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Sudan price hikes: More activists detained, others released

January 14 - 2018 KHARTOUM / EN NAHUD / EL GENEINA
Members of the No Oppression Against Women Initiative in police custody in Omdurman, August 28, 2014 (RD)
Members of the No Oppression Against Women Initiative in police custody in Omdurman, August 28, 2014 (RD)

The wave of detentions of Sudanese politicians and activists speaking out against the government’s financial policies continued at the end of last week. In Nierteti, Central Darfur, Military Intelligence officers held four more people.

Masoud El Hassan, a leading party member told Radio Dabanga that agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) held Hadi Adam, Political Officer of the Eastern Nile branch of the Communist Party from his home in El Haj Yousif in Khartoum North on Wednesday.

He added that Communist Party member Arafat Jamaleldin was detained from his home in Khartoum North’s Shambat district and taken to an unknown destination on Thursday morning.

In En Nahud, capital of West Kordofan, province, NISS agents detained Mousa Ahmed, an economics student at West Kordofan University on Friday.

A fellow student told this station that Ahmed was held when he called on the people, after midday prayers, to protest the soaring prices and bring down the Khartoum regime responsible for the country’s various crises. The source could not say where Ahmed was held.

The Sudanese government decided in its 2018 National Budget to raise the customs rate of the Dollar from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18, to halt the ongoing depreciation of the Sudanese Pound at the country’s black market.

After the measure came into effect in the first week of January, the already soaring prices of the main consumer goods doubled or even tripled. The price for a piece of bread increased from SDG 0,50 to SDG 1 ($0.14*).

Press curbs

The NISS ordered the Sudanese press not to cover the price hikes, and halted the distribution of Sudanese newspapers that did comment on the situation 11 times last week.

Small-scale protests erupted in various parts of the country since January 5. Security forces violently dispersed the demonstrations. On Sunday, a secondary school student was killed In El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, when government forces opened fire on a group of demonstrators.

Opposition parties are calling for a nationwide uprising against the deteriorating living conditions.

Dozens of protesters, activists, and politicians have been detained in Khartoum, Sennar, Blue Nile State, White Nile State, West Darfur, West and North Kordofan, including the chairman of the Sudanese Congress Party.

African Centre

On Friday, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) published the names of 18 people being arbitrarily detained by the NISS over the price hikes protests.

The ACJPS views the detentions to have no legitimate basis, as the people detained made peacefully use of their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

Under the 2010 National Security Act, detainees can be held for up to four and a half months without judicial review. 

Released

A bookshop owner and 15 teachers held in El Geneina on January 8 because of the “bread prices protests’ were released later the same day.

On Thursday evening, four members of the No-To-Women-Oppression Initiative, were released, They were held by NISS agents five hours before, while they were staging a protest against the sky-rocketing prices in front of the house of the first first Prime Minister of Sudan (1954-1956), Ismail El Azhari, in Omdurman.

Tahani Abbas, chairwoman of the activist group, told Radio Dabanga that she, Ihsan Fegeiri, Ihsan Kezam, Najla Nurein, and Rashida Shamseldin could only leave the NISS headquarters in Khartoum North, after signing a pledge to return at 11:00 am on Friday.

* Based on the official US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS)


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