Sudan Police intensifies crackdown as anti-regime protests enter 3rd week

Salma Wardani, Saturday 30 Jun 2012

More ordinary people have joined students in a rebellion against deteriorating economic conditions in Sudan as some start to call for the fall of al-Bashir's regime

Sudan protests on 22 June (Photo: AP)

Police used tear gas, live ammunition and batons on Friday to disperse thousands of people demonstrating on the streets of the twin cities of Khartoum and Omdurman demanding the regime fall, witnesses said.

Police forces showed a heavy presence around Khartoum since the early morning in anticipation of today’s planned mass protests, Youssif el-Mahdi said via Skype today. 
About 600 Riot police used force against hundreds of protesters who led a march after noon prayers from the two main mosques in Khartoum and Omdurman, Hussein Mohamed said Friday.
Protesters responded by throwing rocks back at officers, according to Mohamed who said he’s using skype for security reasons.
"They attacked us inside mosques, firing tear gas canisters at us," Mohamed said.
The clashes took place as part of Friday demonstrations that have been dubbed by some activists "The Fiday of Elbow-licking" to mock the NCP’s vice chairman, Nafie Ali Nafie, who famously used the sudanese idiom "only if you can lick your elbows" (an Arabic equivalent to the popular American saying when pigs fly) to dismiss the possibility of an Arab Spring style uprising against the regime.
Police also used violence in an attempt to disperse around 700 protestors who were chanting “People Want the regime down” and “Rise up Rise up,Khartoum against dictatorship"  in Haj Yousef district in the capital,  Ahmed Taher who participated in the protest said via skype. 
Hundreds of protestors, men and women of different age groups,have also erupted in demonstrations in Bahari district, Seteen street, and many other neighborhoods in Khartoum, according to witnesses.
Key towns outside the capital have also witnessed many protests, including Al-Obeid, capital of North Kordofan state, and Kassala state in the eastern Sudan, with demonstrators burning tires, blocking roads,and chanting slogans calling for the downfall of the regime.
“This is a moment that has never happened before,” Zainab Ali said via text on Friday.
“When Sudanese people rise up, they never go back, the wall of fear has been broken, we’ve nothing to lose and we shall continue this battle until this regime is gone.”
Protests, which were sparked initially by austerity measures aimed at reducing a $2.4bn (£1.3bn) budget deficit, have spread have now spread across the capital, Khartoum and into other areas of the country, expanding beyond the core of students activism and demanding the end of President Umar al-Bashir’s 23 years in power.
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Sunday played down the demonstrations as the work of a ‘few agitators’, as the government insisted that they will press ahead with spending cuts aimed at dealing with an economic crisis.
"Dozens of individuals, including human rights defenders, journalists, students and political opponents, have been arrested since the protests began in Khartoum on 17 June," the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Thursday.
On Friday, armed security agents on Friday raided the AFP bureau in Khartoum and arrested a part-time correspondent who had shot pictures of a previous anti-regime protest, AFR reported. The two agents from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), one of themwielding a pistol, seized Talal Saad, a local journalist who had just recently started work for the agency.
Protestors have formulated 15 demands including the resignation of the National Congress Party (NCP) government, to be replaced by a transitional government that represents all geographical regions of Sudan, its civil society agencies, youth and women, conducting national elections within a time-frame that is no longer than two years, according to Girifna opposition group website.
Demands also include eliminating all public order laws and laws restricting freedoms, demolishing abolishing all increases imposed by the government on the prices of basic consumption goods such as fuel, sugar and food, releasing all political prisoners and ensure freedom of political participation and freedom of the press, and ending the use of religion to terrorize political opponents as well as stop all atonement campaigns and accusations of treason.
Measures announced by al-Bashir on Monday included, along with removal of fuel subsidies and raising taxes, reducing the size of the North African nation's national and regional governments by as much as 56 per cent. It also plans measures to cut domestic spending and reduce the need for hard currency, al-Bashir said.
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