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Khartoum university suspends classes after death of student in clashes

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March 11, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – One student was killed and several others injured when Sudanese authorities used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse a demonstration which took place at the University of Khartoum on Tuesday.

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Sudanese students run during a demonstration in the capital, Khartoum, on 9 December 2012, as they rallied in support of four dead students originally from the conflict-plagued Darfur region (Photo: Getty Images)

The protest was organised by students from Darfur following a public rally denouncing the deteriorating security situation in the region.

Reliable sources told Sudan Tribune that Ali Abakr Moussa Idris, a third-year economics student, died in hospital of gunshot wounds sustained during the demonstration.

The University of Khartoum, Sudan’s oldest and probably best-performing academic institution, has a long history of youth activism, with authorities previously conducting raids and crackdowns at the campus

It issued a decision following the latest incident suspending classes until further notice.

“EXCESSIVE FORCE”

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Amnesty International condemned the “use of excessive and unlawful force” against protesters.

“Credible accounts by eyewitnesses at the University of Khartoum protest point to police and Sudanese intelligence (NISS) officers using tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters. The authorities must rein in the security forces and prevent them from using such excessive force,” said Netsanet Belay, AI’s Africa director of research and advocacy.

It has demanded an immediate investigation into the events at the University of Khartoum to ensure that those responsible for the killing and other unlawful use of force are accountable, saying international standards are clear that firearms must not be used for dispersing protesters.

Sudanese police have denied using live ammunition to disperse the students and have instead held the armed rebel groups responsible for the incident.

In a statement on Tuesday, police said only used tear gas to disperse students and force them to retreat to the campus, adding that officers had followed all necessary legal procedures, and that police would exert all efforts to uncover the circumstances of the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Conflict has been raging in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting the government forces of president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, since 2003.

The protest comes as UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay expressed deep concern about the escalation of violence and its impact on civilians, calling for an immediate halt to hostilities.

According to Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA), a security source at Khartoum state’s security coordination committee said students belonging to armed rebel groups are banned from engaging in political activities related to conflicts in military operation zones.

The same source warned that security forces would firmly and forcefully investigate the activities of students belonging to armed groups, saying political activities are only allowed inside the headquarters of political parties, and any outside activities require the prior approval of concerned authorities.

STUDENTS PETITION PARLIAMENT

Several students from North Darfur state have delivered a memo, calling on parliament to intervene to end the war in the state, particularly in Saraf Omra area.

The students held banners in front of the parliament building, which was cordoned by riot police, denouncing the war in Darfur and the conflict between the governor of North Darfur state, Osman Youssef Kibir, and tribal leader Musa Hilal.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Gibril Adam Bilal, said the incident is a continuation of the crimes committed by the regime in Sudan’s peripheries, holding government authorities responsible for killing, injuring, and arresting student protestors.

Bilal said the crimes underscore that the president’s proposal for national dialogue is worthless, saying it is inconceivable that anybody could respond to such an initiative while the regime continues to commit serious human rights abuses against the Sudanese people.

Bilal further demanded all political forces and Sudanese people to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime’s policies, calling upon the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to release the detained students and stop targeting Darfuri students inside the university campus.

Last Thursday, the head of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), Tijani El-Sissi, warned against the rapidly deteriorating security situation in South and North Darfur states, criticising the government for failing to restore security in the troubled region.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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