After Tunisia and Egypt, the wave of unrest that is rocking the Arab world reached Sudan over the weekend, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Following calls on Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of protesters, most of whom were students, took to the streets in Khartoum, Omdurman and the western city of El-Obeid on Sunday. Brandishing banners and chanting slogans directly targeting Sudanese president Omar El Bashir, the demonstrators were met with heavy-handed police repression in all three cities. One student, Mohammed Abdulrahman, was reportedly beaten to death
"We must continue to mobilise until every Sudanese citizen is out in the street"
Mohamed Abdelrahman, 21, is an engineering student at the University of Khartoum. He participated in one of the protests in Khartoum this Sunday.
The call to protest mainly came from Facebook
, on the initiative of a group of students in Khartoum. Posting messages online is less risky than haranguing people outside mosques.
Students have been at the forefront of anti-government protests in Sudan for years. Opposition leaders are part of the same old political soup as the government, nobody trusts them anymore.
The protests started at 11am on Al Qasr avenue. There weren’t very many of us, probably between 150 and 200 people. I think most people were afraid to go out into the streets because they expected brutal police repression. And sure enough, the police were waiting for us
. They broke up our group by firing tear gas and beat us with their truncheons. They arrested several dozen people.
Like our brothers in other Arab countries, we’re just asking for more freedom of expression. We’re also protesting against the rising cost of living. We especially denounce the government’s decision to raise the cost of wheat by 30% last December. We are demanding the immediate resignation of Omar Al Bachir and his government.
Of course, the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt encouraged us to go out into the street. But there are also causes for discontent that are specific to Sudan: the referendum for South Sudan
gives the impression that the government wants to divide our country.
What happened yesterday was just the start, and we hope that more and more people will mobilize. There is a new call to protest on Tuesday, February 1, and this time there won’t only be students. We must continue to mobilize until every Sudanese citizen is out in the street. "
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Sarra Grira