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Protests in Sudan Mirror Turkey as Funeral Demonstrators Are Tear-Gassed

Around 1,000 people marched in Khartoum, protesting at the funeral of a student killed by police. They received more brutality in return.

by Alice Speri
Mar 12 2014, 6:00pm

Photo via Getty

While the world watched the funeral of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan in Istanbul, another funeral took place in Khartoum, and the similarities between the two deaths were remarkable.

In Sudan, like in Turkey, large crowds took to the streets after the death of a young man killed by police. And in Sudan, just as in Turkey, the protests against police brutality were met with tear gas and yet more police brutality.

Ali Abakr Moussa Idris, who studied economics at the University of Khartoum, died on Tuesday following a demonstration by a few hundred students who were denouncing the unraveling security situation in Darfur. Dozens have been killed in the troubled region in recent weeks in fighting between rebels and security forces.

At the Khartoum protest, police dispersed the demonstrators with tear gas and live ammunition. Idris died in hospital after sustaining gunshot wounds during the rally, in which several others were also injured, one severely. More than a hundred people were arrested.

On Wednesday, police once again fired tear gas at protesters who had gathered for Idris’s funeral. About 1,000 people marched in the capital, some carrying flags and chanting, "killing a student is killing the nation," Reuters reported. Others in the crowd threw stones at police.

"With the killing of this student, Bashir has lost his legitimacy,” protester Hussein Yassin told Reuters. “We'll go out to protest until we topple him.”

The videos below show Idris’s funeral procession.

Video uploaded to Facebook by Nazim Sirag shows angry crowds at the funeral of a student protester killed by police.

Video uploaded to Facebook by Nazim Sirag shows protesters at the funeral of Ali Abakr Moussa Idris in Khartoum.

Human rights observers criticized police’s violent response to the student protests.

“The authorities must rein in the security forces and prevent them from using such excessive force in violation of international law and standards,” Netsanet Belay, Africa Director of Research and Advocacy at Amnesty International said in a statement.

Sudanese authorities have routinely used too much force against mostly peaceful demonstrations over the last two years, the human rights watchdog said.

The University of Khartoum has a long history of student activism and authorities’ raids and crackdowns on campus are not unusual, the Paris-based Sudan Tribune website reported. Following the clashes, the university has suspended classes until further notice.

Meanwhile, the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate. Thousands of people have fled the escalating violence in recent days, amidst reports of looting and burnt villages.

Earlier this week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement condemning the violence.

"Since late February, fighting between rebel groups and local militia in South Darfur has left thousands of people homeless," Ban's spokesperson said. "The Secretary General urges all parties to immediately cease hostilities and negotiate a peaceful settlement to these conflicts."

Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi