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More Suspects Arrested for Attacks on Sudan Protesters

Sudanese women hold a banner bearing pictures of killed protesters during a demonstration called for by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) to denounce the July 29 el-Obeid killings, in the capital Khartoum, Aug. 1, 2019.

Military authorities in Sudan have arrested more suspects in the shooting deaths of protesters in the cities of el-Obeid on Monday and Omdurman on Thursday.

Four Sudanese paramilitary soldiers were arrested Friday in the deaths of six protesters in el-Obeid. On Thursday, the Transitional Military Council arrested seven members of the Rapid Support Forces in connection with that incident.

Another two suspects have been arrested for the killing of four demonstrators in Omdurman.

Despite the killings and the tensions, the TMC and civilian Forces for Freedom and Change Coalition resumed talks Thursday evening on forming a power-sharing government. The sides are trying to agree on a constitutional outline for a government that will lead Sudan for the next three years, until elections.

This week's protests were sparked by demands for justice for all those killed and wounded in the protests of the past six months.

Alaa Abdulahadi, who joined a march Thursday in the Burri neighborhood east of Khartoum, said her cousin was killed during the June 3 military crackdown on protesters outside army headquarters in Khartoum.

“We have lost so many lives and the old regime destroyed our country. We have witnessed the deterioration of our economy and the abuse of human rights. ... [O]ur lives doesn’t matter to them, as long as they are in charge,” Abdulahadi told South Sudan in Focus.

Sudanese rights activists say they want the upcoming transitional government to ensure that justice is also carried for survivors of sexual violence. A recent report issued by a military-appointed fact-finding committee into the abuse of protesters during the months-long sit-in in Khartoum concluded that no rapes were committed by security forces.

Nahid Jabrallah, head of the Seema Women Center in Khartoum, said women's rights activists recorded dozens of rape cases between December and early June when security forces cracked down on protesters outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.

Jabrallah said her center provided rape victims with health services and counseling and she believes that many women who suffered sexual violence will speak up in the days ahead.

“As civil society, there is evidence and many victims got to the service points of different actors and we will continue doing that for both the support of survivors and victims and for the preparation of the investigation,” Jabrallah told VOA's South Sudan in Focus.

Jabrallah said cultural norms in Sudan often prevent survivors from seeking support because of the social stigma attached to rape, but some survivors bucked tradition and spoke up.

“There are eyewitnesses and there are victims who came out and spoke [with] very high courage," she said. "So, the main lesson we learned from this experience [is] that sexual abuse as a weapon failed to break the courage and the power of the people on the streets and that all people were encouraged more by what happened to continue struggling for the real change in Sudan.”

Women’s rights activist Naimat Abubakar said the transitional government should form a justice mechanism that ensures justice for victims of Sudan’s revolution.

“The way that people have been killed, women have [been] harassed, reports about rape, so this is the main task for the transitional government. I think, bringing justice for the victims of the sit-in; this is the first thing, and then, prepare the country for the elections,” Abubaker told South Sudan in Focus.