KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A student in Sudan died from his injuries after being beaten by security forces who broke up anti-government demonstrations inspired by protests in neighbouring Egypt, activists said on Monday.
Three activists told Reuters that Mohamed Abdelrahman, a student from Khartoum’s Omdurman Ahaliya University, died in hospital from his injuries late on Sunday and had been buried. The university has been closed indefinitely.
It was the first reported death in student protests that have erupted in several cities.
On Sunday night, students at Khartoum university were beaten and teargassed in their dormitories with at least five injured. Protests were also held in el-Obeid town in the west and Kassala in the east, with hundreds of young people being beaten by police with batons, activists said.
Witnesses said at least six universities in the capital and Sudan’s regions were surrounded on Monday by hundreds of heavily armed police, preventing students from leaving the grounds.
University students in three towns in the north tried to escape to protest but were quickly arrested or beaten back by armed police, they said.
“You are our martyr Mohamed Abdelrahman,” activists wrote on the social networking site Facebook, on a group called “Youth for Change” which has more than 16,000 members and calls for an end to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government.
“Medical sources confirmed to us that the student died yesterday from his injuries inflicted by security forces,” Yasir Arman, the top official in the north of south Sudan’s main party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), told Reuters.
Arman condemned the use of force and said the students were trying to hold peaceful demonstrations.
The Omdurman hospital morgue declined to comment on the death. On Sunday police spokesman Ahmed Tuhami denied excessive force had been used.
Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha said protests were allowed. “But they must be done within the legal framework,” he told reporters on Monday.
Public gatherings without prior permission are illegal in Sudan. But security forces rarely — if ever — approve protests opposing government policies.
Students demonstrating against rising food and petrol prices clashed with police in north Sudan earlier this month. The protests have broadened since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, with campaigners calling for a change of government and listing a range of complaints ranging from corruption to the practice of sentencing women to be lashed.
On Monday journalists said security forces prevented the opposition Ajras al-Huriya and the independent al-Sahafa newspapers from being distributed after they wrote about the protests.
“Security came to the printing press and stopped the paper going out,” said Fayez al-Silaik, deputy editor of Ajras al- Huriya, adding his paper was targeted because it had a front page article on the protests.
Dozens of students including two sons of opposition politician Mubarak al-Fadil were arrested and many remain detained, activists and opposition officials said on Monday.
Sudan has a close affinity with Egypt as the two nations were united under British colonial rule. Protests in Cairo and other Egyptian cities have sparked calls for change in Sudan, Africa’s largest country, which is about to split in two with the oil-producing south voting in a referendum for independence.
Sudan is also deep in economic crisis after a bloated import bill has eaten up foreign currency and forced an effective currency devaluation which sparked rising inflation.
This month the government cut subsidies on petroleum products and sugar, a key commodity in Sudan, sparking smaller protests throughout the north.
Additional reporting by Khaled Abdelaziz, Editing by Mark Trevelyan