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Reporter Detained in Sudan After Posting YouTube Video of Khartoum Protests

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, June 22 2012

Protesters at an anti-government protest in Khartoum, Sudan

For the sixth day in a row, Khartoum university students were out protesting massive increases in the price of meals and transportation that stem from new government austerity measures.

Reporters and activists on the ground in Sudan say the size of the protests are clearly worrying the government of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir — and government forces are cracking down, attempting to limit people's ability to publish video and photos from a political moment that some are debating whether or not to call the arrival of the Arab Spring in Sudan. Efforts to capture images of the unrest, they say, are being hampered by government forces, including the brief detention of one reporter who posted video to YouTube.

Girifna, a bilingual English-Arabic site that reports on Sudanese nonviolent resistance, reportsthat violence from government forces has been "excessive, even by the regime's brutal standards."

James Copnall (@JamesCopnall), the BBC correspondent for Sudan and South Sudan, observes that the crackdown is making it difficult to report on the protests, or to film them.

Copnall's tweets are a valuable source of information. He is careful to differentiate between what he has seen versus what he has heard. Copnall has confirmed activists' claims of police violence, but says that some of their claims regarding the number of people participating in demonstrations seems to be exaggerated — even as demonstrations have spread to locations beyond downtown Khartoum.

Sudanese women seem to be taking a leading role in the latest protests. Girifna reports that female students initiated the protests on Tuesday evening, when they exited their dormitories chanting protest slogans, with the men following their lead.

NPR's crowdsourcerer and Twitter-using Middle East watcher Andy Carvin (@acarvin) has started following a hashtag used by people on the ground in Sudan, #SudanRevolts, closely, particularly since Egyptian reporter Salma Elwardany (@S_Elwardany) was detained briefly by police. Elwardany had earlier uploaded a video of a Khartoum demonstration to YouTube. There are rumors that she could be deported for reporting on the protests.

Here's the video:

Human rights activist Maha El-Senosy (@MimzicalMimz) was also detained briefly and then released. There were unconfirmed reports that 100 students had been sentenced to whippings for participating in anti-government protests.

Sudanese activist Yousif Elmahdi (@Usiful_ME) is tweeting live from demonstrations in Khartoum, with photos and video. According to his tweets, police have shot at least one protester in the leg with live ammunition. In this video, protesters chant, "The people demand the fall of the regime," followed by "No, no to price hikes! Sugar for the poor!" (the latter rhymes in Arabic).

Additional Sudanese Twitterati to follow include Amir Ahmad Nasr (@sudanesethinker) and Usamah Mohd (@simsimt).

Via Facebook, anti-government activists have called for a mass demonstration on June 30, the twenty-third anniversary of the Bashir government ascendence to power following a coup.

Personal Democracy Media is thankful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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