Sudan’s revolution could end up like Tiananmen — or even more tragic Hopes for a modern democratic transformation of Sudan after three decades of ruinous autocracy have been dealt a grave setback by security forces’ assault on protesters conducting a sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum.
The unprovoked attack، in which 30 were killed and 200 others were wounded، shows precisely why the Transitional Military Council should cede control to civilians، yet it is also a sign the council will probably refuse to do so.
The shooting took place close to the 30th anniversary of the Chinese crackdown on student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square، just a coincidence، perhaps، but an ominous reminder that violent repression can carry steep costs to a society over many years.
In China’s example، the party leaders turned guns on their own people and have never let up، denying the population basic rights such as free expression and association. If Sudan’s revolution of hope is snuffed out like the student movement of 1989 at Tiananmen، the outcome could be even more tragic and painful. Sudan is desperately in need of rejuvenation and reform.
Sudan strongman Omar Hassan al-Bashir was removed from office April 11 by the military after protests broke out in December over rising food prices. Mr. Bashir had presided over a kleptocracy that skimmed Sudan’s resources while leaving the population in misery. At the same time، Mr. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity in Darfur.
His departure brought a sense of relief and jubilation to the crowds camped outside military headquarters in Khartoum. Initially، the Transitional Military Council، made up largely of holdovers، said it would rule for up to two years in a shift to civilian rule.
Over subsequent weeks، negotiations between the military and the protesters settled some key issues، such as agreeing on a three-year transition، but remained deadlocked over the highest-level sovereign council، with both sides demanding majority control.
The protesters، organized as Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change and the Sudanese Professionals Association، called a two-day nationwide strike starting May 28 to pressure the military، which the demonstrators see as remnants of the Bashir regime.
After so many years of suffering، the people of Sudan deserve a government that can win international economic aid and build an open and pluralistic system. They could use loud، effective support from the United States، Britain and African leaders، but so far the response has been tepid.
The civilians who have stood steadfastly for change in Khartoum must be allowed to inherit the new Sudan، not the tired، uniformed thugs who once looted the country and clearly would like to continue.