Month-old protests against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir took a new turn on Thursday as nearly 10,000 demonstrators entered the Burri district in Sudan’s capital after three people were killed amid demonstrations.
The mass protest, running to the early hours of Friday, was organized to protest security forces’ killing of a child and a physician providing medical aid to demonstrators in Burri, near Khartoum International Airport.
In a statement obtained by Mada Masr, the Central Sudan Doctors’ Committee confirmed that doctor Babikir Abdelhamid, and a boy, Mohamed Obeid, had died after being shot in the head. Sixty-year-old medic Moaia Othman was also killed outside his home in Burri, where he was caring for injured protesters.
The Doctors’ Committee stated that several other people were injured by live ammunition, some of whom were in critical condition. Security forces prevented ambulance teams and some doctors from reaching Burri, according to the statement, while vehicles carrying the wounded were also stopped, and some were arrested while receiving medical care.
On Friday police fired live rounds and tear gas at Othman’s funeral procession. Thousands from the Burri neighborhood took to the streets for the funeral, and one of Othman’s relatives told Mada Masr that there could be no compensation for his death, which the medical report showed to have been caused by a bullet to the chest.
In a separate statement, the Doctors’ Committee said that police raided the private Faisal Hospital in the center of Khartoum, shattering the glass of its entrance, shooting tear gas into the emergency department, and detaining the administrative director and staff manager for an hour.
Security forces also raided the Omdurman Hospital on January 9, firing live ammunition and tear gas, amid demonstrations in Omdurman last week, Amnesty International said in a statement.
Khartoum’s suburbs and several other Sudanese cities have witnessed mass demonstrations in response to the opposition’s call to demonstrate on Thursday.
In Khartoum protesters planned to march toward the central presidential palace, but 30 minutes before protests were due to start security forces surrounded the city center, detaining and beating members of any gathering suspected of seeking to protest, eyewitnesses told Mada Masr.
At the scheduled time, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in a narrow street in central Khartoum containing hospitals, private clinics and traffic. The protesters chanted the national anthem, according to protester Magdulin Othman, who explained that as they marched out of the street security forces attacked them with tear gas and batons to disperse them.
The well-known Abu Ganzeer Square, before the Grand Mosque in the city center, was turned into a security headquarters for suppressing the demonstrations. Security vehicles with gunmen were stationed in the area, forming a security cordon. Detainees were brought together in the open area, forced to sit on the ground and beaten in front of pedestrians.
In a back street of Abo Ganzeer Square hundreds of demonstrators chanted calls for freedom and for toppling the Bashir government. When protesters approached the militarized square, police attacked from behind, dispersing them and arresting dozens, including journalists, according to Sudanese Journalists’ Network.
The cat-and-mouse battle continued until late in the evening in the city center, while in many other neighborhoods and cities, eyewitnesses told Mada Masr, people took to the streets in conjunction with central Khartoum protests.
In neighborhoods close to the heart of the capital, particularly in Daim, Holla al-Gadidah, and Burri, young people set tires alight and gathered to protest against Bashir’s government.
Eyewitnesses reported that the state’s aggression has reached the level of raiding houses in search of fleeing demonstrators, severely beating those caught, and arresting dozens of activists.
Western Sudan’s war-torn region of Darfur joined the protest for the first time early last week to demand Bashir step down and to protest rising prices and deteriorating living conditions. The cities of Madani in the center of the country, Dongola in the north, and Port Sudan, which has the main Red Sea port, in the east, had already joined demonstrations.
In a televised speech on January 14, Bashir said he would not step down, that a transition of power in could only take place through elections, and that the upcoming vote, in 2020, would be free and fair. The 75-year-old came to power in 1989 after leading a military coup.
Last week’s report from Amnesty International said that more than 40 people had been killed and many more sustained debilitating injuries since protests began on December 19, as government security offices cracked down on protestors. It said more than 1000 people had been arrested by that point.