Sudan Cracks Down as Protests Over Austerity Grow

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Common Dreams

Sudan Cracks Down as Protests Over Austerity Grow

by
Common Dreams staff

Members of opposition group "Girifna" ("We're Fed Up") protest in Khartoum in April. Khartoum has seen an outburst of social unrest in the past week, driven by rampant inflation and simmering discontent, with the regime determined to crush a movement led by Sudanese students that has strong historical resonance. (AFP Photo/Ebrahim Hamid)

Raging against austerity measures and calling for an end to dictatorship, people across Sudan have staged 9 days of protests.

The police crackdown against protesters has been violent and has included the use of teargas and batons. And one reporter told CNN, "I was told a good number of activists have been detained from their homes before they even join the protest as a precautionary measure." Foreshadowing further violence to come, Reuters reports that "the state-linked Sudanese Media Center said in a text message that police had been ordered to 'immediately end the demonstrations and incidents of unrest according to the law.'"

Amnesty International has called for Sudan to end its crackdown on protesters. "The Sudanese government is showing zero tolerance for demonstrations and continues to deny the Sudanese people its right to peaceful assembly," said Paule Rigaud, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

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Al Jazeera video: Sudan sees rise in anti-government protests

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Agence France-Presse: Sudan protests are no 'Arab Spring', Bashir says

Anti-regime demonstrations have widened since [President Omar al-]Bashir on June 18 announced austerity measures including tax hikes and a phasing out of fuel subsidies to prop up the country's ailing finances. [...]

The protests over rising prices started with students outside the University of Khartoum. But they broadened to include a cross-section of the population in numerous locations throughout the capital, and several other parts of the country.

On Sunday, lawyers opposed to food price inflation took to the streets near the courthouse in El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan state, where some were arrested, witnesses said.

Separately, about 100 students from a local university in El Obeid also protested and called for the downfall of the regime, while other demonstrators gathered in the town's main market, the witnesses said.

Police responded with tear gas and batons, they added, in what has become the standard reaction by security forces since demonstrations began on June 16 in Khartoum.

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Harriet Martin writing for Al Jazeera: Rising prices ignite Sudan street protests

This week, in an attempt to address the economic meltdown, the Sudanese government announced dramatic austerity measures. Taxes are going up, government jobs are being cut, and the Sudanese pound is officially being devalued - as economists had long warned would have to happen. And fuel subsidies will gradually be ended.

This last measure has proved the most unpopular because it will affect the price of nearly everything in the economy, from transport to domestically produced food and other goods.

For the last few days, students in Khartoum have taken to the streets to protest against these austerity measures. Police have swiftly, and often violently, cracked down on the protests. Many opposition parties also oppose the austerity measures.

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