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Families Seek Justice for Victims of June 2019 Crackdown in Khartoum

FILE - People shout slogans as tens of thousands of people march on the streets demanding the ruling military hand over to civilians, in Khartoum, Sudan, June 30, 2019.
FILE - People shout slogans as tens of thousands of people march on the streets demanding the ruling military hand over to civilians, in Khartoum, Sudan, June 30, 2019.

Sudanese investigators recently questioned top military chiefs on the ruling Sovereign Council about a deadly June 2019 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. But right defenders and relatives of victims doubt the generals will ever face justice.

Those being investigated include the head of the ruling Sovereign Council, General Abdelfatah al-Burhan, and the head of the controversial Rapid Support Forces, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who rights groups blame for the violent dispersal that left more than 120 people dead.

A special investigation committee was formed in October 2019 and 3,000 witnesses provided testimony to the committee.

In a televised interview, the chief of the committee, Nabeel Adeeb, confirmed the investigations with military generals.

Adeeb says they summoned anyone they thought is relevant or has information to provide. No one objected it and they were not prevented from summoning any person, with no exceptions.

The crackdown took place on June 3, 2019, when security forces attacked and dispersed thousands of pro-democracy protesters in Khartoum.

In June 2019, a spokesman for the then-ruling military junta, General Shams Eldin al-Kabashi, admitted on national television that generals planned the dispersal.

Kabashi says they called for a meeting that was attended by all of the transitional military council and the chief of security forces and took advice from the legal apparatuses to deal with the sit-in. We then directed the military leaders to plan the dispersal of the sit-in; they put their plan and executed it and then what happened has already happened, we are sorry about it, there were some mistakes and committing of abuses.

Al-Kabashi now says he misspoke that day.

Kabashi says he mentioned the dispersal of the sit-in in his previous statements but what he said was taken out of context.

In April 2021, a group known as the Families of the December Revolution Victims asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the dispersal for possible crimes against humanity.

Farah Abbas, a father of a victim and the chief of the organization, says he expects the committee of the sit-in dispersal will say what happened cannot be changed as the military leaders said. The case files are in front of the ICC and the ICC is completing the gaps and defects in the local justice system and courts when there is no willingness to achieve justice and when there is an absence of law.

Relatives of victims like Eman Ismail, a mother of a June 3 crackdown victim, doubt any of the military generals will face justice.

She says there is a sluggishness about the procedures of the opened cases regarding the victims and that refers to the unqualified and non-transparent justice system. The sit-in dispersal committee isn’t useful and is unnecessary as the evidence is abundant. Truth requires courage from the killers to admit to the Sudanese people that they committed violence and let people decide the path of justice.

The families of the victims called for a gathering around the military headquarters in Khartoum Tuesday, but the Sudanese military blocked access with barricades and heavy vehicles.