Protests in Khartoum on Wednesday
Yousif Mubarak and Sara Elhassan wrote for Muftah on Wednesday:
The last four days have borne witness to continuous anti-regime protests in Sudan.
The struggles of the Sudanese people are well documented: oppressed by a totalitarian regime, bereft of basic rights, and plagued with poverty, the Sudanese have protested since the onset of the Arab Spring. Protests, which started on January 30, 2011 and have continued over the last year and a half, have not been sustained due largely to the uncertainty surrounding the separation of South Sudan, as well as poor organization and ruthless government crackdowns.
This latest wave of protests, however, feels different. Motivated by economic shocks, protestors, mostly youth and students, are vowing to continue until the regime is toppled, even in the face of brutal resistance by security forces. A mass protest to do just this has been planned for June 30, 2012, the 23rd anniversary of the National Congress Party’s (NCP) rise to power in the country. Grappling with an annual inflation rate that reached 30.4% in May 2012, the Sudanese can wait no longer for change.
The Most Recent Protests
The latest round of protest began on the evening of June 16, 2012, when female dormitory residents at the University of Khartoum staged an impromptu demonstration in opposition to increased meal and transport prices. A week earlier the Khartoum State Governor had increased transport prices by 35%.
The male students quickly joined forces and together they moved the protest off-campus, marching up to Jamhuriya Street where they were violently met by police forces. After dispersing the protest, the police raided the university dorms, beating and harassing female occupants. News of these events spread across the university the following morning, sparking a university-wide protest in solidarity. This demonstration was similarly quelled, with the police raiding and for a short time invading the main campus and dormitories.
Since then, protests have continued, without end. Today (June 20, 2012), the University of Khartoum enters its fourth day of demonstrations, across its three branches in the Khartoum tri-state area. Over these four days, the revolt has spread to other universities, notably the Southern wing of the University of Sudan, Al-Ahliya University in Omdurman, and Bahri (previously Juba) University in Khartoum North, as well as several universities outside of Khartoum State including in Shendi, Obeid and Gezira. In all these protests, loyalist NCP students have joined with the security forces and assaulted protesters with metal rods, machetes, knives, and even swords.
Locals have now joined the revolt, spurred by the student uprising, fueled by economic hardship, and provoked by the government’s ‘fiscal austerity’ program. The program, which was announced on Monday June 18, 2012 by President Omar al Bashir, includes a 60% and 40% increase in the respective prices of fuel and sugar and yet another tax hike.
Protests have spread to a number of districts including AlKalakla (AlQubba), Kober, Burri, Riyad, Al-Manshiya and in Omdurman, where yesterday, June 19, 2012, huge protests erupted in the main market. Merchants and locals, unwavering in their chants of “till when will we live in debt,” were met by perhaps the most extreme police brutality and pervasive mass arrests to date.
Today, protests markedly intensified encompassing more universities --- AlTighana, Western wing of the University of Sudan, and the Higher Banking Institute – as well as major streets in Khartoum --- AlAarda, AlArbaeen, Mak Nimir, Jamhuriya and Atbara --- and districts --- AlThawra and Soba.