Sudanese took to the streets in towns across the country in December to protest price hikes and demanded President Omar al-Bashir step down. Government security forces responded with lethal violence, shooting live ammunition at unarmed protesters, beating and arresting hundreds and killing scores of people between December and April. Security forces chased protesters into hospitals and shot tear gas into operating rooms, impeding the provision of medical care to wounded protesters. At least one doctor was killed and several others arrested for providing medical services.
President al-Bashir declared a state of emergency on February 22, banning protests and authorizing “emergency courts” to try violators in speedy trials. Many protesters were detained, tried summarily, and imprisoned or fined, without due process protections.
On April 11, defense minister and first vice president, Awad Ibn Ouf, announced the arrest of al-Bashir. On April 12, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Burhan, former commander of the army’s ground forces, took over and formed the Transitional Military Council (TMC), appointing Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti,” RSF commander, as his deputy.
Despite the TMC’s promises to protect the protesters’ camp near military headquarters, security forces continued to use live ammunition against unarmed protesters calling for transition to civilian rule.
On June 3, government forces led by the RSF shot live bullets at protesters, beat them with sticks and batons, rounded up hundreds and subjected them to various forms of humiliation, including beating, rape and sexual assaults. They also attacked hospitals and clinics and prevented wounded protesters from receiving needed medical help. An estimated 120 were killed and hundreds wounded; some bodies were dumped into the river Nile and an unknown number of people were reported missing.
The TMC spokesperson denied government forces attacked protesters and claimed their operation was limited to criminal activity in an area near the sit-in. He later said the dispersal was planned, but that mistakes were made. The attorney-general launched an investigation into the violence and recommended charges be brought against eight soldiers including for crimes against humanity.