September 30, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - A Sudanese journalist has infuriated the interior minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid, the governor of Khartoum state Abdel-Rahman Al-Khidir and the information minister Ahmed Bilal Osman when he accused them of insisting on “lying” with regard to the killing of protestors in demonstrations which erupted in several parts of Sudan last week.
- TV footage showing Buhram Abdel-Moniem at the press conference in Khartoum that was attended by the ministers of information and interior as well as Khartoum governor September 3, 2013 (Al-Arabiya footage)
The protests erupted last week in many parts of Sudan following the government’s decision to remove fuel subsidies leading to almost doubling the prices of gasoline and diesel.
The demonstrations saw the participation of thousands of Sudanese who chanted slogans against the government of president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir like "The people want the fall of the regime!" and “Freedom! Freedom!”.
Activists say over a hundred people were killed by the Sudanese security since the start of the protests while authorities admitted to the death of only 33 including policemen. They also accused protestors of vandalizing and damaging gas stations and public transportation buses.
The journalist, Buhram Abdel-Moniem, who works for Al-Youm Al-Tali daily newspaper, snatched a question in the press conference held by the government officials on Monday and addressed the podium saying “Why do you insist on lying?”, and continued “All evidence prove that protestors were killed by bullets fired by the militias of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP)”.
He then asked them “Why do you cling to power at the expense of the carnage of the dead and martyrs?”
A visibly irritated information minister interrupted him to warm him about being polite then was heard directing the authorities to file charges against the journalist who was summoned immediately to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and later released.
In an interview later with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV, Abdel-Moniem said that the NISS officers dealt with him politely but told him his question is not "suitable" for the current situation.
His video asking the question has gone viral in the Sudanese cyber world and saw an overwhelming majority praising his "courage".
But Abdel-Moniem was not alone in pointing fingers at the government over the killing protesters.
Over the weekend, more than 30 NCP officials and supporters sent a memo to president Bashir urging him to reinstate the fuel subsidies and chiding him over the killing of protestors among other demands.
Sudanese authorities deny firing live ammunition and suggested that outside elements, namely from rebel groups carried out the killings.
A senior official in Sudan’s NCP on Monday criticized the violent crackdown.
"The fact that so many have died points to the degree of violence," the official told Agence France Presse (AFP) on condition of anonymity.
"I believe it was unnecessary to repress the peaceful demonstrators. Peaceful demonstration is a constitutional right," the official said.
The interior minister at today’s press conference stressed that a committee is currently investigating the events and said that he will take responsibility for any deaths proven to be committed by the police, adding that they confronted professional saboteurs not peaceful demonstrators.
Hamid accused the armed rebel groups of involvement in the events, disclosing that the police prevented an attempt to burn Libya commercial market in Sudan’s twin capital city of Omdurman.
He scoffed at the pictures of the victims posted on the Facebook and claimed that most of the photos were borrowed from Egypt’s recent events , saying that victims in the events have either been killed by the criminals or while they were trying to break into the police stations.
The interior minister testified before the parliament on the events and said that it was initiated by 1,000 men armed with cold steel on three axis including Libya commercial market in west Omdurman, Khartoum central market, and Sabreen neighborhood in Al-Thawra.
He said that the main opposition forces were not involved in the events.
The head of the parliamentary subcommittee on Defense, Security, and Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Al-Hassan al-Amin, said in press statements that protestors used excessive force and attacked police stations and private properties, disclosing that 740 people were arrested in the events.
He called for prosecuting them with criminal charges and giving them the right for defense, denying that there are political detainees in connection with the recent events.