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Sudanese Security Forces Use Tear Gas to Disperse Protesters

  • Sudanese demonstrators march during anti-government protests in Khartoum.

    Sudanese demonstrators march during anti-government protests in Khartoum. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 February 2019

A resurgence of protests erupted across Sudan Tuesday after the death of a teacher who was in detention by security agents. 

Hundreds of teachers, lawyers, doctors and pharmacists protested in the streets of Khartoum and other parts of the country Tuesday against President Omar al-Bashir's rule after the death of a teacher who had been detained by security agents.

Sudan: Protests Continue Following Promise to Free Detainees

Sudanese police fired tear gas at protesters protesting the death of 36-year-old teacher, Ahmed Kheir near the education ministry. Some demonstrators chanted "freedom, peace, justice," which is the rallying cry of the protest movement against Bashir's government.

Kheir, a member of the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP), was arrested by security agents last week in connection to protests, a relative told AFP Saturday. He died while in detention.

Scores of lawyers in the demonstration outside the Supreme Court building in Khartoum pushed for the release of activists detained during a recent anti-government protest. Witnesses said more than 200 lawyers tried to deliver a petition to the head of the judiciary demanding the release of activists detained during the protests.

Security forces attacked the lawyers with tear gas, forcing them to disperse. There were no reports of casualties. The incident happened a week after Sudan's information ministry said the country's security chief had ordered the release of detained demonstrators. There were no reports of any mass release of detainees.

Sudan: Bashir Not Stepping Down Despite Month of Protests

The rally was one of several staged by members of various professions, including teachers, doctors, and pharmacists, following a call by the Sudanese Professionals Association to join in the protests that began in December.

In central Khartoum, security forces used tear gas against hundreds of alumni students gathered at the main headquarters of Khartoum University, and at a separate gathering of school teachers who had staged a vigil outside the education ministry in Khartoum's northern section. However, there were no reports of casualties.

Witnesses also said that doctors at several government hospitals organized protest vigils, but there were no reports of any force being used against them.

Demonstrations have shaken the country and have often been comprised of hundreds of people. The unrest was spurred by sharply rising food prices — such as the cost of bread which tripled in December — and cash shortages and have since turned against President Omar al-Bashir who has been in office for nearly 30 years.

Al-Bashir has shown no sign of conceding authority and has blamed the protests on foreign agents, challenging his rivals to seek power through the ballot box. Prime Minister Moataz Moussa struck a conciliatory tone last week, however, when he said that demonstrators' calls for better living conditions were "legitimate."

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges, which he denies, of masterminding genocide in the Darfur region. He has been lobbying to have Sudan removed from a list of countries, along with Syria, Iran and North Korea, that Washington considers state sponsors of terrorism.

That listing has deterred the influx of investment and financial aid Sudan was hoping for when the United States lifted sanctions in 2017, economists say.

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