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Secretary-General apologises for violence against peaceful protestors

February 21 - 2019 CAIRO
Students in the University of El Geneina in West Darfur (Unamid)
Students in the University of El Geneina in West Darfur (Unamid)

Dr Ali El Haj expressed regret for the killing and wounding of innocent people while his party is part of the government; Minister of Higher Education tells press that universities have been closed ‘for the safety of students’.

Secretary-General of the Popular Congress Party, Dr Ali El Haj, apologised on Wednesday morning for the killing and wounding of unarmed demonstrators, speaking at Khartoum airport after his arrival from Germany following extensive medical treatment.

He described the violence and oppression that took place as humanely, nationally, legally, and religiously unacceptable. He also stressed that the party will not remain silent, but will deliver a message to the President on the current situation. He did not disclose the content of this letter.

Universities closed for students’ protection

The Minister of Higher Education, El Sadig El Hadi El Mahdi, said that 36 government universities have been closed “to protect the students”. Closures began after December 24, as demonstrations sparked by bread shortages and calling for regime change spread from Ed Damazin, to Atbara, to capital city Khartoum, and across the country.

Nationwide protests have been ongoing for more than two months, calling on the regime of Al Bashir to step down following the endemic economic crisis that includes a hike in bread, fuel and medicine prices.

According to the interior minister, “universities are a fertile environment for the growth of demonstrations”, speaking during a press conference in Cairo on Tuesday.

On January 7, Dr Mohamed Yousef, a lecturer at the University of Khartoum and allegedly subject of humiliating treatment by members of the NISS whilst protesting, told Radio Dabanga that professors were invited for a meeting by the Minister of Higher Education.

He said they were invited to a meeting with the deputy director of the NISS and the Minister of Higher Education, El Sadig El Hadi El Mahdi, who apologised to them and promised to investigate the ill-treatment and beatings they endured.

According to Interior Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman the total number of protesters arrested until the beginning of January amounted 816 people, among them political party members, journalists, and doctors.

The Sudanese government reported on December 28 that 19 people had been killed. According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International on December 25, 37 people were killed in the protests’ first five days. Human Rights Watch reported on February 10 that Sudanese activists estimate at least 50 people have been killed since the start of the protests.

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