January 2, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese authorities arrested twenty activists belonging to Unionist Movement on Tuesday after holding a protest in the capital, Khartoum, to celebrate the Independence Day, on 1 January.
Over 40 people marched from the house of the last Unionist leader and first Sudanese Prime Minister Mohamed Ismail Al-Azhary to his grave at the cemetery of Bakri in Omdurman.
The protesters chanted slogans against the regime like the famous Arab Spring slogan "The people want the downfall of the regime", or "Freedom, Peace, and Justice, the Revolution is the choice of the people".
Al-Azhari raised Sudan’s flag on 1 January 1956 marking the end of the British- Egyptian presence in the country. He died several days after his arrest by Gaffar Nimeiri, a military general who ruled the country from 1969 to 1985 after a coup d’état.
The security agents who were monitoring the demonstration attacked the protesters and arrested some twenty people including women after their arrival at the cemetery.
The spokesperson of the Unionist Movement, Mawaheb Magzoub, said the security services released the twenty activists several hours after their detention. Some of them said they were beaten.
She further condemned their arrest describing it as a "serious setback and a violation of political freedoms in the country".
The Movement is a faction of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which opposed to the decision of its leader Mohamed Osman Al-Mirghani to join a coalition government led by ruling Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP) after the independence of South Sudan in July 2011.
They are now member of the opposition alliance National Consensus Forces (NCF) and signed a memorandum of understanding in October 2012 with the rebel alliance of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF).