Representatives of the Darfur Student Association say that 140 students were arrested and 180 injured in protests at the Omdurman Islamic University on Tuesday when government agents and ruling party supporters attacked activists and burned dormitory buildings. Dozens of students are reportedly still missing.
As I reported on Tuesday, that day’s clashes followed an incident last week in which four Darfuri students were found dead at Al-Gazira University after participating in a sit-in against the university’s refusal to waive their tuition fees as mandated by peace agreements in effect in Sudan since 2006. Their bodies were found in a local canal where witnesses say protesters were chased by supporters of the regime.
The Darfur Student Association says that 450 dorm rooms were destroyed in Tuesday’s attack and that hundreds of laptops and mobile phones were looted. They say that police, troops, and supporters of the ruling National Congress Party delayed fire trucks and ambulances’ attempts to gain access to the campus, and that harassment of Darfuri students continued on Wednesday.
Students were also reportedly beaten and tear-gassed in simultaneous protests in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
Amnesty International on Wednesday said that “Sudanese security services have clearly used excessive force since the first peaceful murmurings of dissent at last week’s student sit-in,” demanding that the government “respect the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
A US representative echoed Amnesty’s statements, calling the students’ deaths “shocking.” Given the government’s failure to live up to its obligations, Ambassador Dane Smith said on Wednesday, “it’s quite reasonable, it seems to me, that Darfuri students are protesting.” The United States has been, he said, “very unhappy about the excessive force used against Darfuri students demonstrating for their rights under the agreement.”