Authorities have raided the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate and arrested one of its members, as reports emerged that authorities and security forces are using bullets and live ammunition to quell pro-democracy protests.
Dahab al-Obeidi, the bureau chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, the international news network, has also been detained, according to colleagues at the station. Al Jazeera says its editorial staff were ordered to evacuate the building.
The Huffington Post reports that at least six people have been killed so far in Sudan. Others are wounded. Witnesses on the ground have told of confrontations between the security forces and protesters, pointing to sniper attacks.
People believe the government is staging the protests in order to stem the flow of refugees and people leaving the country. On Friday, record numbers of people reached Egypt and Libya after walking across the border.
A Sudanese journalist, Sami Chehayeb, who writes for Associated Press and is a HuffPost contributing editor, tells Tucker Carlson, “The Sudanese people are desperate, and they want to voice their grievances in Sudan, and all the Sudanese people and journalists want to say is, ‘We’re open to dialogue.’ We have been talking for weeks, but since the cabinet and the President have refused to even meet with the different actors, then the response is self-defeating.”
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According to those reports, security forces have surrounded a building and more than 50 people are reported to be trapped inside, including several journalists.
The night before the protests, authorities raided one of the country’s largest opposition parties, the National Consensus Forces Coalition, and arrested its director, Ayoub Sheik Hussein. The coalition posted on Facebook that 42 of its supporters, including Hussein, had been detained, along with their home phones and laptops.
Late Friday, Sudan’s public prosecutor indicted “14 political leaders and politicians, calling for their trial. They are accused of contempt of the president, promoting and inciting violence, and expressing hostile and incorrect views against the state and organs of the state.”
One of the country’s leading economic analysts, Naguib Abu al-Jarghash, said the ongoing economic crisis “is another possible catalyst” for the protests. The foreign exchange black market has doubled in value, with one dollar buying about 19 Sudanese pounds.
On Thursday, Sudan’s central bank held a meeting to consider “discuss ways of applying pressure on those who went against the law with the aim of weakening our country and economy.” The organization said in a statement on Twitter it called the demonstrations “treason” and that it “vigorously” supports the security of the state.
“The case is not clear what happened to Al-Obeidi or what charges he has been charged with,” Sami wrote. “We are interested in all the facts, and it is still a matter for journalists to raise a voice and push the authorities to allow [the foreign reporter to] be released.”
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