By Toby Collins
July 4, 2012 (LONDON) – The Sudanese Ambassador to the UK has alleged that the protesters who congregated at the Embassy on Saturday attempted to burn down the building; an allegation refuted by both the Metropolitan police and the events organisers.
- Sudan protester outside Downing Street, London, UK, June 30, 2012 (ST)
The Metropolitan police told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that at 2.30pm on Saturday “a man set light to a bag of clothes on the steps of the Sudan Embassy, [...] no damage was caused to the building.” The 22 year old man was arrested and taken to a central London police station.
They are considering the incident unrelated to “A planned protest march of approx 400 people arrived at the Embassy at approx. 16.30hrs - no disorder/no arrests”.
Various groups congregated at London’s Lancaster Gate on Saturday to protest against the policies of the Khartoum government. Similar protests have taken place in New York, Dublin, Washington, Cairo, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Canberra and other major cities.
The protesters marched on Downing Street to hand a petition to the UK prime minister, David Cameron calling on him to “take assertive diplomatic action towards the Government of Sudan”. The march then continued onto the Sudan Embassy.
The crowd protested peacefully and without incident, with the event organisers and police in amicable dialogue throughout.
After the protest the Sudanese ambassador to the UK, Abdullahi Al-Azreg told Sudanese state media that acts of vandalism were carried out by “psychotic persons who hate Sudan” with the support of Zionist organisations. He claimed that they burned paper in front of the embassy in order to ”burn them [embassy staff] alive.”
The Sudanese embassy offered Sudan Tribune no further comment in light of to the latest police statement refuting Al-Azreg’s claims.
One of the events organisers, Kamal Kambal of Nuba Mountains Solidarity Abroad, told Sudan Tribune that the event was originally planned for June 5, “to mark one year since the declaration of the war on the rejoin of the Mountains and Blue Nile by the Bashir Government” but it was postponed due a police request, as it coincided with the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. He said that relations between the protesters and police were good and that the event “went peacefully with no arrests”.
According to Kambal the protesters were calling for: a cessation of the aerial bombardment of civilians in the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur; greater diplomatic pressure to exterted on the Khartoum government to allow non-governmental organisations access to Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile; for the international community to support the uprising; and the imposition of no-fly-zones in Darfur , Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile.
One protester remarked that it was the most sizable Sudanese protest in London in the last 20 years.
Amongst the groups attending were representatives from eastern Sudan’s Beja Congress, western Sudan’s Darfur region, and the Nuba Mountains in the south of Sudan.
The international protests have been running in parallel to sustained anti-government dissent in Sudan. The introduction of austerity measures in the wake of the substantial economic strain of the loss of oil wealth with South Sudan’s secession in 2011, has brought home the failings of a Khartoum government embroiled in unpopular conflict on many fronts.