Sudan Calling | 11 februari 2019 | by Jelena Sporin

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‘Protest’


For the first time in 30 years the people in Sudan are taking part in large-scale protests. In 1989, Omar al-Bashir seized power through a military coup and has since ruled with an iron grip. Sudan has become a police state with massive corruption. The economy has gotten so bad that people have had enough: young people, women, elderly, the poor and the rich throughout the country are protesting peacefully against the corrupt, racist and violent regime, with slogans such as "peaceful peaceful against the thieves". The regime's response has been anything but peaceful; dozens of people have been killed, hundreds have been arrested, some have been tortured, and police and security services have been using tear gas and ammunition to disperse protestors.
Every week we call with activists and friends in Sudan to hear how things are going and what has been happening.

Sudan Calling: growing frustration with the regime

This week I spoke to Wahid, an activist and friend of PAX.

Monday 28 January

On Thursday 24 January al-Bashir returned from a two-day visit to Qatar, where he undoubtedly held out his hand for some very necessary financial support. However, he had a rude awakening in store – on the day of his arrival the Pakistan Prime Minister Khan was personally welcomed by Prince al-Thani, while al-Bashir was left with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and had to wait a full day to speak to the Prince himself. His journey wielded little financial benefit and frustration with the regime is growing; none of al-Bashir’s ‘allies’ seem prepared to make a significant contribution to alleviate the pressure on the economy. The result is that violence against demonstrators and those imprisoned seems to increase as repression remains the regimes only option for facing the uprising.

“Hi Wahid, I saw that al-Bashir is back from Qatar. What has been going on over the past couple of days?”

“People say he made a fool of himself and came back emptyhanded.”

“The violence and repression against demonstrators seem to be getting worse, this week another 5 people were killed. Yesterday the riot police attacked two funerals of people who were killed during protests in Khartoum; they used tear gas and big trucks to scare them away from the funeral. They seem to have gone mad, to attack funerals.”

“That is appalling, to not even have respect for the dead…”

“The more the regime is backed into a corner, the tougher they get.”

“There were demonstrations in Port Sudan this week, in the East. A senior officer in the security service [NISS] manhandled a young marine who was buying something in the market and brought him to the headquarters. The young man was released but the situation got so out of hand that ultimately the army [SAF] in Port Sudan rebelled.”

“Since al-Bashir turned the NISS into his ‘private forces’ they get more money and resources than the regular army [SAF]. They have become rivals in that respect, which is causing problems. Soldiers in Port Sudan marched to the NISS headquarters where they finally occupied the entire building.”

“In the days to come al-Bashir is traveling to Egypt and Kuwait, to seek help. But internally support is crumbling by the day, and that is what counts in the end.”

“By the way, look what my 9-year-old just made.”

“Is that cucumber? That’s really good. Tamam (OK), keep well Wahid, talk to you next week.”

[Wahid is a pseudonym, for security reasons]

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