Two students killed demonstrating against ‘coward’ Darfur mediator
By Radio Dabanga -- ZALINGEI
(1 Dec.) -
||Two students were killed and eight wounded today when
police and security agents opened fire heavily on a crowd of protesters. Student protesters from the University of Zalingei had surrounded the hall where the international mediators of the Darfur conflict were meeting. The mediation team includes the Qatari Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud and United Nations – African Union Joint Representative Djibril Bassolé.
The mediators were visiting Zalingei to consult with civil society organizations about the peace process in Doha. According to witnesses present at the meeting, the unrest erupted after the mobilization of student loyalists of the National Congress Party, who gathered in support of the mediators outside of the hall where they were meeting. These students carried banners and chanted slogans against key rebel demands, including the unification of Darfur into one province and the granting of a vice president position to the region.
Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that opposition students mobilized themselves and clashed with the students of the National Congress Party, forcing them to withdraw. The opposition students then surrounded the hall and began chanting against Bassolé, whom they described as ‘cowardly.’ They chanted slogans in favor of one Darfur province and in favor of Luis Moreno Ocampo, the international prosecutor who alleges genocide was committed in Darfur. At the same time the students criticized the mediators for not involving them in the consultative meeting.
Bassolé requested to talk with the students surrounding the hall after the mediators had concluded their consultation with the civil society organizations. He addressed the protesters through an external sound system. Bassolé told the student protesters his reasons for his visit to Darfur and the latest developments in the Doha negotiations. The students, however, were unconvinced, according to witnesses, and they continued shouting against the mediation.
The United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur felt that the situation was serious and decided to withdraw the mediators through the back exit to ensure their safety. The witnesses said that the armored car that had been used by Bassolé was changed for a normal car, a Nissan Patrol, in order to disguise him. When the students realized this, they pelted Bassolé’s car with stones, smashing its windshield. Another UN car also suffered a broken windshield.
Following the departure of Bassolé and the delegation of mediators, police and security services began shooting heavily and firing indiscriminately on the students, according to the witnesses. Witnesses said the police and security services also used Dushka cannons.