomplices have managed to escape punishment and trials for three decades, due to their direct connections with the former government.
In his interview with 7Dnews, Al Gamea explained that their organisation has led several international campaigns to try to hold down those implicated in different crimes, but most predominantly, those who unlawfully executed the 28 officers without trial.
All in all, the discovery of their burial site is considered to be progress in its own right, which is expected to lead to a further investigation into those who were involved in the gruesome massacre of the 28 officers.
Translated By: Nariman Mohammed