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.
The February 17 Sudan Tribune said students had been planning a demonstration for February 19 outside the university director’s office. Students are demanding his removal after he called police onto campus to attack student protests.
In early December, hundreds of students rallied to support the demand of the Manasir people for just compensation for the impact of the Merowe Dam. Tens of thousands of people have been forcibly displaced by construction of the huge hydroelectricity project on the Nile River, about 330 kilometres north of Khartoum.
More than 70 students were arrested when police broke up the protest, beating students and confiscating their property, including mobile phones and laptops. A week-long sit-in protest against the crackdown followed, which the student organisation Girifna (“We're fed up”) says involved about 16,000 students.
The campus administration responded by indefinitely suspending students and closing down the university. Students were urged to return to their home towns, but many stayed on campus and continued to organise.
On December 30, two Girifna members who were involved in the protests were arrested and are still being held without charge. Bloomberg said on February 22 that one of the students, Taj Alsir Jaafar, had entered the 11th day of a hunger strike against his detention.
On February 20, another Girifna activist, Ibrahim Al Majzoub, was released from jail after his health had deteriorated following an appendix operation the previous week. Al Majzoub spent 48 days in detention after his arrest for delivering a speech in support of the Manasir at a university in Al Damer, south of the Merowe Dam.