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Sudan coup 2021: Anti-military protesters rally outside embassy in London

Protesters condemned military coup and voiced concerns over human rights amidst internet blackout
Protesters gathered outside the Sudan embassy in London (MEE/Nadda Osman)
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Chants and the beating of drums echoed outside the Sudanese embassy in London on Monday, where over 100 people gathered to denounce the country's military coup and demand the transitional government be reinstated. 

Waving flags and singing popular slogans sung during the 2019 revolution, many of the protesters who gathered in the crisp Autumn weather reiterated their resistance to the military takeover by the country's ruling council head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan that saw a state of emergency declared across the country as well as the dissolution of the transitional sovereign council and the government. 

"I'm here today because as someone who has seen what a military dictatorship has done to Sudan over 30 years, we have decided that enough is enough," one of the protesters told Middle East Eye.

"Unfortunately, we heard that a military coup was taking place this morning and we’re now here to show that a military dictatorship is never desirable or something we have been fighting for...we are here to demand our core rights and make sure our fight for democracy and our revolution for democracy keeps going," they added. 

Protesters gathered to demand the reinstatement of the transitional government (MEE/Nadda Osman)

Some of the protesters Middle East Eye spoke to said they felt they had a duty to show their support for people in Sudan and ensure their rights would be respected.

"Our main demands are for Sudanese people to be treated like humans. What happened today feels like we're going backwards," one of the protesters said, against a backdrop of chants calling for Burhan to step down. 

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Earlier on Monday, thousands of protesters poured into the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and its twin city of Omdurman, following the arrests of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other senior officials.

The coup came just weeks before the military was supposed to hand the leadership of the council that runs the country over to civilians. 

Many of the protesters outside the embassy in London said the coup had set back progress made following the April 2019 ousting of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.

"It feels like it was all for nothing, when you look back and see all those who were killed during the June 3 massacre and all the protests that took place, and now we’re at this point. All we want is peaceful democracy," another protester said. 

Protesters waved flags and chanted for the right to protest and removal of the military from power (MEE/Nadda Osman)

Around 100 people were killed in June 2019 after a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by Sudanese security forces. 

One of the main concerns of the protesters, many of whom have family in Sudan, was the intermittent internet connection, which many recalled was happening during the 2019 protests. 

"I'm really worried for my family because the last time there was an internet blackout, a massacre happened," another protester said. 

Many of those MEE spoke to said they had struggled for hours to get in contact with family and loved ones in Sudan.

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"Every time there are protests, the internet is always cut. We've seen this happen before, but it didn't stop people from gathering in the thousands. We've done it before and we'll keep on doing it," Tawfiq, who declined to give his surname, said. 

"It's hard to predict what will happen next. It's always unpredictable with the military, but people will continue to gather and make their demands," he added. 

NetBlocks, which is based in London, said connectivity had flatlined to 24 percent, the "most severe blackout" since security forces killed more than 100 civilians during pro-democracy protests in June 2019.

Amid reports that at least three people were shot dead and 80 people wounded by armed forces, demonstrators outside the embassy remained hopeful. 

"Hopefully, by being here and raising awareness, we can show that we are not going to back down. We are getting a democracy. It's October, the anniversary of democracy, so for this to happen right now, is a big problem for us," another demonstrator said.