Celebration hadn’t yet quieted in the south before anti-government protests brokeout in the north. Carefully planned by student organizers to coincide with the announcement of Southern secession, the events were also inspired by the outcry in Tunisia, followed by the even larger anti-government protests in Egypt. These outbursts, like falling dominos, reflect the human yearnings for freedom and a better life that they hear about in other countries.
All the situations are different, of course, but they hold much in common. Like the Tunisian worker whose actions helped spark the protests in Tunisia, a young Sudanese man set himself on fire in Omdurman. Like the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, President Omar al-Bashir has ruled with a heavy hand in Sudan for 21 years.
And like their southern brothers, the students want a better economic future. In fact part of the concerns of the northerners is the loss of a third of their country to the South. How to divide the economic advantages of the oil that lies underground in the South and runs through pipes to the North has not yet been decided. So there is uncertainty on both sides.
The protest organizers sent pleas over the Internet for peaceful anti-government rallies. Three demonstrations took place in central Khartoum and at two local universities. Hundreds of student activists shouted slogans and criticized high prices, economic hardship, political oppression, and President al-Bashir’s rule. They demanded that the government resign.
Such demonstrations are illegal in Sudan. Heavily armed police that patrol Khartoum’s main streets met the demonstrators with batons, beating the students and arresting at least five.