Rail workers and health workers lead Sudan strikes as Resistance Committees call for “total civil disobedience” after 7 protesters shot dead

Revolutionaries cut down the security forces’ armoured trucks – Image via SWARFTU on Facebook

The killing of 7 revolutionary activists in Sudan on Sunday 17 January has sparked a new wave of defiance across the country, with two days of strikes and civil disobedience on 18 and 19 January. The activists were shot dead by the security forces and army during ongoing protests demanding an immediate transition to civilian rule and rejecting the military regime which seized power on 25 October. 

Sudanese activist Sara Abbas explained. “The military is ramping up the violence, and it is only going to get worse. Hospitals in Khartoum have been getting attacked for weeks now, medics are regularly beaten, tear gas deployed inside the premises, and injured protestors arrested (as in kidnapped from their beds). A massive hike in electricity prices recently shows the regime has a cash problem. The recent killing of a police officer was blamed on a young revolutionary, who has been arrested.” 

“It’s clear to most Sudanese that the killing was carried out by elements of the regime to justify the barbaric use of violence, including the use of anti aircraft weapons, against human bodies, sound bombs, live ammunition, and the deliberate firing of tear gas canisters at the heads and faces of protestors (today all the deaths were by bullets but a lot of deaths in recent weeks have been due to trauma from the impact of gas canisters to the head). Resistance committee members in the last week have faced a more aggressive than usual campaign of arrests.” 

The Khartoum State Coordination of Resistance Committees, a body composed of delegates from the neighbourhood-based committees which have been leading the protest movement in response to the military coup issued a call for a general strike and civil disobedience on 18 and 19 January. 

“We call on all the revolutionaries to completely close Khartoum and erect barricades everywhere. Our barricades terrify them and remind them that we are the strongest and largest army in this country. We call on all professionals, employees and workers everywhere to establish their committees in the workplace, and to coordinate well between those committees and the resistance committees in preparation for the general strike and the implementation of civil disobedience.” 

Khartoum State Coordination of Resistance Committees
Healthworkers call for strike action – image via SWARFTU on Facebook

Activists across the country have answered the call. Health workers had already announced a shut-down of non-emergency work in hospitals. The Steering Committee of the Sudan Railway Workers Union based in Atbara called on Sudanese workers to join a political general strike and civil disobedience in response to the shooting of protesters. 

The Sudanese Workers Association for the Restoration of Trade Unions said in a statement on Facebook that the following trade unions and trade union steering committees had announced their support for the strikes and civil disobedience: 

  • The Information Technology and Communications Union – Khartoum branch
  • The Union of Workers in the Electronic Cables Services Company
  • The Union of Workers at Al-Gezira University
  • The Union of Company Pharmacists, Khartoum State
  • The Preparatory Committee for the Pharmacists Union, Khartoum State
  • The Union of Community Pharmacists
  • The Union of Government Pharmacists
  • The Union of Workers at Khartoum University
  • Petroenergy Workers’ Union
  • Preparatory Committee of the Sudanese Nurses’ Union
  • Preparatory Committee of the Sudanese Veterinary Union
  • The Medical Cadres Coordination
  • The Preparatory Committee of Sudanese Psychologists
  • The Union of Workers at Nyala University 

In a joint statement they said: 

“We as elected union bodies call on workers in sectors connected to our members to engaged in complete civil disobedience on 18 and 19 January. We must organise in the workplaces to make the battle to defeat the military coup a battle to build the unions. Democratic unions are the most effective preparing successive strikes and guaranteeing high levels of democratic participation in the strike and complete civil disobedience.”

Independent unions’ joint statement

Even the judiciary and prosecutors are in revolt against military repression. Senior prosecutors called for the rescinding of a new decree which grants the security forces immunity from legal accountability. In a statement published on 18 January, 48 deputy and head prosecutors said:

“You know that such orders cannot prevail over the law; this is what gave them free rein to commit these violations and crimes and tied the hands of the Public Prosecution, a situation which leads to impunity.”

Prosecutors’ statement

Meanwhile, 55 judges, including members of Sudan’s Supreme Court have condemned the killings and demanded that the perpetrators face trial.

“In light of these grave violations represented by extrajudicial killings and excessive violence that has excluded no one, we condemn in the strongest terms and denounce strongly these violations, and we affirm, based on our constitutional and legal duties, that these violations must stop immediately and that they must not pass without bringing the perpetrators to criminal investigation, to justice and ensuring they do not escape from punishment.”

Sudanese judges’ statement

What you can do:

  • Sign the Sudan Solidarity Declaration – endorsed by the 200-strong Sudan Solidarity Emergency conference on 6 December tinyurl.com/sudansolidaritydeclaration
  • Send a message of protest to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss calling on the British government to reject any participation by the military in Sudan’s future government and to hold the coup leaders accountable for their crimes.
  • Pass a resolution in your union branch in solidarity with the Sudanese revolution

Thanks to Sara Abbas for the translation of the Khartoum Resistance Committees statement and the statements by the prosecutors and judges. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s