21 December 2018

Sudan Price Protests Continue Unabated Despite Police Violence, Curfew

Photo: Radio Dabanga
A crowd protests the skyrocketed bread and fuel prices, among others, in El Gezira Aba in White Nile state, on December 21.

El Gedaref / Khartoum / River Nile / Dongola / El Obeid / Port Sudan / Sennar / Kosti — Street demonstrations that were violently dispersed, have claimed the lives of at least nine civilians by police fire, official and medical sources confirmed. Dozens of people have been wounded. There have been reports of targeted internet disruptions to Sudan's internet infrastructure.

The protests broke out earlier this week across Sudan have continued on Thursday in the Sudanese capital, El Gedaref, El Gezira, Berber, Atbara and several other towns in River Nile, El Obeid, Port Sudan, Dongola, Kosti, and Sennar, against the rising prices of bread and fuel which have caused economic hardship for people in Sudan over the past months.

Authorities on Thursday declared a state of emergency in El Gedaref state, where six protesters died during clashes with riot police, official sources informed local broadcasters yesterday. A state of emergency was declared on Thursday. An independent Member of Parliament, Mubarak El Nur, told Reuters news agency: "The situation in El Gedaref has become dangerous and the protests have developed to include fires and theft and it's now out of control."

Earlier, the Committee of Doctors of Sudan reported to Radio Dabanga that police opened fire on demonstrators in separate incidents, killing at least two students in Kareema. A man has been confirmed dead in Atbara in River Nile state, where authorities also declared a state of emergency.

Targeted internet disruption

NetBlocks, an organisation mapping targeted internet disruptions worldwide, announced today that data collected by its observatory and volunteers across Sudan provided "detailed technical evidence of an extensive internet censorship regime implemented to suppress public demonstrations across the country".

Its survey covered major population centres in Sudan and found "varying attempts to block social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and messaging app WhatsApp".

Sudanese internet provider Zain-SDN was found to have the most extensive blocking scheme, covering all key social platforms, followed by MTN, Sudatel and Kanartel. NetBlocks claims that the blocking is not centralised but applied at the discretion of the commercial operators.

The deadly and violent repercussions by the military and the security apparatus sparked new protests on Thursday and Friday in various states in Sudan. In El Gedaref and River Nile, a number of protesters were wounded, while in Khartoum traffic has been paralysed because of residents and students moving to the main streets to protest.

Sudan has been suffering from chronic hard currency shortages and a soaring inflation for years. Prices skyrocketed in particular after the government implemented a set of austerity measures in January this year. The crises have led to recurrent shortages in commodities like bread and fuel.

Latest protest updates, per state

El Gedaref: Angry demonstrators torch offices

In anger, demonstrators have burned the offices of El Gedaref locality and the Water Management department, eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga, in addition to torching vehicles of the security apparatus and smashing buildings.

El Gedaref Hospital has received dozens of wounded people, some of them in serious condition. Demonstrations have seen wide participation from different groups of students, residents, and women, one witness told Dabanga.

Six protesters died here during clashes with riot police, official sources informed local broadcasters yesterday. The video below shows the security forces driving their vehicle into the crowd while shooting at people.

The state government promised to return the price of bread to one pound yesterday morning.

River Nile state: Protests despite curfew

Mohamed Eisa, a well-known athlete in Berber town, was shot dead by security forces this week while he was out on the street to participate in the protests in which the residents participated in protest against the soaring prices. Sixteen others were wounded. Angry protesters burned the Legislative Council's office and the headquarters of the National Congress Party in the town.

Protests continued in Atbara in River Nile state on Thursday for the second day in a row, despite the imposition of a state of emergency, a curfew, and suspension of all classes in basic and higher secondary schools in the town until further notice.

"Protesters gathered from various districts and neighbouring areas and went to burn the headquarters of the Taxation Bureau, where many armed forces were deployed to guard government facilities and fuel stations," an eyewitness reported.

He said that they fired live ammunition into the air to keep the demonstrators out, and wounded a child in the process.

Other witness reports to Radio Dabanga indicate that the Sudanese army had taken sides with the demonstrators in River Nile state and earlier this week prevented Sudan's paramilitary forces from entering Atbara.

During demonstrations in the town El Obeidiya, at least seven people were wounded and had to be taken to a nearby hospital. Witnesses reported that demonstrations continued as well in El Damer and Shendi.

National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) agents in the state have detained a number of activists including Amin Hasan.

Khartoum: Student protests paralyse traffic

Protests and violent demonstrations took place in various districts and universities in the centre of the capital city. The protesters marched to Jackson Square, the Stadium and El Hurriya Street with the participation of hundreds of students and residents before the police dispersed them using tear gas and excessive violence.

Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the police and the security apparatus then arrived at the University of Khartoum and prevented students from leaving the campus. Meanwhile students of the southern wing of the University of Sudan joined the protesting residents of El Duyoum Shereg, south of the city centre.

El Sahafa and El Arda in Omdurman also witnessed demonstrations of dozens of protesters, and a number of students of El Ahfad University for Women closed off El Arda road in protest against the ongoing price hikes on basic goods.

In other parts of Khartoum state, large demonstrations took place in universities and town districts, including the densely populated Khartoum North district of El Haj Yousef. Shootings were heard in various places in the Sudanese capital.

"Khartoum traffic has been paralysed and main stations have been emptied of buses, because of the spontaneous protests," a listener in the capital told Dabanga.

Northern State: 'No police intervention'

On Thursday morning, a large demonstration broke out in Dongola in Sudan's Northern State against the soaring prices and food shortage, and as a witness pointed out, "it has continued for a long time without intervention from police or army".

Demonstrators set fire to the buildings of the administrative unit in Dongola, the National Congress Party's headquarters - similar to angry protesters in River Nile - and the state governor's house.

Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the demonstration began on Wednesday evening, moving from the Faculty of Agriculture and Economics and then returned on Thursday morning to be joined by students of the Faculty of Education and groups of residents.

El Obeid: Dozens of protesters detained

Yesterday, students of schools in western districts of El Obeid in North Kordofan took part in a demonstration, joined by a mass of residents chanting against the soaring prices and economic conditions for people in Sudan.

The demonstrators cut off the main El Obeid-En Nahud road from the western side of the city before police and security forces arrived at the scene and confronted the crowd with excessive force. Approximately 38 demonstrators were detained, various witnesses informed this station.

"Police forces chased protesters in the western districts of El Obeid and prevented them from going into the city centre, and carried out large arrests among demonstrators," one of the witnesses said.

Red Sea state: 'Bread price to decrease'

Stormy protests also continued for the second day in Port Sudan in Red Sea state despite the government's decision to return the price of a piece of bread to one Pound.

Eyewitnesses said that the demonstrations started at the Faculty of Education at the Red Sea University, before moving to the Centre complex, a number of districts of the city and eventually the grand market.

The demonstrations have continued for hours and the police used teargas to disperse the demonstrators. Yesterday the police held two students from the Red Sea University as the demonstrators' demands changed to having the Sudanese regime step down.

Sennar

Sennar in eastern Sudan witnessed a bread price demonstration, where the police and security forces used excessive force against the demonstrators, causing injuries and arrests amid the demonstrators.

Witnesses told Radio Dabanga from Sennar that the demonstrating students and masses marched until the grand market, denouncing the poor economic and living conditions.

White Nile state: 'Mothers join student protest'

Yesterday, student protests in Kosti in White Nile state were joined by a large number of women, reportedly including mothers of students, and aimed against the food shortage, surge of prices and lack of bread and medicine for citizens.

Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that a protest march by students led to the disruption in the town's market and transport, especially at the bridge leading from Kosti to Rabak.

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