Mass protests in Sudan continue to call for civilian rule following last month’s military coup. On Monday, the Transitional Military Council said it has reached an agreement with protest leaders on a transitional power structure. Demonstrators have been demanding a transfer from military to civilian rule following last month’s military coup that ousted longtime leader Omar al-Bashir. The announcement comes after at least six protesters and a member of security forces were killed when security and paramilitary troops opened fire on crowds outside military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on Monday. Dozens more were injured. The same day, deposed President Omar al-Bashir was charged in the killing of protesters during the popular uprising that led to his overthrow. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors says 90 people were killed during the protests. Demonstrators have vowed to continue to sit in and march until the government is transitioned to 100% civilian rule. We speak with Marine Alneel, a Sudanese activist based in New York City.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to Sudan, where mass protests continue to call for civilian rule following last month’s military coup. On Monday, Transitional Military Council said that it has reached an agreement with protest leaders on a transitional power structure. Demonstrators have been demanding a transfer from military to civilian rule following last month’s military coup that ousted longtime leader Omar al-Bashir. The announcement comes after at least six protesters and a member of the security forces were killed when security and paramilitary troops opened fire on crowds outside military headquarters in the capital Khartoum Monday. Dozens more were injured.
AMY GOODMAN: Also on Monday, deposed President Omar al-Bashir was charged in the killing of protesters during the popular uprising which led to his overthrow last month. One of the deaths being investigated is that of a doctor who was shot dead while assisting injured protesters. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors says 90 people were killed during the months-long and still ongoing protests. Demonstrators have vowed to continue to sit in and march until the government is transitioned to 100% civilian rule.
Well, for more, we’re joined by Marine Alneel, a Sudanese activist based here in New York City. She was just in Sudan, where she was detained.
Marine, can you give us an update on what’s taking place? I mean, the most astounding image in the last weeks of ultimately the protesters forcing out the dictator, the long-reigning dictator, but then charging that a kind of military coup was taking place. Talk about what’s happened.
MARINE ALNEEL What has happened, the updates since the ousting of Omar al-Bashir, is that the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces have been in negotiation with the so-called Transitional Military Council. The most recent updates is that with the press conference that happened yesterday, they have announced that they’ve reached an agreement on a few points. Some of them is that they will have a transitional period of up to three years, first six months being for peace building and the stopping of the war. They’ve also agreed on a legislative council that will have 300 members, 67% of which they are going to be elected or appointed by the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces. Thirty-three percent are from other bodies not clearly defined yet.
They have also agreed on an investigative committee on the events of the massacre of May 13. And they’ve also agreed on a committee that’s going to be a joint committee between the military and the field committees of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces. This basically means the on-the-ground protesters. This committee will be for keeping the safety and security within the sit-in. That kind of indicates that both the Transitional Military Council and the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, they are expecting that the sit-in will continue for some time, and it’s not going to be ending soon.
The one thing that they have not agreed upon yet, or at least have not declared to the public, is the Sovereign Leadership Council. And that is the most important point. Who’s going to be in the council? Are there going to be military personnel represented? Who are these personnel, and what is the percentage? This council is supposed to be nonhierarchical. Every member should have their voices have equal weight. But it’s going to be difficult or practically impossible for the civilian people and the military representatives in the council to have equal weight. And at the end of the day, the military personnels have an army under their command.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And that’s the problem of the popular uprisings that overthrow a long-term dictator, that the opposition is not organized and has its political parties and its organizations in place, but the military obviously does, so it’s a lot easier for them to attempt to assume control. For instance, in Egypt and other places, we’ve seen the popular movements crushed as a result of the fact that the opposition was not united. So how do you see this transition period working itself out, or do you think that the military is going to try to re-exert itself and maintain control of the country?
MARINE ALNEEL The protesters have been drawing a lot of parallels with Egypt, and they’ve been using it as a cautionary tale, reassuring each other that we should take it slow to make sure that the military does not take over and it remains a revolution of the people. Another aspect is that the military is not so united as it might seem. For example, we’ve seen that in the police there’s a movement called Lieutenant and Under, where you’ve seen unionization within the police. And we’ve also seen people in the army who are refusing the orders of their superiors and siding with the people. There have been the famous Hamid [phon.] who tried to protect the people during the events of April 6 and 7 and 8, when there were clashes between the army and the Rapid Support Forces at the sit-in.
AMY GOODMAN: And who was Hamid? Who was that? What happened?
MARINE ALNEEL This was Hamid. Hamid is a lower-ranking officer in the army, and he has become famous for siding with the people.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to one of the protesters who was wounded on Monday in violence that broke out after the political transition deal was made between the mainstream opposition and military rulers. This is Raed Mubarak.
RAED MUBARAK: [translated] I took a bullet. He shot a bullet at me. He was 20 meters away from me at most. He saw me, and he meant to shoot me. It was intentional, I mean. The bullet should have hit me. He did not even shoot at my leg or up in the air. He shot at my chest, at the left, intending to hit my heart. He meant to kill me, not to scare me or anything.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that is a protester. So, you have the military opening fire on the protesters, killing a number of them. And yet, at the same time, Omar al-Bashir is in the very prison that he sentenced so many opposition to, where so many people were tortured. He now is there and just charged with murder, for suppressing protests and killing protesters.
MARINE ALNEEL The charges that have been presented at Omar al-Bashir are not sufficient. At the end of the day, if he’s charged for killing of the protesters, who has he been ordering? Has he been ordering the military? Then his generals should also be charged. His generals are still at the Military Council. If it was through the National Intelligence and Security Services, then Salah Gosh, the former director, should also be charged, and maybe other figures, prominent figures, at National Intelligence and Security Services. If it’s through the Rapid Support Forces being led by Hemedti, then also Hemedti should be charged. So these charges—the protesters realize that the Military Council might try to scapegoat Omar al-Bashir for other generals and other prominent figures to be able to stay in power.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What’s been a posture of some of the neighboring states that might be affected one way or another by the uprising in Sudan? I’m thinking specifically of Ethiopia and Egypt. How have they been reacting to the revolution that’s been occurring in your country?
MARINE ALNEEL The protesters have been very wary about international intervention. Recently, we have seen that some of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces, or some of the forces that have signed the declaration, have had meetings in the United Arab Emirates. They’ve seen a great backlash by the protesters saying that if we are allowing these people to have a say in our revolution, then they will make sure that some things continue with the transitional government, such as our involvement in Yemen. And these are one of the demands of the protesters, is that we bring back the people who have been fighting in Yemen, a lot of them child soldiers.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the role of women in leading the opposition and the protests in the streets? And how large are these protests still?
MARINE ALNEEL The protest, especially the sit-in, it has been expanding. Initially it was only in front of the military headquarters. Now it’s expanding to other major streets, such as Nile Street, where the protesters have been attacked on May 13th. The role of the women, you can see it in the numbers of the women at the sit-in, and you can also see it in the leadership roles that they’re playing on the ground, leading some movements on the ground and other initiatives that are not directly towards the transition, but such things as the education of the street children who have taken shelter at the sit-in. You see it in the large number of female doctors who are helping on the ground. And, of course, just the protesters.
AMY GOODMAN: And what happened to you when you were there?
MARINE ALNEEL I was there during December and January. We’ve seen similar violence to May 13th on January 17th. This is when Dr. Babiker was shot, and two other people have lost their lives that day. And hundreds of people were detained, including myself and other friends and family members. We remained detained for six days, and we were released. We do not know why we were detained, and we do not know why we were released. And I think that’s the case with a lot of other protesters, as well.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you’re planning to return. What are you hoping to do when you get back there?
MARINE ALNEEL Things are moving so fast, I am not even sure how it will be when I return. I will be arriving to Sudan on Sunday. I might see a transitional government, or I do expect that I will see protesters protesting what the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces have agreed upon. If they are allowing too many or specific people from the military to be on the Sovereign Leadership Council, I’m hoping to join those protests that will be calling for a more fair representation of civilians and for certain figures such as Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Hemedti to not be on the council, because there needs to be a due process of accountability.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you so much, Marine Alneel, for joining us. Sudanese activist based here in New York City, recently back from Sudan, headed back there.
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