Desmond Davies, London Bureau
London, July 04, GNA – Hundreds of Sudanese in the United Kingdom (UK) and their supporters, have taken to the streets of Central London to protest against President Omar al-Bashir, whose regime they accuse of human rights violations and “genocidal policies in Darfur”.
The broad coalition of demonstrators gathered outside the Sudanese Embassy and marched to 10 Downing Street, the home of Prime Minister Theresa May, to mark the 29th year in office of President al-Bashir.
They were part of global protests, including in Sudan itself, against “poor governance” in the country.
The UK government has been engaged in what it calls “strategic dialogue” with the Sudanese government aimed at promoting cooperation on issues of “mutual concern” - migration, trade, and intelligence gathering to counter terrorism.
The protesters in a petition to Downing Street called for the UK government to “prioritise benchmarks related to human rights, humanitarian access restrictions, equal citizenship, and democratic transformation”.
They demanded that the dialogue should be broad-based, rather than just between governments and diplomats, and should be “undertaken in consultation with the diaspora, the wider British public, and Parliament”.
Waging Peace, a UK non-governmental organisation (NGO) that campaigns against human rights abuses in Sudan, has accused the UK government of “ignoring recent human rights abuses perpetrated by the government, humanitarian access restrictions, and the lack of equal citizenship and democratic transformation”.
Maddy Crowther, its co-Executive Director, said: “We want the UK government to listen to the UK's substantial Sudanese population when they say that this is not the kind of partner they want Britain to have post-Brexit.”
The organisation has been working over the last 14 years with UK-based Sudanese who have spoken about the atrocities committed by the regime.
Ms Crowther asked: “Why haven’t they been consulted in the UK’s attempts to normalise relations with Sudan? “Why hasn’t Parliament?”
“We think if more people knew about this deal, then more people would care, so that’s why we’re out today raising awareness,” she added.
Another NGO at the demonstration was Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), which has been supporting those suffering from conflict and persecution in places with no international attention and outside help.
Baroness Caroline Cox, CEO of HART, said: “The change of the British government’s policy towards the government of Sudan is deeply disturbing, while the Sudanese government continues its brutal policies of violations of human rights of its own people, military offensives against civilians in Darfur, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, breaking the conditions for the lifting of sanctions.
“The British government justifies its position by claiming the importance of talking to the government of Sudan.
“We ask for the priority of evidence-based fulfilment of the conditions for the lifting of sanctions and protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all peoples of Sudan,” she added.
According to the organisers, the demonstration was quite rare because it “united all Sudanese, on a day that marks President Omar al-Bashir's coup”.
Under the poor governance banner, the protesters said that this would reduce “the likelihood of democratic transformation” and would destroy “the economic livelihoods of [the Sudanese] people, causing wide-spread hardship”.
Mende Nazer, an escaped slave from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan, called on the British people to “urge your government not to support the…government in Khartoum”.
The founder of the Mende Nazer Foundation added: “I was enslaved for many years.
“I escaped thanks to the people of Britain. We don’t want to be refugees”.