Update on Martyrs’ Friday Sept. 27, 2013
On Thursday, September 26, calls started appearing on social media urging citizens to protest all over Sudan on what was called Martyrs’ Friday-– a day to remember those who have fallen while protesting peacefully (since Monday September 23) mainly by receiving live bullets from riot police, security agents or regime militias.
In Khartoum those going to Friday prayers were being prevented from entering or reaching mosques in Omdurman, Al Riyadh and Bahri. Authorities also imposed tight security procedures in streets leading to mosques in Omdurman, Bahry, Khartoum and River Nile State. Despite the tight security, citizens in many of these locations managed to organize sizable protests. Eyewitnesses reported that an average of 5000 protesters assembled in each of Shambat, Khartoum North, Althawra in Omdurman and in few locations in Khartoum.
By the end of Friday, the estimated death toll nationwide since the protests started was up to 200 persons. And the attempts by the regime to obstruct freedom of expression, communication and the flow of information continued, as well as the use of violence to disperse peaceful protests.
Khartoum: populous protests and shift in the demographic of protesters
Most of Khartoum’s neighbourhoods witnessed well attended protests (Al Kalakla, Burri, Amtidad Nasser, Al Fitaihab, Duraishab, Wad Noubawi, Abbasiya, Jabra, Shambat, Sixtieth Street, Al Samrab, and others). The obvious difference from the beginning of the week was not only the increase in participants, but the diversity of age groups and the presence of more women. Those protesting on Friday were no longer high-school and university students. They were from all age groups and all socioeconomic backgrounds and professions.
The protest in Shambat, Midan Al Rabta attracted about 2000 persons and was attended for the first time by leaders of political opposition parties, including the Communist Party and the Popular Congress Parties. Protesters were chanting, “Khartoum, revolt, revolt, we will not be ruled by Kafouri’s thief”, and they were calling martyrs’ names and telling them that their right will not be lost, “ ya Haza’a hagak ma da’a”. However, the protest was dispersed with excessive violence and heavy shooting at protesters. A GIRIFNA member who was at the protest reported deaths and scores of injuries, but we were not able to confirm the total numbers of those killed and injured. He also noted that during the Friday prayers the Imam was sympathetic with the protests and referred to what the government was doing as “murder”. Other reports also suggested the Imams in other areas condemned the violent response of the Government of Sudan.
The protest in Wad Nubawi, Omdurman had about 4000 protesters, and managed to reach fortieth street and was joined with demonstrations in other neighbourhoods in Omdurman. This however, was also dispersed with tear gas, live ammunition and rubber bullets when it reached fortieth street. In the Abassiya area of Omdurman, a number of eyewitnesses told us that there were snipers shooting live bullets from building rooftops; and that tear gas and live ammunition were used abundantly. In Jabra, one injury was reported by a GIRIFNA member who was at the protest. It was from a bullet that hit a man who was then taken by the police.
Dr. Salah Al Din Mustafa Sanhoori, a young pharmacist was killed as a result of two bullets that hit his chest in front of Burri’s police station. Many friends of Sanhoori were not able to attend his funeral procession and reported that security agents blocked the roads to the cemetery. Nonetheless, videos of his funeral show thousands went out in a protest after Dr. Salah was buried. In Kalakla one youth was confirmed dead, Al Sadig Abu Zaid Izadin.
Sixtieth street saw intense demonstrations on Friday and Saturday, with eyewitnesses reporting up to 5000 people attending the Saturday protest. On both days there was very heavy shooting to disperse the protests and one reported death on Martyrs’ Friday of a young man in his twenties who was shot at. On Saturday five young women and two men were arrested in Sixtieth street and they were released in the afternoon. And a man aged 69 was shot on the foot.
In Gazeira State four deaths were confirmed on Friday.
Attempts to restrict flow of information continue
Although the internet was reconnected on Thursday after 24 hours of being shut, many reported very slow connections, and both Facebook and YouTube being blocked. Many activists and citizens managed to bypass the blockage but found it hard to upload videos and some said that Facebook was not working for them.
National newspapers continued to be heavily censored. On Thursday Al Ayaam and Al Jareeda, refused to print because of the government imposed censorship that prohibits any mention of the ongoing protests. On Friday Al Sudani and Al Mahjar newspapers (both pro-government) were confiscated, and Al Watan was not allowed to go to press.
By Friday seven newspapers had been stopped and the independent Network of Sudanese Journalists was on strike with unconfirmed news that 36 journalists had resigned.
Additionally, international journalists and TV reporters are finding it very hard to report freely from inside Sudan. By Friday bureaus of Al Arabiya TV and Sky TV were both closed and their reporters expelled.
Arrests have also included journalists with journalist Amal Habani detained on Friday.
Critical reading on current situation:
“President Bashir’s final war” – Magdi Elgizouli
Twitter hashtags to follow: #Abena, #SudanRevolts #أبينا