Sudan: Government Critical of Use of Excessive Force Against Peaceful Demonstrators

2 February 2020

The Council of Ministers has condemned what it said was an excessive use of force in dispersing demonstrations that took place on Thursday in Khartoum and in which police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the huge demonstration.

The demonstrations which were organized by the same popular forces and youth groups that brought down Omar Bashir in April 2019, was aimed to commemorate the support provided by some army officers who stood by the people when Bashir's defunct regime was beating and harassing and even killing civilians.

The move comes as some of those involved in the support of the civilians were sent into retirement early this month. The army said this was part of its regular procedures that takes place this time each year. The army said some of those officers were not acting in a way up to par with the army regulations and disciplinary rule. However, the demonstrations were not convinced by the army leadership argument as some of those sent to retirement are still at the beginning of their military career.

"The Thursday events were matched with the use of excessive force against the demonstrators, resulting in different types of injuries. The injured are receiving medical care in the various hospitals. The use of forces is totally condemned and it would be thoroughly investigated and those responsible will be held accountable" a statement by the cabinet read by the Minister for Culture and Information, Faisal Mohamed Salih said.

The statement of the council of ministers which was released in the early hours of Friday on the demonstrations that took place in the capital, Khartoum, on Thursday, has underlined that the components of the transitional period, including the cabinet, the Sovereign Council and their incubator, the Forces for Freedom and Change, are keen to underline the unequivocal right of the masses to assembly, demonstration and expression of their views and positions on all matters.

It said this was part of the rights enshrined in the Sudanese Constitutional Document (a transitional set of principles according to which the current government was formed) stipulating the right to demonstrate and the right to assembly and that the partners of the transitional period are keen to respect the right of the masses to peacefully express their views and positions.

The statement said an investigation was being opened in the events to find out those responsible and to hold perpetrators accountable.

The statement stressed that the people's right to peaceful expression is respected, including the right to organize peaceful marches and processions, and at the same time it calls on the people to be aware about plots by some forces that want to infiltrate into those peaceful marches and exploit them for stirring confusion, sedition violence and chaos.

The statement stressed that the transitional governing bodies would do their utmost to ensure the right of the people to express their stands and opinions peacefully and to protect the peaceful marches and processions expressing the legitimate demands of the people.

According to a group of an independent journalists grouping, scores of journalists were either detained for hours, mistreated by police, cameras confiscated for some times and some beaten up by police.

A Society of Doctors has meanwhile said it gathered information about dozens of people sustaining injuries due to use of tear gas and rubber bullets and direct beating up by batons and sticks when police dispersed the demonstrations.

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