Sudan releases students, activists arrested over ‘bread protests’

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Sudan has released more than 80 students and political activist who were arrested last month during deadly protests over rising bread prices and government policies.

Their release was ordered by President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday following calls from embassies of the US and European Union for the government to release the prisoners. However, Bashir’s aide said “we will continue to eradicate the reasons behind the protests and arrests” upon announcing their release.

Sudan releases bread protestors

Sudan witnessed demonstrations across the country last month, which quickly became known as “bread protests”. The demonstrations came after the government decided to cut subsidies and stop importing wheat from overseas countries, pushing up the price of bread for people in Sudan.

The move was part of sweeping austerity measures implemented by the government in keeping with the country’s 2018 budget, which aims to solve Sudan’s issues with spiralling inflation.

However, the impact on food prices prompted activists and students to organise protests against the government’s decision. One student died and six people were injured in one protest on January 8 but no explanation about his death was provided by authorities. Elsewhere in the country, security forces dispersed crowds and arrested opposition figures.

Austerity proving difficult for Sudan

Recent protests in Sudan aren’t the first time austerity measures have resulted in widespread protests. In 2013, thousands took to the streets when fuel prices soared as a result of new government policies. Amnesty International says as many as 185 people may have been killed during clampdowns by security forces in 2013.

The latest wave of protests have been smaller in size but security forces in Sudan have arrested a number of opposition leaders in an attempt to prevent further issues. Authorities have also shut down six daily newspapers who criticised the government’s subsidy cut and the resulting price increases.

Featured image: “Khartoum, Sudan” flickr photo by Christopher.Michel https://flickr.com/photos/cmichel67/32608241845 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.