Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP) regime is facing rising dissent after a new round of youth protests began on June 16 against austerity measures, spreading throughout the week to cities and towns across Sudan. Protesters and security forces have clashed daily as the government of President Omer Al Bashir struggles to prevent a widespread uprising.
Press freedom in Sudan is rapidly deteriorating, with confiscation of newspapers by the security agency becoming a norm. The scope of violations committed against publications and journalists by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) is widening by the day. Since early May, the NISS has confiscated more than 14 editions of different newspapers in Sudan, suspended more than 13 journalists from writing in newspapers, and identified about 20 taboo topics not to be tackled by the press.
As the world marked World Press Freedom Day on May 3, an annual day declared by the UN General Assembly, Sudanese journalists had no reason to celebrate. They spent the day just like many before it, fighting against censorship and calling for press freedom. Journalists working for Al-Jareeda, an independent daily based in Khartoum, headed to the Sudanese Journalist’s Union to stage a silent sit-in. On May 1 and 2, Al-Jareeda was taken over by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of Sudan.
Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud, secretary general of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), died on March 22 in London, where he was undergoing medical treatment for an inoperable brain tumour. Thousands of people joined the funeral procession to farewell Nugud on March 25. His body was taken from the airport past his home and the SCP headquarters before being buried in the Al Farouq cemetery. Leaders of other opposition parties and representatives from South Sudan attended.
On March 18, Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services confiscated the entire print run of Al Midan, the Sudanese Communist Party's newspaper. This was the third consecutive issue to be censored by the NISS. The March 18 Sudan Tribune said: "Sudanese authorities routinely confiscate copies of newspapers as a punishment for publishing contents critical of the government. The measure is intended to inflict financial damage on the already hard-pressed papers."
In the early hours of February 17, about 1000 police and National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) officers conducted a violent raid of Khartoum University’s student dormitories, arresting more than 300 students. Most were released later that day. Two students are missing, suspected kidnapped by the NISS. Some of the arrested students told a Sudan Human Rights Monitor press conference that police had used racist verbal abuse against students and many were beaten.
Seven months after South Sudan declared independence from its northern neighbour, Khartoum continues to undermine the struggling new nation. On January 20, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) government of South Sudan took the drastic measure of shutting down its entire oil production. Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) regime had been demanding enormous fees for transporting South Sudan’s oil to Port Sudan in the north for export.
On November 23, Sudan lost an invaluable activist, writer and leader. Al Tijani Al Tayeb was one of the founders of the Sudanese Communist Party and the editor of the SCP’s newspaper Al Midan. He dedicated his entire life to the movements against colonialism, dictatorship and capitalism in Sudan and against imperialist exploitation of Africa and the Middle East. Al Tijani was born in 1926 in a poor village near the town of Shendi in north Sudan. His father was heavily involved in the Sudanese independence movement, fighting against the British occupation.
United Nations-African Union joint special representative Ibrahim Gambari said in Khartoum on September 15, that attacks in Darfur were down by about 70% over the past three years thanks to the peacekeeping efforts. However, a September 16 statement by Hussein Abu Sharati, a spokesperson for Darfuri refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), angrily rejected the claims. He said the government “still commits genocide in Darfur” and that people are unable to return to their homes because it is unsafe.
Two months after the secession of South Sudan, Khartoum’s ruling elite is making no retreat from the strategy that eventually forced the country’s division. This strategy includes marginalisation and neglect of the outlying regions; the forced imposition of Khartoum’s right-wing Islamic, pro-Arab agenda on Sudan’s culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse population; and brutal repression of dissent. The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) is waging wars on several fronts, from Darfur in the west to the states along the new southern border.