Two protesters killed by Sudanese forces after pro-democracy activists arrested

Three members of the Resistance Committees and a women's rights campaigner were detained ahead of ongoing demonstrations against military rule

A Sudanese protester wearing a mask during anti-military street rallies in Khartoum, on January 24, 2022.  AFP

Sudanese security forces shot dead two protesters on Monday during street rallies demanding an end to military rule, a medical group aligned with the pro-democracy movement said.

The latest shootings follow the arrest by security forces on Sunday of three prominent members of a powerful pro-democracy movement and a leading women’s rights activist.

At least 75 protesters have been killed since a military coup in October upended Sudan's democratic transition after the removal in April 2019 of dictator Omar Al Bashir. At least 2,000 have also been wounded.

“The forces of the coup continue to exercise brutality and excessive force against peaceful protesters,” said the medical group, the Central Committee of Sudan's Doctors. The group's thorough tallying and verifying of victims of political violence in Sudan has earned it a reputation as an authoritative source on casualties.

The deadly shootings took place in the capital Khartoum. They followed the use by security forces of tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of protesters who approached the Republican Palace, a 19th-century building on the banks of the Blue Nile in central Khartoum.

Activists detained in night raids

The Resistance Committees, a grass-roots pro-democracy movement that has mobilised millions of protesters since the military takeover, said three senior members were detained on Sunday night.

The arrests were confirmed to The National on Monday by a leading member of the committees, Montasar Osman.

The movement claimed that the three were beaten and verbally abused by the security men who detained them.

Sudanese protesters calling for civilian rule and demanding justice for those killed since an October 25 coup in the capital Khartoum. AFP

“We are your prisoners, but we will sing while we are jailed while you shiver with fear at your palace,” said a statement by the movement, in a jibe at army chief and coup leader Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan.

The military-led government does not generally publicise arrests and Mr Osman did not have a figure for the total number of Resistance Committees' members in detention.

The use of deadly force by the security forces against protesters has drawn strong condemnation from Western powers.

Gen Al Burhan has repeatedly promised to investigate the killings, but he has not said who will conduct these investigations or when the findings will be publicised.

The findings of a high-profile investigation into the killing of about 100 protesters in June 2019, when security forces broke up a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, have yet to be announced.

'Pattern of violence'

Armed men have meanwhile detained prominent women's rights campaigner Amira Osman in a night-time raid on her home in Khartoum, her family said.

Her sister Amani Osman said she was taken away by about 15 masked men who stormed her house in Al Riyadh neighbourhood on Saturday night.

“We don't know where she is or the security agency that took her. We are worried about the nature of her arrest and her critical health condition,” she said.

She said her sister had been partially paralysed in an accident some years ago.

The UN mission in Sudan said on Twitter it was outraged by the arrest, citing a “pattern of violence against women's rights activists” that risked reducing their participation in politics.

Ms Osman campaigned for women's rights under the rule of Al Bashir. She was arrested in 2013 for refusing to wear a headscarf and was fined in 2002 for wearing trousers.

Women played a prominent role in the four months of protests that forced the military to topple Al Bashir. They have been heavily represented in anti-military demonstrations since the October coup.

The UN and local activists said at least eight women were raped or sexually assaulted by members of the security forces during a rally in Khartoum last month.

Gen Al Burhan promised a probe into the sexual attacks, but nothing more has been heard on the subject.

Scores of women were also sexually abused when security forces broke up the sit-in protest in 2019. Activists say the assaults are meant to discourage women from participating in the protests.

With additional reporting by Reuters

Updated: January 24, 2022, 6:20 PM