By: Ryan Aliman
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
KHARTOUM, Sudan – Supporters of the Khartoum government have burned down student dormitories in Khartoum University last Monday.
Composed of students and security agents, these pro-government forces also set ablaze different offices in the University while they attacked and detained student demonstrators.
These assaults were part of a crackdown on the protests that started on June 16 at Khartoum University. Various student groups and youth movements gathered to clamor against President Omar Al Bashir’s announcement that the national government shall raise taxes and prices and cut fuel subsidies. These austerity measures are an attempt to recover from the country’s US$ 2.4 billion deficit which was exacerbated by the split between Sudan and South Sudan in July last year. In a span of 10 days, the protests grew and spilled over to other parts of the country.
The Sudanese police and security authorities responded to these demonstrations with severe force. Reports show that government forces, joined by pro-government students, have fired tear gas and live ammunition injuring the protesters. They have also held several students in custody. Once detained, these students were reportedly blindfolded and beaten. They were also forced to sign a promissory note that they will no longer participate in any protest once they are released. Some of the detainees, meanwhile, have been sentenced to lashings for violating South Sudan’s public order laws. The authorities also conducted widespread raids across the country and arrested relatives of the protesters and members of the opposition party.
When asked to comment on the demonstrations, President Al-Bashir dismissed these as insignificant. He referred to his dissenters as “foreign -backed aliens and bubbles”. He also endorsed the “forceful and immediate” suppression of the protests and threatened to deploy “real jihadists” or “Muhajhdeen” once the demonstrations escalate further.
On June 27, Human Rights Watch released a report urging Sudan to rein in security forces and to release or charge the detainees. Human Rights Watch Africa director Daniel Bekele suggested that Sudan might be using the protests as “an excuse to use violence and intimidation to silence dissenters”. “Authorities should call off their security forces and vigilantes, end the violence immediately, and respect the right of the people to protest peacefully”, he pleaded.
According to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, security forces shall employ nonviolent means as far as possible before resorting to the use force. Authorities shall exercise restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense if the lawful use of force is unavoidable.
For further information, please see:
Sudan Tribune – Sudan Protest: UN Urges Restraint and Respect for Human Rights – 28 June 2012
Sudan Tribune – HRW Urges Sudan to Rein in Security Forces, Release or Charge Detainees – 27 June 2012
Bikyamasr – Sudanese Call for Friday Mass Demonstration Against Bashir – 27 June 2012
Albawada – Sudan Day of Rage: June 29 – 27 June 2012
Radio Dabanga – Dormitories of Protesting Students set Ablaze by Sudan Security Agents – 26 June 2012