University professors headed for a sit-in protest are arrested in Khartoum

Authorities deployed security forces near the University of Khartoum where academic staff had planned a sit-in
Sudanese protesters chant slogans and raise signs against President Omar al-Bashir during a demonstration in the capital Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman on January 25, 2019. – Sudan’s main opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi called on January 25 for President Omar al-Bashir to step down, throwing his support behind anti-government demonstrators after weeks of deadly protest. (Photo by – / AFP)

Sudanese security agents on Tuesday detained a group of university professors in Khartoum headed for a sit-in protest against President Omar al-Bashir’s government, fellow academics told AFP.

Deadly protests have rocked the east African country for weeks since a government decision to triple the price of bread last December.

The protests have escalated into nationwide demonstrations against Bashir’s government, with protesters calling for the veteran leader’s resignation.

On Tuesday, the authorities deployed security forces near the University of Khartoum where professors and lecturers had planned to hold a sit-in, witnesses said.

“Fourteen professors, eight from University of Khartoum and six from other universities, were on their way to take part in the sit-in when security agents took them away,” University of Khartoum professor Mamdouh Mohamed Hassan said.

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Several other professors were also unable to participate in the sit-in after security agents closed the gates of the venue where they had gathered before heading to the sit-in, he said.

Hassan serves as a spokesman for a group of university professors who are actively participating in anti-government rallies.

A lecturer from University of Khartoum also said security agents had taken away 14 professors ahead of the sit-in.

Security agents have regularly arrested professors and other professionals in a sweeping crackdown on protests since they first erupted on December 19.

The anti-government protests have been led by the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of doctors, engineers and teachers.

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Officials say 30 people have died in protest-related violence, but rights group Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed.

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