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ADDIS ABABA (HAN) June 9.2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. By Ahmed H Adam and Ashley D. Robinson. A new protest movement is gaining momentum in Sudan as thousands of young people across the country unite against the government.

Last week two students joined dozens others currently being held in detention, after fresh protests against attacks on civilians in west and south Darfur.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement in response to the arrests, warning: “Sudan is cracking down on activists, students, and even their lawyers, with abusive and thuggish tactics.”

Coordinated via the encrypted messaging service, WhatsApp, and on social media, waves of unrest first swept the capital after the killings of two young men in separate campus attacks by forces loyal to Omar al-Bashir’s government.

Abubakar Hassan, an 18-year-old student, was shot and killed after taking part in a march at the University of Kordofan after nominating himself to be the new head of the student union. The region is currently being bombed by the government in an attempt to crush the various rebel groups operating there.

Just days later, 19-year-old Mohamed El Sadiq was at an event celebrating Nuba culture when he was shot by student militants loyal to the ruling party, the National Congress, who opened fire on the meeting.

In a country known for its violent intolerance of dissent, such displays of public discontent are rare. In September 2013, thousands of anti-government protestors took to the streets inspired by the Arab Spring movements, but the government responded by killing nearly 200 civilians, many of whom were said to have been shot in the forehead.

More than 800 people were subsequently arrested, with detainees, particularly those from Darfur, subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

But despite this memory still fresh in the minds of many of the protesters, Mohamed Salah, a leader in the student wing of the Sudanese Communist Party at Khartoum University, said there have been an increasing number of “initiatives of unity and solidarity with the Darfuri students and other students from the war-torn regions.”

Students in Khartoum and on campuses in El-Fashir and Nyala in Darfur and Kassala in east Sudan have started speaking out against the status quo, in favour of unity with marginalised non-Arab factions.

After the killing of Ali Abbakar, a Darfuri student taking part in a peaceful protest in Darfur last year, large numbers of students “[sent] a clear message to the regime that ‘we are all Darfurians’ and made clear the entire nation was rejecting the bloody targeting of the Darfurian students,” Salah said.

“The Darfuri students have become the soul of the resistance.”

According to Adam Musa, a leader in the Darfuri Student Leagues Coalition, 23 students have been killed since the regime came to power in a coup in 1989, 16 of whom were from the war-torn state.

“I am confident that the situation will eventually reach the tipping point and succeed in changing the regime,” he said. “It is time to unite and work together.”

The views expressed in the ‘Opinion‘ section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author.

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