Osbert Sitwell: Wilfred Owen, poetry and war

1 week 5 days ago

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Wilfred Owen: Selections on war

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Osbert Sitwell
From Noble Essences
Wilfred Owen

I did not know Wilfred Owen for long, hardly for more than a year, I suppose, notably with Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Ross, and the fact that we were deeply in sympathy in our views concerning the war and its conduct – a link of nonconformity that in those years bound together the disbelievers with almost the same force with which faith had knitted together the early Christians – soon matured our relationship…

The quality of greatness that differentiates him from other war poets is in the truth both of his poetry and of his response to war. If he can be properly called a War Poet – since, greater than that, he was a Poet – he may be the only writer who answers truly to that description; the first, as he may be the last, for the very phrase War Poet indicates a strange twentieth-century phenomenon, the attempt to combine two incompatibles. There had been no war poets in the Peninsular, Crimean or Boer wars. But war had suddenly become transformed by the effort of scientist and mechanician into something so infernal, so inhuman, that it was recognized that only their natural enemy, the poet, could pierce through the armor of horror with which they were encased, to the pity at the human core; only the poet could steadily contemplate the struggle at the level of tragedy…The invention of the atomic bomb again changed these values: for war has once more altered its character, and an Atomic-Bomb Poet is one not to be thought of…No, Owen was a poet – a War Poet only because the brief span of his maturity coincided with a war of hitherto unparalleled sweep, viciousness and stupidity…

Each war produces its own particular harvest of horrors for the soldier…

He had on him a collection of photographs of mutilated and wounded men which he had made in order to bring home to the unimaginative the horrors that others faced for them. (I remember those photographs. Robert Ross, too, used to carry some of them on him, and, when an acquaintance voiced views that seemed to him stupid, overenthusiastic for war and bellicose, would take them out of his pocket, saying, “Then these will interest you!”)

****

At the first meeting, he was inclined to be shy of me, although, as I have said, he was at ease with his own contemporaries, conscious of their esteem: but I had already had a different, and perhaps a larger, experience of the world. His shyness in my presence, however, soon wore off, for we possessed in common a delight in the company of our friends, a love of books, and a hatred of modern war and of those who did not feel its burden. Moreover, we shared the unspeakable experiences of the infantry officer of the time and an enormous pity for those engaged in this vile warfare. We both knew the look he had described: “…the very strange look on all faces in that camp; an incomprehensible look, which a man will never see in England, though wars should be in England; nor can it be seen in any battle…It was not despair, or terror, it was more terrible than terror, for it was a blindfold look, and without expression, like a dead rabbit’s. It will never be painted, and no actor will ever seize it. And to describe it, I think I must go back and be with them…”

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Ghana's ruling party operating militia training center – Media exposé

1 week 5 days ago

Ghana’s ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is operating a militia training center in a government facility, a local media network reported on Thursday.

According to a Joy News investigative report, the NPP had been running, the group Eye Vigilante, at a center located in the capital, Accra, for the past two years.

The facility is located in an area marked as a ‘security zone.’ The investigation revealed that the militia had two offices in the building. A general office and one meant for its commander.

When the investigative reporter, Manasseh Azure Awuni, contacted the Interior Ministry about the existence of the group, it was confirmed that no such registered private security entity existed.

A private legal practitioner who spoke as part of the soon to be shown documentary titled: ‘Militia in the Heart of the Nation,’ said if verified, the move constituted a clear breach of the law.

JOYNEWS INVESTIGATIONS REVEAL A MILITIA GROUP ASSOCIATED WITH THE NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY TRAINS AND OPERATES HUNDREDS IN AN IMPORTANT STATE FACILITY CLASSIFIED AS SECURITY ZONE.

JOIN US ON #JoyNewsToday 12pm FOR ALL THE DETAILS. STAY TUNED!#JoyNews pic.twitter.com/gf4JNViQBd

— #JoyNews (JOYNEWSONTV) March 7, 2019

Ghana, one of West Africa’s most stable democracies was recently rocked by electoral violence leading the president to constitute a body to probe the bloody disturbances at the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency located in the heart of the capital.

Even as the commission continues its hearing, Ghanaians are united on the need to root out vigilantism in the country’s politics. The president in two recent addresses – state of the nation, independence day – stressed his resolve to combat political thuggery.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress, NDC, and the NPP have both been complicit in forming party security who have often been deployed to unleash violence during polls.

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MH370: 5 years on, couple still awaits news of son

1 week 5 days ago

It’s been five years since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, but 60-year-old farmer Li Eryou and his wife are still hopeful that their son is alive.

Yanlin, was one of the 239 passengers on the fateful flight that mysteriously disappeared on March 8, 2014.

After the plane vanished, Li abandoned his farmland and frequently traveled to Beijing to attend meetings with Malaysian representatives, hoping to find out more about what happened to his son.

“I need money to look for my son and I have had no income for the past five years. Going on the trip to find my child was costing a lot every year, so I never dared to stay in a hotel when I was in Beijing. Sometimes I couldn’t manage to get the last ticket of the day, I would have to sleep overnight at the square of the railway station and catch the first early train home on next day”, Li said.

Yanlin was one the few from this village in Hebei province who attended university and was working in Malaysia for Chinese telecom giant ZTE and only came home once a year or so during the Lunar New Year. Yanlin’s mother was diagnosed with severe depression a year after the disappearance of her son.

“I asked my son: ‘Why are you insisting to sleep with us in our bed, now that you have grown up? You should sleep on your own.’ My son said: ‘Because every year the time I’ve spent with you guys was too short.’ My son only came back home for nine or 10 days per year, during the Lunar New Year, eleven or twelve days at the longest. He only came back home once a year. My son told me: ‘Mom and dad, I just want to spend more time with you’‘, 60 year old, Liu Shuangfeng.

The couple cling to the strong belief that somewhere, somehow their son is still alive.

For five years, Li has written more than two thousand poems and constantly updates a post on social media in memory of his missing son.

He also dials his son’s phone number every Saturday night, although the automatically generated voice message says the phone has been turned off.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared over the South China Sea and 154 of the passengers were Chinese.

Reuters

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Ethiopia's Oromia hit by protests over Addis Ababa housing project

1 week 5 days ago

Hundreds in some cases thousands of people in Ethiopia’s Oromia region took to the streets today (March 7) in major towns to protest the manner in which the Addis Ababa city administration alloted condominium buildings.

Reports indicate that over a dozen locations across Oromia – the largest and most populous region – were hit by the protests. Among other places Jimma, Ambo, Awaday, Bale and Adama were all affected by the action.

The city administration led by the deputy city mayor, Takele Uma Banti, on Wednesday (March 6), made allocations of residential space built in an area called Koye Feche located in the Oromia Regional State’s special zone.

Addis Ababa which serves as the national capital is located in the Oromia region but is one of two chartered cities in the country. The other one is Dire Dawa. Oromos have long claimed the capital which is referred to in local parlance as Finfeene.

The city administration gave over 5,100 people 3 bedroom apartments on condominium sites mostly in the capital. While 7,100 people got a studio or one and two bedroom apartments in Koye Feche 1 & 2 sites.

The deputy mayor said farmers who were displaced from the sites were included in the transfer without lottery. The issue of uprooting local farmers to make way for the housing project has long been a divisive issue.

The project which dates back to 2016 forms part of plans to deal with rapid population growth and an acute shortage of affordable housing.

A authorities in Addis Ababa and in smaller cities across the country have been building condominium units targeting low and middle-income groups, financed entirely with public money.

Although Ethiopia is one of the least urbanized countries in the world, Addis Ababa’s population ast at 2016 was thought to be close to four million, and growing at a rate of nearly four percent per year.

#Ethiopia_Protest- Thousands of protestors have taken to the streets across nearly ten cities in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. This comes a day after the Addis Ababa administration handed over thousands of condominiums (Housing blocks) to buyers.— Mohamed Harare (@mohamed_harare) March 7, 2019

HOUSING LOTTERY FOR POOR

The housing complexes are typically four storeys high, with the aim of promoting densification and containing the city’s urban sprawl.

Poor residents who do not own property and are instead reliant on insecure tenancies, were encouraged to register for a lottery system which allocates the units as they become available.

Those who can afford the deposit and the scheme’s generous mortgage repayment terms are then granted ownership of their units, although all land in Ethiopia is still formally owned by the government.

The aim is to transform a housing sector historically characterized by rental occupation into one based on private home ownership.

Under the previous communist regime, known as the Derg, approximately 60 percent of housing in Addis Ababa was rental accommodation and government-owned housing in the Kebele municipal divisions accounted for 93 percent of the sector.

Kebele housing today is of typically poor quality, with homes made of wood and mud and without proper sanitation and infrastructure.

According to a report produced for the World Bank in 2016, the Integrated Housing Development Programme, IHDP, marks a “radical departure” from previous approaches to housing in Ethiopia.

The government aims to regenerate the inner city by replacing Kebele slums with condominiums.

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Sudan protest hub: March 7 women's tribute rally takes place

1 week 5 days ago

Sudan protest updates: December 2018 – February 1, 2019

March 7: March 7 women’s rally underway

March 7 protests called by the Sudanese Professional Association, SPA, took place across the country according to reports from an online media group, Sudanese blogs.

Sudanese blogs reported that a rally in the capital Khartoum took place amid chanting of anti -government slogans and calls for President Omar Al-Bashir to quit.

The information was corroborated by social media content that showed university students protesting. The Sudanese Congress Party, SCP, has also been sharing videos and photos from the protests.

Some of the material shows students who were teargassed by security forces whiles a number of students were also reportedly arrested in the capital, Khartoum.

March 6: After March 5 strike, SPA calls March 7 women’s rally

The Sudanese Professional Association, SPA, have announced the latest protest action it says is in honour of women for their participation in the ongoing ‘uprising.’

The March 7 rallies are a ‘tribute to the women movements’ and are billed to happen at a number of rallying points across the country.

READ MORE: Sudan activists call March 7 rally

March 6: Professionals Association says March 5 strike successful

The Sudanese Professionals Association, SPA, which has spearheaded anti-government protests in the country says the March 5 nationwide strike had been a success.

The group posted an update today from the Network of Journalists who participated in the strike stressing that the fight against the regime continued unabated.

The strike saw a complete social shutdown across much of the country. Photos shared on social media showed that offices and markets had largely been abandoned in observance of the strike.

Market stalls in the famous Sa'ad Gishra market in Bahri, Khartoum North (left) and Omdurman market (right) shut down for business as nationwide strike continues. pic.twitter.com/g73KoKsYLx— Yousra Elbagir (@YousraElbagir) March 5, 2019

March 5: Govt lowers customs exchange rate

Sudan has lowered its customs exchange rate to 15 Sudanese pounds to the dollar, from a previous rate of 18, a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday showed.

The cabinet also decided to discount 75 percent of storage fees for cargoes and containers stuck in Sudanese ports over the period of Feb. 1-25, according to the document which is dated Feb. 26.

Sudanese businessmen had repeatedly called on the government to lower the rate to help them purchase dollars as the country faces its crippling shortage of foreign currency.

March 5: SPA calls nationwide strike

The Sudanese Professionals Association, SPA, the main group behind anti-government protests in the country has called for a general strike across the country today, March 5.

The body announced the measure as the latest leg of activities meant to pile pressure on the embattled president Omar Al-Bashir and his government.

SPA has since December 2018 used social media platforms – Twitter and Facebook – to rally thousands for protests that started with hike in bread prices and shortage of fuel.

The protesters have since switched gear to making demands for the 30-year-reigning leader to quit and allow for a political transition.

Bashir has stepped down as head of the ruling party but declared a state of emergency that dissolved government and put military generals in charge of all provinces in February.

March 2: Opposition chief tasks Bashir to quit

Sudan’s main opposition party leader Sadiq al-Mahdi on Saturday called on President Omar al-Bashir to step down and sit with the opposition to agree on details of a transitional process to end the nation’s crisis, a statement from his party said.

“You can achieve a safe exit for the country which will be appreciated by the Sudanese people and history and will transform the deep polarization into national unity and international isolation into international cooperation,” the statement said.

The call comes after a week of successive measures aimed at combating an unprecedented wave of protests threatening Bashir’s three-decade rule, including declaring a nationwide state of emergency and sacking the governors of Sudan’s 18 states and replacing them with military and security officials.

The statement also called on Bashir to end the state of emergency, end torture and release all political prisoners.

Protests in Sudan, initially over high bread prices, have taken place nearly every day since Dec. 19 and developed into the most sustained challenge that Bashir has faced.

March 1: EU calls for truce in Sudan crisis

The European Union has reacted to developments in Sudan calling for the regime to do all it takes to arrest excesses that are likely to spiral from the recently declared state of emergency.

In a statement issued on February 28, the EU’s High Representative said they were monitoring the situation in Sudan. The statement called on government to release persons detained for political reasons.

“The EU expects the Sudanese government to release all journalists, members of the opposition, human rights defenders and other protesters in detention.

“Some of those with whom the dialogue is set to take place have been arbitrarily detained for over two months now,” the statement read in part.

Bashir steps aside as head of Sudan ruling party

The Sudanese Professionals Association, SPA, which is behind the protests wrote in an update on its Twitter page that five people had been killed on Thursday and one casualty as at today March 1.

March is the fourth month of continuous protests in the country. Today marks a week since the state of emergency was declared and government dissolved and reconstituted.

“Regime’ forces continue to directly fire teargas canisters at peaceful protesters from close proximity.

“Five protesters were injured during #SudanUprising rallies, on 28 Feb, and another one today. Many were hospitalized suffering teargas suffocation,” SPA said.

Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the situation in Sudan:

The EU is closely following the situation in Sudan. Measures being adopted under the newly declared state of emergency, the increased role of the military in governing the country, further curtail fundamental freedoms and undermine the recent offer of a new political dialogue.

They create a permissive climate for the security services to act with impunity against peaceful protesters. The latest attacks against unarmed students in the University of Medical Sciences and Technology and against peaceful protesters in Omdurman, are deeply disturbing.

Genuine political dialogue requires an environment in which the Sudanese people can exercise their legitimate right to express their views. This will be essential to create the national consensus needed to find sustainable responses to Sudan’s deep political and economic crisis.

The EU expects the Sudanese government to release all journalists, members of the opposition, human rights defenders and other protesters in detention.

Some of those with whom the dialogue is set to take place have been arbitrarily detained for over two months now. An independent investigation into the deaths and abuses should be undertaken with those responsible held to account.

The respect for these fundamental principles are at the core of the EU’s phased engagement with the government of Sudan. We will continue to monitor the situation and review the impact of the Government of Sudan’s actions on its relations with the European Union.

Feb 28: Security forces struggling to contain defiant protesters

In the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, other parts of the country, anti-government protests continue to roll on even as of today. The protests are in blanket defiance of a nationwide ban imposed by government.

The country is currently under a state of emergency imposed specifically to quell the protests which are calling for an end to the three-decades rule of President Omar Al-Bashir.

Sudanese Professionals Association, the main bloc behind the protests shared a footage of demonstrations on Zalat street in Khartoum via Facebook.

Security deployed around the country are reported to have fired tear gas to disperse the protesters. Aside the association, opposition parties and other civil society groups have given backing to the mass action.

Until days ago, social media was cut by the authorities who have routinely blamed it for helping gather protesters but also share gruesome crackdowns by the security forces.

Feb 27: Bashir makes more personnel changes

Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday reshuffled senior military staff on Tuesday, a day after announcing sweeping new emergency measures to deal with ongoing protests.

Several members of Sudan’s eight-strong military staff council switched positions and General Essam al-Din Mubarak, the former deputy head of the council, was given a new position as minister of state in the defence ministry.

“These are normal, routine changes that happen from time to time,” the military spokesman said.

Last week, Bashir announced a nationwide state of emergency and dissolved government.

He has since made the following changes;

Appointed Mohamed Tahir Eila, ex- Jazeera governor, as the new prime minister.
Sacked long time ally Bakri Hassan Saleh from position of vice president.
Appointed defence Minister General Awad Ibnouf as the new first vice president.
Appointed Mustafa Youssef as the new finance minister.

Replaced all state governors with military officials.

Protesters have staged almost daily demonstrations since December, demanding that Bashir, who came to power in a 1989 military coup, step down.

The protests were initially inspired by high prices for bread but have turned into a sustained campaign against Bashir and his government.

Western powers criticise Bashir

Western powers including the United States, Britain and France condemned the latests measures by the government to clamp down on protestsers.

US Acting Ambassador to the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen urged Khartoum to “respect the rights of all individuals in Sudan” and “bring an immediate end to the violent repression of peaceful protests.”

ALSO READ: Amnesty jabs Sudan over ‘break ins’ amid martial law crackdown

Feb 25: Bashir bans rallies

As Bashir desperately seeks to end protests that have rocked Sudan for over three months now, the embattled president on Monday banned unauthorised rallies.

This follows the declaration of a state of emergency last week on Friday.

Bashir also gave the country’s security forces sweeping powers to to raid buildings where “suspicious activities were being carried out” and also search people, the presidency said.

Other measures include:

Blocking roads and stopping traffic was banned
Publishing news “that hurts the citizens or the constitutional system” on any platform, including social media, was also outlawed

A new court and a special prosecutor were created to investigate violations of the measures, with offenders facing up to 10 years in prison

Explainer: Managing the economic crisis

Deadly protests began on December 19 after the government tripled the price of bread and quickly evolved into demonstrations against Bashir’s rule.

In the face of public anger over Sudan’s economic woes, Bashir on Monday announced measures to tackle the foreign currency shortage.

The presidency said no more than $3,000 would be allowed to be carried by any individual travelling outside the country.

Bashir also ordered that buying and selling of foreign currency be done only through official channels.

Over the past two years, the foreign exchange market has seen high volatility, forcing the country’s central bank to devalue the local pound twice last year.

Feb 24: New premier sworn in

Following the dissolution of government on Friday, in addition to declaration of state of emergency, president Nashir appointed Mohamed Tahir Eila as the new prime minister.

Eila , who is the former governor of the agricultural state of Jazeera was sworn in on Sunday, at a ceremony, according to an AFP photographer.

“Today, a new chapter begins in Sudan’s history,” Bashir, dressed in a military uniform, said at the ceremony.

Defence Minister General Awad Ibnouf was sworn in as the first vice president after his predecessor Bakri Hassan Saleh was sacked by Bashir.

Bashir also swore in 16 army officers and two officers from the National Intelligence and Security Service dressed in military uniforms as new governors for the country’s 18 provinces.

“This chapter needs special people like you to lead… in order to guarantee security and stability in the country.”

Bashir is expected to announce an entire new cabinet as he pushes on with sweeping top level changes in the face of nationwide protests that have rocked his rule.

February 24, 2019: Protesters defy state of emergency

Meanwhile, protesters continued to defy the state of emergency, holding demonstrations in Omdurman city, and the Khartoum districts of Burri and Shambat.

“We want to give the president a message that the state of emergency will not deter us,” said Sawsan Bashir who participated in the Omdurman rally.

“Our aim is to overthrow this regime and we will do it.”

Riot police swiftly confronted protesters in Omdurman and Burri with tear gas, witnesses said.

Protest organisers have vowed to continue with daily rallies, accusing Bashir and his officials of economic mismanagement that has led to soaring food prices and shortage of foreign currency.

February 23, 2019: President names defense minister as first veep

Sudan’s Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf was appointed first vice president and will remain the defence minister, the Sudanese presidency said on Saturday.

President Omar al-Bashir declared a one-year nationwide state of emergency on Friday and set up a caretaker administration but retained his defence, foreign and justice ministers.

The inside story of Bashir’s plan to quell anti-govt protests

Protesters frustrated with economic hardship have demonstrated for more than two months calling for an end to Bashir’s 30-year-old rule.

Bashir also replaced on Friday the governors of every Sudanese state with military officials.

Ibn Auf, who previously served as the head of military intelligence, earlier this month became the second of several top officials to strike a conciliatory tone towards the protests, saying that young people caught up in the recent turmoil had “reasonable ambition”.

1989 – 2019: Highlights of Bashir’s three-decades in charge

February 22, 2019: President declares 12-month state of emergency

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has declared a 12-month state of emergency across the country. The declaration was made in an address to the nation at 8pm local time on Friday (February 22).

The move is aimed at quelling spreading anti-government protests calling for him to leave office.

Meanwhile, protesters continued their rallies in the capital Khartoum after the close of the Friday congregational prayers, Jum’ah.

Bashir has stressed that he will only leave office if polls are held but the relentless protesters have also vowed to continue till he leaves.

Security agencies have had a hard time controlling some of the protests. Routine reports of tear gas and discharge of live bullets have led to deaths and injuries amid widespread arrest of political opponents and journalists.

#BREAKING Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir declares a year-long state of emergency after anti-government protests pic.twitter.com/Qazr8GHuku— AFP news agency (@AFP) February 22, 2019

February 21, 2019: Telecom giants undertake sit-ins

Reports indicate that employees of MTN and Zain have staged sit-in protests at their offices in the country.

The action is allied with ongoing protests that have rocked the government with calls for president Al-Bashir to quit after three decades in charge of the country.

MTN is one of three telecom outfits operating in the country. Government has since December 2018 ordered a restriction on access to especially social media platforms.

But it continues to be one of the main sources of information on the anti-government action. Facebook and Twitter have been crucial in spreading information about ongoings across the country.

A peaceful sit-in today by employees at MTN – one of the big three telecom companies in Sudan that have restricted access to social media platforms since the 20th of December. pic.twitter.com/HOPTYHwQWG— Yousra Elbagir (@YousraElbagir) February 21, 2019

February 19, 2019: Students

Varsity students in Sudan were shown protesting against the continued stay in office of President Omar Al-Bashir. They join a growing public call for the three-decades old leader to go.

Protests have led to the closure of a number of universities across the country as government security apparatus tries to get a grip on the nationwide action.

Despite being called by a Sudanese Professional Association, the country’s main opposition and other rights groups locally have joined in encouraging citizens to keep up the protests.

News Analysis: Bashir vs. Protesters – What next for Sudan?

Students in Sudan protesting today.
Many universities remain closed as protests calling for an end to the Al-Bashir regime continue across the Country. pic.twitter.com/sMIVCj70WF— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) February 19, 2019

Journalists – local and international, have been caught in the middle of the protests. Foreign reporters have been deported or ordered out over their coverage whiles local journalists have been arrested and allegedly tortured.

Rolls of daily and weekly newspapers have also been confiscated. A number of varsity professors in the capital Khartoum were recently arrested for attempting to stage a protest.

The government has routinely come out to report of deaths resulting from clashes. In the recent past, a fruit seller died of tear gas inhalation whiles a police was also stoned to death.

Human rights groups have disputed official government figures of deaths, putting the figure at above 40 – twice as much as the government tally.

February 17, 2019: Fruit seller dies over tear gas inhalation

A Sudanese fruit seller died Sunday in a hospital in Khartoum after inhaling tear gas fired by riot police during protests, according to his relatives and a committee of doctors linked to the anti-government protest movement.

“He was taken to the hospital but the doctors could not save him, he died from tear gas inhalation,” said a doctor who requested anonymity for security reasons.

A crowd of protesters gathered in Khartoum in the Bahari district (north) chanting “Freedom, Peace and Justice”, the main slogan of the protest, but soon faced riot police who fired tear gas, witnesses have reported.

February 15, 2019: Police pelted to death by protesters

A Sudanese policeman has died from his wounds after protesters threw stones at a police vehicle passing close to demonstrations in the capital Khartoum, a police spokesman said on Friday.

The vehicle was passing the area by chance late on Thursday, the spokesman said, adding that a number of suspects had been arrested.

The case brings the official death toll during protests that have spread since Dec. 19 across Sudan to 32, including three security personnel. An opposition-linked doctors’ syndicate said last week that 57 people had been killed in the protests.

“The vehicle was pelted with stones, and they were police returning from training and had no link to the dispersal of the unrest,” said police spokesman Hashem Ali.

Security forces dispersed protests close to the presidential palace in Khartoum on Thursday, rounding up several dozen of them and driving them away in pick up trucks, witnesses said.

On Friday police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of people who protested after leaving a mosque in Omdurman, across the Nile from central Khartoum, witnesses said.

REUTERS

February 14, 2019: Zero retreat till Bashir is history, arrests in Khartoum

Organizers of anti-government demonstrations in Sudan have reiterated their determination to continue mobilizing people until they overthrow the regime, excluding any dialogue with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Driven by a deep economic crisis, Sudan has been shaken since December 19 by almost daily demonstrations triggered by the government’s decision to triple the price of bread and other essential commodities.

“The opposition forces are united behind the demands of the people. They are working in harmony to overthrow the regime, and to continue demonstrations or sit-ins,” Sara Najdullah, Secretary General,
Association of Sudanese Professionals said.

¨Read our story here: Protest organisers vow to oust president Omar al-Bashir

Security forces fired teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters close to the Sudan’s presidential palace on Thursday, before plainclothes officers armed with plastic piping rounded up around 30 people, witnesses said.

Police then chased activists through side streets as smaller rallies broke out across downtown Khartoum.

Demonstrators chanted “Peaceful, peaceful against the thieves” and “Down, that’s it!” – their central demand for President Omar al-Bashir to step down.

The detained protesters, most of them young men and women, were driven away in pickup trucks, witnesses said. A police spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Union members, students, opposition activists and others, frustrated with economic hardships, have held near daily protests since Dec. 19, in the most sustained challenge to Bashir’s three decades in power.

The president and his ruling National Congress Party have shown no sign of bowing to those demands and have blamed the unrest on unnamed foreign powers. He and senior officials have used more conciliatory language in recent weeks, promising to release detained demonstrators.

But activists say hundreds remain in detention. An opposition-linked doctors’ syndicate said last week that 57 people have been killed in the protests. The government puts the death toll at 31, including two security personnel.

Security forces have used teargas, stun grenades and live ammunition to break up demonstrations.

The unrest has been fuelled by a deepening economic crisis marked by high inflation and shortages of bread, petrol and cash. The Sudanese pound fell to a record low on the black market on Thursday.

REUTERS

February 13, 2019: Sudan govt using hit-squad against protesters

The BBC is reporting about how the Sudanese government is employing special hit-squads to crackdown on anti-government protests that continue to spread across the country.

The BBC’s investigative wing, Africa Eye, pooled together videos shared by Sudanese caught in the protest whiles taking testimony of a victim of alleged state torture.

The BBC says it analyzed over 200 videos over the past weeks which showed low-level thugs under orders from the feared intelligence outfit, the NISS.

“Some of these protesters tell us about a secret and widely feared holding facility – The Fridge – where the cold is used as an instrument of torture,” the BBC report said.

President Omar Al-Bashir remains adamant about calls to step down. According to him only polls not protests will lead him out. Sudanese are expected to elect a president in 2020.

February 12, 2019: Professors arrested for planned protest

Security forces arrested 14 professors who were gathering to protest outside Khartoum University on Tuesday, witnesses said, as anti-government demonstrations neared the end of their eighth week.

Doctors also rallied outside state and private hospitals in Sudan’s capital and other cities against the rule of President Omar al-Bashir, witnesses added.

Union members, students, opposition activists and others, frustrated with economic hardships, have held near daily protests since Dec. 19, in the most sustained challenge to Bashir’s three decades in power.

Photos posted online on Tuesday showed people holding banners marked with “Freedom, justice and peace”, “No to torturing and killing protesters” and other slogans.

Rights groups say at least 45 people have been killed in the protests since they began on Dec. 19, while the government puts the death toll at 31.

Bashir has blamed the unrest on unnamed foreign powers and showed no signs of bowing to demands to quit. But he and some senior officials have adopted a more conciliatory tone in recent weeks and promised to free detained protesters.

REUTERS

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