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Sudan doctors vow continued protests after colleague killed at close range

Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans near the home of a demonstrator who died of a gunshot wound sustained during anti-government protests in Khartoum, Sudan
Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans near the home of a demonstrator who died of a gunshot wound sustained during anti-government protests in Khartoum, Sudan Reuters/M.N. Abdallah

Doctors in Sudan continued to call for the resignation of President Omar al Bashir on Friday, vowing to step up a strike after a doctor was killed while treating injured protesters in Khartoum. Their hardening stance is the latest development in an ongoing uprising against the Sudanese government with weeks of regular protests in the capital and other cities across the country.

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“Following the death of our junior colleague, shot from 20 metres away, we will stop treatment in military and security hospitals, which belong to the regime,” said Dr. Sarah Abdelgalil, spokesperson for Sudan Doctors Union branch in London.

Doctors will continue to work on emergency cases in the 40 public hospitals throughout the country, she told RFI, but only life threatening cases will be taken.

The killing of the doctor as described by Abdelgalil appears to correspond to a social media post by the Sudanese Translators for Change Facebook page. Their post details how Abdelhameed Babiker was treating injured protesters at a house in the Burri district of Khartoum.

Security forces tear-gassed the residence and Dr. Babiker approached the armed men, identifying himself as a medical doctor treating the wounded inside. One of the armed men asked if he was the doctor treating people, and shot him dead.

Demonstrators, including professionals, students and regular citizens have been protesting for one month over the price hikes and shortages for commodities, but the protests have morphed into a broader anti-government movement, calling for Bashir to step down.

“The number of arbitrary arrests related to the recent protests is huge, and the government seems intent on pursuing more arrests, repression, and other abuses as long as the protests continue,” Mossaad Mohammed Ali, executive director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies in Kampala, Uganda, said in a statement. He refers to hundreds of protesters arrested, including doctors, over the past five weeks.

Sudanese police fired live rounds after mourners attending the funeral of a 60-year-old protester in the Burri district of Khartoum began throwing rocks, the Reuters news agency reported. It said that some 5,000 people went to the funeral of Moawia Othman, who was shot late Thursday.

Doctors detained

Human rights group Amnesty International said they had received reports of raids of medical facilities by security personnel, who fired teargas inside hospitals and assaulted doctors.

“It is an outrage that Sudanese security forces continue to use lethal force on protesters and key service providers like doctors, killing people in an unbridled spree that is even affecting children,” said Amnesty International Deputy East Africa director Sarah Jackson.

Between eight to 10 doctors are still in detention, and two were released on Thursday, but specific numbers are hard to determine, said Abdelgalil.

“It is difficult to get exact numbers – these are the ones we know about,” Abdelgalil added. “As doctors, we believe we have been excessively targeted by the regime.”

The doctors freed from detention continue to support the uprising, although their activity is reduced because they are closely monitored by the government, she said.

“Violence won’t help Sudan overcome its many problems. Rather than using violence and abuses to clamp down on dissent, Sudan needs to engage peacefully with protesters’ concerns,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at US-based Human Rights Watch.

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