In Sudan, Protests Resume Against Army Rule

Jul 1, 2019
Originally published on July 1, 2019 8:44 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Listen, if you would, to the Arabic word that people are shouting amid gunfire on the streets in Sudan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Madnia (ph).

INSKEEP: That word was madnia - civilian rule is what it means. People want a military government out of power, and security forces met the latest protests with violence. Seven people were killed over the weekend, and activists say dozens of others were injured. NPR's Eyder Peralta has been tracking this story from his base in Nairobi. Hi, Eyder.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: What happened yesterday?

PERALTA: You know, a lot of people thought this revolution was over. Earlier this month, militias cleared a protest camp, and they killed dozens of people. And people had gone back home. But yesterday, the opposition called for the first mass protest since that violence, and tens of thousands of people showed up to the streets. It was not just an act of defiance but an act of immense bravery. It was women, men, children - they all came to the streets to tell the military junta running the country to hand over power to civilians.

And I say bravery because Sudan is a country under siege. The Rapid Support Forces, a militia group that is tied to the old Janjaweed militias that committed genocide in Darfur, they are everywhere. And look - we are used to antiriot security forces in this part of the world, but this is a militia. They have opened fire with machine guns. They carry whips, sticks, electrical prods. And they have acted ruthlessly.

Yet the Sudanese people still went out. The junta thought that they had scared people back to their homes. They thought that the Sudanese would be pacified by the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in April. But these protests tell us that the Sudanese want top-to-bottom change in their country, and that they're willing to die to get it.

INSKEEP: Yeah. This is a remarkable parallel with the protests that are going on at roughly the same time in Hong Kong, I'm thinking, Eyder, because in Hong Kong there were protests, the government backed down, they said, OK, we give in, and the protesters actually said, you haven't backed down enough; we will continue protesting. In Sudan, the president actually was removed, but people are still saying that is - this is not substantive change; it's surface change. Are they really clear on what they want?

PERALTA: They want an end to a 30-year system. A lot of the people running the country are the same ones who have led wars in Sudan for decades. And they say they want this over. They want the junta to step down, and they want democracy.

INSKEEP: And is there any indication that the military government - still in control, even if the president left - is inclined to negotiate?

PERALTA: No. I mean, look - there is a power-sharing proposal on the table. It was brought in by the Ethiopian mediators, by the African Union. But honestly, you know, in the past few weeks, the military junta has made it pretty clear that they are not giving power very easily. They rejected one of these proposals. They say that they are the only ones who can keep Sudan stable and keep it peaceful. And they seem under no hurry to give power to civilians.

INSKEEP: Eyder, thanks for the update.

PERALTA: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Eyder Peralta. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.