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The New Arab

Sudan's Hamdok vows retribution for victims of Khartoum massacre

Hamdok in October tasked veteran lawyer Nabil Adib with leading the investigations [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2020

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The transitional authorities have formed a committee to probe the massacre but have yet to announce its findings.
As protests swept across Sudan, marking one year since the deadly crackdown against protesters, Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok on Wednesday vowed retribution for those massacred in an anti-government sit-in staged last year outside the headquarters of Sudanese military in Khartoum.

In a televised address, Hamdok said that the pursuit of justice was a matter from which there would be "neither escape nor retreat".

It was the only path to upholding "sovereignty" of law and breaking the "vicious cycle of political violence", in his words.

The 3 June sit-in was the culmination of weeks of protests that led the army to overthrow long-time leader Omar al-Bashir and ushered in a power-sharing agreement.

The military - as well as the adjacent Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful paramilitary force that activists said played a leading role in last year's killings - is now in a fragile, three-year pact with civilians.

Thousands of protesters poured onto the streets in neighbourhoods across Khartoum and the city’s surrounding area on Wednesday, demanding retribution for victims of the massacre, despite a lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Demonstrators burned tires in sites where they had gathered, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.

Effigies of RSF soldiers were set ablaze. "We won't forget and won’t forgive," read one sign held up by a mask-clad protester, AP report.

The army used barbed wire and concrete to block off roads leading to its headquarters, in a move to prevent groups commemorating the massacre at the original site, according to the BBC.

Local eyewitnesses told The New Arab that police deployed tear gas in at least one district, resulting in injuries among a group of protesters.

Read more: Sudan protesters rally on one year anniversary of bloody crackdown

The number of victims from last year's bloody raid has been disputed. Doctors have said nearly 130 were killed in the raid and ensuing violence, according to Reuters, while officials have acknowledged 87 deaths.

According to a March report by the US-based group Physicians for Human Rights, attackers in military fatigues were complicit in the "murder, torture, rape, sexual violence, enforced disappearance of persons and potentially other inhumane acts".

Sudan's transitional authorities came to power in August last year, when long-serving Bashir was put behind bars, after the military establishment ousted him following months of protests against his 30-year-rule.

The transitional authorities have formed a committee to probe the massacre but have yet to announce its findings.

In July last year, an initial probe by Sudan's military officials and prosecutors showed that some members of the RSF and other security forces were involved in the killings.

Military officials for their part insist the operation had been planned to purge an area near the protest camp where people were allegedly selling drugs.

Hamdok in October tasked veteran lawyer Nabil Adib with leading the investigations and to present findings within three months.

Adib told AFP that three months was "not enough", especially given that this "was a crime with political overtones" which involved "a large number of defendants." 

He said the investigation had been further hampered by the coronavirus pandemic which has so far infected more than 5,000 people and killed over 300 in Sudan. 

International rights groups, which have documented multiple witness accounts, have called for a transparent investigation, a call echoed by UN and EU missions in the country.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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