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.
More than 100,000 people have been displaced and countless numbers killed in the north Sudanese government’s latest offensive in the region bordering south Sudan. South Sudan is set to formalise its secession on July 9 after a near-unanimous vote for independence in the January referendum.
The Youth for Change organisation has called for protests throughout Sudan on March 21. The February 28 Sudan Tribune reported that spokesperson Magdi Okasha said their aim is to overthrow the regime. The call follows a series of anti-government protests by youth and students, most notably on January 30, when thousands of students inspired by the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt were met with violence from security forces. Many activists arrested during and after the protests remain in jail without charge.
Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) is still holding dozens of protesters arrested during and after the January 30 protests against Omar al Bashir’s government. The protests were inspired by the Egyptian revolution. The protesters are being held without charge. There are reports that many have suffered torture, including electrocution and sleep deprivation. Women detainees have been threatened with rape.
“The situation in Egypt is different than the situation of Sudan,” Sudanese government spokesperson Rabie Atti insisted to reporters after January 30 anti-government protests. “We don’t have one small group that controls everything. Wealth is distributed equally. We’ve given power to the states.” Atti proves one similarity between Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt and that of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir: both make ludicrous public statements that show no understanding of reality or the consciousness of their populations.
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.
The January 9-15 referendum on self-determination in south Sudan looks certain to result in the division of Sudan into two countries. About 96% of the 3.9 million registered voters took part, well exceeding the required 60% turnout. The final result will be announced in February. But with 80% of the vote counted, the South Sudan Referendum Commission reported a landslide vote of almost 99% in favour of independence. The Republic of South Sudan is expected to be officially declared in July.
The 2005 Naivasha Agreement ended the civil war between the Sudanese government and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), based in South Sudan. About 2 million people were killed in the 1983-2005 conflict. A further 500,000 people were killed in the 1955-1972 civil war, also fought between the government and rebels in the south. Under the agreement, a referendum on independence will be held in the south in January 2011. The SPLM leadership recently endorsed independence for the South, while prior to the peace process it been committed to a united, democratic, federal Sudan.
Two recent reports, released by NASA and the US National Climate Data Centre, have confirmed that last month was the warmest June since records began. June was the fourth consecutive month that had broken temperature records, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. Global monthly records were also broken in March, April and May. June was the 304th month in a row that recorded a global average temperature higher than the 20th century average. February 1985 was the last month temperatures fell below the average.
The images on the television screen are now so familiar we become immune. Unimaginable numbers of people suffering and dying in a part of the world we know little about for reasons we know even less. What is it that we feel? Sadness, pity, a sense of anger, a sense of hopelessness? So we make the right noises, perhaps make a donation to the relevant charity and move on to the next news item. Yet the people suffering are just like us; the only difference is that we are lucky enough to have been born here.
Late last year, Green Left Weekly’s Kerryn Williams spoke to the assistant secretary of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), Suleman Hamid El Haj, in Khartoum about political developments in Sudan since the January 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA ended the two-decade-long war between Sudan’s central government in Khartoum and the south.