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Sudan's Transitional Military Council Cracks Down On Protesters


Protest organizers in Sudan say more than 100 people were killed when security forces attacked a pro-democracy demonstration earlier this week. Sudan's health ministry, which is controlled by the military, disagrees about the number. They put the death toll in the 40s. The protesters have been demanding fair elections. Sudan's longtime dictator, Omar al-Bashir, was forced out in April. Earlier today, I talked to Dalia el Roubi. She's a Sudanese activist and a member of one of Sudan's opposition political parties.

Hello, Dalia.

DALIA EL ROUBI: Hello. Thank you for having me.

KING: We're glad to have you. Dalia, can you give us a sense of what's been happening on the ground in Sudan for the last couple of days? What have you seen and experienced?

EL ROUBI: Unfortunately for me, I woke up on Monday at 6 o'clock in the morning to the sound of gunshots, which my son had woken up for. I was not present in the sit-in, but the sit-in has been strong and there from the 6 of April. And all of the changes that have happened in terms of the regime change and even the military council has changed twice already. And this all happened while people were in the sit-in. So at that sit-in, which was the leverage of the revolution which was - which were - been pushing the negotiations forward, people were shot at around 5 o'clock in the morning on Monday. The shooting was intense. Over, like, hundreds and hundreds of cars came in, RSS cars and other security service cars. They came in and burnt the tents of the sit-in. They also shot at people. There's reports of rape, as well as the beatings, excessive beatings.

KING: When we spoke to you back in April, you said the plan was we're going to continue these sit-ins until this regime is gone. Now that you have sit-ins being attacked, people being killed, what is the way to move forward? Are you going to keep on with the sit-ins despite the obvious and evident danger?

EL ROUBI: The sit-in itself has been emptied. The area that was there for over two months is now just a burnt area. There are no people in there. But there are protests coming from different neighborhoods and different states across the country. These protests are very determined. However, the violence is excessive, and the regime will continue if we don't resist. This is an example of how we didn't believe that the regime was over. This brutality is a glimpse of what the RSS has been doing in Darfur for many years. And the excessive brutality is what this country has been enduring for over 25 years now. The glimpse is important I think for people in Khartoum to realize that it's not over.

KING: And how are protesters feeling at this point? Is there optimism about the future of a democratic transition in Sudan?

EL ROUBI: I think there is a lot of shock. A lot of us are trying to regroup. And obviously, we're not going to stop fighting. We're not going to stop resisting. The claims by the military council that, you know, there will be an investigation has not been accepted. The negotiations will be very difficult to move ahead with. They've also called for an election in nine months, which they claim will be free and fair. But within the nine months, it's not really possible to actually have free and fair elections because it's 30 years of dismantling civil society organizations and political parties and unions and things that are required for an actual election. And democracy is not just about elections. So the assumption that this event of elections is going to create democracy is untrue.

KING: Dalia El Roubi is an activist in Sudan.

Dalia, thank you so much for joining us.

EL ROUBI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.