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INVESTIGATIONS

Shot in the streets: Violence against protesters in Sudan on October 30, 2021

December 1, 2021

Documentation of coordinated security forces, shooting and teargas, and injured protesters

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Introduction

On Saturday, October 30, 2021, photos and videos were published on social media platforms during a nationwide protest in Sudan to demand the restoration of a civilian-led government after a military coup, which occurred on October 25, 2021. The Sudanese Archive has chosen not to link directly to the social media posts in order to protect the identities of those sharing this crucial documentation.

The civilian-led government was formed in 2019 following the ousting of former leader Omar Al-Bashir after months of protests by Sudanese citizens. Those protests were met with excessive force, as has been verified by the Sudanese Archive in previous investigations.

There were reports of violence across the country and in numerous locations within Khartoum and Omdurman; Sudanese Archive is working to verify these reports. This investigation verifies only a small number of incidents in two locations. The Sudanese Archive team monitored, collected and verified open source, audiovisual materials documenting violence against protesters on October 30, 2021 in Omdurman, Sudan’s most populous city, and on Bashir Elnefeidi Street (Al-Siteen Street) in Khartoum, the capital.

This investigation identifies the same or similar patterns in violence against protesters on October 30, 2021 as occurred in 2019, both before and after former president Omar Al-Bashir was ousted from office. We found similarities in: type of violence, injuries, and likely perpetrators.

Specifically, we verified around a dozen video files, and reviewed many others that were posted on social media or shared with us directly. The verified videos and photos include:

  • Visual evidence of large crowds of protesters in the streets
  • Media showing teargas being launched directly toward civilian protesters
  • Videos in which the sound of shooting can be heard
  • Imagery of injured protesters
  • A video in which a protester is seen being shot and dropping to the ground
  • Documentation of the presence of mixed security forces in green, brown and blue or gray uniforms, and in plain clothes, with green, beige and blue pick-up trucks
  • Documentation of those forces working in a coordinated manner
  • A video showing a person in a solid green uniform shooting a weapon
  • Videos of victims being taken to hospital

“We saw a bunch of military uniforms in the back. In the front was the Central Reserve Forces and the Police. In the middle was a couple of guys wearing civilian clothes, but some of them actually held AK-47s and they just started shooting. I think the Army was there to supervise. Because if you are a policeman and your commander told you to shoot a person, you cannot just shoot a person. So there will be another supervisor who is from the Army.” - A witness to the violence in Omdurman

What happened, when, and where?

Violence against protesters in Omdurman

Summary

The Sudanese Archive team verified videos showing violent incidents involving gunfire and teargas from three specific locations, all within about 1 kilometres of each other, in Omdurman. At a Y-shaped junction on Al-Morada Street, beside a fish market, we found videos of teargas, gunfire, and protester injuries. Along Al-Arbaeen Street videos show a protester shot in the back, and large numbers of uniformed people near roadblocks and shooting directly at protesters. The verified videos reveal the presence of a large group of people in mixed uniforms, appearing to be from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), the Rapid Support Force (RSF), and the Sudanese police. This is corroborated by other sources.

The visual evidence

On the afternoon of October 30th, multiple social media users uploaded Tweets and Facebook posts showing what appeared to be gunfire and the use of apparent teargas against protesters that day. Having compared the verified contents of footage presented here against one another, witness statements, and other external reporting, we conclude they all depict the events of October 30th.

The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors released a statement saying that Sudanese troops linked to the coup military council were firing live ammunition in Omdurman.

Location 1: Near the Al Morada fish market

Documentation of the use of teargas and gunfire

By analyzing footage posted to social media platforms, we determined that one of the locations in which the reported gunfire and teargas use happened was on Al-Morada Street in Omdurman, where there is a well-known fish market. We verified the location where one video was shot near the fish market by geolocating it using unique surrounding landmarks, such as a triangle-shaped billboard, a building with a distinctly shaped and colored roof, and the fish market. That video includes the sound of gunfire and what appear to be teargas canisters landing near protesters, one of whom picks up a canister and throws it back.

Another video appears to show authorities off-camera attempting to disperse protesters with crowd control devices. The smoke seen in the video was reportedly teargas, though without documentation of the expended canisters we are unable to confirm via visual analysis. The camera’s geolocated position is shown below.

We chronolocated the video by analysing the shadows seen in the video. According to the results of our analysis, the shadow of a tree in the video suggests that the approximate time of filming was between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. local time on October 30.

oct30 omdurman loc1 treeshadow An image of a tree’s shadow used to compare against a shadow analysis tool to confirm the time of day the video was filmed.

Documentation of coordinated security forces, multiple units cooperating

The Sudanese Archive team verified several videos that indicate a coordinated strategy of security forces, with multiple units cooperating while shooting and advancing in the area near the fish market. One video, likely filmed closer to the end of the day around 5 or 6 p.m. according to file metadata, is taken from a small street that leads off Al Morada, just north of the fish market. In the video we noted the presence of people uniformed in ways indicative of Sudanese police and Riot Control police, the Sudanese Armed Forces military police, and the Rapid Support Force.

oct30 omdurman loc1 uniforms4

In the video, at first several people can be seens in solid blue uniforms, affiliated with the Sudanese police, and in dark blue camouflaged uniforms, affiliated with the Riot Control Police. Those in the dark blue camouflage are also wearing black vests and helmets. Most of the people are carrying weapons that look like rifles. Some of them hold large shields.’ As the video progresses, those police appear to be advancing, moving further north on Al Morada, at one point noticing the protesters in the small street. At that moment, one person in a solid blue uniform bends to point his weapon at those watching them, but does not appear to fire. The police are moving around a large militarised blue camouflage vehicle, also attributed to the Riot Control police.

oct30 omdurman loc1 uniforms3

As the video continues, other uniformed people enter the scene. First, a man in a solid beige camouflage uniform. Then, a man in a dark green solid uniform with a red band on his left upper arm. This uniform is likely affiliated with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) military police. Then, a man in a pale beige and brown desert style camouflage, also with a red band on his upper left arm. This uniform is typically affiliated with the Rapid Support Force (RSF) military police. Toward the end of the video a group of people in dark green uniforms pass by in the bed of a white pick-up truck. These uniformed people are again typical of the Sudanese Armed Forces. None of these have arm bands and as such are likely regular military.

oct30 omdurman loc1 uniforms1

These identified uniforms also match those taken from the official social media accounts of the Sudanese police, Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Force. A security expert also confirmed this analysis, telling the Sudanese Archive that the large red insignia on the left arm designates military police. The agent with a desert military fatigue is an RSF military police, and the green khaki uniformed person is likely a Sudanese Armed Forces military police.

oct30 omdurman loc1 image5

Another video shows the presence of police with shields and wearing helmets, in dark blue camouflage uniforms. These characteristics are typically associated with the Riot Control Police, and there appear to be some other uniformed people among them as well, perhaps in beige or green khaki uniforms although it is difficult to discern from a distance.

oct30 omdurman loc1 uniforms5

The large group of police is advancing north along Al Morada, pushing protesters forward, without firing for a time. Then, in the video, a man in plain clothes (a white shirt and black pants) can be seen speaking to the group, following which they fire on the protesters.

We geolocated that video to a location along Al Morada Street, just slightly further away from the fish market. We were able to match the presence of billboards, a mosque, and an open area with trees that runs alongside the Nile.

Documentation of an injured protester

Another Twitter video shows what appears to be an injured man with blood on his right knee being carried off by a number of individuals, but it is unclear the nature of the injury or how he sustained it. This injured man is wearing blue jeans and a bright blue and white T-shirt, and a red bandana. Using geolocation techniques, we verified the location of where this video was filmed: in Omdurman near the Y-intersection of Al-Morada Street and Nile Street.

Documentation of the deadly shooting of a protester

A combination of videos was used to identify the deadly shooting of a protester. One video recorded alleged military gunfire on Al-Morada Street in Omdurman.

A screenshot from a video in Omdurman, in which numerous perpetrators in what appear to be solid dark green or blue uniforms can be seen.

We verified the sound of gunfire by conducting an audio analysis of two videos. Although we are unable to verify the type of firearm used or the ammunition type, we observed identical audio of shots fired from two separate angles. One of the videos we used to verify the gunfire was scraped from social media. The sound of gunfire starts at 0:02. The other video was raw footage given to us by sources on the ground in Sudan. The sound of gunfire starts at 0:06.

When compared, the audio waveforms from the videos match; the side-by-side comparison is available here. (The comparison is optimized for headphones: in the left channel, you will hear audio from the first video, and in the right channel, you will hear audio from the second.)

At 0:43, the second video shows people carrying the victim of the shooting. The grey shirt and white trousers match the victim’s outfit shown in another video documenting the shooting.

oct30 omdurman loc1 image11

Documentation of the shooting of another protester

We also analysed a video we received of what appears to be the shooting of a protester at the same fish market location in Omdurman. According to metadata associated with the video file, the video was recorded at approximately 2:56 p.m. local time on October 30th in Omdurman. The metadata included GPS coordinates information as can be seen in the screenshot below.

oct30 omdurman loc1 image12

The video appears to show a protester (who was wearing a light colored shirt, perhaps a white sleeveless t-shirt, and dark pants, perhaps black track pants with white stripes down the outsides of the legs) with his arms by his sides slowly advancing towards the front line of the armed personnel. From the video, he did not appear to be armed or to be posing any significant threat to the armed personnel, although we cannot independently confirm these facts due to the lack of information we received from on-the-ground sources regarding this incident.

oct30 omdurman loc1 image13

Location 2: Al-Arbaeen Street in Omdurman

Documentation of an injured protester

Another video, this one posted to Facebook, appears to document an unidentifiable shot fired and a bleeding protester being led off for medical attention. The man is wearing a white T-shirt and blue shorts, and has blood on the lower right side of his back. The Facebook post names this person and states that he was shot in the back. The name identified is Al Bara’a Mustafa (البراء مصطفى). The same name also appears in a statement released on November 1st by the Ministry of Health Khartoum State about the casualties of October 30th. That statement, which lists him as number 9, says beside his name that the nature of the injuries were a gunshot to his stomach and chest. We geolocated this video to a section of Al-Arbaeen Street, north of the Abu Anja Creek in Omdurman.

oct30 omdurman loc2 image1

In a statement to the Sudanese Archive, an eyewitness said that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) were present on Al-Arbaeen Street in Omdurman at that time, and there was heavy use of machine guns. “They were mainly aiming for the head or the chest. I got separated from my colleagues and saw one of them get shot. A lot of people were injured to the point we did not know whom to tend to first,” the eyewitness, Saleh, said. He also added that he believed the uniforms he saw on the street were consistent with Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) personnel.

Saleh added that troops were present in large numbers and were shooting indiscriminately.

Location 3: Al-Arbaeen Street roadblock

Documentation of security forces shooting

Another one of the videos we documented shows security forces apparently shooting rounds on Al-Arbaeen Street, this time south of the Abu Anja Creek, close to the Almorada Club Stadium.

The video begins showing a group of people in mixed uniforms and plain clothes, some with weapons, standing near a road barricade. There are two dark pick-up trucks behind them. The uniforms include dark green camouflage which is typically associated with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).

oct30 omdurman loc3 image1

A group in a mix of uniforms and plain clothes standing at a road barricade in Omdurman in front of two pick-up trucks.

One gunman seen on camera wearing a solid, dark green uniform is filmed moving closer to the protesters, carrying a weapon, and appears to be shooting toward the group of civilians. A solid dark green uniform is typically associated with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) military police, according to security sources. There is a cloud of white smoke released from his weapon that aligns with the sound of gunfire in the video.

oct30 omdurman loc3 image2

A screenshot of the video in which a gunman wearing what appears to be a solid dark green uniform moves toward protesters, as white smoke shows near his weapon aligning with the sound of gunfire.

At the start of the video, protesters can be seen throwing stones. As the men in uniforms in the video move closer to the protesters, including the gunman, and another uniformed man running with what appears to be a baton and another crossing behind the man shooting, some projectiles can be seen landing on the ground.

We were able to confirm the location using a second video, this one showing a protest progressing north on the street. In this video a man off-camera can be heard mentioning “Arbaeen,” likely referring to Arbaeen Street in Omdurman. In the mosaic picture stitched together below, you can see that the locations match. This indicates that the first video, which shows overlapping features, was filmed near this location: 15.624477, 32.479323.

Victims in Omdurman

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors later said that three individuals died as a result of gunshot wounds, as reported by Reuters. The Associated Press also reported that “[a]ll three protesters killed Saturday were shot in Omdurman. One was shot in his head, another in his stomach, and a third in his chest, the Sudan Doctors Committee and protesters said.”

On November 4th, a fourth protester succumbed to his wounds, making him the fourth person to have been shot and killed on October 30th, per the Socialists Doctors Association. This person, Salah Abdalla, was reportedly shot in the head in Ombada, west of Omdurman, that day.

Violence against protesters on Al-Siteen Street in Khartoum

Summary

The Sudanese Archive team verified videos that reveal the large and coordinated presence of security forces along a small stretch of Bashir Elnefeidi Street (also known as Al-Siteen Street) about a kilometre long in Khartoum, as well as the sound of gunfire in the area. The verified videos reveal the presence of a large group of people in mixed uniforms, appearing to be from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and the Sudanese police. This is corroborated by other sources.

The visual evidence

Using open source analysis, we verified at least two other locations in the area where violence against protesters took place on October 30th. Having compared the verified contents of the open source footage presented here against one another, witness statements, and other external reporting, we conclude they all depict the events of October 30th.

Location 1: Bashir Elnefeidi Street (Al-Siteen Street)

Documentation of coordinated security forces and shooting

According to a witness on the ground, had intended to set up a sit-in along part of Bashir Elnefeidi Street (Al-Siteen Street) Street. One video posted to Twitter showed a man running on foot as a technical (i.e., a pickup truck with a large caliber gun mounted in the bed of the truck) drives in the same direction, following him before continuing along the road when he diverts.

Scenes from a verified video of a vehicle with a weapon mounted in the truck bed.

Shots of an unknown nature can also be heard in the background of the video. Toward the end of the video a similar vehicle enters from the right side. The vehicle and uniforms of the people on it appear to be similar to those affiliated with the Rapid Support Force (RSF). Many reports pointed to the presence of RSF in Khartoum on October 30, according to the security expert.

Images from a verified video of a security force vehicle and people in uniforms with characteristics known to be associated with the Rapid Support Force (RSF).

We confirmed the location of the video via geolocation: in Khartoum on Bashir Elnefeidi Street, another name for Al-Siteen Street.

We also chronolocated the video by analysing the shadows seen in the video. The direction of the shadow of the technical visible in the video suggests that the approximate time of the filming of the video was between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time on October 30th.

This 18-second video recorded sounds of apparent automatic gunfire heard on a part of Al-Siteen Street. The distinctive buildings in the video as well as the billboard have been matched with the landmarks found around here: 15.566648, 32.577867.

Other footage on the same street shows people running from what sounds like gunfire. There are distinctive buildings in the background, which match to landmarks seen on Google Maps, around here: 15.565105, 32.578395.

This location is close to the junction of Bashir Elnefeidi (Al-Siteen) Street and Al Shargi (or Shrarqi) Street. A witness who was present on October 30 in Khartoum told the Sudanese Archive that by 3 p.m. protesters had divided up, with some wanting to go to the military headquarters (the site of the former sit-in during 2019), and others wanting to set up a sit-in at the Al-Siteen - Al Shargi intersection. The witness said that by 4 p.m., barricades had been set up all along Bashir Elnefeidi (Al-Siteen) Street, from the Royal Care hospital south to the intersection of Al-Siteen and Sharqi Streets. The witness said at sunset, the authorities started moving towards the barricades on Bashir Elnefeidi (Al-Siteen) Street and fired at protesters. The witness said authorities used side roads to access Bashir Elnefeidi (Al-Siteen) Street in order to trap the protesters who were behind the barricades, and then lift the barricades. This continued until nightfall, however no casualties were reported from the area.

There were no noticeable shadows in the video, suggesting it would have been filmed after sunset, around 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. local time.

Footage from around the same location shows Sudanese troop movement along with sounds of gunfire. This was likely filmed after sunset as well, around 6:00 p.m.

In that verified video, taken from high above showing a wide view of the street, at least 12 vehicles can be seen. All appear to be pick-up trucks in dark green, light brown, and blue camouflage patterns, known to be affiliated with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudanese police.

oct30 khartoum loc1 image15

An image from a video showing numerous pick-up trucks carrying people consistent in style and colour affiliated with the Sudanese military and police.

In many of the vehicles are several people wearing what appear to be military and police uniforms, again in solid or camouflaged green, brown and blue. The camouflaged vehicles with people sitting in the back in two lines are consistent with a unit known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

oct30 khartoum loc1 image16

A close-up of vehicles visible in a video showing security forces on Bashir Elnefeidi (Al-Siteen) Street. The blue trucks are consistent in colour and style with Sudanese police, and the green and brown vehicles are consistent with styles linked to the Sudanese Armed Forces.

Finally, after nightfall, the violence continued, as shown in this video posted to Facebook. Authorities can be seen moving north on the street while shots are heard in the background. We stitched together a mosaic of the images seen in the Facebook video. We geolocated the location of the video by matching landmarks seen in the video with reference satellite imagery, as shown below.

Again, this video reveals numerous pick-up trucks carrying people, some who appear to be in uniform, and the vehicles and people are moving in a coordinated manner.

oct30 khartoum loc1 image19

An image of vehicles and people - some in uniform - from a video in which they appear to be moving in a coordinated manner.

Victims

As described above, Sudanese Archive identified victims of injuries in Omdurman:

  • A video of an injured man with blood on his right knee being carried off

  • Documentation of a man with blood on his back, whose name corresponds to medical records reporting a victim shot in the chest and stomach

And videos in which the injured appear to have been killed :

  • Documentation of the presence of security forces, sounds of gunfire, and a victim falling to the ground and being carried away by protesters

  • A video from a distance showing a protester fall to the ground near the fish market in Omdurman

On November 1st, the Ministry of Health Khartoum State, affiliated with the transitional government from before the October 25 coup, released a statement on their Facebook account about the casualties of October 30th. Violence against protesters varied from injuries and suffocation by teargas canisters to firing live and rubber bullets. This led to the death of three protesters: Abdelwahab Awadallah who was transferred to Al-Arbaeen (Fourty) hospital, and Fakhri Saleh and El-Amin Khalifah Harun Thuban, who were both transferred to Omdurman hospital. The statement included 199 injured others who were transferred to Omdurman hospital, Royal Care hospital, East Neil hospital, Al Arbaeen (Fourty) hospital, Altaqa hospital, Al Dawli (international) hospital, and Allu hospital.

oct30 victims image1

On November 11th, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors (CCSD) announced that a fourth protester, Mohamed Nour Ahmed, died of a neck wound after being shot on October 30th.

oct30 victims image2

Potential perpetrators

In this investigation, the Sudanese Archive team identified eight videos in which security forces can be seen. Our analysis was also reviewed by a Sudanese security expert, and corroborated by other visual evidence, witness statements, and reports from other organisations including Human Rights Watch.

As described in the visual analysis sections above, this investigation identified the likely presence of:

  • The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in both Omdurman and Khartoum:

These forces can be identified by their military uniforms, usually in a green camouflage pattern, or solid green for SAF military police.

  • The Sudanese police, including likely either the Riot Control Police or the paramilitary Central Reserve Police in both Omdurman and Khartoum:

The police themselves confirmed their presence on October 30 by denying publicly the use of live ammunition. The regular police are identified by their plain blue uniforms, while the Central Reserve Police can be identified by blue camouflage uniforms, according to an independent researcher.

  • The Rapid Support Force in both Omdurman and Khartoum:

These forces were identified by their “distinct desert camouflage light khaki uniforms, and the characteristic presence of pick-up trucks with groups of several fighters sitting on the side - each truck has its supplies and munitions packed in rolled packages that are visible on the back end of the truck,” according to a trusted security source. The investigation identified dozens of vehicles meeting this description lining the road in Khartoum in a coordinated manner.

The Sudanese Archive has developed a standardised methodology for the identification of potential perpetrators. In each video reviewed in which potential perpetrators are visible, we identify any indicators of the following: uniforms known to be associated with specific military, police or armed groups, vehicles identified by a security force unit or known to be affiliated with a specific group, logos, insignias, and other symbols that can be directly linked with military, police or other armed groups.

According to a security expert, the wide-scale presence of security forces, pattern of violence and mixing of several forces together, denotes a centralized command and rules of engagement authorizing the use of firearms and teargas to achieve the suppression of the protests.

Legal context

The Sudanese Archive consults with legal experts to better understand the use of force and weapons that could constitute a violation of human rights in the context of protests and demonstrations. According to our legal contacts, the use of force, including the use of less-lethal weapons such as teargas for the purposes of crowd control, is legitimate only when necessary and proportionate. Indiscriminate use of teargas and other less-lethal crowd control methods can constitute excessive use of force. In line with international standards, teargas should only be employed when necessary to prevent imminent physical harm and should not be used as a first resort to disperse nonviolent demonstrations, such as during the protests on October 30, 2021. Security forces and law enforcement should also issue audible, adequate warnings before using teargas, and should avoid exacerbating the situation. Additionally, security forces should avoid targeting enclosed spaces with teargas, including spaces where protestors are trapped behind barricades.

The use of live ammunition and/or lethal force when there is no imminent threat to life or imminent risk of serious injury violates international human rights standards. Intentional lethal use of firearms may be made only “when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” and firearms should never be used simply to disperse a peaceful assembly. Security forces must make every effort to minimise damage and injury at all times by using only the minimum level of force necessary, including by refraining from the indiscriminate use of live fire and intentional targeting of protestors’ heads and chests. Sporadic violence by some protestors that is not an immediate threat to life, such as stone throwing or kicking of teargas canisters back at security forces, does not justify the use of lethal force by security forces and law enforcement.

Conclusion

This investigation identified several instances of violence that could contravene human rights in Khartoum and Omdurman. General Burhan has repeatedly denied that his troops used lethal force against civilians and along with Prime Minister Hamdok blamed the police for the violence or “armed elements” linked to political parties. Relating to these allegations, they fired the chief of police. The Sudanese Archive team verified videos showing people in blue, green and beige uniforms as well as plain clothes, and travelling or standing near dark green, beige, white, and blue pick-up trucks, in some cases holding and firing what appear to be rifles. The open source content also contained imagery of large crowds of protesters, cases in which they ran amid sounds of gunfire or from teargas, and protesters being injured and taken to hospital.

The investigation identified many of the same or similar patterns in violence against protesters on October 30, 2021 as occurred in 2019, both before and after the regime of Omar Al-Bashir. Using the verified videos and corroborating evidence we can conclude that perpetrators likely to be the Sudanese police, in particular the Riot Control Police or the paramilitary Central Reserve Police, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and the Rapid Support Force (RSF), shot teargas and guns toward protesters. These forces appeared to be well-coordinated and cooperating.

oct30 conclusion image1

The Sudanese Archive works to preserve digital evidence for accountability for crimes committed against Sudanese citizens. If you have any material that might be useful for our archives or investigations, please contact us at info@sudanesearchive.org.

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