Monthly Archives: July 2012
By: Sondra Hale
Dear members of Darb Alintifada, thank you for inviting me to participate in this forum. It is a privilege for me to be writing side-by-side with some of Sudan’s most outstanding women leaders and thinkers. This is such a propitious time for people to pool their ideas, and for women, in particular, to mobilize.
This mobilization can take many forms. Right now, it seems important to comment on the ideological and political structuring of “The New Sudan” so that women do not lose out in playing a leading role in constructing the ideas that will “govern” the New Sudan. Hopefully, women will be doing more than merely commenting on the National Democratic Alliance, the “Asmara Declaration,” the participation (or lack of it) in various political parties, the infamous Article 5, and the like.
The last couple of contributions to this forum, especially Nahid Toubia’s, gave me hope that this symposium is not going to succumb to the “cult of personality.” I agree with Dr. Toubia that the problems are deeper and more long-standing than whether or not a particular person is given a seat in the NDA, or even deeper than whether or not women are given 50% representation in the NDA! It is clear that it is time that Sudanese women should figure out how to organize as women beyond the NDA (not separate from, but in addition to). It would have been a shame to waste this opportunity by discussing the leadership trials and tribulations of only one woman, great though she may be. Sudanese women have a lot more to demand than being “given” one representative, no matter who she is!
We are, as usual, indebted to Ustaza Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim for “shaking up” the establishment and making the struggle visible through her efforts. But let’s not stop there, nor get bogged down in heralding or criticizing one person. It is truly time to be more inclusive of other Sudanese women, especially women from the historically under-represented areas of the south, west, and east. Women everywhere should sweep up our old leaders, praise them for their courage and past deeds, keep them in our hearts, heed their advice, and move ahead! We are the avalanche!
Learning from the Past:
What will the “New Sudan” learn from the lessons of the past with regard to women and revolutionary transformative struggles ? It seems clear that there has been an international learning process in effect in the last decades of the 20th Century. By the late 1960s, we began to see the greater effectiveness of women in revolutionary movements, the emergence of powerful women’s organizations, and the challenging of the Old Order of revolutions: i.e., the idea of the vanguard party; the designation of urban workers as the only real vanguard of the revolution; the idea that women entering the work force in greater numbers and as equal workers is automatically an emancipating factor; the proposition that education is a sufficient condition to end women’s oppression; and the like. Once these ideas were challenged and modified, one after another, women’s revolutionary potential was elevated: in Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Palestine (the short-lived intifada), Eritrea, and South Africa–just to name a few. These are all movements which were often characterized not only by effective state (or party/front) feminisms and well-organized national women’s organizations (that had greater or lesser degrees of independence from the mass organization), but also by grassroots and local feminisms.
We have come to think of the later movements of the “Third World,” e.g., Eritrea, as envisioning and developing a new society (one that is characterized by gender, race, ethnic, and class egalitarianism), while carrying out the armed/military struggle. We have also come to associate the later movements with a de-emphasis on the armed struggle in terms of its overall importance in the total revolution. Revolutionaries in both Guinea-Bissau and Eritrea settled into the underground bunkers and caves and figured out what a new society would look like and began an educational crusade to build that society. Cadres in both of these movements realized that transforming gender relations was an integral part of transforming the entire society.
This may be a time when it is wiser for Sudanese women to engage in a period of political education among themselves. Unfortunately, it is very difficult not to be distracted by the sometimes petty, sectarian struggles that men are engaging in and not to allow our energies to be sapped by having to fight for something so simple as equal representation in the interim organizations of the government-in-exile.
The “New Sudan”:
For certain there has been a “rough start.” The minuscule representation of women in the National Democratic Alliance, the invisibility of women leaders in the SPLM/A, and the predictable absence of women decision-makers in the various sectarian parties, in the Sudanese Communist Party, and even in the newer democratic fronts and alliances does not bode well for Sudanese women. As for class and race/ethnicity, with the exception of the southern ethnic composition SPLM/A, domination of the NDA by northerners and elites does not bode well. For that matter, even the SPLM/A is primarily led by elites. Others in this forum may be addressing some of these aspects of the NDA. My purpose is to present some general ideas about building gender egalitarianism into the movement from the start, or before it is too late. This is an undeniable chance for Sudanese women–from the north and the south–a chance to break the mould.
In this discussion I am suggesting that we might want to look at the NDA, the SPLM/A, the SCP, SAF, and the like, in terms of the attitudes toward the importance of the armed struggle, including the valorization of military leaders or war heroes in peace time, which usually disadvantages women in terms of political careers.
In the Sudan case, which is further complicated by a major regional conflict, I would also suggest that we look at the relationship of northern and southern women (these expressions are over-simplified, of course). It might be instructive for all Sudanese women, for example, if we look to the ways in which southern women have organized around the conflict, both inside and outside Sudan. Our analysis might tell us that women in these two areas (i.e., north and south) have more to learn from each other than they can learn from the men in their respective organizations and movements. I am making some assumptions here:
(1) that women always play a major role in holding up any social movement, whether actually involved in the physical struggle or not and that, therefore, the same idea would hold for southern Sudanese;
(2) that northern women may not have not been as effective in organizing so far, but may have more resources to work with right now;
(3) that women from the two regions may be able to pool their knowledge and resources for an egalitarian movement on behalf of women;
(4) that women are key to the ultimate success of any movement;
(5) and that women have always lost out when they have waited for men to lead them.
I am also assuming that northern women, except those who have been engaged in grassroots organizing, have more experience with state and party /organization feminism , but that southern women have been engaged more in extra-state activities on behalf of women. Both of these sets of knowledges are situationally useful.
There is another very important set of propositions that I’d like to forward here: (1) that a progressive party or an independent national women’s organization or local grassroots units need to build onto extant socio-economic, consciousness-raising, self-help, experiential, occupational, and neighborhood networks–i.e.,the networks of everyday life; and (2) that an autonomous women’s organization(s) might have to opt for dealing more critically with aspects of religion, i.e., not leaving religious issues for our “private lives” when we know that Islam, Christianity, and other religions permeate and invade more than our private lives. “Spiritual” issues may be private; “religious” issues rarely are.
As a scholar and an activist, I have been working for some time on potential strategies for women’s revolutionary participation, with special reference to the transformation of culture. I was raising the controversial point that neither Sudanese progressive parties, nor their “affiliates,” have looked to any aspects of women’s culture for ideas about organizing and that that is a major flaw in leaders’ visions for the future. I was critiquing the closed minds of Sudanese leadership and the consistent reliance on orthodox methods of organizing, e.g., through party hierarchies, reliance on the vanguard, building cooperatives, reliance on literacy, etc. There is, of course, a different set of problems within the NIF.
In general, women are thought of as not “political,” even by women leaders. This is an arrogance of political leaders the world over, that somehow it is up to the intelligentsia to lead the “unwashed” into the light. Little room is left for considering organic intellectuals (Gramsci) and for considering what women know who have had to use very sophisticated survival skills just to keep their families alive. Some of this is a result of a very narrow definition of “politics”–one that generally only includes a public presence, an election, a military coup, and the like. I suggest that women know how to organize, that we have had to do it to survive in our communities, in our villages, in our neighborhoods, and in our families. But male leaders and most women politicians and ######### of national women’s organizations seem practically embarrassed by women’s culture and by some of the actions that women take to defend or support their families and, therefore, overlook some of the creative ideas that groups of organized women might have to offer.
In terms of revolutionary strategies we should be concerned with questions about the autonomy of women’s organizations versus mixed-gender “mass” organizations. Certainly this is a salient question within the Sudanese political arena. How autonomous have the “affiliated” women’s organizations truly been? How independent are they now? Is there a single independent women’s organization functioning in either northern or southern Sudan or associated with the NDA? At what point in a democratic struggle is it useful to work toward the independence of a mass women’s organization? Certainly Sudanese women would not want a situation akin to what we now see in Eritrea. The National Union of Eritrean Women, technically independent from the EPLF, is still dependent on the party, kept low on resources, and made overburdened because every issue that relates to women is given to them to handle, without any consideration of what issues arealso national issues.
CULTURE AND TRANSFORMATION
Women have enormous, untapped potential for revolution, but itgoes unrecognized by male as well as many female leaders, especially those who have led conventional, established parties.
We can glean ideas for this revolutionary potential from the ways that women organize themselves within indigenous structures and institutions–for example, women’s popular culture, networks, and struggles as workers in the home and in the neighborhood workplace, i.e., struggles around where we live, work, and interact with one another. Organizing ideas that emanate from collective actions to gain rights and to survive in these arenas may have profound revolutionary consequences in the sense of politicizing the networks of everyday life, the practical gender interests (Molyneux).
There are other spheres of women’s activity that have been ignored and which, because of their nature, may give others ideas about organization and mobilization. We need to think about organizing women in the informal sector and women merchants. Some years ago Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim told me that the SudaneseWomen’s Union, from the time of the Abboud military regime until now, has opted to struggle in the national political arena and work on political rights for women over economic rights for women. This is a highly conventional view of the women worker and an underestimation of the potential economic impact women have on the economy. Do Sudanese women’s leaders see the situation any differently now? Do the new and old women leaders still justify stressing political over economic rights for women?
I have also been suggesting trying to politicize the networks of everyday life, not just taking them for granted. Coopt the neighborhood collectives and other localized activities. Why build new collectives when old ones exist already? Why must they fit the mould of old party ideas or be dropped altogether? Included in these networks of everyday life are many institutions that fall under the rubric of “women’s culture.” Many of these are prefigurative political forms, and are, therefore, overlooked or are even thought of as “backward” by established political organizations.
While rejecting most of women’s “traditions,” most progressive parties have opted to coexist with others. For example, established parties, including leftist ones, have done very little tampering with sharia or with many of the religious traditions that some see as negatively affecting women. This is true, also, of the women’s organizations associated with these parties. Leaders, men and women, have opted to work within a particular kind of religious framework, one that divides the genders in many spheres of life. These organizations have been concerned that tactics that might give some cultural relief to women would impede the revolution. What kind of a message does that give Sudanese women? Women are seen as the progenitors of culture, the social reproducers, but they are also seen as the ones who must abide by culture.
There is also a tendency on the part of progressive parties to relegate all sex/gender conflicts to the realm of cultural and to consider the cultural as private. Culture, seen as super structural, separate from the material base, is not to be tampered with; it is seen as private, personal, and individual. Women are abandoned to deal with it, whether this is a religious practice that negatively affects women or a patriarchal “custom.”
This is a significant evasive strategy because, as we know very well, “Much of the oppression of women takes place `in private’, in areas of life considered `personal’. The causes of that oppression might be social and economic, but these causes could only be revealed and confronted when women challenged the assumptions of their personal life..” Because most progressive parties in Sudan have seen politics as something separate from everyday life (as did the Russians, Cubans, and other revolutionaries), and culture as separate from material conditions and political life, the practice of men and women members of these parties widens the polarity between the private and public domains, between production and reproduction, between the personal and political.
Sudanese women are not viewed in the literature of progressive parties as necessary for the success of the revolution, except in terms of adding their numbers to the struggle. There is no acknowledgment of the potential for women as revolutionaries as a resof the multiple oppressions they experience, i.e., that the entire structure might be altered if women were mobilized. Other progressive leaders in history have recognized this, e.g., Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Amilcar Cabral, and the Sandinistas. But how to realize that potential is the question. What can male and female leadership do to unleash that potential, rather than to try to hold it in check (which is the orthodox goal of most states and parties)?
In this statement I have suggested we look to the lessons of the past, specifically what we have learned from other revolutions. We might want to examine the contradictions within the structure of Sudanese organizations that claim they are envisioning a “NewSudan,” including the NDA, the SPLA/M, the SCP, and SAF.
How have socialists dealt with “traditional culture?” We have examples of at least two entirely different socialist revolutionary strategies for dealing with indigenous culture:
(1) The Soviets had aimed at undermining indigenous structures; and (2) the SCP at co-existing with them. In contrast to both of these, feminist socialist principles suggest building onto extant indigenous forms or gaining information that would help develop a movement emanating from them.
It would appear that this is a time for creative solutions, for cooperative problem-solving, for keeping the options open, notturning away any idea. A “New Sudan” will not come about without a profound change in gender relations and hierarchy, without releasing the potential of all humans, including women, or perhaps foregrounding women.
Women’s grassroots movements which (1) emanated from, but radically transformed indigenous structures, e.g.,women’s popular culture and networks and their struggles as workers in the home and neighborhood; (2) which emanated from both strategic and practical gender interests; and (3) which consisted of broad, mutually respectful, coalitions between southern and northern women might enable Sudanese women “to make their own revolution in their own name.” Once women build unto these prefigurative forms, and once they move to change their situation, they automatically move against the entire structure of exploitation.
Such movements can only enhance the overthrow of the current Sudanese regime and the maintenance of that revolution after the armed struggle is over. Women may not be able to make this happen under the umbrella of patriarchal organizations; they may not be able to make this happen without forming strong coalitions with each other throughout the country; they may not be able to make this happen under old leadership
For many directly affected by the world’s longest-running civil war, the Sudanese conflict has been over-simplified in the Western press as inter-religious or inter-ethnic strife.
“The media tried to make us look like Jafar in Aladdin,” says Khalid Albaih, a Sudanese political cartoonist. “Everyone looks alike [in Sudan], the Arabs and the Africans,” he adds.
John Prendergast, human rights activist and co-founder of the Enough project, told Al Jazeera: “One should not overplay this idea of north versus south or Christian versus Muslim.” While Moez Ali, a Sudanese blogger and political commentator, said the conflict was an issue of disenfranchisement of a people “who were never given an agenda in the government” throughout the nation’s 55-year history.
Since independence in 1956, “a small group of people in power in Khartoum used race and religion to divide and conquer,” says Prendergast. This conflict was further exacerbated in 2004 when the Khartoum government, headed by Omar al-Bashir, made a bid to control the oil and water resources of the south, he adds.
These divisions created by leaders “who have failed to understand the multi-ethnicity and multi-culturalism of the nation since independence,” resulted in the division of what was Africa’s largest country, says Khartoum-based web developer Usamah Ali.
The ongoing state-sponsored exclusionist cultural and social division has led to what Usamah Ali, based in Sudan for the past ten years, refers to as “the Sudanese identity crisis”. “There has been this constant questioning of ‘are we Arab?’ ‘Are we African?’ ‘Or are we a hybrid of both?'” he says.
This division of the north and south is “the legacy of British imperialism – they did it in the Indian subcontinent; they did it with Iran and Iraq”, says Albaih, whose father served as ambassador to Romania – until current President Omar al-Bashir came to power in a bloodless coup in 1989.
Sudanese-born writer and commentator for The Guardian, Nesrine Malik, says this legacy extended to British “laziness and disinterest” in southern engagement during independence talks. However, several people in interviews with Al Jazeera stated that what brief window existed for integrating the two peoples was quickly squandered by successive governments in Khartoum.
“I could easily blame British imperialism, but the truth is the northern government never did enough to integrate the two people,” says blogger Moez Ali. Prendergast agrees: “Khartoum did nothing for the south. They didn’t use their massive oil revenues to build infrastructure.”
The resulting situation has become one in which the south has remained “an entity that never really latched onto the northern mother ship”, says Malik. Furthering the divide between the north and the south was President Omar al-Bashir’s imposition of hardline Islamist stances in the early 1990s. For the largely Christian and animist southerners, Malik says al-Bashir’s push for an Arab Islamist identity in Sudan “was a bridge too far”.
Pendergast, who has been in and out of the North African country since the 1980s, says this Arab-Islamist identity used by Khartoum as “the only acceptable identity for Sudan” was unacceptable for “large swathes of people, not just in the south”.
The ongoing battles in Kordofan and Darfur were, in part, a result of Muslims rejecting Arab dominance, says Usamah Ali. In rejecting Arab dominance over their Islamic faith, Usamah Ali says many people in the north were making a statement that “we can be Muslim and African”. Add to all this a lack of northern political interest in the south wherein “the Khartoum government never sought southern trust by giving them equitable resources”. Prendergast concludes that the result is a population “that had a historical case and tremendous grievances” against the northern government. “aWhy would southerners stay?” asks Prendergast. In February, the final outcome of these exclusionist policies was delivered in a vote by 98.83 per cent of southerners for independence.
The economy is key
For a northern population that has been largely defined in opposition to the south, July 9 will not have marked the end of their identity crisis. Instead, it will have forced them to construct a new northern identity while also trying to address major political and economic issues, say analysts.
“This is the north’s day of reckoning,” says Malik. “How to make the north a viable state for the first time.” For Albaih, the day of southern independence meant an end to northern excuses. Albaih referred to a speech made by al-Bashir in 2004, in which the president stated outright: “There would be no more military spending” following the comprehensive peace agreement. Now, Albaih says, “they should be putting that money into education and infrastructure.” At an estimated cost of $2 million per day of war, Malik says, “the economy is the key for the north”.
The role of the United States, which has been largely supportive of the world’s newest state, is seen as essential to any future chance of Khartoum’s success. Khartoum’s desire to get out from under US sanctions, first imposed in 1997 by then US President Bill Clinton, led “many people to think this [separation] was a done deal from the get-go,” says Albaih. This assertion is furthered by Moez Ali: “We know the CPA was signed because of international pressure.”
Speaking of the long-standing sanctions, Moez Ali says “the sanctions hurt the people more than the government,” but that the US “has very weird policies toward the al-Bashir government”. As evidence, Ali points to the PepsiCo and Coca-Cola bottling factories in Sudan. The presence of the soft drink giants, able to legally operate in the Sudan under a provision for food and medicine in the 14-year-old sanctions, is one example of what Ali calls “conditional sanctions.”
If the US government is hesitant to do business with a northern government it has accused of both “supporting terrorists” – including Osama Bin Laden – and inciting genocide, Malik says US officials should keep in mind that “southern stability is linked to northern stability”. This connection between the two nations may be an important point to stress when trying to get the US to take the Republic of Sudan seriously once more. “The south has the blind allegiance of the West and Western media,” says Albaih. Ali further supports this assertion by saying that whether the two countries stay connected after the split “will have to do with financial and economic benefits”. The mutual benefit for both nations, Malik says, is why the United States must cooperate in officially lifting sanctions.
If the economic symbiosis of investment in both the north and south does not offer the motivation for the United States to re-engage economically with the al-Bashir government, Ali points out: “Khartoum can still turn to India and China.”
Referring to the split, Albaih says: “Many people I know, my family, my friends, are sad that this happened.” While Malik tells me that “people in the north are deceiving themselves thinking it could have worked out differently” and they “need to now focus on the numerous problems facing their own people”. Echoing Malik’s point, Prendergast says unequivocally that “Khartoum firmly lost the south”.
In order to fully move on from four decades of constant conflict, Malik says the north needs “a cultural revolution” through “an embrace of northern diversity”. For Malik and others in Sudan, northern identity was often seen as an opposition to the south. In the 1960s and 1970s, at a time when the pan-Arab ideals of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser were sweeping the region, Malik says her parents’ generation embraced the diversity of the north. Even that brief flirtation with unity, Malik says “was also based on the idea that the south was something to be exploited and feared because they were so different”.
The people of the north are now realising that they are many tribes with many identities “not a singular whole like they once said”, says Usamah Ali. Malik, who says, despite international focus on the south, “there are real ethnic fissures in the north”. But calls for an embrace of a collective northern identity can easily be misconstrued given the current global climate towards the north, she says. Simply put, “people are afraid of being seen as racist” and that adopting a uniquely northern identity will be seen as them saying “good riddance” to the south, says Malik. What can be construed as racist, however, is a situation in which there will be a sense of “gloating in the north at the southern failure”, says Usamah Ali.
A positive northern identity can also help to turn the media tide to depict the actual people of the north – people that Albaih says find themselves caught in the middle of an intensely political situation. Albaih says the al-Bashir government “is stuck in the 1980s or the 1990s. They don’t know how to use the media”. In embracing the diversity of a uniquely northern identity however, Albaih says the people of the north can fight “the Islamist face that al-Bashir has put on Sudan”; the very same face of cartoonish villainy that Albaih says has been so widely broadcast in the West.
For Malik, who says she still struggles between reconciling her African geographic origin and her Arab cultural heritage, the north must accept that having multiple identities can be one’s identity. In response to Usamah Ali’s question of whether the Sudanese consider themselves Arabs or Africans, however, Malik offers this answer: “I don’t need to have one homogenous identity.”
an Interview with Girifna co-founder Nagi Musa
On June 24, 2012, David Widgington spoke with Sudanese activist and co-founder of Girifna, Nagi Musa, from his temporary location in Cairo about the student demonstrations and violent repression that are currently taking place in Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan.
Nagi spoke about the founding of Girifna during Sudan’s election campaign in 2009, its evolution during South Sudan’s referendum and separation period and Sudan’s current upheaval that started when students began protesting against the fee increases for student housing that has expanded into a larger upheaval related to austerity measures and the soaring inflation rates, among other issues. Nagi implores people to always work toward the improvement of society with regards to social justice, human rights issues, etc.
In relation to student movements worldwide and their important role in initiating active social change, Nagi says, “In Sudan and worldwide, students are always in front. They are more active. They are more courageous to stand up for their rights. They are more connected and organized.”
Democracy activists are calling it a harbinger of another Egypt-style revolution – but the reality is much more complicated.
Sudanese protests began in January 2011 as part of the Arab Spring regional protest movement. Unlike other Arab countries, popular uprisings in Sudan succeeded in toppling the government prior to the Arab Spring, in both 1964 and 1985. Anti-government demonstrations were less common throughout the summer of 2011, during which South Sudan seceded from Sudan, but resumed in force late in the year, and in June 2012 shortly after the government passes its austerity plan.
Sudan has lost billions of dollars in oil receipts since South Sudan gained independence on July 2011, taking with it about 75 per cent of the Sudanese crude production. The north has been left struggling for revenue, plagued by inflation, and with a severe shortage of dollars to pay for imports. The landlocked South depended on the north’s pipeline and port to export its crude, but Khartoum and Juba could not agree on how much South Sudan should pay to use the infrastructure. Sudan’s already depleted oil revenues shrank by a further 20 per cent after its main Heglig oil field was damaged and shut down in fighting with invading South Sudanese troops in April 2012.
In an attempt to address the economic meltdown, the Sudanese government has announced a new austerity plan on 18 June 2012, which includes raising taxes on consumer goods, cutting the number of civil servants on its payroll, raising the price of a gallon of petrol by 5 Sudanese pounds, pushing it up to 13.5 pounds from 8.5 pounds, and lifted the fuel subsidies. The austerity plan has becoming unpopular among the Sudanese as they believe it will affect the price of nearly everything in the economy, from transport to domestically produced food and other goods.
On January 30, 2011, protests took place in Khartoum and Al-Ubayyid. In Khartoum, police clashed with demonstrators in the town centre and at least two universities. Demonstrators had organized on online social networking sites since the Tunisian protests the month before. Hussein Khogali, editor in chief of the Al-Watan newspaper stated that his daughter had been arrested for organizing the protest via Facebook and opposition leader Mubarak al-Fadil‘s two sons were arrested while on their way to the main protest. Pro-government newspapers had warned that protests would cause chaos. Some protesters called for President Omar al-Bashir to step down. Activists said that dozens of people had been arrested. The protests came on the same day the preliminary results for the referendum indicated some 99% of South Sudanese voted to secede. One student died in hospital the same night from injuries received in the clashes. Students threw rocks at police officers while chanting “No to high prices, no to corruption” and “Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan together as one.” Police officers arrested five and put down the protest.
On 1 February 2011, about 200 students demonstrated in front of Al-Neelain University in Khartoum. Police stopped the demonstration.
Further protests, scheduled for March 21 were violently suppressed as they were beginning.
Student protests in December 2011
Students protested at the Red Sea University in Port Sudan after the arrest of several Darfuri student leaders on the night of 21 December, with many Darfuri student activists calling for a revolution and declaring their open support for the Sudan Revolutionary Front fighting the government in the south
On 26 December, 42 Darfuri students left the Red Sea University in protest over their treatment, Radio Dabanga reported.
Students also clashed with riot police wielding batons after security forces stormed the University of Khartoum on 22 December to break up a rally by about 700 student demonstrators protesting the displacement of the Manasir community caused by the construction of the Merowe Dam. Twenty were injured and at least four were arrested, activists told media. On 24 December, approximately 16,000 students attempted to launch a sit-in at the university to protest the police, the university administration, and the federal government, but they were dispersed by riot police who deployed tear gas, dealt out beatings, and arrested at least 73. Leaders of the student movement warned that they would continue to organize and demand the overthrow of the government despite security officers’ violent tactics.
On 30 December, thousands of students successfully launched a sit-in protest, the Associated Press reported.
At Sudan University of Science and Technology in Khartoum, fighting between student supporters of Khalil Ibrahim and the ruling National Congress Party broke out on 28 December, days after the Sudanese government announced Ibrahim’s death in a battle between his Darfuri rebel group JEM and the Sudan People’s Armed Forces. Twelve were injured in the brawl, which police used tear gas to disperse.
The student protests, in particular those at the University of Khartoum, have been blamed by police on the influence of unnamed Sudanese opposition parties.
Anti-austerity and other protests, 2012
17 June: Protests erupted in Khartoum, whereby students from the Khartoum University took to the streets, denouncing the austerity measures one day ahead of plans announced by the Sudanese government.
18 June: As the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has formally announced a series of deep budget cuts while addressing the National Assembly in Khartoum on Monday, about 250 students held anti-austerity protest in the Khartoum University. Riot police used tear gas and batons against the protesters who in turn threw stones at police. The clashes took place in front of the main campus of the University of Khartoum and in the suburb Omdurman against more than 300 student protesters.
19 June: Around 200 students staged a protest at noon outside the main university campus in the centre of the capital, shouting slogans against high prices and the government. Riot police reportedly fired tear gas and used batons when the crowd tried to spread out on the main street outside the campus. Some students threw stones at the police.
20 June: Hundreds of students held anti-austerity protest for another day. The protesters escalated their demands and started to chant slogans like “No, no to high prices” and “The people want to overthrow the regime“. Clashes continued between the police armed with batons and tear gas and the protesters.
21 June: Students and protesters continued their anti-government protest in the capital on Thursday. Women and girls blocked traffic in the northern suburb of Bahri. Clashes took place between the police and protesters in different areas of the country. Sudan’s police spokesman Al-Ser Ahmed denied the use of excessive force by the police.] He added “You cannot describe what happened as a protest”.
22 June – Sandstorm Friday: Shortly after the Friday prayers, hundreds of Sudanese assembled to protest. Unlike the previous protest held during the past few days, this protest was not mainly a student led one due to the protest spreading into many neighborhoods that had been quiet. Protests took place in Omdurman, Khartoum, Burri, Al-Daim, El Obeid, Sennar, and Bahri saw demonstrations after noon prayers. The police escalated the use of force during their clashes with the protesters and the smell of tear gas and broken rocks covered streets. Men in civilian clothes also attacked the demonstrators.
23 June: The state media has reportedly says that the Sudan’s police forces has ordered its officers to put an end to the demonstrations “immediately”, shortly after the protests spread throughout the capital a day earlier expanding beyond the core of student activists initially involved. Protests followed the same pattern in the Sajjana neighborhood, where clusters of demonstrators moved through side streets, blocked roads, burned tires and chanted “Freedom! Freedom”, and “The people want to overthrow the regime”. Opposition leaders and youth activists have called for more demonstrations to press for greater democracy and measures to control price rises.
24 June: Hundreds of protesting students faced police armed with tear gas grenades as they called for the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir. Several injuries and arrests were reported to have occurred in Khartoum, as protests were reported in other cities and towns of the country.
29 June – Licking Your Elbow: In reference to the metaphor for the impossible protests were organised along with calls for a general strike the next day, in commemoration of the day al-Bashir came to power. Around 2,000 protesters gathered in the captial and chanted “the people want the regime to fall”. Hundreds of police and security forces attacked the demonstration with tear gas. Other protests in the area of north Kordofan were reported. Activists said that a man named Amir Bayoumi, from Omdurman, has reportedly died from the effects of inhaling tear gas.
June 30, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Police authorities in Sudan sought on Saturday to play down their response to the anti-regime protests of yesterday, saying they used minimum force to confront “small groups of rioters”, while opposition groups spoke of torture and abduction of protesters.
On 17 January 2011, security forces in Sudan arrested the head of the Popular Congress Party, Hassan al-Turabi, as well as five other members of the party, after he called for a similar protest to oust the ruling government over electoral fraud, stoking inflation and abrogating civil liberties at a time when Sudan was facing a secessionist referendum.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said journalists are facing increasing harassment. On 30 January 2011, journalists were beaten by security forces and at least eight were detained. The following day, the distribution of several opposition newspapers was blocked by authorities.
During the anti-austerity protests in mid-June 2012, the Egyptian journalist Salma El-wardany was detained on 21 June 2012 and later released after five hours in detention. A Sudanese citizen journalist Usamah Mohamad was reportedly arrested on the next day. An AFP reporter was also detained
but each protest, even now, has seldom numbered more than 100 or 200 people, and they have lacked the unity and sheer size of the Egypt and Tunisia protests that toppled their regimes last year. It’s still very unclear whether the current protests can gain enough strength to challenge the battle-hardened government.