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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 October 2013

Sudan: 'Down with the regime!'

Solidarity with protesting workers, youth and women

Halema, Sudanese activist

Workers, youth and oppressed women have taken to the streets of Sudan after the hated al-Bashir regime (National Islamic Front) doubled the prices for fuel and cooking gas on 23 September by cancelling the fuel subsidy. The protesters chanted slogans which included: "The people want the fall of the regime!" and "Freedom, Freedom!"

The cut in the subsidy has also increased the price of food. Protesters have met huge and violent repression from the state. Activists and doctors at a Khartoum hospital say over 200 people have been killed by the regime, with many more injured. Police have arrested over 1,000 people from several cities and are using violence in house-to-house security sweeps.

In the areas of Wad Nubawy, al-Thawra in Sudan's twin capital city of Omdurman and al-Kalaklat in south Khartoum demonstrations were met with a violent response from the police.

Protesters were chased by police in cars to prevent them from blocking a main street in al-Thawra. Eyewitnesses in Wad Nubawy and al-Kalaklat said that police used live ammunition and tear gas.

On Saturday 28 September security forces fired on hundreds of mourners marching after the funeral of a protester killed a day earlier.

Eyewitnesses also say mass arrests of young people were carried out from inside the neighbourhoods without notifying their parents. However, the protests are continuing, including a demonstration of female students from Ahfad University in Omdurman-Khartoum.

The government has imposed a media blackout. Newspapers have had issues confiscated and others forced to stop printing, prompting a group of journalists to call for a general strike. Internet access has also been blocked.

Already the situation for the mass of the population was dire. The unemployment rate is 20%. More than two million people live in poverty (average income is less than $1 a day) with an estimated 300,000 people not having access to food and water.

The government says it will give financial assistance to 500,000 families to offset the price hikes. This may prove to be too little, too late to dampen the protests.

Repressive regime

Bashir's National Islamic Front is a repressive regime of right-wing political Islam. When it came to power in 1989, the first thing it did was to launch the Public Order Act.

This is designed to oppress women. Article 152 of Sudan's 1991 Criminal Act allows for the flogging of women. It hands a disproportionate amount of power to the enforcer, making him simultaneously judge, jury and executioner.

Doctors' and lawyers' unions in Sudan have called for a general strike. Solidarity protests have taken place in the USA and in London, outside the Sudanese Embassy.

The trade unions, farmers' organisations and students must arm their struggle against price rises with the demand to take Sudan's resources into democratic public ownership and control of the economy, and for a government made up of workers and the poor.

Urgent is the building of a mass independent working class movement that draws in all the oppressed sections of society.

A socialist programme will also be essential for the working class and oppressed masses to begin to resolve Sudan's problems of under-development, war devastation, indebtedness and poverty, and provide lasting solutions to the country's various ethnic and religious conflicts.

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In The Socialist 2 October 2013:

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Sudan: 'Down with the regime!'

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