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Hundreds of students clash with police in the Sudanese capital

December 9, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese capital on Sunday witnessed intense and at times violent student demonstrations that roamed major streets of Khartoum to protest the mysterious killings of four students from Darfur at the University of El-Gezira on Friday.

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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 protestors chanted slogans calling for toppling the regime and avenging their fallen colleagues. Some were holding signs that supported the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel coalition while others shouted in support of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) leader Abdel-Wahid Mohamed Nur.

"Killing students is the killing of the nation... Peace, justice, freedom " the demonstrators chanted.

The police used teargas and deployed dozens to cordon and chase the students who belonged mostly to the universities of Khartoum, Neelain and Sudan.

The protesters moved through the corridors of the University of Khartoum carrying a symbolic coffin in a mock funeral representing the deceased students and headed towards the offices of the UN to deliver a memorandum demanding an investigation into their demise.

The students and activists accuse the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of standing behind the deaths of the four students whose bodies were discovered in a canal near El-Gezira university south of Khartoum after a protest earlier in the week over exemption from tuition fees.

The exemption from tuition fees was first included in the Abuja peace agreement signed with the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) in May 2006 but the agreement did not define the Darfurian students that could benefit from the measure.

As a result the exemption has been implemented differently from a one university to another based on the administrative discretion of the university. It also caused regular disputes with Darfuri students who apply to benefit from this affirmative action.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that the demonstrations spread to the main streets of central Khartoum and were joined by protesters from Neelain University sparking an intensified security presence in those areas in anticipation. The police fired teargas to disperse protests at al-Hurriya street near Khartoum Stadium.

The students closed a major tunnel near the University of Sudan by forming a human wall that blocked traffic for two hours. They pelted rocks at the police as the latter tried to break up the wall.

Other witnesses said that large numbers of plain clothed security officers disembarked from trucks in streets where students have gathered. Hundreds of ordinary citizens were forced to cross the bridge on foot due to protestors blocking traffic, which included public transportation.

Police continued to chase students through the evening near shops that have already closed its doors fearing violence and looting.

Students also demonstrated to show their support in Port Sudan on the Red Sea, eyewitnesses there said.

The Sudanese Justice Minister Mohammed Bushara Dousa issued a decision today establishing a commission of inquiry to investigate the death of the four students. He expressed regret for the incident and demanded that the commission use all itsl resources and expertise to find out the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

The Sudanese opposition expressed solidarity with the families of the victims and decided to send a delegation to Al-Gezira state to be with them and called for speedy investigation and prosecution of all those involved.

The leader of the Sudanese Consensus Forces (SCF) Farouk Abu Eissa, speaking at a media forum organized by the SCF urged the government yesterday to put a halt on chasing students in universities and to stop the intrusion of the security agencies into higher education institutions, expressing concern about the physical and psychological torture of students.

The Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) also called for forming an "independent and impartial" committee comprised of representatives from political forces and students to investigate the recent events in Al-Gezira University and announcing the results of the investigation publicly.

(ST)