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Fighting broke out in June 2011 between Sudan’s government and Nuban rebels. Nuba Reports was founded by people living in the region after journalists and NGOs were banned. Our goal is to provide Sudan and the International community with credible and compelling dispatches from the front lines of this conflict and to illuminate the war’s impact on civilians. more

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Civil disobedience, a new broad-based Sudanese protest

What happened…

On November 27 – 29 and December 19, a social media-driven civil disobedience protest took place across the country. Primarily launched by youth groups via social media, Sudanese used a new tactic to protest by simply staying home, leaving businesses and offices at a standstill for four days.

The protests stem from government imposed austerity measures in November, introduced at a time when Sudan faces skyrocketing inflation and over 60 percent of Sudanese live below the poverty line. Fuel subsidy cuts led to an increase in many basic goods, including medicine whereupon life saving drugs increased by an average 150 percent.

The civil disobedience protests follow a string of protests by professional bodies starting with October strikes from medical doctors protesting for better facilities, access to medicine and support. Other professional bodies including lawyers, teachers and pharmacists followed this nationwide protest. The latter closed over 200 pharmacies on November 19 across the country.

While several opposition and rebel groups expressed their support for the civil disobedience movement, the protests were largely driven by non-politically affiliated youth via social media. Female social groups on Facebook also mobilized citizens to protest for the first time.

What it means…

The debate is ongoing whether the civil disobedience protests were successful. Sudanese activists claim more participation took place during the November protests than the latter attempt, partly due to state interference. Prior to the December demonstration, authorities conducted mass pre-emptive arrests of civil society activists and threatened shopkeepers with punitive fines if they refused to open their shops during the civil disobedience day.

The government largely dismissed the protests, with Vice-President Hassabo Mohamed claiming the protestors were “traitors and saboteurs” who “received money from Israel.” The protests certainly unnerved the government, however, who had security forces march through Khartoum’s street in a show of force following the December 19 civil disobedience day.

The civil disobedience protests harboured an unprecedented number of formerly non-political participants, according to Sudanese activists. The same sources believe the protests sparked newly found courage among citizens and may encourage further protests in the near future.

Fearing this, Sudanese authorities have attempted to crack down on what President Omar Al-Bashir has termed “keyboard and Whatsapp activists.” Bashir even taunted those involved in the protests after the first civil disobedience in November, reminding them how September 2013 street protests over fuel subsidy cuts led to the death of an estimated 200 people.

Since protests emerged over fuel subsidy cuts in early December, security forces have launched a massive crackdown on opposition parties, activists and the press. By the second week of December authorities had detained an estimated 200 people across Sudan, according to human rights monitoring reports, including over 40 opposition party leaders. Throughout November and the first week of December, security confiscated seven newspapers 27 times and shuttered one private television station in Omdurman, according to human rights reports.

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