Demonstrators in downtown Khartoum’s Abu Janzeer square were beaten with sticks and truncheons as they protested today for the end of President Omar al-Bashir’s 21-year rule. Reportedly five hundred riot police arrested over 50 protesters today, and beat up others. As WL Central reported, Sudan began protesting for regime change on January 30 and were met with a violent crackdown which resulted in one student dead on the first day. According to Human Rights Watch the students and youth, some as young as 18, were subjected to harsh beatings, electric shocks, and other abuses that amount to torture. Security officials are also implicated in the rape of a female youth activist in February.
Yesterday, police arrested and beat over 40 women after they attempted to stage a protest in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman demanding the authorities cease “violence against women,” and protesting the rape and beating of Saffiya Ishaq, who was attacked after the January 30 protests. Ishaq told her story in a video posted to Youtube on February 23, please watch.
Last September, over forty women were arrested when they held a peaceful demonstration in Khartoum against flogging of women, after a Youtube video appeared showing Sudanese police lashing a women as she screamed for mercy (below, graphic). Despite the outrage at the video, SkyNews reports thousands of these floggings are ordered every year in Sudan.
Today, alliance spokesman Faruq Abu Issa told AFP “An intifada will not come overnight. It needs build-up and mobilisation. The democratic instruments, the trade unions, the parties, all these things, they were wrecked by the government. So now we are building democratic instruments for a democratic transformation. It may take time. Our people have had similar experiences. They were harshly repressed by two military regimes and in spite of that, they brought them down through intifada. Now we are preparing for the intifada.” Abu Issa had told a political rally on Monday that the coalition of opposition parties had rejected an offer of talks with the government, saying regime change was “the only way forward.”
Human Rights Watch reported that authorities arrested more than 100 people on January 29, 30, and 31 in Khartoum and Omdurman alone. Today, political opposition sources told the AFP that the secretary general of Sudan’s Communist Party, Mohammed Ibrahim Nugud, had been arrested at the site, and that three prominent figures in the communist and Baath parties were also arrested in their homes.
Al-Bashir’s party has said he will not call another election until 2015. The International Criminal Court has issued two arrest warrants for president al-Bashir, one in 2008 for crimes against humanity, and another on July 12, 2010 for genocide.
Today al-Bashir was in Egypt, where both Mohamed al Baradei, head of the National Association for Change, and Tagammu Party President Refaat al Saeed refused to meet with him. He requested to meet with the Egyptian political leaders to discuss the latest developments in the wake of former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. He congratulated the Egyptian people on the success of their revolution, and stressed his ambitions for stronger bilateral relations. Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohamed Badie, Guidance Bureau members Mohamed Morsi and Essam al-Erian, and Democratic Front Party President Osama al-Ghazali Harb all met with him.
Meanwhile, violence leading up to the July secession of the south is escalating. The Southern Sudanese Army reported at least 56 dead in clashes with militias in the Upper Nile State so far this month. In a briefing on March 7, Sudanese People’s Liberation Army spokesman Philip Aguer reported battles between the Army and militia on March 6. He said 47 militia fighters from the Shiluk tribe and nine soldiers were killed. President Omar Bashir has pledged not to block the secession, but officials in the south asserted that his regime was directing an escalation, particularly in the oil-rich Abyei region. “I think things are going to continue escalating,” Aguer said.