Sudan’s military leaders accused of ordering massacre

BBC investigation includes testimony from soldiers who attacked peaceful protesters

The massacre of peaceful protesters in Sudan last month was ordered by the countrys top military rulers, according to an investigation by BBC Africa Eye.


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The documentary Sudans Livestream Massacre, which analysed more than 300 videos shot on protesters mobiles on the morning of the attack, also included testimony from soldiers who admitted taking part in the break-up of the historic sit-in by thousands of Sudanese civilians.

Protests against the rule of Omar al-Bashir, the long-time president wanted by the international criminal court, started in December. The sit-in in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, had been going on since April, before it was violently dispersed.

Having prompted the downfall and arrest of al-Bashir, the demonstrators have continued. They demanded a civilian government, the removal of violent militia from cities, aid for those attacked in raids and the release of political prisoners.

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is officially the head of the transitional military council (TMC), which has agreed a three-year power-sharing deal with the opposition. Most agree, however, that it is his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who previously ran the notorious government-backed Janjaweed militias, who is in charge.

One of the military officers interviewed by the BBC said Dagalo, who is commonly known as Hemeti, was the person who ordered it.

The instructions were issued by the commander, Gen Hemeti. We received these instructions on the 20 May, the BBC reported the captain as saying. After that, Abdul Rahim Dagalo [another commander] came to see us and he told us to clear the sit-in site, because these people have to be made to flee. For this country to move forward, and for peace to become a reality, we have to deal decisively with all manifestations of chaos.

Hemeti initially refused to answer questions from the New York Times about the massacre, saying he was waiting for the results of an investigation. In the same interview, however, he said protesters had carried out unspeakable provocations, including one who waved his genitals at Sudanese soldiers, and others who allegedly tore apart a military vehicle while filming it. He later said any RSF militiamen found to be involved in abuses would be held accountable.

For more than a month, very little footage from the massacre emerged. As has been the case with many governments in Africa and beyond in the past few years, the TMC ordered an internet shutdown. Only when this was lifted on Wednesday were protesters who filmed the attack able to share their videos.

How investigators will respond to this evidence, whether they will find the TMC responsible and what that means for the power-sharing deal remains to be seen. The signing of the transition deal has been delayed but according to the African Union diplomat Mohammed el-Hassan Labat will take place on Saturday.


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In the meantime, a top general announced on Thursday night that a coup attempt by military officers had been foiled and 16 people arrested.

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