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'More than 800 arrested' during Sudan protests so far

January 7 - 2019 KHARTOUM
Demonstrations in Khartoum on December 31, 2018 (file photo)
Demonstrations in Khartoum on December 31, 2018 (file photo)

Speaking in parliament, interior minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said that “The total number of protesters arrested until now is 816,” showing the extent of the authorities’ campaign against protestors, among them political party members, journalists, and doctors.

Osman told lawmakers there had been a total of 381 protests reported since 19 December, claiming that “the demonstrations began peacefully, but some thugs with a hidden agenda used them to indulge in looting and stealing.”

Demonstrations that demand the withdrawal of the current regime in Sudan, sparked by the chronic shortage of cash and rising prices of bread and fuel, are nearing their third week.

The first large-scale protests broke out on December 19 in the Sudanese capital, El Gedaref, Wad Madani, Berber, Atbara, El Obeid, Port Sudan, Dongola, Kosti and several other towns in River Nile state and Sennar. The Sudanese Doctors Committee was the first group to independently confirm the killing of demonstrators by police fire. The Sudanese government reported on December 28 the killing of 19 people. According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International on December 25, 37 people were killed in the protests’ first five days.

The National Umma Party stated on January 2 that 45 people have been killed, more than 1,000 people injured, and another 2,000 people detained and allegedly tortured since the protests began.

Party members and journalists arrested

The Sudanese Congress Party reported yesterday that the security apparatus arrested El Mahi Suleiman, the political secretary of the party. They also told his deputy, Nureldin Salaheldin, to report himself. It is alleged that Salaheldin was forced to report himself, having escaped earlier detention last week, after his elderly father was detained.

At least seven journalists were also detained in Khartoum yesterday while they were covering the demonstrations. Their names are Ahmed Younes, Mohamed Amin, Sarah Tajelsir, Sarah Deifallah, Abdelrahman Jabr, and Rabaa Abuhana and Samiya Ibrahim. There is little information available about the whereabouts of these journalists.

Detention of doctors

In a joint statement published on Sunday, the Central Doctors Committee, the Union of Doctors of Sudan, and the Committee of Consultants and Specialists condemned the detention of doctor Mohamed Naji El Asam.

El Asam, the leading member of the secretariat of the Sudanese Professionals Association, was arrested on Friday. According to the statement, he was taken by members of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) to an unknown destination.

The statement confirmed that the arrest of doctor El Asam, a large number of his colleagues, and peaceful activists and demonstrators “will not deter us from performing our moral duty to provide medical care for the victims and continue the declared strike as an integral part of the peaceful struggle of the Sudanese professional community [against the government]”.

The head of the Sudan Doctors Union, Ahmed El Sheikh, his deputy Najib Najmeldin, the spokeswoman for the union, Ihsan Fegeiri, and union member Amal Jabrallah have been detained since the end of December.

The Sudanese Central Doctors’ Committee published a statement last week condemning the detention of a number of doctors in El Gedaref in eastern Sudan who were threatened and beaten before they were released again. Meanwhile, a number of doctors are still being held by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

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