This video from Sudan is called Police fire teargas at protest in Khartoum suburb.
Sudan Briefly Detains Egyptian Journalist Amid Renewed Protests
3 July 2012
Khartoum — Sudanese security forces on Tuesday continued their arrest spree against activists and briefly detained an Egyptian journalist as anti-regime protests flared up ahead of a new “day of rage” on Friday.
Anti-riot police fired teargas to break up a number of Khartoum University students who took to the streets chanting slogans denouncing price increases and calling for the downfall of the regime.
Similar protests took place in Al-Haj Youssef area in the suburbs of Khartoum North [in a] town known as Bahri, where security agents belonging to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested a female Egyptian journalist before releasing her after she underwent “routine investigation.”
The journalist, Shima Adil, who works for the Egyptian newspaper Al-Watan, was arrested by NISS agents at a cyber café in Al-Haj Youssef at 8 pm local time along with a female Sudanese journalist named Marwa Al-Tijani and a female activist named Yosra Abdulla.
The spokesman of the Sudanese embassy in Cairo, Babiki Hanin, told Al-Watan that Shima has been released after she underwent a routine investigation to verify the authenticity of her journalistic license. “It was just an investigation. Not a detention or jail” he said.
Hanin however said he had no information on the arrest of Yosra Abdulla or the journalist Marwa Al-Tijani.
Shima Adil is the second Egyptian journalist to run into troubles in Sudan after security authorities last month deported female Bloomberg correspondent Salma El Wardani after she was arrested for covering the protests.
Activists say police and security authorities have arrested more than 1000 people in the crackdown on the wave of countrywide protests that has been going on for two weeks against the government of President Omer Al-Bashir following its decision to implement a set of austerity measures including cuts in fuel subsidies to make up for what officials say is a budget deficit of 2.4 billion US dollars they exclusively attribute to the loss of 75 percent of the country’s oil production due to the secession of South Sudan last year.
But government opponents accuse Al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of causing the economic crisis by overspending on a bloated government bureaucracy, security and defense to contain domestic dissent while sustaining war in the country’s peripheral regions of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Protests also renewed on Tuesday in the capital of North Kordofan State, Al-Obied, witnesses told Sudan Tribune. Al-Obied is one of at least 10 regional towns that witnessed protests to which local authorities responded with excessive force.
Last Friday, Al-Obied witnessed protests as part of a day of rage activists called the “elbow-licking Friday” to mock the phrase “lick your elbow” which NCP officials use to say that overthrowing the regime is as impossible as the act of licking one elbow. Security forces arrested many opposition activists during Al-Obied protests.
In a related context, Amnesty International (AI), a London-based rights group, on Tuesday issued an urgent call for action on the arrest of Rashida Shams al-Din, a female activist with the prominent anti-government group Girifna. According to AI, Rashida has been detained incommunicado since she was arrested by the NISS on 24 June.
“She is being detained by the National Security Services (NSS) in an undisclosed location, without access to her family or a lawyer. She is at risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment” AI warned.
AI issued a similar call last week on the case of Magdi Aqasha, leader of the activist group Sharara (Youth for Change), who has been arrested by the NISS on 27 June. Similarly, AI said Aqasha “is being held at an undisclosed location. He is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.”
The New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a press release dated 27 June that Sudan security forces have “arrested scores of protesters, opposition members, and journalists, beat people in detention, and used rubber bullets and even live ammunition to break up protests.”
HRW called on Sudan to end crackdown on protests and release all detainees or charge them.
Meanwhile, opposition groups have been calling for a new “day of rage” on Friday, 6 June, although they are yet to agree on a specific name for it.
The Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), one of the groups comprising the coalition National Consensus Forces (NCF), on Tuesday said it expects the protests to widen further despite the government’s announcement of new economic measures to mitigate the effect of cutting fuel subsidies.
SCP’s spokesman Youssef Hussein said in a press conference in the capital Khartoum that the government’s announced increases in salaries were merely an attempt to allay public anger over rising prices and prevent the outbreak of an all-out uprising.
Hussein said that any solutions that the government comes up with do not really address the root causes of the crisis. According to Hussein, the SCP supports the continuation of the protests to reject the austerity measures and topple the regime.
The SCP official pointed out that the government’s announced increase of 100 Sudanese pounds in the salaries of state employees would be “devoured” by the rising prices in the market before it even makes it to the pockets of people.
Youssef went on to cite examples of extravagant government spending, saying that 70 percent of this year’s budget has been devoted to the “sovereign sector” which according to him employs less than 1 percent of Sudan’s population.
Meanwhile, the opposition PCP issued a statement on Tuesday denouncing price rises and the “disintegration” of national economy due to what the statement described as the haphazard policies of the regime and the squandering of resources on wars.
Likewise, the PCP attributed the current economic crisis to the NCP’s excessive spending on political patronage and security apparatus which led to unprecedented levels of corruption.
Sudan’s inflation rate hit 30 percent in May, mainly on food prices, while the value of the national currency slumped to over 5 against the US dollars in the Forex market.
NCP officials say the austerity measure is a must to save the country’s economy from collapse. They also downplay the ongoing unrest saying it is unlike the protests of the Arab Spring that toppled autocratic regimes in the Middle East.