Sudanese security forces 'hunt down' injured protesters in hospital

These protesters make their way towards the presidential palace in Khartoum through water cannons used by security forces on January 24, 2022.
These protesters make their way towards the presidential palace in Khartoum through water cannons used by security forces on January 24, 2022. © @Alsyed33

Sudanese security forces have ramped up their deadly crackdown on protesters, firing live ammunition and driving armoured vehicles into crowds and beating civilians. On January 24, three demonstrators were shot dead. Our team spoke to a Sudanese journalist, who described the violent methods used by security forces, including entering hospitals to beat or arrest protesters.

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The protesters have been out in the streets since the October 25, 2021 coup, when army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan seized power from transitional authorities.

Demonstrators regularly try to reach the presidential palace or the headquarters of the army chief of staff. On January 24, security forces deployed tear gas and stun grenades in an attempt to halt their advance.

The crackdown has taken a brutal turn, with security forces using live bullets and attempting to run over protesters, according to one journalist who covered the protests.

'Security forces don’t hesitate to drive their armoured vehicles into protesters'

Mohamed is a journalist based in Khartoum. For security reasons, we are withholding his last name and the news outlets he works for.

All of the security forces – from the police to the rapid support forces [Editor’s note: a paramilitary group run by the intelligence services] to the army, all fire live ammunition at protesters. 

Yesterday [Monday, January 24], heavy gunfire was heard near the Royal Care Hospital, where wounded protesters had been evacuated. Security forces regularly go into hospitals to beat or arrest protesters, even if they are injured. They hunt them down as far as the hospital. 

The sounds of security forces’ gunfire rings out in this video filmed the night of January 24 in front of the Royal Care Hospital in Khartoum, where a number of wounded protesters were being treated.

The security forces charged with maintaining order are brutal.  For example, when they use tear gas, they fire the canisters directly at the protesters, which results in deaths. Three protesters have been killed by tear gas since the start of the protests in October. 

The security forces haven’t hesitated to drive their armoured vehicles into protesters – they’ve been doing it since the start of the pandemic. Yesterday evening [Monday, January 24], a police vehicle drove into a group of protesters. The scene was caught on camera. 

This video, posted on Facebook on January 24, shows an armoured police vehicle driving into a small group of protesters. One of the protesters collapses after being hit, but finally manages to rise and flee with the help of his friends.

During a protest in early January, a protester was seriously injured after being hit by an armoured car. Someone filmed the brutal scene.

On his Facebook page, he explained that he sustained a serious injury to his hip and severed arteries in his right leg. After running over him, the driver reversed and ran over him again.

Moreover, security forces regularly hunt down protest leaders. Over the past few months, security forces have installed surveillance cameras in the main streets of Khartoum to try and identify these activists. Yesterday, police officers in civilian clothes were seen trying to film protesters. 

An activist filmed this video, which shows a man with a covered face, standing alongside security forces, filming protesters with a cellphone in the Sherwani neighbourhood in Khartoum (image below).

A man in civilian clothes, who has his face covered, films protesters with a cellphone in a bus station in Sherwani, Khartoum on Monday, January 24.
A man in civilian clothes, who has his face covered, films protesters with a cellphone in a bus station in Sherwani, Khartoum on Monday, January 24. © Twitter / @BashySays

Most civilians stay locked up at home during protests, afraid of the violence. A number of people have reported being beaten or having their belongings, especially cellphones, stolen by security forces. Yesterday [Monday, January 24] a group of police stopped a car driven by Hussam Abdelfattah, an activist who was with a friend in the Khartoum 2 neighbourhood. They made him get out of the car and beat him with a baton, before firing tear gas at him. Luckily, Abdelfattah eventually managed to drive away. He went to the hospital because his arm was fractured. 

Security forces beat Hussam Abdelfattah, an activist who was driving with a friend in the Khartoum 2 neighbourhood on January 24. Police beat him but he finally managed to escape in his car.

Security forces regularly beat activists and journalists alike. Last November, security forces violently beat my friend, journalist Ali Farsab, before arresting him. There’s a video of the attack, filmed by a bystander.

This video shows security forces beating journalist Ali Farsab, during a protest in Khartoum on November 19, 2021.

General Burhan’s coup last October put a halt to a transition towards a civilian government, which was promised more than two years ago after the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir. 

Although the violence continues, Burhan recently announced the nomination of a government. He named a number of senior officials to replace civilian ministers, most of whom were arrested during the coup.

Seventy-five protesters have been killed since the military coup on October 25, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.