By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2786

Sudan’s resistance holds firm, but must now push further

Issue 2786
A large crowd of people in Sudan, some are carrying flags and banners

Protesters continue to take to the streets (Pic: Mosaab Hassouna)

The Sudanese regime is cracking down on activists fighting against October’s military coup—but resistance continues.

The police and army fired tear gas at tens of thousands of protesters trying to march towards the presidential palace in Khartoum on Thursday. They killed at least four people. Demonstrators had defied a lockdown to join new pro-democracy protests.

Protests also took place in Aljazeera, the Red Sea, the Nile River, Gadaref, Central Darfur, and other states.

Sudanese activist Zeinab says, “The police are cruel. They deliberately fire tear gas canisters at people to try to injure or kill them. It is heroic that there are still protests.”

This week’s marches were the 11th day of major demonstrations since the 25 October coup led by general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his co-conspirators..

It saw the generals remove Abdallah Hamdok as prime minister. He then did a sell-out deal with them in November, but almost all anti-coup forces rejected it. 

The Sudanese authorities shut down mobile and internet services again this week. Army, police and paramilitary patrols took over sections of Khartoum. They placed shipping containers to block the River Nile bridges that connect the capital with its northern suburbs and the twin city of Omdurman.

But Al-Jazeera news reports that protesters chanted, “As much as we sacrifice and die, we won’t be ruled by the boot.”

In the last few days, there are more and more reports of the arrest and disappearance of leading members of the grassroots resistance committees. These are the locally-based groups that have provided the momentum for the resistance. 

They have organised alternative networks of delivering services, organised for the demonstrations and defied the authorities’ control of the streets.

Sudanese activist Shada told Socialist Worker, “The committees are the heartbeat of the revolution. The generals want to end the movement and that is why they target these activists.

“But even if they take away the present leaders, there are others who will come forward because the people’s spirit is so strong and so determined. We are not giving up.”

Soldiers also blocked the bridges during the last protests on 25 December, when tens of thousands took to the streets.

But protesters still reached near the presidential palace that day, despite brutal repression that saw two people killed and more than 200 injured. Security forces have killed at least 52 protesters since the coup.

Hundreds of thousands of people also took to the streets on 19 December, the third anniversary of the 2018 street movement that eventually toppled the dictator Omar al-Bashir who had ruled for nearly 30 years.

A United Nations agency says police and soldiers raped at least 13 women and girls that day as part of the repression.

But none of this means the struggle is over. Just before Christmas, there were signs that the continuing protests had pushed the sell-out prime minister Hamdok to resign.

Hamdok’s deal with al-Burhan was a huge boost to the generals and an insult to all those who had protested, struck and faced repression since the coup. His removal would be positive. 

Hamdok gave as his specific reason his rejection of armed groups in his claimed “cabinet of technocrats”. 

But much more significant was his rejection by the resistance committees and other opposition groups.

Hamdok has been persuaded to at least delay his resignation after pleas from the United States, the United Nations, Saudi Arabia and other governments.

They fear that without the camouflage provided by a civilian leader, the scale of protests and strikes can grow larger and connect with other regional forces fighting for change.

The resistance now has to break completely from any reliance on the “international community” or those who want compromises with the military. The anti-coup forces have to become more militant and to pose an alternative centre of power to Hamdok, al-Burhan and the generals. 

Widespread strikes, linked to the mass demonstrations, can be the way for the resistance committees to take control into their own hands.

The liberal anti-coup groups, such as the Forces for Freedom and Change, cannot offer a way forward because they seek to constrain the resistance within the confines of mainstream methods and elite agreements.

Activist Mohammed told Socialist Worker, “We are not afraid, even if death stalks the streets. The military kill ln the streets and their militias have restarted a reign of terror in Darfur.

“They will do these things until their influence is eliminated everywhere. We are not dismayed, An old Sudanese revolutionary song directed at those at the top of society says, ‘We sing in our prison as you tremble in your castle’.

“Our movement must go forward to conquer.”


A timeline of the struggle

December 2018: Revolt begins against Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir. 

April 2019: Fearing the scale of protests, the military announces Bashir has been removed. But the military stays in charge. Mass protests continue and in May workers hold a general strike. Sudan seems on the brink of revolution.

August 2019: Instead of building on protests to do away with the military, an agreement sees “power-sharing” between the military and the pro-democracy movement.

25 October 2021: A transitional agreement says the military should step aside, but they launch a coup. People respond with marches, strikes and street barricades.

21 November 2021: Deposed prime minister Abdalla Hamdok does a deal with the military leaders, but this agreement is rejected on the streets. However, the United Nations, Britain and the US urge activists to work with the new puppet government.

December 2021: Mass demonstrations continue despite intense repression.

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