A civil disobedience campaign in Sudan has brought the country’s capital to a standstill, closing down restaurants, banks and other businesses and turning streets desolate on Sunday, the latest escalation by protesters demanding an end to military rule.
The mass showing of government defiance follows a military crackdown, as NPR reported, that protesters say left more than 100 killed by security forces in Khartoum over the past week. Government forces also cut off mobile data, which most Sudanese use to access the Internet, posing major difficulties in getting basic information out of Sudan.
In addition to those killed, at least 784 people have been wounded in Khartoum since Monday, the World Health Organization reported on Saturday.
The strike on what is supposed to be the first working day of the week comes after months of popular protests precipitated a military coup in April. The country’s longtime president, Omar al-Bashir, was arrested and military leaders pledged to hand power to civilians. But since then, the military junta has insisted on staying in power through a long transition period.
In recent days, the military regime has been rounding up essential employees at gunpoint to take them back to work. But opposition leaders called for everyone to stay home — or go into hiding — in an effort to force the military junta to hand over power to civilians.
On Saturday, small groups took the streets and set up road blocks and chanted anti-government slogans. But they were quickly dispersed by security forces using live rounds.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the protests that took down al-Bashir, called on international financial institutions to not work with the military government. Instead, the association is demanding more support to “stop to the bloodshed and assassinations faced by political leaders and activists, while fully holding the coup council and its militias responsible for any attack or arrest.”
The United Nations says a monitoring team should be rapidly deployed to Sudan to examine allegations of human rights violations during the recent military crackdown.
Also in Washington, D.C., the U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning the military-led violent attacks and called on an end to the conflict and a transition to a civilian government.
Human rights groups say military forces should withdraw from their policing and law enforcement roles.
“What we have witnessed in the past three days is horrific and barbaric. The senseless killing of protesters must be stopped immediately, and those responsible for the bloodbath, including at command level, must be held fully accountable for their dreadful actions,” Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.
Naidoo also called on the military junta to end its Internet and social media blackout “to allow the people of Sudan access to information and the opportunity to exercise their freedom of expression.”