The Trump administration is sending its top diplomat for Africa to Sudan amid mounting global concern over the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy activists by the country’s ruling military council. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy was to meet leaders in Sudan just a week after more than 100 people were killed by government backed paramilitary forces.
Unrest mounted quickly in April after the military ousted Sudan’s long-time dictator, Omar al-Bashir. For months, pro-democracy activists had demonstrated, demanding al-Bashir’s ouster, but they wanted him replaced by a civilian government — not a military junta which includes people who were loyal for years to the autocrat.The Sudanese people are still desperate for respite after three decades of harsh rule under al-Bashir. The violence reached a crescendo last week with the crackdown on the protest sit-in outside the military headquarters. The details of what actually happened over the course of just one bloody day last week were still emerging on Tuesday.
Doctors have said they counted at least 118 bodies after the siege by government-backed paramilitary groups, including 40 pulled out of the Nile River. The government has only admitted to about 60 deaths.Protesters have demanded a swift transfer to civilian rule since the military seized control from Bashir and locked him up. But after last week’s brutal crackdown many opposition leaders have been forced underground.Internet access has been cut off in Sudan and other means of communication severely restricted. Even more disturbing have been harrowing accounts emerging of men and women being raped by the paramilitary group, known as the Rapid Support Forces or RSF. Doctors said hospitals in Khartoum had recorded more than 70 cases of rape during last week’s attack on the protesters and in its immediate aftermath. How we got hereIt began with such high hopes. In December an economic crisis underscored by rising bread prices resulted in rolling mass protests, demanding al-Bashir step down. They didn’t stop until al-Bashir was forced out by his military generals in April, ending three decades of autocratic rule. He has been indicted by an international court on charges including genocide and crimes against humanity for atrocities committed in Sudan’s Darfur region. The civilian uprising that precipitated his ouster was disappointed by al-Bashir’s replacement with a military junta. Talks between the two sides went nowhere, and the protests were met with the vicious crackdown last week resulting in death, rape and hundreds of injuries.