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Vigil for victims of Sudan massacres draws crowd to downtown Halifax

Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – About a hundred people, members of the Sudanese community and their allies, gathered under grey skies at the Grand Parade in downtown Halifax this afternoon. 

They had come together to honour the memory of the many hundreds of Sudanese pro-democracy protesters who earlier this month were killed, beaten and raped by security forces. Some of the victims were children.

“On the day of the massacre it was reported that 500 people were killed, 723 injured, 660 arrested, 70 raped, and that 1000 people were missing. We don’t know the true figures. Bodies were dumped in the river Nile and have yet to surface. We don’t know the full extent of the harm that was done,” said Rafeeda Khashmelmous, one of the vigil’s organizers.

The 70 people that were raped were only the ones that went to hospital and were reported. Many more rapes likely occurred, said Khashmelmous. 

Photo Robert Devet

Names of people killed, and in some cases short biographies, were read out, as their photos were held up high, leaving many in the crowd deeply moved. Many other victims remain unnamed for now. 

People spoke of the sorrow and worry of completely losing contact with friends and relatives in Sudan now that the military government shut down all Internet communication in an effort to stop democratic forces from organizing further protests.

Halifax member of Parliament Andy Filmore and minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs Tony Ince expressed support on behalf of the federal and provincial governments.

Several speakers reminded the crowd that the military regime has signed a US$ 6-million contract with Dickens & Madson (Canada) Inc., a Montreal-based lobbying company, to ensure favorable international media coverage.

Photo Robert Devet

After months of protests  long-standing dictator Omar Al-Bashir resigned in April, only to be replaced by a military regime, led by the same men who had kept Bashir in power for decades. 

Further protests in Sudan are expected tomorrow, leaving expats both hopeful and very worried that more violence will ensue.

Organizers of today’s event are asking Canadians to let its government know that they want Canada to support the brave protesters in their efforts to establish true democracy in the country.

“Millions are set to march in Sudan on Sunday. What happened in Darfur is now happening all across Sudan, If you failed to speak out and stop Darfur, you now have a chance to correct that mistake,” said Khashmelmous. The genocide in Darfur, in Western Sudan, was (and is) perpetrated by the same forces involved in the recent killings in Khartoum.

Rafeeda Khashmelmous compiled the following short video containing scenes of the violent suppression of the June protests by police and military. Warning, thee video contains scenes of shocking violence, and Youtube has deemed the video to be Age-restricted (based on Community Guidelines).

If you want to donate, organizers of the Halifax event suggest a fundraising campaign that aims to provide food, water, and medical care for the people of Sudan.

Photo Robert Devet

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