tv Africa Eye BBC News April 6, 2019 9:30pm-10:01pm BST
good evening. this is bbc news. saturday saw an east—west split to our weather. we had a lot of cloud across north and eastern parts of the uk. in the west and south—west, there was a little bit of sunshine. this was the picture in abersoch. you can see a bit of blue sky around there earlier on. i'm chris rodgers. as we head through the remainder the headlines at 10 o'clock. the defence secretary expresses of this evening and overnight, horror at an alleged sexual assault there is a lot of cloud of a 17—year—old female recruit on the map in general. by six male soldiers and orders an investigation. still a few clear spells the chancellor insists for northern ireland and wales. the government has no red lines one or two showers overnight pushing across parts in talks over brexit. of the south—west of england. but labour says it's waiting the headlines: elsewhere, we have to see some movement got a lot of cloud. from the prime minister. for parts of eastern the key priority is to avoid england and scotland, crashing out with the eu with no some drizzly outbreaks of rain. forces loyal to the libyan under that blanket of cloud, deal, because of the disruption that government are trying to push back it's going to be a frost—free would mean to industry and to supply chains, rebel troops who reached the start to sunday morning. through the day, a bit of a murky and we are determined to make sure outskirts of the capital, tripoli. fighting has been reported close to morning for many of us. the city centre. the libyan prime there will be some sunny spells developing for northern ireland, wales, south—west england too. when we want them? now! minister says his country has been further east across england, human rights protests you are likely to see a few sharp betrayed. flooding in iran is at london's dorchester hotel owned thought to have damaged a third of showers rattling in. by brunei, where a new law makes gay a small chance of the odd rumble of thunder. the country's road network. dozens that could affect the boat races of people have been killed with some in london during sunday afternoon. sex punishable by stoning to death. top temperatures, only around 8 bridges and buildings swept away. tens of thousands of people have in aberdeen, 17 in london. the first that's it for now. taken part in protests across sudan, bye— bye. calling for president omar al—bashir to step down. the demonstration
reached the army headquarters and tear gas was used against the crowds. yellow vest protests have been held in france for the 21st successive weekend, with officials estimating the number taking part was the lowest since the demonstrations began last november. now on bbc news, africa eye: sudan uprising. hello and welcome to bbc africa eye: sudan uprising. today we are talking about sudan, a country that has been rocked by what some say are the largest protests in living memory. it all started in december in atbara, where residents there burnt down the ruling party headquarters. protests quickly spread to the capital, khartoum, and unusually to cities across the whole of sudan, building into a national call for the end of omar al—bashir‘s rule. mr bashir himself has dismissed the anger, saying protesters are merely trying to emulate the arab spring, but many experts and observers see this as the most serious challenge to his rule since he seized
power in a 1989 coup. sudan's economy has been crippled by skyrocketing inflation, driven by international sanctions, and a loss of three quarters of its oil to south sudan. with the government out of options, it has been forced to cut subsidies on essentials like fuel and wheat. the banks are now limiting withdrawals to around $10, and over the past few months the price of bread has tripled. many across the country struggle to meet their basic needs. it was these economic challenges that first brought people to call for the president to leave power and the protests have been met with the heavy hand of the security services. this kind of aggression from the military and national security forces is usually reserved for the country's rebellious peripheries, but the recent protests have brought killings, mass arrests and violence into the sudan's heartland. today we will show you a film made by bbc africa eye's open—source experts in london, who have been closely watching the protests since they started. i am joined by three sudanese panellists,
who will tell us their take on the situation in their country. you can also watch the film on bbc africa eye's youtube channel. our panel today arif al—sawi, a sudanese journalist and analyst, faisal elbagir, a sudanese human rights activist and journalist, and on the line from khartoum, dr hussein karshoun, a member of sudan's governing national congress party. we will hear from our guests in a moment, but let's start by watching a film. the sudanese government have done their best to keep tv cameras away from these protests, but they have been unable to prevent ordinary citizens from filming the crackdown on their mobile phones. abc africa eye has looked at hundreds of these videos, some posted to social media, and other sent to our team via messaging apps. we have been able to put this special report together on the security forces who are targeting individual protesters, abducting them from the streets, and dragging them off to secret detention centres in khartoum. local activists call them hellhounds. this contains some
disturbing images. these are images the sudanese government does not want you to see. teams of soldiers and secret agents chasing down protesters in the streets of the capital, khartoum. bagging them over the head, beating them, and dragging them off to secret detention centres, where they are held without charge and in some cases tortured. sudanese activists fear these hit squads. in this film, we will show you who they are, how they operate, and what happens inside the walls of buildings like this.
sudan's uprising started in december 2018. at first, people were protesting a hike in fuel and food prices, but the demonstrations quickly turned into a revolt against the president, omar al—bashir. crowds chanted slogans from the arab spring revolutions of 2011. the government has responded with violence. security forces have used live ammunition. according to human rights groups,
they have killed more than 50 of their own citizens, but they are not just dispersing protests. sudanese activists have recorded dozens of videos that show the abduction of individual dissidents. we have now analysed more than 200 videos from the uprising. in order to protect the people who filmed them, we cannot share the exact locations at which they were recorded, but we can use them to show you the hit squads in action. this is what they look like. teams of around six men in white toyota pickup trucks, sometimes with their numberplates removed or covered up. some are military uniforms, others in plain clothes. many are wearing masks and carrying weapons.
from automatic rifles to crude lengths of plastic pipe, used to beat protesters. so, who are these masked plainclothes agents? sudanese activists describe them as low—ranking thugs in the pay of the national intelligence and security services, or niss. this video doesn't look like much, but it is important because it corroborates that. we see soldiers in military uniforms, police in blue uniforms, and plainclothes agents all working together. it also captures six of the white pickup trucks and a building that is easily identified — a police station in the south of khartoum. this evidence, in combination with the footage of these men in action, and the testimony of sudanese activists, points towards the obvious
conclusion — that the plainclothes agents are part of security services. these squads have been deployed since december to clear demonstrators from the streets. here is an example of one crew in action. filmed by a group of demonstrators who kept their phone recording, even as they came under fire. the agents are working around this block, clearing away protesters. notice the plainclothes agent at the front. and the man in red in the back. around the same time, just around the corner, someone else captured the same team in action.
here is the man in red, and here is what looks like the same lead agent firing at protesters. but this is notjust crowd control. these crews target one person on the streets or at home. the victims are beaten, dragged into the car, and disappear. we do not know where all these people end up, but some of them, at least, are brought to a secret holding facility here,
just south of asia hospital. how do we know this? on january 11, this photo was posted to social media. the post claims that the street contains a detention centre run by state security. since the 1990s, local activists have called these places "ghost houses", because people disappear behind their walls and because when detainees are tortured, you can hear the screams. we confirmed that the photo was taken here. a second activist told us about a detention centre in the same neighbourhood. when we asked him to show us the exact location he sent us this screenshot, which also places the ghost house just south of asia hospital. the same source took these photos,
which can be located precisely. we have since spoken with eight different witnesses who said they were detained in the building close to asia hospital. five of these witnesses said that protesters were beaten so badly that they could no longer walk. some told us people's hands were broken as they attempted to fend off the blows, and that the floor was covered in blood. but, the asia hospital ghost house is not their final destination. two sources told us that this is just a holding facility where detainees are interrogated and sorted. many activists deemed a threat to the regime are transferred to a larger detention centre here, just north of khartoum's shandi bus terminal. we have no photos of this place. one witness told us that you cannot get anywhere near this block with a phone or a camera, but we spoke to seven
former detainees and asked them if they knew exactly where they had been taken. using their phones, they marked up screenshots, identifying a row of four buildings as a torture centre run by sudanese security. one of our sources added a crucial detail — an arrow pointing to "the fridge". activists said the fridge is a series of chilled holding cells in which the cold is used as an instrument of torture. an instrument that leaves no marks on the body. it is freezing inside, it becomes unbearable after 15 minutes, but i was put in there for a whole night, and a few more hours the next day. we also spoke with a second person who had been detained here. i was so scared, scared of dying. the place is cold and lonely.
i thought those were my last moments alive. they had beaten me so badly i thought that was it, i have never felt cold like that. if i had stayed there until the morning i would have died. the torture, the beating, they were better than staying in that place. the fridge is not new. we spoke with one dissident who was held in a cold cell as far back as 2009. activists who have been detained here also describe being beaten, sleep deprived, and held in stress positions. we put these allegations to the sudanese authorities. a government spokesperson denied the existence of secret detention centres and told us that nobody in the security services had ever heard about the fridge. he said sudanese law prohibits the beating or torture of detainees, and police
are forbidden from pursuing protesters into narrow streets or into their homes. he said the protests had not been approved and were therefore illegal. he also claimed the protesters were not peaceful, that some had used firearms and that the police had to defend themselves. on january 29th, sudan's security chief, salah ghosh, ordered the release of all detainees held during the recent protests. some detainees, including people we are in touch with, have been released since then, but many remain in detention, and other demonstrators are still being targeted. a week after ghosh‘s announcement, protesters were back on the streets of khartoum, calling for freedom.
this man raised the sudanese flag. he was still holding it, even as he was hauled away. now to our panel for immediate reaction to those images. dr karshoum, what do you make of the evidence of a brutal crackdown as shown in the film? is the government running a squad of plain—clothes security personnel? according to the sudanese constitution, which is accommodated all the international statutes of the human rights, it licenses demonstrations, it licenses a rally. and also it accommodates some articles which are, also in the same time, barring any exploitation to with such a peaceful rally to be directed to violence.
so the using of excessive force, that is, ah — i know that there is a committee being established to investigate the use of excessive force, which is not similar or in ordinance with the peaceful administration to some cities. so i want to say that there is a constitution. there is a team of courts. there is courts. there is a judicial system. there is a committee being established to investigate such allegations and human rights violations. faisal, let's come to you. as we've seen in the film, the repression of this uprising is fierce. is it working and are people afraid of these hit squads? what is happening on the ground is beyond that. people are killed. up to now, more than 57 people were killed, including on the 2nd
of february, three young sudanese males were killed by this security. but is this a security response suppressing these protests? yes, always. it's part of the regime ideology. it is part of the regime's mechanism of how they can react to peaceful demonstrations. but, believe me, and i want the whole world to hear what is happening in sudan right now. it's a security state. it's a state which practices always torture, killing. ok, let me bring in dr karshoum, just to respond to what you've just said. what are your thoughts on what faisal has just said? yes, he said that this is a security state. that means this is a state, a nation state. but this is not correct. i can say there is a law. there is a judicial system. there is attorney generals. there is a door and
access to justice. so whenever there is the use of excessive force it can be brought tojustice. now, president bashir has blamed the arab spring for the protests. here he is talking in egypt injanuary. faisal, what you make of that? he seems like he's just dismissing this as a fad. it's his habit, it's his culture, it's the way he always speaks. what is happening now is not, apart from the arab spring, it's a sudanese summer. it is a sudanese revolution against a dictatorial regime against those who ruled the country since 1989. but there are some parallels. i mean, the people are using
the exact same chant from the arab spring — saying that the people want the fall of the regime. so clearly they've borrowed something. there's a bit of copying. the people want the fall of the regime. this is an international phenomenon. this is an international slogan. it can be used everywhere. wherever there are dictators who are stealing the people's money, making corruption, ruling with power, ruling with fire, people will say this regime must go. from what we've seen from the video, let us talk about the tactics of repression, secret detention centres, beatings so severe that the victim are bloodied and can't walk, chilled holding cells. how long has this been going on in sudan, does this match what you have been hearing or have able to gather? no, but because we have been seeing these demonstrations since december, the beginning of december, and i think because the situation now is different in sudan. but we have been seeing the same behaviour, the same tactics. the security forces — they have been used before in sudan.
it's not new. since the 19905. but the new now is the young people, the youth, who they have, like, very smart tools to capture and document any abuse of power that the force is using. but we have been seeing, as we have seen in the video, that there are people wearing masks on their face and not being identified, we have been seeing cars in the street without any, ah, blank numbers, and we have been seeing people with guns in the street. we have been seeing these before in 2013, in the 19905. i don't think like this one. this time it is different. ok, so is the presence or the use of mobile phones and social media, has that come as a threat to the government, faisal? well, things have changed. what was experienced by the demonstrators in the 19905 or 2005, 2007, 2008,
things have changed. historically, the regime was very easy for them to deny, to keep on denying, to split the false new5, but now with the social media they can't do it. dr karshoum, tv cameras, journalists have not been allowed to cover this story properly, freely. is there something the government is trying to hide? i mean, obviously, we've been seeing more images coming out with mobile phones, butjournalists themselves are not being allowed to report on this. this is not the government policy as i know. about the internet, whenever we talk to some who are in charge within the government, they said, because there is a hacker attack, so this is an aberration. so i want to say that it is not our policy. it is not our policy not to... crosstalk. so what is the case, if it's not a policy, what's going on? let me go back to what has been said
by the two gentlemen. there is, yes, there is documentation. as i said before, this documentation it needs to be corroborated, identified who is who. there is a well established judicial system, there is an attorney general, there is a committee being established, such a committee has been established before. ok, dr karshoum, you've mentioned a lot of committees. let's take the questions one by one. first of all, i asked you about the journalists not being allowed to cover the story. you say it's not a policy. clearly something is going on. why are they being prevented from reporting on the protests? yes. i myself have been hosted in aljazeera and some arab tv. i don't feel that there is a ban for any journalist to come
and make discoveries. i don't have any more details. actually, somejournalists, their accreditation has been taken. including that al jazeera you mentioned. but other issues. legally speaking, i think there is access for media coverage. and it's accessible. it's not accessible because, aljazeera, you mentioned, their accreditation has been withdrawn. this may be containing management or administration issues. i'm not sure about the details. so i can only comment to say there is no concrete policy concerning denying access to... are you sure? are you sure that now, right now, while you are speaking there are some journali5t who have been detained. some that have been tortured. some have been denied their access to information, their access to write. if you want names, i can give you names. and the international media,
they know their names. some journalists, right now, they are in detention since 19th of... i'm not denying. i only said there is no policy. there is no policy. those journalists are accessing the right, the constitutional right, the international obligation, they are on the ground to report on news. they have been detained, they have been beaten, they have been forced to leave the most urgent place. this is illegal action. secondly, the people, who have been — why they are detaining more than 2000 people because they are expressing their rights... on that note, i'll bring in... why they have... 57 people are killed and up to now no investigation. i don't believe that the government will make a real investigative committee. ok, all right. faisal, i'll bring in... this should be an international investigation. i'll bring in arief. the security chief salah gosh has
tried to placate the protesters and shift the narrative by announcing the release of political prisoners. is this genuine or is this a pr exercise? i think this is a strategy, where, long time ago, they have tried to do something to control the narrative of the story. and also to control what people should know about what is going on in the country. we have seen this before. it's not nothing new. how do you expect all of this to pan out, realistically? the outcome of what's happening now in sudan and the continuation of the people's revolution, no matter the brutality of the regime, no matter of the brutality of the security, no matter of the brutality of their militias. security militias and other militias. the people of sudan have decided to walk out on the street. they are ready to get rid of the regime. and as i have said, the people of sudan have said, that is all.
thank you. dr karshoum, we'll bring you back in. your final thoughts with the protest going on, with the security forces suppressing the protesters, how do you see all of this panning out? this will erupt into some sort of engagement. which will definitely move into some sort of political, some sort of new political arrangements. which will be addressing the root causes of this conflict. arief? yeah, in very short. i think this is different. i think it's going to bring a significant change in sudan. first of all, i don't think there is opportunity, there is room for omar al—bashir to run again or to govern again. he can't decide, actually, and he mentioned that many times. he can't rule the country, even by power, he can'tjust take us to syria or libya or iraq or other situations if someone tried to challenge him or remove him from power. 0k. thank you very much to our panellists. you have been watching africa eye: sudan uprising. for more from bbc africa,