Sudanese security authorities arrested several faculty members from Khartoum University on Sunday after they joined anti-government protests that have posed the most serious challenge to President Omar al-Bashir’s rule.
The arrests came amid fresh demonstrations in Khartoum and Wad Madani in response to a call by a coalition of professional unions to push for Bashir to step down. Witnesses said security forces blocked professors and lecturers from coming out to protest outside the university, arresting at least eight.
It was the first time the faculty of the country’s oldest and most prestigious educational institution has joined the protests since they began last month. The rest were forced to return into the faculty club house, where security forces surrounded the building trapping about 100 professors and lecturers inside for nearly three hours.
“We demand the president of the republic to step down,” one placard read carried by the lecturers inside the club house, according to pictures posted on social media. Intermittent protests have rocked Sudan since anger over food shortages and rising bread prices erupted into demonstrations in the city of Atbara in the north on December 19. Security forces have used tear gas on occasions, live ammunition against demonstrators and rounded up more than 2,000 people.
The Sudanese government has said that 19 people were killed in the protests, including at two members of the security forces. Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.