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Sudanese lawyers protest against crackdown as activists dedicate next Friday to Darfur

July 16, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - A group of over 300 Sudanese lawyers protested outside Khartoum’s main courtroom on Monday against the government’s use of violence and arbitrary detention during peaceful demonstrations.

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Sudanese lawyers hold a banner calling for freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration during a protest against the arrest of demonstrators outside the governor’s house in the South Darfur capital of Nyala on July 16, 2012 (Getty)

The lawyers marched from Khartoum criminal court to the presidential place where they submitted a memorandum urging President Omar Al-Bashir to order the stoppage of violence against protester and the release of detainees.

Local human rights groups estimate that some 2,000 people have been detained over the last four weeks as first students, and then some other parts of Sudanese society, protested against the government and the worsening economic situation.

Police forces supported by pro-regime militiamen known as “Rabata” used tear gas, rubber bullets and mass arrests to disperse the protests which spread beyond Khartoum to other regional towns including Kassala in the east and Al-Obied in the southern province of North Kordofan.

"We call on you (Mr. President) to immediately order to stop the use of force against peaceful demonstrators and release all arrested people," said the memorandum submitted by a delegation of lawyers at the presidential palace.

The police surrounded the lawyers’ procession but, unlike in other demonstrations in recent weeks, did not use tear gas, plastic bullets or batons.

The lawyers held up placards denouncing violations of law and human rights by police and security services. They also chanted slogans calling for restoration of democracy and regime change.

The Sudanese government denies suppressing protesters referring to them as small groups of rioters and accusing opposition parties of standing behind them.

However activists say the security forces arrested many of them from their homes and stressed that they take to the streets peacefully.

Most of the lawyers who took part in Monday’s protest were from opposition parties.

The lawyers asserted in their memorandum that the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly are guaranteed by Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and part and parcel of the Constitution of Sudan.

Similarly, lawyers in the western region of Darfur on Monday held a protest outside the house of the governor of South Darfur state to protest against the crackdown on demonstrations and detention of activists.

Meanwhile, the anti-government youth group Girifna announced on Monday that the next Sudan Revolts weekly protest on Friday will be named after Darfur.

The “Darfur Baladna Friday” will be the fourth in a series of Friday protests to which the government responded with excessive force, particularly around the epicenter of the protests in Wad Nubawi Mosque in Omdurman, which is linked to the opposition National Umma Party (NUP).

Darfur was subject, in 2003-2004, to a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in which pro-regime ethnic militias backed by regular forces targeted not only the rebels who took up arms accusing the government of marginalisation but also the ethnic communities linked to them.

United Nations agencies say more than 300,000 people died and 2.7 million lost their homes during the conflict which has decreased in intensity over recent years. Khartoum however disputes the figure saying only 10,000 people died.

(ST)