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Sudan: scores of teachers arrested as strike begins against coup

Union says teargas used against members outside education ministry building for Khartoum state

People burn tires in Khartoum on Sunday. Activists have announced a schedule of protests leading up to mass rallies on 13 November. Photograph: Marwan Ali/AP

Nearly 100 teachers have been arrested in Sudan as two days of civil disobedience and strikes in protest at last month’s military coup began.

A teachers’ union said security forces had used teargas against its members outside the education ministry building for Khartoum state, where 87 were arrested and many were beaten.

One of the teachers at the protest, Khalfalla Mohamed, said lawyers had told him his colleagues had been taken to the military headquarters after prosecutors refused to release them on bail.

“We just protested and suddenly the whole place filled with all sorts of security forces, firing teargas and all,” he said.

At least one, a headteacher, had her leg broken.

Unknown men in plain clothes arrested another five teachers in Neyala, the capital of South Darfur, according to an officer at the education ministry in the city who spoke anonymously.

“They arrested Gamal Margan, who is in charge of the education of the shepherds. They kidnapped him when he finished his prayers. The rest of them were arrested from their houses,” he said.

“We are currently at our offices but nobody here is working because of the civil disobedience and also in protest of our colleagues who have been arrested and we don’t know why.”

Last month’s coup halted a power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilians that had been agreed after Omar al-Bashir’s overthrow in 2019 and was meant to lead to democratic elections by late 2023. Top civilians including several ministers were detained, and the prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, was placed under house arrest.

Since the coup, led by Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, mediation efforts involving the UN have sought the release of detainees and a return to power sharing, but sources from the ousted government say those efforts have stalled.

Activists demanding the military exit politics have announced a schedule of protests leading up to mass rallies on 13 November under the slogan: “No negotiation, no partnership, no compromise.”

Safia Amen, a teacher in Omdurman on a two-day strike, said: “We are not working because they kicked out many teachers from their positions … Burhan, for example, kicked out the head of the education in the state for no reason.”

Amen, who would not give her her real name for safety reasons, added: “We are unhappy on what has happened in this country – after all these steps we took, the military wants us to go back. We are also on strike against the weak wages of the teachers with this harsh economic situation.”

Local “resistance committees” and the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which led demonstrations in the uprising that toppled Bashir, are organising a campaign of protests to try to reverse the military takeover.

Some main roads have been closed by makeshift barricades in Omdurman, residents said. Others were closed in Khartoum el-Shajara and Jabra neighbourhoods, in the south of the capital. Security forces were also seen moving around in northern Khartoum, some of them carrying sticks.

Bankers have joined the civil disobedience movement. One said as many as 80% hadtaken part in the strike despite many losing their jobs after protests last week.

Five managers at five different banks were sacked and replaced by a decree from Burhan on Saturday.

Western powers have paused economic assistance to Sudan and say relief on tens of billions of dollars of foreign debt is at risk unless there is a return to the democratic transition.


(c) 2021, The Guardian



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