Over a million people protested in Sudan on Saturday in defiant opposition to a military coup.
It was a huge show of the potential to hurl back the generals’ attempt to crush democracy. Protesters in Khartoum chanted, “No, no to military rule,” and, “We are free revolutionaries and we will continue the road.”
The biggest protests were in the twin cities of Khartoum and Omdurman. But there were also major marches in Port Sudan, Nyala, El-Obeid, Atbara and other cities calling for a restoration of civilian rule. The military and police arrested activists, blocked roads and bridges and threw up barbed wire barriers in an effort to limit the marches.
But the protests went on. So the police turned to deadlier methods. Security forces killed at least two protesters outside the parliament building.
The Sudanese Professionals Association is a body that brings together doctors, teachers and similar groups. It said the police and army had “attacked peaceful processions in Omdurman with live bullets, and prevented the injured from reaching hospital”.
Supporters held solidarity protests on Saturday in many countries across the world. Around 1,000 people gathered outside Downing Street in London.
Munirah, who had come to the protest from Watford, told Socialist Worker, “The military must stop trampling on democracy. The Sudanese people have suffered so much and for many years. It’s time to see democracy. The martyrs gave their blood for a better society, and we cannot allow them to be betrayed.”
She added that coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan should be jailed for his crimes against the people and his murder of protesters in 2019 and in Darfur.
Women were prominent in the chanting and leading the slogans—just as they often are in Sudan. Hala, whose family lives in Omdurman, told Socialist Worker, “Women led the revolution in 2019 and women are back on the streets now.
“We will not go back to the days of al-Bashir, we will not surrender our rights that we have won in the last three years.”
Most of the people on the protest agreed that the military must not be allowed any place n whatever government emerges after the coup. “We want civilian rule,” was a common view.
There was more debate about what civilian rule should look like. Some people wanted to continue with the present cabinet purged of its military representatives.
Everyone was anxiously waiting for news from Sudan where protesters were gathering. Later in the afternoon reports came of a mass turnout—and repression.
Faheem said, “I am so proud that the people of Sudan say they will not be stopped, they will not take a step back. And at the same time I am so angry about the killings. But we must continue to move forward whit more marches and more civil disobedience.”
The future for Sudan hangs in the balance. The scale of Saturday’s marches shows the force that can be mobilised to win. This is not a time for compromise but for a deepening of the strikes and protests.
Over 300 people demonstrated in Glasgow against the coup. There were around 200 in Leeds, with speakers from the Unite union, the Socialist Workers Party and others, all calling for solidarity with the protests against the military coup.
Around 150 protested in Birmingham.
Over 100 people marched in Sheffield chanting, “Hey, ho! Burhan has got to go,” “Revolution until victory,” and, “Down with military rule.”
Protest organiser, Samah, called for justice for Sudan and told the story of Osman Ahmed, a teenage Sheffield resident murdered by the Sudanese military.
A protest also took place in Wigan on Friday, organised by a group of Sudanese women. It was supported by Palestinian, Yemeni and Syrian women.
It called for an end to the coup, the freeing of the prime minister, an end to the killing of protesters, and support for the revolution.
Around 50 people joined a march and rally in Lancaster where speakers included the trades council.
Amal, who has only recently moved to Norfolk, said, “The protest is the least thing we can do to show solidarity with the protesters in Sudan who are demanding a peaceful transition to civilian-led government.
“We came a long way to overthrow al-Bashir but now we are back on the streets.”
Amal added that protesters wanted the release of civilian leaders and activists and a government “with no further involvement from the military”.
Thanks to everyone who sent reports and pictures.
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