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Sudanese police storm Khartoum University’s compounds, over 300 students arrested

February 17, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese police in the early morning of Friday raided dormitories of the University of Khartoum and arrested over three hundred students in anticipation of a new protest they planned to stage this weekend.

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Sudanese police patrol the streets of the capital on November 18, 2009. (file photo/Reuters)

Since December students organised different protests in Khartoum asking to remove the Director of the University who asked the police to enter in the campus to disperse a student protest. The students demonstrated in support of the al-Manasir ethnic group’s demand for compensation, as they have been affected by the construction of Merowe Dam north of Khartoum.

Since, the University was closed in order to avoid any escalation of the protests, students were asked to return to their homes in the different provinces. However, many remained on the campus and called for a new sit-in outside the Director’s office on Sunday 19 February.

At dawn on Friday - the first day of the Sudanese weekend - the anti-riot police cordoned off the student housing block and started to evict the students, an eyewitness told Sudan Tribune. The source added that hundreds of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) members dressed in plain clothes participated in the preventive arrest of 317 students.

"The police armed with batons entered in the dormitories and arrested the sleeping student[s]. Those who tried to resist were severely beaten," he said.

A detained student, speaking under conditions of anonymity, said they were transferred with other 50 students to a police station in Khartoum North where they were interrogated about their political affiliation and academic studies. He added the students were distributed to 10 different police centres for investigation.

Most of the detainees were released later during the day but were prevented from returning to the compound while others are still detained in unknown place.

Mohamed Abdallah Ibrahim, financial secretary of the Union of Students in Khartoum State condemned the raid on the university compound and stated that leaders of the Union intervened in eight police stations to release the arrested students.

He also disclosed that the police found among the detainees some people who were not students, but he added that the compound harbours workers and relatives of the students. He added that other compounds in Khartoum and Omdurman house the students of the two closed dormitories.

Al Fatih Hasabo, a member of University of Khartoum Students Committee, told reporters in a press conference that the raid on the compounds is "a remake of intrusion scenario and undue humiliation of students".

He added the students were incarcerated without charges and jailed with criminal.

Another member of the committee, Mohamed Omer Taha, said they stopped the negotiations with the administration of the University and intend to send a memorandum to the President Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

He added they refused the intervention of the Director to secure their release, stressing they do not trust the University administration.

Last December, the students protested against a decision by the administration of the University authorising the police to enter the campus. The protesters asked for the resignation of the Director Sidiq Haiati for allowing the police to arrest al-Manasir students who demonstrated inside the University.

They also demand that the police forces are held accountable and that they receive an apology from the ministry of interior as well as compensating for those students who were affected by the incidents.

Sudanese authorities accuse opposition political parties of standing behind the unrest in Khartoum University, but the students deny such accusations.