Sudan: Anti-gov. protesters defy police

Issue 
Police attack a protester at an anti-government rally. Photo from Facebook, via SudaneseThinker.com.

Thousands of students braved the notoriously brutal Sudanese police and security forces on January 30 in anti-government protests inspired by the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, SudaneseTribune.com reported that day.

Rallies took place at three universities and other sites across the capital, as well as in east and west Sudan.

Students called for General Omar al Bashir’s National Congress Party government to resign and condemned recent austerity measures and ongoing attacks of democratic rights.

A range of youth organisations were involved in the protest and students used Facebook to help promote the actions, SudaneseThinker.com said on February 1.

Police and security forces responded harshly, surrounding university campuses and beating students who tried to leave to join protests.

Tear gas was used in student dormitories and plain-clothed police. Militias attacked protesters.

Al Ahlia University student Mohamed Abdelrahman died after severe police beatings, SudaneseTribune.com said. At least 70 people were arrested and more than 100 injured as clashes continued into the evening.

Journalists were also attacked and some had their cameras confiscated. Following the protests, security forces prevented circulation of several newspapers that featured coverage of the protests.

The protests followed actions in several cities including Khartoum and Medani over January 12-13, after the government increased the price of sugar and other basic goods, and cut fuel subsidies. Police used tear gas and beat students with batons, and a number of protesters were arrested.

There has been a general crackdown on opposition amid the referendum on self-determination in south Sudan in January that resulted in a near-unanimous vote for separation.

All of the major northern opposition parties have been targeted and activists have been arrested for holding forums and distributing leaflets against the price rises.

Amnesty International issued a statement on February 3 demanding the release of 16 people being held incommunicado after the National Intelligence and Security Service raided the offices of the Communist Party of Sudan’s newspaper, Al Midan.

Among those arrested were nine of the paper’s staff, including the deputy editor.

Students have vowed to organise further actions. On February 4, Reuters reported that the previous day, hundreds of students rallied at Sennar University in the country’s east before being teargassed and beaten by police.

Reuters said dozens of students were arrested in northern Khartoum the same day while trying to attend a demonstration that had been advertised online.