Sudanese detainees on hunger strike for International Women's Day

Sudanese detainees on hunger strike for International Women's Day
Sudanese women, who were detained after taking part in protests, went on strike on Friday to commemorate International Women's Day.
3 min read
08 March, 2019
Protests occurred in at least 25 different locations across the capital [Twitter]

Sudanese detainees went on hunger strike on Friday to commemorate International Women's Day, as peaceful protests continue throughout the country despite an increasingly harsh crackdown by security forces.

Women at Omdurman Prison, detained for taking part in anti-government protestes, announced on Thursday they would undertake the hunger strike.

"The brave, steadfast women behind bars support and call on society to defend their legitimate right to free life. The regime and its authority bear responsibility for the consequences of the strike, such as health complications," the Sudanese Women Political and Civil Coalition said in a statement on Friday. "Freedom is a right."

Amnesty International on Friday praised the "bold, unapologetic [and] exceptional" women of Sudan "who refuse to give up their quest for respect for human rights for a better Sudan".

"On International Women's Day 2019, we stand in solidarity with women human rights defenders and protesters arrested and detained without charge in the violent crackdown on the ongoing Sudan protests," it declared in a tweet.

Hundreds of protesters across the country also marched in solidarity with detainees on Friday, marking the latest day in ongoing protests calling for the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir.

Protesters encountered a particularly heavy response from security forces in the central Khartoum neighbourhood of Burri, which has become one of the mainstay areas for protests over the past three months.

Security forces blockaded Burri and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, social media users reported. 

One protester was wounded by a live fire, while multiple arrests were also reported.

Users located in Burri called on citizens elsewhere to join the neighbourhood in protest against the "heavy attack", either by demonstrating in their own neighbourhoods or by trying to break the security cordon around Burri.

"They failed in their attack and retreated but they will attack with more force, go out to the streets," tweeted Huda Abdwahab.

"Burri shouldn't fight our fight alone."

At least 70 people were confirmed to have been arrested in the capital Khartoum on Thursday during protests held under the name "Sudanese Women's Day", while Radio Dabanga reported that hundreds of protesters, mostly women, were arrested in Khartoum and its sister city Omdurman.

The prosecutor refused to release the detainees before they are tried in an emergency court, which will reportedly take place on Friday evening, according to the Democratic Alliance of Lawyers.

Detained protesters have been undergoing swift, arbitrary trials in emergency courts since Bashir declared a state of emergency on 23 February.

Unauthorised protests were also officially banned in late February.

Protests erupted in mid-December when a government decision to cut subsidies led to bread prices tripling, exacerbating the financial situation of many in a country which has witnessed a severe economic decline in recent years.

Many Sudanese blame the rising cost of living and steep inflation on government corruption and mismanagement.

The protests quickly spread across the country and took on a broader political message - calling on Bashir, who took power in a 1989 military coup, to step down.

Sudanese officials claim 30 people have died in protest-related violence, but activists put the tally at 57. They also say some of those killed died under torture.

Human Rights Watch says at least 51 have been killed during the brutal crackdown.