SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Earlier this week, the military of the African nation of the Sudan staged a coup, taking control of the country. On Saturday, in San Francisco and around the world, Sudanese nationals and supporters protested the action, demanding civilian rule.
They arrived at San Francisco's city hall to protest what is nothing less than a political double-cross. In 2019, a populist uprising deposed longtime dictator, Omar al Bashir. To avoid unnecessary bloodshed, the revolutionaries cut a deal with the military to share power until this November, when the country would convert to civilian rule. But, on Monday, the military arrested the current prime minister and took control.
"Every time we go to the streets to express ourselves, the military intervenes and takes over," said Mohamed Shommo, president of the Sudanese Organization of Northern California. "This is not the life for us. We're looking for civilian government. We're looking for civilian justice. We're looking to recover and own our destiny."
Aref Elgaali owns the Z Zoul Café in San Francisco. He had to flee Sudan when his life was threatened for saying something negative about the ruling family. Aref was proud when his countrymen overthrew the dictator and, although he's heartbroken by the coup, he said the military's treachery will not succeed.
"We are coming back, no matter what," Elgaali said. "If they kill half of us, if they kill 60 percent of us, there are people that always have the hope."
"This is one of the most peaceful revolutions in the history of human beings," said Shommo. "Nobody has thrown even a little stone and every day people are dying."
It's believed that 10 people have been killed so far and hundreds wounded in the protests in the Sudanese capital city of Khartoum.
In America, those who emigrated from the country are raising their voices as well, including Noun Adelaziz, who left when she was 10 years old and now studies at S.F. State University.
"It just feels very emotional to be out here today," she said. "And to still have to fight for the same things I had to leave for, is really devastating."
Three days earlier, a State Department envoy warned Sudan's military leaders not to take control of the government. As a result of the coup, the U.S. has frozen $700 million of aid to the country. The military has shut down most internet communication so it may be up to those outside the country to alert the rest of the world.
Back at his café, Aref said he hopes they can apply international pressure to force the military to return control of the Sudan to the Sudanese people.
"They can talk and they can add on to the good of the country," he said. "Because there is a democracy -- this is what we want in Sudan."
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