Sudanese march against the regime despite killings and repression

Sudan solidarity march in Philadelphia on June 29. (Photo special to Socialist Action)


— UPDATED JULY 6 — Reports indicate that the military and civilian opposition forces have reached an accord to end the months of unrest. Under the agreement an 11-member Sovereign Council (SC) would be formed, consisting of five civilians and five representatives of the military. The 11th member would be a civilian mutually agreed upon by the two sides. A military representative would head the SC for the first 21 months. The plan proposes a 39-month transition leading to a civilian government. The SC would set up a legislative body.

Under this pact, bourgeois and petty bourgeois forces have made an agreement with the military that will more than likely sell out the interests of workers, women, and youth. The only clear road forward to end this crisis is by finishing the revolution.

At least seven protesters were killed in Sudan on June 30, gunned down by government forces as tens of thousands of Sudanese marched in what was termed a “Millions March” against the regime. Organizers hoped to build the largest mass mobilization since the violent crackdown on June 3 following a successful general strike.

In the days preceding the mass march, Rapid Support Force (RSF) thugs rounded up some march organizers. Despite the repression, marches were held in Khartoum and other cities throughout the country. Military forces, riot police, and RSF used tear gas and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the marches.

As reported previously by Socialist Action, paramilitaries tied to the regime in Sudan responded to the May 28-29 general strike with brutal violence against pro-democracy protesters. The initial attacks by the Rapid Support Force, a paramilitary organization linked to genocide in Darfur and loyal to the regime, resulted in more than 100 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

The RSF has its roots in the brutal Jangaweed, a militia that is notorious for its criminal genocide in Darfur. Human rights organizations report mass rapes of protesters and medical personnel by militia members and government troops. In some cases, soldiers and army officers moved to protect protesters from the rampaging paramilitaries.

Activists claim that the death toll has now risen to more than 120. After the massacre, RSF members allegedly threw bodies of their victims into the Nile in an attempt to cover up their crimes. More than 40 bodies were recovered from the river subsequent to the attacks. Official government sources claim that the death toll is much smaller.

The May 28-29 general strike, called by the Sudanese Professional Association, displayed the potential power of the working class, with from 80% to 100% participation in defiance of intimidation, coercion, and violence from the employers and government. Transportation was shut down. Also, the Red Sea port closed down as dockers joined the work stoppage. Professionals, government ministry, factory, telecommunications, and medical workers observed the strike. Domestic air flights were cancelled.

Two presidents fall

On April 11, the dictator, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, was removed from office by the military after 30 years in power. This followed months of unrest that was initially sparked by a drastic rise in bread prices and then quickly took up demands for the fall of al-Bashir. High unemployment, inflation, and shortages of basic goods, like fuel and food, are pushing the struggle forward.

The military replaced al-Bashir with General Awad Ibn Auf, who lasted less than 48 hours as mass protests intensified. This was an attempt by the military to preserve the existing state machinery by changing the outside face of the regime. The Sudanese masses didn’t fall for the maneuver.

In the wake of the repression, the SPA and the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC) called for a renewed round of strikes and civil disobedience on June 9, stating that “the peaceful resistance by civil disobedience and the general political strike is the fastest and most effective way to topple the military council.”

Striking airline pilots were abducted from their homes by the RSF and forced to fly military personnel. The RSF and security forces have detained hundreds of striking workers and activists. Internet access was shut down at the beginning of the crackdown on June 3, making communication with the outside world difficult.

The June 9 strike was attacked by RSF goons with tear gas and rifle fire. Government services, banks and transport in Khartoum were shut down. In Port Sudan, the docks, banks, and telecommunications were shut down as more than 90% walked out. Similarly, in other areas workers, government employees, and professionals struck. The Egyptian regime, which has been propping up the TMC, offered to provide aid to the regime in the form of strikebreakers to operate shuttered services.

After the June 9 strike, dozens of military and police officers were arrested by the regime for their refusal to participate in the repression. The government claimed that these officers had been plotting a coup to restore al-Bashir to power, but this is disputed by sources close to the opposition.

On June 26, TMC representatives met with the “Sudan Troika” made up of the United States, Britain, and Norway. The Troika criticized the repression, and the envoy from Norway advocated support of the efforts of the African Union to mediate the conflict. Despite the rhetoric of the imperialists about democracy and human rights, the truth is that the imperialist countries are more than willing to sacrifice both in the interests of stability and profits. There is hypocrisy in the “democratic” imperialists talking about peace and democracy, while the European Union funds the RSF militias.

What’s next?

Bourgeois figures and their political parties are not reliable allies in the fight against dictatorship. The independent organization of the working class and its allies, and the construction of a revolutionary workers party, is an urgent task. Ultimately, the working class is central to the resolution of the current revolutionary situation.

The opposition should be built around democratically run popular committees that answer to the workers and poor farmers of Sudan. Revolutionaries in Sudan must also understand the limits of nonviolence and take steps to build mass-based committees for self-defense. Negotiations with a regime of murderers is a dead end.

Advancing the revolution also requires targeted propaganda aimed at the ranks of the army, with the goal of  bringing as many soldiers as possible over to the side of the revolution.

Revolutions cannot be made halfway or hesitantly. The movement in Sudan has to realize that the only resolution of the current crisis that can achieve justice for the oppressed masses is through revolution and workers’ power.

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