Undeterred by crackdown, Sudanese people take to the streets again

The latest round of the protests on March 28 saw protesters being attacked by security forces who charged at them with batons and electric wires, and fired tear gas at them. These protests came ahead of a major round of demonstrations on April 6

April 01, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Protests began in Sudan in 2018 demanding the resignation of president Omar al-Bashir

Thousands of Sudanese once again took to the streets on March 28 to demonstrate against president Omar al-Bashir’s regime in the capital city of Khartoum, as well as in a number of other towns. The peaceful protesters were attacked by security forces,  who charged at them with batons and electric wires, and fired tear gas at them. The demonstrations, seeking the resignation of al-Bashir, began in December 2018.

Recently, it was reported that two senior citizens, aged 80 and 95 years, died of suffocation when tear gas canisters were fired into their residence. In the Burri district in east Khartoum, security personnel besieged entire neighborhoods with vehicles. Armed men in plainclothes combed the main roads.

A day before this large demonstration, youths in the town of Bara in the state of North Kordofan spontaneously took to streets, appealing to the masses to participate.

Another protest was held by dramatists on Wednesday, the World Theatre Day, in El Damazin, the capital city of Blue Nile State. With banners calling for the removal of al-Bashir, they demanded the release of all those who have been detained in the course of the protests, including the two dramatists, Musab Hasouna and Abumidyan.

The previous night, 18 medical students from the River Nile University in Atbara, who were arrested in the morning for refusing to sit for exams and going on a strike in solidarity with the protesters, were released. Before releasing them, however, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) extorted an assurance from them to call off the protest and attend the exams.

Women students in the university dormitories were threatened with dismissal and legal action under emergency laws if they participated in the demonstrations. In fact, scores of people who were arrested in the demonstration, from which students were warned to stay away, were immediately referred to emergency courts.

Nevertheless, the mass demonstrations scheduled for Thursday were not called off. Neither was the weekly demonstration after the Friday prayers, where people from  Khartoum State took to the streets in El Shaabiya, El Mazad, Wad Nubawi, Beitelmal, Ombadda, Wad El Bakheet, El Manara, El Muhandisin, El Shajara and El Eilafoun. What was called off, however, was president al-Bashir’s scheduled trip to Tunisia where he was supposed to attend the 30th League of Arab States summit on March 31.

On March 21, a day after the uprising against the regime reached its fourth month, a Khartoum-based daily had reported that al-Bashir would attend this summit, where issues, including the the wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya, as well as the peace efforts in Sudan and Somalia, would be discussed.

Soon after the report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Tunisian government to arrest al-Bashir should he set foot on the country, citing the two pending arrests warrants issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC found him guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for overseeing a campaign of mass killings and rape in the Darfur region where a civil war has been raging.

On March 27, foreign minister El-Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed announced that first vice-president Awad Ibn Ouf would be heading the Sudanese delegation to Tunisia instead of al-Bashir.

Arguably one of the most significant marches since the beginning of the uprising is scheduled on April 6. The march has been called by the Sudanese Professionals Association, which comprises teachers, doctors and other professionals. Thousands are expected to march to the command posts of the armed forces in all the 18 States of Sudan, in an attempt to draw the army’s junior rank officers and soldiers to their side.

“They are affected by the suffering, distress and humiliations. They and their family members and neighbors know well that the army is kidnapped by a few chiefs of staff and the ministry of defense.. The army, by its legacy and history, knows very well that it has played a pivotal role in overthrowing the Abboud and Nimeiri regimes [in 1964 and 1985] and taking sides in favor of the people and democracy,” the association said in a statement.