Thousands protest Sudan president ahead of Women’s Day
CAIRO (AP) — Thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Sudanese cities on Thursday ahead of International Women’s Day, the latest in more than two months of demonstrations calling for embattled President Omar al-Bashir to quit.
Activists said security forces arrested at least two dozen protesters in the capital Khartoum and used tear gas and batons to disperse protesters at National University. The activists spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Footage posted online showed dozens of people, mostly women, marching and chanting, “Freedom, dignity and justice.” In some videos, security forces are seen arresting people and beating them in the backs of pickup trucks.
There was no immediate comment from authorities on Thursday’s protests and a government spokesman did not respond to phone calls and messages seeking comment.
The protest was called by the Sudanese Professionals Association, which has been spearheading the demonstrations that erupted in December, initially over surging prices and a failing economy, but quickly turned into calls for al-Bashir’s resignation.
Thursday’s demonstrations took place a day ahead of International Women’s Day.
Activists say hundreds of women have been detained or subjected to violence by security forces. Last week, the Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa said at least 100 of its female members have been detained since protests began late last year. At least 35 remain behind bars, the group said.
The current wave of protests began Dec. 19, initially over surging prices and a failing economy, but quickly shifted to calls for an end to al-Bashir’s three-decade rule.
Al-Bashir, who seized power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, insists that only elections, which he intends to run in, could bring change.
Activists say at least 57 people have been killed in the protests. The government’s latest tally stands at 30 killed, but figures have not been updated in days.