(2 August 2019) The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) calls on the international community to urgently investigate the killing of six peaceful protesters that occurred on 29 July 2019 in El Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan, Sudan. The international community, including the United Nations Human Rights Council should urgently set up an independent and impartial commission to ensure an immediate and effective investigation into the full scale of the killing, identify those responsible, and recommend ways to hold them accountable. On 29 August 2019, more than 500 high school students across El-Obeid participated in a peaceful protest denouncing the shortage of fuel and bread in the state which has caused a hike in costs of public transport from 2 to 3 Sudanese Pounds per passenger and long queues in front of bakeries. The peaceful protest started at about 7:30 a.m in Kerima market after hundreds of students found themselves stranded at the bus station as many were unable to afford the new bus fares. The students gathered in the market and started chanting, “no transport, no bread” as they peacefully marched along the streets of El Obeid. According to a reliable source, the government-backed Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) started firing gun shots in the air as protesters approached the Sudanese French Bank. The student protesters ignored the gun shots and continued with their peaceful march. A few minutes later, the RSF indiscriminately fired live ammunition at the students killing five people instantly, including three minors. Another male adult was shot when he tried moving closer to talk to the RSF. ACJPS was informed that after the gun shots, some members of the Sudanese Armed Forces joined in to whip the student protesters with sticks, lashes, wood and iron bars. The ACJPS has obtained the following details of the deceased:
- Ahmed Abdul Whab (m), 15 years old, a student at Abdul Hussein Jafar high school.
- Hassan Saad (m), 17 years old, student at Al-Obied Industrial high school
- Mohamed Al-Fatih (m), 17 years old, a student at Ismail Alwali high school
- Badur Eldien Abdulla Ismail (m), 23 years, a student at Heath Academic
- Ahmed Abdul Karein (m), 40 years old
- Younies Adam Younies Malla (m), 45 years old, he was shot while asking RSF forces to stop shooting at the crowd. He was a businessman in El-Obied
Reports indicate that at least sixty-two people suffered injuries from the gunshot wounds, teargas and whipping. Most of the injured were taken to different hospitals in El Obeid including Health Insurance hospital, Primary Hospital, Extra Care hospital and Alawia Yassin Hospital whilst four were transferred to Khartoum for medical care. On 30 July, the Chairperson of the Transitionary Military Council (TMC), Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan condemned the killing in El Obeid and ordered the Governor of North Kordofan, Al-Sadiq Al-Tayeb Abdalla to establish a committee to investigate the incident. Mr Al-Sadiq Al-Tayeb Abdalla has issued a decree declaring a night time curfew in the state from 9 pm to 6 am. Local authorities have also issued a decision suspending classes at all schools in the state until further notice. The massacre in El Obeid has stirred anger and protests across Sudan. On 30 July 2019, thousands of students took to the streets in Khartoum, and cities across the country demanding for justice for students killed and injured. The Sudanese Professional Association has also called on Sudanese to take to the streets to denounce the El Obeid massacre and demand that perpetrators be brought to justice. On 2 August 2019, the TMC stated nine members of the RSF have been arrested and dismissed from service following their actual or suspected participation in the massacre and that the office of the prosecutor general will be considering charges against them. We urge that all perpetrators should be held to account, including the commanders. The enjoyment of freedom to peaceful assembly, association and expression by Sudanese citizens is very crucial for the transition into a new regime and a civilian government. We urge Sudanese authorities to respect these rights which are guaranteed in the Constitution and International treaties ratified by Sudan. ACJPS also reiterates its calls to the Transitional Military Council to;
- Respect citizen’s legitimate demands for democracy
- Offer free treatment and rehabilitation for all those injured by security forces during protests since December 2018.
- Remove all militias, including the Rapid Support forces and child soldiers from towns of Sudan.