China and Russia blocked the United Nations Security Council from passing a statement to condemn Sudanese military rulers for their massive killings of citizens.
On June 3, Sudan’s security forces violently dispersed a protest camp outside the Defense Ministry building in central Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Footage shared on social media and verified by Reuters showed chaotic scenes of people fleeing as sustained bursts of gunfire crackled in the air.
According to Reuters, the death toll from the violent crackdown has now reached 60, according to medics linked to the protestors.
The main protest organizers, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), an umbrella association of 15 different Sudanese trade unions, called for an international committee to investigate the deaths, calling the June 3 violence a “massacre,” according to Reuters.
The pro-democracy protesters have been camped outside the military’s headquarters since April 6, following anti-government demonstrations that erupted across the country in December last year over rising bread prices and cash shortages.
The nationwide protests eventually called for Sudan’s longtime strongman, Omar al-Bashir, to step down. He was arrested on April 11, and later charged with inciting and participating in the killing of protesters who called for an end to his rule.
Sudanese generals then took power after al-Bashir was ousted, forming a military junta called the Transitional Military Council (TMC).
Since then, the sit-in at Khartoum has continued. Protesters now demand that the TMC hand over authority to civilians—until elections are to be held in three years.
The U.N. Security Council held a closed-door meeting on June 4, at the request of Britain and Germany, to hear a briefing from UN envoy Nicholas Haysom, according to AFP.
Britain and Germany circulated a press statement that would have called on Sudan’s military rulers and protesters to “continue working together towards a consensual solution to the current crisis.” The draft of the press statement was seen by AFP.
Beijing Backing of Sudan
However, China firmly objected to the proposed text in the press statement, according to AFP, citing unnamed diplomats.
The Chinese regime is a known supporter of al-Bashir, who was charged of war crimes in international court for his role in carrying out genocide during the civil war in Darfur.
China is also the principal arms seller to Sudan and principal purchaser of Sudanese oil, spurring human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch to condemn China for fuelling the armed conflict and humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
China has also invested heavily in Sudan’s oil industry. The African country currently owes about $10 billion of Sudan’s debt.
Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said the proposed statement was “unbalanced” and stressed the need to be “very cautious in this situation,” according to AFP.
According to unnamed diplomats, Russia also insisted that the U.N. Security Council wait for a response from the African Union first.
After the Security Council failed to issue a joint statement, eight European countries issued a statement that they “condemn the violent attacks in Sudan by Sudanese security services against civilians.”
The eight countries were Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, The Netherlands, and Sweden.
Additionally, the European statement also criticized the TMC saying the council’s “unilateral announcement to cease negotiations, appoint a government and call for elections within a too short period of time is of great concern.”
On May 15, the TMC reached an agreement with the main opposition alliance, called the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), to a three-year transition period into a civilian administration. According to BBC, the two sides agreed to form a sovereign council, a cabinet, and a legislative body that will rule Sudan until elections.
However, further negotiations about who would head this transitional body—a civilian or a military figure—broke down between the two sides.
On June 4, a day after the brutal crackdown, lieutenant general and head of TMC Abdel Fattah al-Burhan canceled all previous agreements with the DFCF, and called for general elections within nine months.
The opposition alliance rejected the nine-month plan.
According to AFP, U.N. Security Council diplomats are now looking to a meeting of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council on June 5 to provide a response to the crisis.