Sudan security forces fire tear gas, stun grenades at protesters near Khartoum

Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans as they march along the street during anti-government protests in Khartoum, Sudan December 25, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 28 December 2018
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Sudan security forces fire tear gas, stun grenades at protesters near Khartoum

  • About 300 to 400 protesters were in the area where the attack happened
  • Opposition groups and activists had called for large anti-government protests to take place following weekly Muslim prayers

KHARTOUM: Sudanese security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades on Friday at 300-400 chanting worshippers as they left a mosque near the capital, a Reuters witness said, after a call for widespread anti-government protests by opposition groups.
Activists had urged protesters to gather in large numbers following Friday’s weekly Muslim prayers. Civil society groups said authorities arrested nine opposition figures on Thursday evening ahead of the planned demonstrations.
The group in Omdurman, a town near Khartoum, was fired upon as people exited the mosque chanting “peaceful, peaceful,” the witness said. Around 30 SUVs belonging to the security forces had surrounded the square outside the building before noon prayers.
Sudan has been rocked by more than a week of anti-government protests sparked by rising prices, shortages of basic commodities and a cash crisis.
At least 19 people have died during the protests, including two military personnel, according to official figures. Amnesty International said on Tuesday at least 37 had died.
The head of the media office at the National Intelligence and Security Service denied knowledge of Thursday’s arrests.
A committee of professional organizations involved in the protests said in a statement that authorities had raided a meeting of opposition leaders in Khartoum. The nine people they had detained included Siddiq Youssef, a senior leader of Sudan’s Communist Party, as well as leaders from the pan-Arab Ba’ath and Nasserist parties, the statement said.
Fourteen leaders of one of Sudan’s two main opposition groupings were detained last Saturday and then released hours later.
ECONOMIC CRDaesh
Sudan has been gripped by a deep economic crisis that began in 2011 after the southern half of the country voted to secede, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil output, and has been aggravated by years of overspending and mismanagement.
Opposition groups blame President Omar Al-Bashir, who has governed Sudan since 1989, for the mismanagement. A series of measures, including a sharp devaluation of the Sudanese pound in October, have failed to shore up the economy.
In January, Sudan was shaken by demonstrations triggered by high bread prices.
But the protests that began on Dec. 19 appear to be more serious. Authorities have shuttered schools and declared curfews and states of emergency in several regions, and residents say police have used tear gas and sometimes live ammunition against demonstrators.
Putting the death toll at 19, Sudan’s information minister on Thursday blamed some of the deaths on scuffles between shopowners and what he described as looters. He said 219 civilians and 187 members of the security forces had been wounded.
Journalists at the daily Al-Sudani said one of their colleagues was beaten by security forces after protesters passed next to the independent newspaper’s offices.
Two UN human rights experts expressed alarm at the escalating violence and urged the government to exercise restraint.
“The Government should respond to legitimate grievances of the Sudanese people,” Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, who reports to the UN Human Rights Council on the right to free assembly in Sudan, said in a statement.
Aristide Nononsi, who reports to the council on human rights in Sudan, said governments had a duty to tolerate dissent. 


Call for Kashmir shutdown on Sunday in protest against crackdown on activists

Updated 56 min 40 sec ago
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Call for Kashmir shutdown on Sunday in protest against crackdown on activists

  • India has beefed up security forces in Kashmir after last week's suicide attack in Pulwama
  • The attack, claimed by Kashmiri separatists, killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary troops

NEW DELHI: Separatist leaders in Kashmir have called for a shutdown on Sunday in protest against the “illegal detention” and “arbitrary arrest” of some of their colleagues and the deployment of an additional 12,000 troops in Kashmir valley.

In a strongly worded statement on Saturday the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) called the arrest of the senior separatist leader Yasin Malik and the crackdown on 200 Jamaat-e-Islami cadres and leadership, including its chief Ameer Abdul Hamid Fayaz,  “dictatorial” and “arbitrary.”
It said that “nocturnal raids across the valley look to be a part of the continued policy of suppression of pro self-determination leadership and narrative.”
“The last 30 years have shown that jailing and intimidating activists and leaders will not deter them from their path, nor will it stop people from demanding the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through self-determination,” said a statement issued by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.
The separatist leaders also condemned the pressure tactics being used by the government against some of the local media.
Amid the crackdown on the valley-based separatist leaders New Delhi has also started deploying 12,000 additional troops in the valley.
“We are keeping two things in mind — to control the situation emerging out of the arrests of the separatist leaders and to be ready to hold elections in the valley parallel to the national elections,” a senior officials in Srinagar told Arab News.
After last week’s Pulwama suicide attack that claimed more than 40 lives of paramilitary personnel in South Kashmir, there has been a considerable build-up of troops in the valley. 
The crackdown on the separatists coincides with the crucial hearing on Article 35-A in the Supreme Court on Monday. The article grants special rights and privileges to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and has been challenged by a section of the Hindu right wing in the Supreme Court.
The nocturnal arrests of the activists and separatist leaders have come under criticism from the valley-based mainstream political parties.
“In the past 24 hours Hurriyat leaders and workers of the Jamaat organization have been arrested. Failure to understand such an arbitrary move which will only precipitate matters in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Mahbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
She questioned “under what legal grounds are their arrests justified? You can imprison a person but not his ideas.”
The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)’s ally in the valley Sajad Lone also questioned the wisdom of the crackdown.
“Large-scale arrests took place in 1990. Leaders were ferried to Jodhpur and many jails across the country. Things worsened. This is a failed model. Please desist from it. It won’t work. Things will worsen,” said Lone in a tweet.
However, Dr. Hina Bhat of the BJP justified the arrest of the Hurriyat separatist leaders.
“If you want to bring peace in Kashmir it is important to remove all the ingredients which are causing disturbance in the state, be it separatist or Jamiat,” said Bhat, a Kashmir-based leader.
“Why you think we should go and talk to militants who are killing their own people. We are not killing these separatist leaders, we are just removing them from the scene.”
“We have tried and gave enough chances for the dialogue process with Pakistan. What happens is that when we trust Pakistan we are backstabbed and we cannot trust Pakistan for a dialogue process,” he added.
She told Arab News that “the government is taking appropriate steps to bring back peace and life in the state.”
“The militants in the state are brainwashed individuals and they pick up guns because of their personal reasons not to fight for the cause of Kashmir. Youth are being misguided and brainwashed by the separatist leaders for their political agenda. They work as the agents of Pakistan,” asserted Bhat.
Kashmir-based analyst Professor Siddiq Wahid said that “Delhi is practicing a cynical policy at its best.”
“In the last 24 hours, the fog has cleared and it is becoming apparent that the BJP is spinning Pulwama in the interests of electoral politics. Their war-cry was to isolate Pakistan, so it has not succeeded because international support for this is non-existent. Yet it has successfully stirred the BJP base,” added Wahid.
He told Arab News that “Delhi continues its policy of denial of dispute and at the same time making the Kashmiri eminently more insecure in India. It is disastrous.”