Sudan protesters defiant despite police crackdown

Wed Feb 2, 2011 5:45am GMT
 

By Khaled Abdelaziz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese students defied arrests and beatings on Tuesday, pressing ahead with anti-government protests inspired by demonstrations in neighbouring Egypt.

Opposition activists blame the government for rising food prices and have been protesting since Sunday around the country. They plan more demonstrations on February 3.

On Tuesday, some 200 students demonstrated outside al-Nilein university in Khartoum before hundreds of police beat them back and surrounded the university buildings with 20 vehicles.

Protests in Sudan have so far been small. Police have used force to quickly disperse any gatherings, illegal without prior permission. Rallies are rarely permitted in Sudan.

Late on Monday students in Gezira, Sudan's farming heartland, and young people in the busy Khartoum suburb of al-Kalakla gathered chanting slogans against rising prices and repression.

One student has died from injuries after being beaten up by security forces, activists said on Monday. Authorities said they had no reports of a death.

The government has blamed the opposition for trying to create chaos in the country. The broad opposition alliance on Tuesday said their student leaders were arrested after a meeting in the capital and demanded the release of all prisoners.

Earlier this month Khartoum arrested opposition Islamist Hassan al-Turabi and a dozen members of his party but have not charged them. The government has also clamped down on the press.

"These ongoing rights violations are a pattern to silence dissident voices and limit access to information," the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies said in a statement.

"The responses undertaken by police forces...exemplify the extent to which the (ruling party) are unwilling to tolerate any other voices on the road to democratic transformation."

It said police had detained more than 100 people on the first day and arrests were continuing with people also being taken from their homes and offices. Activists are struggling to keep track of how many of their members have been detained.

Khartoum is in a vulnerable state after the oil-producing south voted overwhelmingly to secede in a referendum this month. It is also in deep economic crisis with a bloated import bill and foreign currency shortages.

An effective devaluation of the Sudanese pound has triggered inflation, and the government's decision to subsidies on petroleum products and key commodity sugar provoking smaller protests in the north last month.

<p>Heavily armed police patrol Khartoum's main streets January 30, 2011. Police beat and arrested students in central Khartoum, witnesses said on Sunday, as demonstrations broke out throughout the city demanding the government resign. REUTERS/Stringer</p>
 
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