KHARTOUM — A student beaten by police during violent anti-government demonstrations in Khartoum has died of his wounds in Omdurman hospital, protesters said on Monday.
“Mohammed Abdulrahman, from Ahlia University, died last night in Omdurman hospital as a result of his … wounds after he was beaten by police,” an activist who took part in Sunday’s protest told AFP.
“This morning (Monday) both Ahlia University and the Islamic University of Omdurman have been closed by a government decision,” added the activist, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Sunday’s demonstrations followed calls by the “30 January” Facebook group for Sudanese youth to take to the streets and stage peaceful anti-government rallies across Sudan.
The Facebook group, which boasts around 17,000 members, confirmed Abdulrahman had died, referring to him as a “martyr” who followed in the footsteps of another student killed in the October 1964 popular uprising that toppled the military regime then in power.
“Al-Gorashy was a martyr for us. And you are our martyr now, Mohammed Abdulrahman,” it said in large red lettering.
Protesters on Sunday were confronted by a heavy police presence in different parts of Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman, and in El-Obeid, around 600 kilometres (370 miles) west of the capital.
The ensuing clashes resulted in at least 64 arrests and left many wounded.
Sudan’s Vice-President Ali Osman Taha on Monday echoed earlier statements by senior Sudanese officials that the government does not fear popular protest of the kind that has shaken the regime of President Hosni Mubarak in neighbouring Egypt but said such actions must be “within the law.”.
“The government is not afraid of anything. Freedom exists within the law, and anyone who wants to express himself has to do so within the law,” Taha told a news conference in Khartoum.
Another senior member of the ruling National Congress Party branded Sunday’s protests “illegal and isolated.”
“These protests were illegal and isolated, and the political parties behind them were acting in an illegal way and this is not accepted,” Rabie Abdul Ati told AFP.
The demonstrations came after nearly a week of turmoil in Egypt, and coincided with the first complete preliminary results from this month’s vote on independence for south Sudan, which confirmed a landslide for secession.
In Omdurman, just across the Nile from Khartoum, around 1,000 demonstrators shouted slogans against President Omar al-Bashir and hurled rocks at riot police, who retaliated with tear gas and batons.
At the medical faculty of Khartoum University, security officers tried to prevent some 300 student protesters from leaving the campus, but they eventually forced their way out onto the street, shouting: “Revolution against dictatorship!”
Police and security officers attacked them with batons, arresting several and forcing the students back inside the university compound, which was later surrounded by more than 20 police trucks.
Widespread economic and political discontent has provoked sporadic street protests in north Sudan in recent weeks, with the security forces maintaining tight control in Khartoum.