Fasting protesters defy military rule in massive Sudan marches

Protesters march during a rally against military rule following a coup to commiserate the anniversary of a sit-in that culminated with Bashir's overthrow in Khartoum North, Sudan April 6, 2022. [Reuters]

Despite high temperatures, tear gas, and a Ramadan fast, tens of thousands of Sudanese protesters marched in the capital Khartoum and more in towns across the country on Wednesday, marking the third anniversary of the fall of former President Omar al-Bashir and rejecting the recent power grab by the generals that ousted him.

A 19-year-old protester was shot and killed by security forces in the Sharg al-Nil area of Bahri, across the Nile from Khartoum, medics said, who added that two hospitals that treat protesters were raided on Wednesday.

The protests, led by neighbourhood resistance committees, comes during the sixth month of a campaign against an Oct. 25 military coup. Since then, the military has not appointed a prime minister while the economy has deteriorated amid a suspension of foreign aid.

Protesters, most of them fasting for Ramadan, braved the harsh sun and temperatures around 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Some in Omdurman were seen splashing themselves with water from hoses from homes along the protest route.

"Our friends are martyrs, so we will defeat the soldiers while fasting, we will continue without tiring on the path of freedom and justice," said Ahmed Abdallah, a 23-year-old college student, sweating under the sun.

At least 94 people have been killed by security forces and thousands injured in crackdowns on protests, medics say.

April 6 marks the anniversary of massive protests against Bashir in 2019 in front of military headquarters after which protesters began a sit-in that resulted in military leaders removing Bashir in a coup.

The sit-in had demanded a handover of rule to civilians, but it was broken up on June 3 by security forces who are accused of killing dozens. A power-sharing agreement was later reached, but ended with the October coup, which military leaders say was a necessary corrective measure.

Reuters reported that factions allied with the military had drawn up a deal to cement its grip on power and exclude the civilian parties and groups that had been sharing power and participated in Wednesday's protest.

"The Sudanese people have yet to realize their goal," said a U.S. State Department statement, adding that "Peaceful protests must be allowed to continue without fear of violence."


While the protest in the capital was called for later in the afternoon to accommodate fasting protesters, protests kicked off earlier in the day in cities and towns across the country, including El Obeid, Nyala, and Geneina to the West, Port Sudan, Kassala, and Gadaref to the East, and Madani, Kosti, and Kadugli to the South.

Security forces and the military were deployed on main streets and key government installations in the capital and bridges to neighboring Omdurman and Bahri were blocked with shipping containers.

Tens of thousands in Khartoum marched towards the airport, facing tear gas and stun grenades as they stopped to break their fast. They continued marching after sundown, chanting: "The revolution is the people's revolution and the authority is the people's authority."

"We came out despite the heat and despite fasting to regain our civilian government and bring down the coup," said protester Mayada Kheiry.

They confronted police and more tear gas at the outer border of the airport, and protesters barricaded the street, one of the capital's largest.

In Omdurman, security forces, including the U.S.-sanctioned Central Reserve Police, could be seen chasing protesters headed towards the parliament building into side streets. A Reuters reporter said gunshots could be heard as protesters began to prepare to break their fasts.

Resistance committees in Khartoum and Omdurman called on protesters to withdraw as night fell, with Omdurman committees citing the crackdown.