The United Nations, the European Union and the African Union have called for a probe into the killing of five teenage students at a protest in Al-Obeid, southwest of Khartoum, Sudan on Monday. The teenagers, in their school uniforms, were peacefully protesting bread and fuel shortages, and the commencement of the school year amid the ongoing political crisis when they were gunned down by members of the Rapid Support Forces.
“No child should be buried in their school uniform,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Sudan. “UNICEF calls on the government to investigate and hold all perpetrators of violence against children accountable.”
Sudan’s military ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan condemned the killing of the teenagers as an “unacceptable crime”, which “needs immediate accountability.”
Today, the European Union (EU) put out a statement saying the perpetrators need to be promptly brought to justice.
AU mediator, Mohamed Hassan Labatt, has also called for a speedy trial of those responsible for the killing of the teenagers while urging both parties to sign a constitutional declaration they have been wrangling over.
Transitional talks were due Tuesday, July 30, 2019, with a joint legal committee from both sides to complete its work on the document, but the meeting was suspended as leaders of the opposition coalition responsible for negotiating with the military council left Khartoum for Al-Obeid.
“We cannot sit at the negotiating table with those allowing the killing of revolutionaries,” Siddiq Youssef, a senior leader of the Sudanese communist party, said in a statement. Both sides had signed a power-sharing deal early July that provided for the establishment of a new governing body of six civilians and five generals.
They were supposed to further discussion on a number of issues on Tuesday including powers of the joint civilian-military ruling body, formation of a transitional civilian government and parliament, the deployment of security forces and immunity for generals over protest-related violence.
Owing to the incident on Monday, authorities have shut down schools and announced a curfew in several towns in North Kordofan as protest leaders call for nationwide rallies to demand justice against the killings.
In its statement, the EU asked Sudan’s ruling military council and the opposition to set aside their differences and swiftly reach an agreement to pave way for a civilian-led transition, with a caution that it will only be able to engage with a government in which civilians exercised demonstrable authority.
So far, over 250 people have been killed in protest-related violence since December when demonstrations first erupted against now-ousted president Omar al-Bashir.