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‘14 professors arrested in Sudan ahead of sit-in protest’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Sudanese students take part in an anti-government rally in the capital, Khartoum, on December 22, 2018. (Photo by AP)

Sudanese security agents have reportedly arrested more than a dozen university professors who were preparing to participate in a sit-in as part of a wave of protests against President Omar al-Bashir’s government.

The government forces, who were deployed near the University of Khartoum in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday, detained “14 professors, eight from University of Khartoum and six from other universities,” said university professor Mamdouh Mohamed Hassan.

He said the professors were “on their way to take part in the sit-in when security agents took them away.”

The forces also closed the gates of a venue where protesters had gathered before heading for the sit-in site, according to Hassan.

Photos posted online in the day showed protesters holding banners that read “Freedom, justice, and peace,” “No to torturing and killing protesters” and other slogans.

According to witnesses, doctors had also rallied in Khartoum and other cities across the country.

The Sudanese capital has been the scene of almost daily protests by union members, students, doctors, and opposition activists since December last year against price hikes and shortages of food and fuel.

According to official figures, at least 30 people have died in protest-related violence so far. Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) put the death toll at 51.

The HRW on Monday called on the United Nations Security Council to act on “irrefutable evidence” of state violence in Sudan.

Since protests began in December 2018, security agents have regularly arrested professors and other professionals in an attempt to crack down on protests.

President Bashir, who accuses foreign powers of inciting the unrest, has so far remained defiant. In an address to soldiers last month, he called the protesters “rats” who must “go back to their holes.” Bashir also said that he would only move aside for another army officer, or at the ballot box.

“They said they want the army to take power. That’s no problem,” he said. “If someone comes in wearing khaki, we have no objection.”

But the president has acknowledged the economic difficulties in the country.

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