Nearly 200 men, women and children gathered on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol Monday afternoon to protest violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan.
Many of the protestors in St. Paul have direct ties to people subject to the violence in Sudan, and know family members who are experiencing the terror.
"I have a sister, an uncle and an aunt in the capital city. They can be killed at any time. They can't sleep at night," said Nura Ahmed, one of the members of MN Young Sudanese Adults, the organization that staged the rally.
Hassan Daoud said they were trying to call attention to the desperate situation in Sudan last week. They fear many more people will die as a result of the violence.
Opponents of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said paramilitary forces once allied with the government attacked them last week. Participants at the St. Paul rally said they didn't believe the overthrow of al-Bashir represented a real change, and Sudanese opponents had been calling for elections and other more radical democratic reforms when the attacks came last week.
Daoud said Sudanese immigrants are urging people to contact their members of Congress to push the United States to halt the bloodshed in his native country. NPR reported more than 100 people have been killed in the capital, Khartoum, over the past several days.
Mohamed Yousif, of Maple Grove, said he got a taste of what it's like to oppose the Sudanese government when he returned to the East African nation in January.
"I went to the protests, and what I saw there was amazing ... men, women and children that were all asking for freedom," Yousif said. "In front of us were 60, 70 armed forces that ... started attacking us and they started shooting teargas canisters and live ammunition. I was nearly hit in the head by one of the tear gas canisters."
Demonstrators at the State Capitol also called on the U.S. government to pressure Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to break off support for those in power in Sudan, which could include allies of the former president.