KHARTOUM, July 16 (Reuters) - Around 300 Sudanese lawyers protested on Monday, calling for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s security forces to stop using force against peaceful protests.
The lawyers, most of them associated with opposition parties, gathered in front of Sudan’s top court in the centre of Khartoum shouting “freedom” and “demonstrating is a constitutional right”, witnesses said.
Sudanese activists estimate some 2,000 people have been detained since small-scale protests began four weeks ago against austerity measures including cuts to fuel subsidies, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a report last week.
Bashir, in power since 1989, has dismissed the protests as insignificant, saying Sudan would see no “Arab spring”, just a hot summer.
Police surrounded the lawyers but did not use teargas or batons as they had to break up protests over recent weeks, witnesses said.
A delegation of lawyers submitted a memorandum to Bashir at his presidential palace.
“We call on you to immediately order to stop the use of force against peaceful demonstrators and release all arrested people,” the memorandum said.
Sudan is suffering a severe economic crisis after losing much of its oil production when South Sudan broke away to became independent a year ago.
Inflation was 37.2 percent in June, double the level of June 2011, adding to the hardship of millions of Sudanese after years of crises, ethnic conflicts and U.S. sanctions. (Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)