Hundreds march in Sudan capital seeking justice for those killed

Hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Khartoum to demand justice for those killed in demonstrations against Sudan’s now ousted autocrat Omar Al-Bashir. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 November 2019

Hundreds march in Sudan capital seeking justice for those killed

  • More than 250 people were killed and hundreds injured in the months-long protests
  • Crowds marched from a central Khartoum square to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s offices

KHARTOUM: Hundreds of protesters marched Saturday through downtown Khartoum to demand justice for those killed in demonstrations against Sudan’s now ousted autocrat Omar Al-Bashir.
More than 250 people were killed and hundreds injured in the months-long protests that erupted in December 2018, according to umbrella protest movement Forces of Freedom and Change.
Bashir, who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years, was deposed by the army in a palace coup on April 11 after the demonstrations triggered by an acute economic crisis.
Crowds marched from a central Khartoum square to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s offices, demanding authorities deliver justice for those killed and also find out about protesters who went missing.
“Blood for blood!” chanted protesters gathered in front of Hamdok’s offices in the capital, an AFP correspondent reported.
Dozens of policemen stood guard as protesters, many whistling, clapping and ululating, belted out revolutionary slogans.
“We want justice for martyrs. We are afraid that the criminals might not be judged,” said protester Nizar bin Sufian.
He said protesters welcomed Thursday’s decision by the new authorities to dismantle Bashir’s regime and former ruling party.
“But we have not seen any moves by the government to find those missing or to begin trials of those responsible for the killing of protesters,” bin Sufian told AFP.
Bashir and several senior members of his regime are in prison, while the veteran leader himself is on trial for alleged graft.
Since August, Sudan has been ruled by a joint civilian-military sovereign council headed by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.
A transitional cabinet led by Hamdok has been tasked with the day-to-day running of the country.
The sovereign council is tasked with overseeing an overall transition to civilian rule as demanded by the protest movement.


Turkey considering quitting treaty on violence against women

Updated 06 August 2020

Turkey considering quitting treaty on violence against women

  • The AKP will decide in the next week whether to initiate legal steps to pull out of the accord

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party is considering whether to pull Turkey out of an international accord designed to protect women, party officials said, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.

The officials said the AKP is set to decide by next week whether to withdraw from the deal, just weeks after the vicious murder of a woman by an ex-boyfriend reignited a row over how to curb violence against women.

Despite signing the Council of Europe accord in 2011, pledging to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality, Turkey saw 474 femicides last year, double the number seen in 2011, according to a group which monitors murders of women.

Many conservatives in Turkey say the pact, ironically forged in Istanbul, encourages violence by undermining family structures. Their opponents argue that the deal, and legislation approved in its wake, need to be implemented more stringently. The row reaches not just within Erdogan’s AKP but even his own family, with two of his children involved in groups on either side of the debate about the Istanbul Convention.

The AKP will decide in the next week whether to initiate legal steps to pull out of the accord, a senior party official told Reuters.

“There is a small majority (in the party) who argue it is right to withdraw,” said the official, who argued however that abandoning the agreement when violence against women was on the rise would send the wrong signals.

Another AKP official argued on the contrary that the way to reduce the violence was to withdraw, adding that a decision would be reached next week. The argument crystallized last month around the brutal killing of Pinar Gultekin, 27, a student in the southwestern province of Mugla, who was strangled, burned and dumped in a barrel — the latest in a growing number of women killed by men in Turkey.

Opponents of the accord say it is part of the problem because it undermines traditional values which protect society.

“It is our religion which determines our fundamental values, our view of the family,” said the Turkish Youth Foundation, whose advisory board includes the president’s son Bilal Erdogan. It called for Turkey to withdraw from the accord.

“This would really break Turkey away from the civilized world and the consequences may be very severe,” Gamze Tascier, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, told Reuters.

The Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), of which Erdogan’s daughter Sumeyye is deputy chairwoman, rejects that argument. “We can no longer talk about ‘family’... in a relationship where one side is oppressed and subject to violence,” KADEM said.

Many conservatives are also hostile to the principle of gender equality in the Istanbul Convention and see it as promoting homosexuality, given its principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Critics of the bid to withdraw from the pact say it would put Turkey further out of step with the values of the EU, which it has sought to join for decades.

“This would really break Turkey away from the civilized world and the consequences may be very severe,” Gamze Tascier, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, told Reuters.

Turkey would not be the first country to move toward ditching the accord. Poland’s highest court is to scrutinize the pact after a Cabinet member said Warsaw should quit the treaty which the nationalist government considers too liberal.

Turkish women’s groups were set to protest on Wednesday to demand better implementation of the accord, taking to the streets after an online campaign in the wake of Gultekin’s killing where they shared black-and-white selfies on Instagram.

Turkey does not keep official statistics on femicide. World Health Organization data has shown 38 percent of women in Turkey are subject to violence from a partner in their lifetime, compared to about 25 percent in Europe.

The government has taken measures such as tagging individuals known to resort to violence and creating a smartphone app for women to alert police, which has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.