Khartoum following the death of Dr. John Garang De Mebior
Following the confirmation of the death of Dr. John Garang in a helicopter crash over the weekend in southern Sudan, several hundreds of people went on the streets in Khartoum in protest resulting in the death of at least twenty people and the injury of hundreds of people according to the Governor (Wali) of Khartoum. According to SOAT staff in Khartoum, many of the 325,000 southerners displaced during the twenty year war living in Khartoum state and the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement (SPLM), the rebel movement created by Dr. Garang, appeared to be in shock and refused to believe the news of the death of Dr. Garang.
The demonstrators burnt office buildings, cars, and reportedly randomly beat people on the street. In response, the police used tear gas on the crowds in an attempt to evacuate the demonstrators from the centre of Khartoum. Elsewhere, in Omdurman, Kalakla, Haj Yousif, Soba, and Khartoum North, security forces refused to intervene as demonstrators set alight shops and both private and government vehicles.
A dusk to dawn curfew was imposed on 1 August in the capital, which the government described as an emergency measure to avoid rioting and violence during the night.
In the early hours of 1 August 2005, official sources confirmed that Dr. John Garang died with six aides and seven crew members while on his way back to Southern Sudan from Kampala, Uganda in a Ugandan presidential plane.
The death of Dr. John Garang occurs three weeks after he was sworn in Sudan’s First Vice President and eight days before he was due to form a new interim government with the ruling party.
FIDH and SOAT condemn the acts of violence committed by the demonstrators and the disproportionate use of violence by the police forces.
FIDH and SOAT call for calm and appeal to all Sudanese people to ensure the full and speedy implementation of the historic peace agreement which brought an end to two decades of conflict.
FIDH and SOAT appeal to the ruling government to:
– guarantee, in all circumstances, the psychological and physical integrity of all individuals and to exercise restraint in its response to demonstrators,
– immediately put in place an impartial and independant commission to investigate on the circumstances of the death of Dr. Garang,
– welcome Salva Kirr, the successor to Dr. Garang and to continue to undertake its obligations as stated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Moreover, FIDH and SOAT call on both the ruling government and the SPLM to continue the promotion of national reconciliation.