December 14, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – Over forty protesters mostly women were arrested Tuesday by the Sudanese authorities following a peaceful demonstration staged to protest against brutal flogging of a young woman by the police.
The protest took place after the widespread circulation of a video showing a laughing police officer whipping the woman. The video is posted on YouTube but also several Arab channels broadcasted some extracts where blue-uniformed policemen take turns to whip her across her head, legs and feet.
The state security officers arrested 46 women and six men today at about 11.30 am in central Khartoum near the ministry of justice while they were taking part in a demonstration organized by the "No to Women’s Oppression Coalition".
The angered women wanted to deliver a protest letter to the minister of justice calling for the abolition of the "Public Order Regime". A number of laws and legal dispositions prohibit mixing of unmarried couples also ban women wearing of pants or any other indecent dress in public places. The criminalized acts are punishable by fines or lashes.
The organizers said Police permission had been granted for the demonstration. However the police charged them with "civil disobedience" and undermining the work of police officers before releasing them later.
Plain clothes security officers kicked a BBC correspondent to the floor who was trying to report about the protest and seized his equipment.
Sudanese officials defended the whipping of women saying it is provided for in the Sharia, Islamic law, but said they were probing the way the flogging was implemented.
Commenting on the protest, Khartoum governor Abdel-Rahman Al-Khidir warned in a statement to the Blue Nile TV that his government "will not allow anyone to exploit this for political ends."