Written by Aaron Alberico
People first took to the streets in Tunisia to topple a tyrant, then in Egypt cries of freedom overturned oppression, and now in Northern Sudan people are protesting for peace. Inspired by the events in both Tunisia and Egypt, thousands of young Sudanese braved violence and potential arrest to protest against the Khartoum Government and President Omar al-Bashir. The coordinated movement, spurred by a Facebook group called Youth for Change, has widespread throughout Northern Sudan, spanning from Khartoum to smaller cities along the banks of the Nile.
Demonstrations first sprang up on January 30, focusing on the poor economic climate and political oppression. On university campuses in Khartoum, hundreds of students gathered in bold opposition of the government, eventually taking their march to the streets. Students and civilians alike were met by police opposition as they gathered on a main street in Khartoum. Those involved, along with witnesses, described police and security forces “viciously beating people” while some affiliated with the ruling party “chased students while carrying knives, iron rods and other weapons of intimidation.” Other similar protests, ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred people, have continued to take place throughout the country.
Government reaction to the protest included cracking down on student activist and opposition media, detaining journalists and students. Government spokesman Rabie Atti disagreed with the premise of the protest, stating “we don’t have one small group that controls everything. Wealth is distributed equally. We’ve given power to the states.”
Despite many Sudanese objections to Atti’s claim, notably from those in the war torn region of Darfur, many fear police responses to the demonstrations. However, with growing discontent among Northern Sudanese, there is possibility, however small; the uprisings could echo the results of Tunisia and Egypt.
1 “Young Sudanese Start Protest Movement,” New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/world/africa/03sudan.html?src=me
2 “Protesters Call for Ouster of Sudanese President,” Wall Street Journal:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703833204576114060505183884.html
3 “Sudanese activist Hope to Follow Tunisia and Egypt, Despite Different Circumstances,” Voice of American: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/east/Protests-in-Sudan-Challenge-Government-But-Will-it-Be-the–115212319.html