Sudan Protest: How Many People Have Died?
As the Sudan protest continues, the question of how many people have died remains controversial. The New York-based African Center for Justice and Peace Studies and London-based Amnesty International estimated that at least 50 people have died in the riot Thursday night. They then accused the government on using the policy of ‘shoot to kill’ against the protesters. Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International said, “Shooting to kill- including by aiming at protesters’ chests and heads- is a blatant violation of the right to life, and Sudan must immediately end this violent repression by its security forces.”
However, hospital sources reported to BBC that about 60 people have lost their lives in the protest. Another hospital source at Khartoum, with youth activists and doctors, told The Associated Press that about 100 people died since Monday. Sudan Human Rights Organizations confirmed that figure. They too have reported that over 100 died in the rioting and that the number still is on the rise.
Some citizens have varied and unverified estimates of deaths from the conflict so far. For instance, Amjed Farid, of Sudan Change Now estimated that the number is in the neighbourhood of 200 people. According to him, “A lot of those who are getting killed are 22, 25, 17 years old, 15 years old, and there are some children also- ten or 12 years old- who were killed. And also, there are people in their 40s and 50s who are getting killed. Almost 200 or something are being killed in different areas, from different social statues.”
The government has its own figure, Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman categorically stated on Thursday that any death tolls higher than 29 is inaccurate. The Sudanese authorities also admitted that there were four other protesters that had died during the conflict, but denied responsible for them. The police said that those four men were killed by unidentified gunmen on Friday. An official statement more often blames unknown gun men who, they claim, attacked the protesters.
As the days go by, there is a tendency for the number of causalities to increase. The Time of India reported that “Sudanese security forces in pickup trucks cornered hundreds of mourners marching after burying a slain protester and opened fire on them on Saturday.” The masses who came for the funeral of a Sudanese pharmacist who got killed during the protest utilized the opportunity to stage a mass demonstration against the government.
This is one of the major challenges to President Al Bashir who came to power in the 1989 coup. His administration is being accused of spending 75% of the national budget on military forces, where less than 5% goes to education.
The riot started on Monday when the government lifted the country’s fuel subsides to increase their revenue. But, people took to street because they believed that the austerity measure was unfair to them.
The country’s economy started suffering when South Sudan ceded in 2011. They left with 75% of the oil reserves which sustain the economy.
As the days of demonstration linger, there is speculation that the death toll will rise.
By Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso