Sudanese official confirms death of teacher in detention
A Sudanese official has said that a teacher died of wounds suffered while in detention, confirming the claims of the victim's family and of protesters. Ahmed al-Kheir died after being arrested in connection with anti-regime protest last week, a relative told AFP on February 2.
The 36 year-old teacher and member of the Islamic Popular Congress Party (PCP) was detained by agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in the eastern state of Kassala. His uncle told AFP that Kheir was accused of organising protests in his hometown Khashm al-Girba.
The teacher's death triggered further protests, with hundreds of teachers demonstrating near the education ministry in Khartoum on Tuesday. Riot police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Relatives were told to collect Kheir's body from the mortuary, where his uncle told AFP he saw "marks of beatings on his back". Family members told Reuters that officials told them the teacher died from poisoning.
An autopsy report released by the Darfur Union in the United Kingdom which cannot be independently verified at this time alleges that Kheir suffered severe sexual assault and a possibly fractured skull while in detention.
The Sudan Tribune reported that two other detainees have died in custody in southern Sudan.
Officials have now walked back on previous claims. Amer Ibrahim, the head of a committee in the prosecutor's office investigating protest-related violence, has said that al-Kheir died of wounds suffered during detention. "The man had wounds on the back, legs and other parts of his body that led to his death," Ibrahim told AFP.
The investigator added that his committee had requested the chief of NISS in Kassala to "bring the security agents who interrogated Kheir".
Sudanese civilians began demonstrating against Omar al-Bashir's government in December after a decision to triple the price of bread.
Protests are now in their eighth week after quickly spreading across the country, with demonstrators began calling for Bashir's resignation and the formation of a transitional government, after police repression of demonstrations.
protesters gathered in Khartoum on Thursday to protest the detainment of hundreds of fellow demonstrators. Witnesses told AFP that the crowd reiterated what has fast become the slogan of anti-regime rallies: "freedom, peace, justice". The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) organised Thursday’s protests in opposition to the "torture" of detainees.
While Sudanese officials say 30 people have died in protest-related violence, Human Rights Watch claims that 51 people have been killed.
This June will mark the thirtieth year of Bashir's tenure as president of Sudan, a role he assumed after taking power in a coup in 1989.
The president, who has accused "hostile parties" of funding a media campaign to organise protests, acknowledged the popular dissent on Wednesday, claiming that demonstrators' anger was derived from the public order law. Activists say the law mostly targets women for "dressing indecently" and for "immoral behaviour".A female protester told AFP on Thursday that it was not only the public order law demonstrators were opposed to. "Once we overthrow the regime, we will change the old laws completely with new laws that respect the dignity and diversity of the Sudanese people," she said.