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March of 1,500+ students prevented from entering Sudan capital

July 20 - 2017 SHEIKH EL YAGOUT
Students on the march in
Students on the march in

Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) prevented a protest march by more than 1,500 Darfuri students – who resigned en masse from the University of Bakht El Rida in El Duweim in White Nile state – from entering the national capital of Khartoum yesterday.

The students, who demand the release of ten of their number accused of killing two police officers in May, were stopped on the outskirts of the city.

Several callers from El Duweim told Radio Dabanga that all the Darfuri students at Bakht El Rida University – which initial reports estimated as numbering 1,000 – submitted mass resignations to the deans of their faculties and left the university.

The crowd moved to the bus station, intent on travelling to Khartoum; however they were informed that the NISS had warned the owners of busses and other vehicles not to transport them.

Mustafa Adam, a leading human rights activist told Radio Dabanga from Sheikh El Yagout village that security forces prevented students from taking buses from inside El Duweim, forcing students to walk for more than seven kilometres.

Condemnation

After the students arrived at Sheikh El Yagout village on Tuesday, they were prevented from entering Khartoum by the NISS, a step that has prompted widespread condemnation.

Adam confirmed that there are now more than 1,500 students at Sheikh El Yagout village.

A student leader told Radio Dabanga from Sheikh El Yagout village confirmed that “the university administration has kept using racist accusations against the Darfuri students in the study rooms and targeting their associations with arrests and detentions.”

The ten detained students are accused of killing two policemen during student protests that were violently dispersed at the University of Bakht El Rida on May 9. The students also demand the reinstatement of 14 other students, expelled from the university after the protests and subsequent clashes.

Darfur Barr Association

He confirmed that the Commissioner of El Duweim asked them to return to the university but they insisted that they will return only after a response to their demands.

Lawyer, Mohamed Abdallah El Duma, head of the Darfur Bar Association, said yesterday in an interview with Radio Dabanga from Khartoum that what happened at Bakht El Rida University to the Darfuri students is a problem in understanding the university's internal situation.

He said that the university administration and the security services turned the students’ demands into a racial problem against the Darfuri students. He said he considers the students' demands of elections, services, and fees as normal demands.

He criticised the conduct of the university administration in its perception that the Darfuri students belong to the armed movements and that the killing and destruction at the university was done by the Darfuri students alone. He describing the step as “racism towards the Darfuri students”.

He strongly condemned the security apparatus’ preventing the Darfuri students from entering Khartoum and told Radio Dabanga that the state authorities’ talking with the students through the Commissioner is a positive step and stipulated that the step should not be viewed from a security standpoint.

Director responds

On Tuesday evening in El Duweim, the Director of the University of Bakht El Rida, Professor Jadallah Abdallah, issued a statement in which he asserted that “the university treats all its students without regard to partisan, tribal or regional affiliation”.

He said that the students who were dismissed after the incidents in May only after investigation through the accountability boards.

He stressed that he will not to respond to any pressure to reinstate them.

The statement pointed to the continuation of the study at the university and that the examinations will be held on schedule.

Solidarity

Yesterday the Sudanese national forces, represented by the coalition of National Consensus Forces and the parties of Sudan Appeal Forces, the Darfur Bar Association, the Democratic Journalists and the Women's Political Forum, announced their full solidarity with the Darfuri students at the University of Bakht El Rida.

They described the move as “courageous to conquer the oppression”.

Mohammad Mukhtar El Khatib, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, read a statement of the national forces after a meeting in Khartoum yesterday, stressed that in the name of the national forces they will defend the students until their legitimate demands are met.

El Khatib thanked the people of Sheikh El Yagout for their duty towards the students.

White Nile state

At Sheikh El Yagout in the White Nile State, Mastour Ahmed Mohammed, the secretary-general of the Sudanese Congress Party, expressed solidarity of the Sudanese Congress Party with the demands of the students of the University which he described as fair and legitimate.

Yesterday in an interview with Radio Dabanga from Sheikh El Yagout, Mastour demanded that the university administration immediately cancel the dismissal issued against the students and return them to classes immediately.

He called the decisions “arbitrary and racist” and demanded the release of all students.

He stressed that “the charges against them do not stand up to reality” and said there is a need to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the cases aimed against the students of Darfur and the accountability of those implicated. He accused the university’s administration of engagement in targeting  them with the collusion of some professors.

He also called for providing adequate guarantees that the Darfuri students in universities will not be targeted in the future.

Villagers praised

Mastour praised the Sheikh of Sheikh El Yagout village and the residents of the village for hosting the students since Tuesday evening after being prevented by the security services from entering Khartoum.

He pointed out that the Sheikh opened schools and the hostel to host the students, and appealed to the Sudanese people to stand united in solidarity with the students of Darfur.

‘Racism’

In Khartoum, Siham Hassan, a Darfuri activist and a MP of the Liberation and Justice Party, said that “the administration of the university did not deal with the issue of Darfuri students as a national issue and dealt with it in a racist manner”.

Yesterday in an interview with Radio Dabanga, Siham expressed surprise at the statement by the university administration which said that the investigations under which Darfur students were dismissed proved that Darfur students committed the crime.

She told Radio Dabanga in response to the university’s statement that a murder’s natural place is the judiciary not the university administration.

She said the decision by the university Director is contradicting the powers of the judicial and judicial organs.

She called on the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to stop the malicious complaints against the Darfuri students at the universities of Bakhtel Rida and El Zaim El Azhari, and holds the Ministry of Higher Education and practical research responsible for these students.

She called on Sudanese President Al Bashir “to immediately dismiss the director of Bakht El Rida University, to abide by all the decisions of the national dialogue and to implement the policy of the six items, the most important of which is the Sudanese identity and fundamental freedoms that guarantee all the rights of citizenship as Sudanese.

Defence committee

Yesterday a meeting of the opposition forces in Khartoum decided to form a national committee of lawyers to follow up on the issues of the Darfuri students.

At a press conference at the general headquarters of the Communist Party on Thursday the opposition forces also decided to open the door to cash and food donations, provision of accommodation and housing for the students of Darfur.

It also addressed the Ministry of Higher Education to open the university, return the dismissed and cancel the complaints.

Amnesty International

“These students only want to present a petition to their leaders, but instead of helping and protecting them, the NISS have chosen to block them, in callous disregard of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“Instead of stopping them, the authorities should protect them and ensure that their grievances are heard,” Wanyeki said.


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