11 January 2018

Sudan: Students Face Tear Gas in Anti-Price Hike Protests

Khartoum — In the latest wave of protests against the rise of prices in Sudan that took place in universities in Khartoum, riot police used tear gas against students. Studies at one of the universities were disrupted for a day.

Hundreds of students at El Ahfad University for Girls staged demonstrations on Monday. On Tuesday the protests were coordinated by a number of the students through SMS and social media, including WhatsApp, one of the young women informed Radio Dabanga.

"We gathered in the university campus and chanted slogans against the significant surge of prices since the start of this year. The security service and riot police arrived outside the university, but the university administration decided to close the doors tightly to protect the women students."

The demonstration has led to the disruption of the school day after the protesters left the halls. They remained in the vicinity of the campus, chanting slogans against the economic policies of the Sudanese government.

Tear gas

For the fourth consecutive day, hundreds of students of the University of Khartoum staged protests against the increased prices of bread and other basic goods on Wednesday. Three students were already arrested on Tuesday while they joined the address held by students, calling on people to denounce the regime's economic policies.

Yesterday, members of the security service and riot police surrounded the headquarters of the campus and fired tear gas to disperse the students, some of whom threw stones at the police.

Police vehicles closed the main roads leading to the university and forced about 400 demonstrators to enter the campus grounds where they continued to fire tear gas at the crowd.

Professors support

Professors at the Khartoum University strongly condemned "the violent behaviour of the security service against the students of the university during the three-day demonstrations", a press statement by a group of professors said on Wednesday.

The professors said they hold the university administration fully responsible for the security service storming of the university and arrest of three students.

"We wholeheartedly support the intention of the students to hold the protest for one day and are ready to participate in a sit-in against Khartoum's economic policies."

"We are concerned about the use of excessive violence against, and intimidation of students, the siege of the university's headquarters, and the dumping of tear gas on people," said professor Mohamed Yousif Ahmed El Mustafa.

"The position of the university administration is weak. It has led the security service dare to underestimate the university."

The professors announced their full support to the students' protests, stressing that the teaching staff is ready to participate in a sit-in.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, El Mustafa said that the students have the right to peacefully express their rejection of the economic policy of the government and the overpriced goods.

List of detainees

A list of 21 people who have been arrested during the protests against the price increases in the country, which started on 7 January, has been made public. They include leading politicians, activists and students.

On the list are Omar El Digeir, the chairman of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), Adil Khalafallah of the Baath party, and Mohyeldin El Jallad (Communist Party).

An activist named Hajo was arrested in Ed Damazin, and Mohamed Hassan Saeed in Nyala.

Among the detained students are Ahmad Kabo and Arig Musa in Sennar, Sharhabil Ihab and Abubakr Mohamed El Jeili in Kassala, andMai Faisal and Waleed Omar Yousif in Khartoum, along with a student named Gurashi.

Price hikes

The government decided to raise the customs rate of the Dollar from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18 in end December, with the purpose to halt the steadily increasing hard currency rate at the 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*).

In a press statement today, the European Union Delegation said that the ambassadors are following the protests and detentions of a number of political leaders in Sudan closely.

"We consider it crucial that people are permitted to exercise their right to freedom of expression, including freedom of the media and of political participation. At the same time, we urge those exercising their fundamental rights to express their opinions peacefully."

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


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