Thursday, June 06, 2019

Janjaweed and gunfire in Khartoum Sudan, death toll rising, bodies in Nile, Yasir Arman beaten and arrested

SADLY the security situation in Sudan has deteriorated rapidly over the past few days. Various news reports say the death toll related to protests in Sudan's capital Khartoum is rapidly rising: 100+ deaths including 40+ bodies floating in the Nile, 500+ wounded. Protestors dispersed, streets emptying, situation volatile.

An Associated Press (AP) report 5 June 2019 says the death toll over the past three days is 108 and at least 509 people had been wounded. Here are some extracts. Note, AP writer Bassam Hatoum reported this story in Khartoum and AP writer Samy Magdy reported from Cairo: 

"The reported discovery of the bodies in the Nile suggested that Monday's violent dispersal of the protest movement's main sit-in camp, outside military headquarters, was even bloodier than initially believed. The attack on the camp was led by a notorious paramilitary unit called the Rapid Support Forces, along with other troops who waded into the camp, opening fire and beating protesters.

During the mayhem, the Doctors Committee said witnesses reported seeing bodies loaded into military vehicles to be dumped into the river. The camp was not far from the Blue Nile, just upstream from where it joins the White Nile and then flows north through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean.

The committee said in a statement that a day earlier, militiamen of the Rapid Support Forces were seen pulling 40 bodies from the river and taking them away. It said it was not known where they were taken.

One activist, Amal al-Zein, said the number could be even higher. She said activists and private citizens had pulled dozens more bodies from the Nile in areas near the sit-in and took them to a hospital morgue. "Some bodies have wounds from bullets, others seemed to have beaten and thrown in the Nile," she said."
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Arman beaten and arrested by Sudanese security forces

BRITAIN'S Ambassador in Khartoum, Sudan, Mr Irfan Siddiq posted news on his Twitter page @FCOIrfan today (Wed 5 June) confirming that Mr Yasir Arman, leader of SPLM-N(Agar) has been beaten and arrested by Sudanese security forces. Click here to see the Ambassador's tweet 
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HERE is a news analysis by BBC Africa editor Fergal Keane OBE. I have reprinted it in full because it is so well researched with reliable photos and film footage showing the gunfire in Khartoum. Today's technology makes it so easy for anyone to alter reports, photos and film for circulating online as propaganda. The BBC uses sophisticated technology to carefully check and verify news, images and film clips before publishing.
Another reason for reprinting it in full is this: in the weeks, months and years ahead it will slip out of the BBC's headlines while here at Sudan Watch it will remain alive with a spotlight shining brightly on the truth.
Rest in peace all who were murdered by their own government + + +

Sudan crisis: Return of the feared Janjaweed
By Fergal Keane
BBC's Africa editor
Tuesday 4 June 2019

Protesters set ablaze tyres to try to stop Sudan's security forces on Monday 

Sudan's military has faced mounting international condemnation for its violent attack on protesters which reportedly left at least 30 dead. But there were clear signs this was likely to happen.

Even when the crowds were at their largest and most joyous there was a sense of looming danger.

You did not have to walk far from the sit-in to encounter the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) lounging on their pick-up trucks.

Unlike the regular army these militiamen rarely responded to greetings or if they did it was with a non-committal nod, no hint of a smile.

It did not surprise me.

I remembered them from Darfur 14 years before. There they were known as the Janjaweed and became notorious for atrocities inflicted on the civilian population.

In 2005 I saw them beat and terrorise civilians in a camp for the displaced and I interviewed the survivors of torture and rape.

Now they have brought their violence to the streets of the capital.

This is the sound of gunfire in Khartoum, Sudan...

Sudan military attacks protestors

Sudan has been driven backwards by the conspiracy of a military elite whose priority is the survival of their power and privilege.

The Transitional Military Council has scrapped the agreements reached with the opposition Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) under the guise of speeding up the transition to full democratic elections.

These are to be held within nine months.

The plan is more than likely a fiction, not designed to produce civilian rule or anything like it.

There is ample precedent in Africa and elsewhere these days for elections which go through the motions of democracy but deliver none of its substance.

Don't be surprised to see senior figures from the TMC "retiring" from the military and standing as civilian candidates.

What will not change is military control of Sudanese life.

In part the FFC and its civil society allies are victims of their own dizzying success in the early days of the revolution.

Within 24 hours they toppled President Omar al-Bashir and the military man who led the coup against him.

Thirty years of rule appeared to have been vanquished.
The sight of the sit-in drew activists from all spheres of Sudanese life. It became a citadel of freedom.

The atmosphere was intoxicating.

People debated and sang and produced art.


They produced manifestos on women's rights, media freedom, justice and the economy, and much more besides.

Yet diversity was also a vulnerability.

Everybody agreed that civilian rule was the essential demand.

But there were inevitable differences over the specifics of achieving that aim: what should the timeframe be, what would be the balance between military and civilian representatives, which personalities representing which groupings would take positions in any transitional arrangements?

None of these debates were in themselves fatal to the cause.

But they highlighted the difficulties of being a "people's movement" compared to an established political party with the structures and internal discipline to make swift changes at the negotiating table.

Hard line take control

There was another problem.

As the shockwaves of Mr Bashir's overthrow dissipated the old politics of Sudan re-emerged.

Parties and personalities who had been suppressed under dictatorship were determined not to be left out if political power was being shared.

This allowed the military to characterise the protesters as simply one of the groups who were part of the negotiations, ignoring the fact that there would have been no negotiations without the demonstrations.

Delaying or dissembling in the name of inclusivity became a tactic.

Once the military had recovered from the confusion around Mr Bashir's overthrow it regrouped and the most hard line elements took control.

This explains the pre-eminence of the RSF commander, Mohammed "Hemedti" Hamadan whose personal ruthlessness in Darfur always made him the most likely leader of a counter-revolution.

Unlike many of the military elite "Hemedti" is an outsider.

From a rural background he has no family ties or sentimental affiliation with the young middle class protesting on the streets of the Khartoum.

Divided world

The military also enjoys another big advantage.

This is an age of international division.

The notion of an "international community" which might pressure the regime is a fantasy.

The world is now governed by a collection of interests - occasionally they are complimentary, more often they are in competition.

The UN Security Council is not a forum where any kind of concerted action on Sudan might be approved.

Russia and China would block any move to increase sanctions on Khartoum.

The condemnation from US National Security Advisor, John Bolton - he called the Khartoum violence "abhorrent" - will only mean something if the US demands that its regional allies - Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - exert pressure on the Sudanese military.

For now it is hard to imagine President Donald Trump picking up the phone to Cairo or Riyadh and insisting on a swift transition to civilian rule.

Mr Trump has other priorities like the Mexican border, Venezuela, Iran and the trade war with China.

Sudanese forces tried to disperse the sit-in Monday 

What about an African solution?

The African Union (AU) was an early supporter of civilian rule after the fall of Mr Bashir but the AU's actions around the election results in the Democratic Republic of Congo in January are cautionary: the AU first criticised what many observers saw as a fix but then rowed back.

In recent weeks the African body has spoken of the need for international actors not to meddle in Sudanese affairs.

Bear in mind too that the AU's current chairperson is Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who is himself a symbol of military usurpation of power.

The Sudan crisis exposes the dominant reality of the international scene.

Force can have its way without consequence if the killers and torturers represent a valuable enough asset to other stronger powers - in strategic, ideological, intelligence or economic terms.

It is possible that President Trump will make a stand on Sudan and pressure his allies to act, that the AU will threaten to expel and isolate Sudan, that more moderate elements in the military will emerge and challenge "Hemedti" and his supporters. Possible. But certainly not probable.

I remember speaking with a leading activist at the demonstrations back in April.

He told me that "the sit-in is the only card we have. That is why we have to maintain it."

Sudanese people had been protesting for many weeks by this point in May, well after Mr Bashir had been forced out of office 

But now that the sit-in is smashed where does the opposition go?

The peaceful revolutionaries are beaten and traumatised.

It is impossible to say now whether the Forces of Freedom and Change can come back as a street-driven force.

There have been calls for civil disobedience and strikes.

Any such will likely be met with ruthless violence.

What will not change, in fact what has been deepened, is the alienation of people from their rulers.

Demonstrators were still protesting peacefully at the beginning of May at a sit-in outside the army's headquarters 

Repression may work as a strategy for now but not indefinitely.

Sudan is now dependant on powerful neighbours for its economic survival and beset by internal divisions.

Dependency on the Egyptians and Saudis will rankle with many Sudanese beyond the protesters, adding a more overtly nationalist dimension to the current crisis.

The generals have succeeded in smashing the protest but their troubles may only be starting.

Road to transition

Image copyright 
  • 19 December 2018 - Protests erupt after fuel and bread price rises announced
  • 22 February 2019 - President Bashir dissolves the government
  • 24 February - Protests continue as security forces respond by firing live bullets
  • 6 April - Activists begin sit-in at military headquarters, vowing not to move until Mr Bashir steps down
  • 11 April - Army generals announce that Mr Bashir has been toppled but sit-in continues as people demand civilian rule
  • 20 April - Talks between the military rulers and civilian representatives begin
  • 13 May - Shooting outside the military headquarters leaves six people dead
  • 14 May - Military and civilians announce a deal on a three-year transition period
  • 16 May - Talks postponed as military demands some barricades are removed
  • 3 June - Activists announce the suspension of talks with the military, accusing them of using force to disperse their sit-in
More on Sudan
View the original analysis by BBC Africa Editor Fergal Keane OBE Wed 5 June 2019 here:
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Tweets about infiltration by rogue groups - situation extremely volatile - protest leaders calling for international mediation

Snippets from BBC Africa Editor Fergal Keane’s Twitter page @fergalkeane47 Wed 5 Jun 2019 (Sudan Watch Ed: yellow highlighting is mine):

This could point mean there is divergence between the two. But, the fact that Hemdti is talking to his soldiers about rouge groups impersonating them is more worrying. Is he psyching them for more, or is he serious and there is another militia that he does not control.!

Very mixed messages from Sudan's military today. As General Burhan apologises + calls for talks, his deputy Mohammed "Hemeti" Hamadan is on Sudan TV telling his RSF militia that protesters had been infiltrated by rogue elements + drug dealers and firm action was warranted

#SudanUprising #Saudi statement of “deep concern” and condolences to families of  victims. Says KSA “affirms the importance of resuming the dialogue between the various parties in Sudan to fulfill the aspirations of the brotherly Sudanese people.” 1/3

This may explain regime offer of talks, indicate pressure at international and regional level is being applied on Khartoum. It might - a big might - stop a recurrence of large scale killing. But honestly with the current Sudanese regime there are no guarantees. 2/3

The situation is extremely volatile. Trust in military offer of talks will be minimal. Protest leaders have called for international mediation. But that is a huge step for the regime to accept. 3/3
6:01 am - 5 Jun 2019
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Sudan crisis: 40 bodies pulled from Nile, opposition says

Residents in Khartoum told the BBC they were living in fear as members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) roamed the streets. The paramilitary unit - formerly known as the Janjaweed militia - gained notoriety in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan in 2003.

"Forty bodies of our noble martyrs were recovered from the river Nile yesterday," the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said in a Facebook post.

An official from the group told the BBC that they had witnessed and verified the bodies in hospitals and that the death toll now stood at 100.

A former security officer quoted by Channel 4's Sudanese journalist Yousra Elbagir said that some of those thrown into the Nile had been beaten or shot to death and others hacked to death with machetes.
"It was a massacre," the unnamed source said.

Read the full analysis by BBC Africa Editor Fergal Keane Wed 5 June 2019 here:
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Finally got in touch my intelligence source (a defected NISS officer) he says: 

"This is all a planned attack by the RSF, NISS, People's Police militia, People's Security Militia, Defence Miltia, Student Security Militia & AbdelHai Islamist Militia. They were a force of 10,000."

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Military takeover in Sudan: A timeline of key events

A timeline of key events in Sudan’s unfinished revolution

CAIRO (AP) Monday June, 3 2019 — Sudan’s security forces violently dispersed on Monday the camp at the center of the protest movement that in April forced the army to remove Sudan’s strongman, Omar al-Bashir, after 30 years of rule — and then stayed in the streets to keep up pressure on the generals who took his place.

For months, tens of thousands in the camp and other protest sites have been demanding a speedy transition to civilian rule. The break-up of the sit-in threatens to escalate the struggle between the protesters and the army to a new, more volatile level.

Many protest leaders see the confrontation with the army as part of the struggle to purge the state’s institutions of al-Bashir’s army and Islamist supporters. The autocrat’s time in power will likely be remembered as among the most oppressive in Sudan’s modern history.

Here is a timeline of key events in the rise and fall of al-Bashir, and Sudan’s unfinished revolution:

1980s — A career army officer, al-Bashir assumes a leading role in the war against rebels in the south.
1985 — Sudanese army overthrows former President Jaafar al-Nimeiri in a bloodless coup. The army quickly hands power to an elected government, which proves dysfunctional and only rules for a few years.
1989 — Leading an alliance of the army and Islamist hard-liners, al-Bashir stages a coup against Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, dissolving the government and all political parties. He appoints himself chair of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, which rules the country, and is named defense minister.
1990 — Coup attempt fails to unseat al-Bashir.
1991 — Al-Bashir and his Islamist allies impose Islamic or Sharia law, fueling the division between the country’s Muslim, Arabized north and the mainly animist and Christian south.
August 1993 — U.S. State Department lists Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.
October 1993 — Al-Bashir is appointed president.
1996 — Al-Bashir is re-elected president.
1997 — U.S. imposes sanctions against Sudan’s government, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
June 1998 — Sudanese legislators draft a new constitution that lifts the ban on political parties.
December — Al-Bashir dissolves the parliament after an Islamist political ally proposes laws limiting the president’s powers.
2000 — Al-Bashir wins another presidential election with over 85% of the vote.
2003 — Rebel groups in Darfur attack the government in an uprising against alleged abuses and mistreatment by authorities. Al-Bashir seeks help from the Janjaweed militias, whose brutal tactics terrorize people in the region and displace more than 2 million people. A small peacekeeping force from the African Union arrives.
2005 — Under international pressure, a peace deal is reached between al-Bashir and the southern Sudanese rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. The agreement gives southern Sudanese the right to determine whether the south would remain part of Sudan.
July 2008 — International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor calls for an arrest warrant against al-Bashir, citing charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur. The Sudanese government, which is not a party to the treaty creating the ICC, denies the accusations and proclaims al-Bashir’s innocence.
March 2009 — The ICC issues an arrest warrant for al-Bashir — the first time that the ICC seeks the arrest of a sitting head of state — charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity but not genocide. Later, a second arrest warrant is issued against al-Bashir, this time with a genocide charge.
April 2010 — Al-Bashir is re-elected with about 68% of vote in the country’s first multiparty elections in more than 20 years. Two main opposition rivals withdraw over alleged fraudulent practices.
July 2011 — South Sudan gains independence after a referendum in January. South Sudan’s independence causes economic difficulties in Sudan as the new country gains control over the southern oil fields, which had accounted for three-quarters of the country’s oil production.
April 2015 — Al-Bashir wins another five-year term in a vote marred by low turnout.
November-December 2016 — Hundreds of protesters take to streets against a government decision to slash fuel subsidies, as required by the International Monetary Fund.
October 2017 — U.S. announces partial lifting of long-standing sanctions against Sudan, citing progress by Khartoum in fighting terrorism and its commitment not to pursue arms deals with North Korea.
January 2018 — Protests break out across Sudan against price hikes caused by government austerity measures.
August 2018 — Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party says it would back al-Bashir as its candidate in the 2020 presidential election.
Dec. 16, 2018 — Al-Bashir becomes the first Arab League leader to visit Syria since civil war erupted there nearly eight years ago. He is greeted at the Damascus airport by Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Dec. 19, 2018 — Anti-government demonstrations erupt across Sudan, initially over steep price rises and shortages, but soon shift to calls for al-Bashir to step down. Security forces respond with a fierce crackdown that kills dozens.
Feb. 19, 2019 — Al-Bashir declares a state of emergency, bans all unauthorized gatherings and gives security forces sweeping powers to quash the protests.
April 6 — A large sit-in protest begins outside the military’s headquarters in Khartoum. Over the next five days, security forces kill 22 people in attempts to clear the sit-in. The protests gain momentum after the resignation earlier in the week by Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 20 years, in response to similar demonstrations.
April 11 — Sudanese army arrests al-Bashir and says it takes over for the next 2 years, suspending the country’s constitution and closing its borders and airspace. A three-month state of emergency is also imposed.
April 12 — Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan replaces the coup leader who is linked to the bloodshed in Darfur, Awad Mohammed Ibn Ouf, after street rallies against him.
April 17 — Sudanese officials say al-Bashir has been transferred to a prison in Khartoum.
April 21 — Protest organizers suspend talks with the ruling military council, saying it has failed to meet their demands for an immediate transfer to a civilian government.
April 25 — Under pressure from mounting protests, three members of the ruling military council resign.
April 27 — Protest leaders resume talks with the ruling military council.
May 13 — Sudanese prosecutors say they have charged al-Bashir with involvement in killing and incitement to kill protesters during the uprising.
May 14 — Protesters says security agents loyal to ousted leader al-Bashir attacked their sit-ins overnight, setting off clashes that killed five people, including an army officer.
May 15 — Army and opposition leaders announce significant progress in negotiations; a three-year transition period, a Cabinet and the makeup of a 300-member, all-civilian transitional legislative body.
May 25 — Thousands of Islamists, long allied with al-Bashir’s regime, rally to support military-backed Islamic rule in Khartoum.
May 28 — Protest leaders launch a two-day general strike to press the army to hand over power to a civilian-led authority.
June 3 — Protest leaders say security forces attack their Khartoum sit-in at the center of the movement, opening fire, torching tents and killing over 30 people.

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Sudan profile - Timeline 1881 to 2019

Click here to view a chronology of key events 1881 to 2019: 
Source: BBC UK News online
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USAID 2001 Sudan Oil & Gas Concessions Map

Image: map from Sudan Watch archive July 28, 2009 "S. Kordofan: Heglig, the biggest oil field in Sudan, could be a source of potential conflict between SPLM and NCP". To read full report click here:

To view large version of above map from Wikipedia click here:  
Click, once or twice, on the image at Wikipedia to view full screen size.
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