“Instead of responding to the protesters’ concerns, the Sudanese government appears to be targeting select individuals for their presumed political views,” says Daniel Bekele, Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “Sudan should immediately release those detained for engaging in political protests and respect their right to exercise freedom of expression and association.”
Unlike the Tunisian and Egyptian protesters, who swarmed into central chokepoints and shut down capital cities, protesters in Sudan have focused primarily on university campuses, where the protest movement began. Sudan has also received much less news coverage, in part because Sudan has deported several foreign journalists, and restricted the number who can come in to the country.
The harsh treatment of protesters – which rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say includes torture – seems to be backfiring. Instead of discouraging more protests, each round of mass arrests and detentions simply sparks another wave of protests. On Monday July 16, some 300 Sudanese lawyers took to the streets in Khartoum to protest the Friday arrests.
The latest batch of arrests – at least 40 women, demonstrators say – occurred on Friday, after a protest organized by a youth group called Girifna. Girifna (the group’s name means “We’re Fed Up”) has been calling for nonviolent resistance campaigns to overthrow the Bashir regime. Last week, they choose to honor Sudanese women, both the female students at the University of Khartoum who started these protests back in mid-June and the mothers of those protesters who have been detained.