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‘Radical solution needed for Darfuri students’: lawyer

June 29 - 2015 KHARTOUM
Students of the University of Khartoum during clashes on 11 March 2014 (Dabanga)
Students of the University of Khartoum during clashes on 11 March 2014 (Dabanga)

The problems Darfuri students are encountering at Sudanese universities require a radical solution, says lawyer Saleh Mahmoud.

The prominent human rights activist told Radio Dabanga that the temporary solutions offered to the students by the opposition forces are much appreciated, “yet they are ineffective on the long term”.  

Darfuri students at Sudanese universities have been increasingly subjected to discrimination, assaults, and detention since last year. In November, Sennar University evicted a number of Darfuris when they could not afford to pay registration and tuition fees.

Early 2014, Darfuri students at the universities of Babanusa and West Kordofan were expelled, and beaten by security forces and militant students of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). In March that year, a Darfuri student of the University of Khartoum was killed, and dozens were wounded in a raid by government forces on the campus.

70 Darfuri women students were violently evicted by security forces from a dormitory in Khartoum on 5 October. Dozens of them were detained. The National Endowment Fund for Students had ordered them to vacate the boarding house, yet the Darfuri students had refused to leave, as they had nowhere else to go. 

On 22 December, government forces and militant NCP students stormed the Bahri University in Khartoum North, where the Darfur Students Association had organised a meeting to discuss the eviction of at least 48 Darfuri students for not paying tuition fees, and the University administration’s ban on wearing African dress and haircuts. Two Darfuri students disappeared, and 77 were detained.

'Hate campaign'

Students told Radio Dabanga from Khartoum that security forces also began to search buses for young people of Darfuri origin. “Any young person suspected to come from the western part of the country, is picked out, and detained.” They described the detention campaign “based on colour and identity” as the “fiercest one since 2008, when rebel forces of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) raided Omdurman”.

The “hate campaign” against Darfuri students intensified after an NCP student died during clashes at Sharg El Nil College in Khartoum on 29 April. In the following weeks, hundreds of Darfuris studying at universities in the capital were assaulted, beaten, and detained by security agents.

According to the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, Darfuri students are exempted from tuition and exam fees. The stipulation was later enforced in an agreement between the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) and the federal Ministry of Higher Education. Nevertheless, several Sudanese universities have refused or evicted Darfuri students, who were unable to pay the fees.

Universities

Lawyer Mahmoud lauded the ongoing efforts by the National Committee for the Protection and Defence of Darfuri Students, formed by opposition forces, but stressed the importance of a permanent solution.

He said that the Committee needs to expand its activities, and to contact the managements of the universities, and come to an agreement about the protection of Darfuri students, and clear fees exemption procedures.

Security apparatus

The government-linked Sudan Vision Daily reported today that the National Security and Intelligence Service (NISS) is enhancing its cooperation with the Sudanese universities.

At a ceremony organised by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, NISS director Lt. Gen Mohamed Atta El Moula Abbas said that the NISS is already supporting many universities, student societies, scientific programmes and journeys, and cultural and sports activities.

He pledged that the security apparatus will continue “its positive relations with the universities and the Ministry of Higher Education. The NISS will not fail them, as long as there is an opportunity to support them.”


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