Sudanese Aussies fear for families in crackdown

Sudanese Australians say they fear for the lives of family members after a bloody military crackdown in the African country.

Some said they hadn’t been able to contact relatives for nearly a fortnight after the country’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) imposed an internet blackout.

On June 3 the Rapid Support Services, a paramilitary group under the command of Mohamed ‘Hermeti’ Daglo, launched a sustained and brutal attack on a protest camp in the nation’s capital Khartoum.

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At least 113 civilians were reported to have been killed.

About 40 bodies were reportedly found in the Nile river, while others were shot, burnt alive in tents, stabbed, beaten or hacked to death with machetes.

Eyewitnesses claimed at least 48 women and six men, mostly female doctors, medical staff and women protesters, were raped during the attack.

Sudanese Australian Fayza Mohamed, 19, from Bankstown, in Sydney, said: “It’s devastating and I feel like it’s not getting the recognition it deserves.

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“It has a massive impact on the Sudanese community in Australia because many of them have family members living in Sudan experiencing this crisis.”

Fellow Sudanese Australian Sabrin Mohamed Ali, 21, from Canberra, said she had been unable to contact anyone in her family in Sudan since the crackdown started.

“The internet was cut off. I couldn’t get in touch with my family back at home,” she added. “Nobody has access to the internet.”

On Tuesday the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued an advisory to Australians against travelling to Sudan.

The country of 41 million people, which sits below Egypt in North Africa, has been in a state of upheaval for several months.

Protests against the country’s long-term leader President Hassan al-Bashir began in December last year after price increases on everyday items left many of the poorest Sudanese unable to feed themselves.

Al-Bashir resigned in April, however his rule was quickly replaced with military control under the leadership of Abdul Fattah al Burhan, the president of the TMC.

Dating back to 2006 paramilitaries have been accused of war crimes in western Sudan and aid agencies fear the country may be on the brink of another humanitarian crisis.

According to the last Australian census about 20,000 Sudanese-born nationals reside in this country.