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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Sudan jails 10 after crackdown on protests

Sept 8, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese courts have jailed at least 10 demonstrators arrested by the state security forces who used teargas and sticks to break up a protest against price hikes on basic goods.

Many were arrested at the protest on Wednesday, and 53 were held overnight. Of those who have so far appeared in court, 10 were convicted, including two relatives of the opposition Umma Party leader former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.

Opposition parties have challenged Khartoum’s dominant National Congress Party by saying they will continue to protest until they are heard, despite the security forces cracking down on such demonstrations.

“At least 10 were jailed for one or two months,” said Sarah Lugdallah on Friday, an Umma member who was acquitted by the judge. They were convicted and sentenced on Thursday.

After a north-south peace deal signed in January 2005, emergency law was lifted and a new constitution passed allowing the right to peaceful protests and expression of views.

But the NCP which dominates government and parliament, has dragged its feet in amending security laws which contradict that constitution and which allow state security forces to detain people and use force at will.

Umma spokeswoman Mariam al-Mahdi was sent to a women’s prison for two months, despite humanitarian appeals that she has two-month-old twins. Her half-bother Siddig was given one month.

Mariam al-Mahdi told Reuters from jail she believed the entire proceedings were fixed. “I was convicted at 4:45 p.m. but when I arrived at the prison the director told me he had been expecting me since the morning,” she said.

Another opposition leader Mubarak al-Fadil also said some of the trials were not fair. He told Reuters some independent judges had acquitted many of the protesters on the basis of the constitution.

“But others under the influence of the government convicted them in predetermined trials,” he said.

There was no immediate comment from the Sudanese authorities.

The government recently decided to cut subsidies on goods including petrol and sugar, which angered many Sudanese.

Sudan produces more than 330,000 barrels per day of oil but many Sudanese say the money does not filter down to development in the country.

Transparency International anti-corruption group lists Sudan as among the 20 most corrupt countries in the world.

(Reuters)

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