The arrests came on Friday after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who gathered at mosques, said the Organisation for Defence of Rights and Freedoms, representing political, media, trade union and other activists promoting human rights.
"There were many arrests made by the government; some
activists, politicians, university students. And the organisation
demands that these people be released," an official from the rights
The organisation could not say how many were detained,
but it claims more than 2,000 have been held since demonstrations
sparked by inflation began three weeks ago. Protests initially occurred daily, with groups of 100 or 200 people, but have now focused on Fridays.
Among those detained was Ibrahim Sheikh, leader of the Congress Party, the rights group said. Like
the previous Friday, demonstrators concentrated at the Wad Nubawi
mosque of the opposition Umma party in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. Video
footage showed dozens of people marching outside the mosque, chanting
and calling for the regime's overthrow before police on pickup trucks
fired tear gas, sending the crowd scattering.
"Some people were fainting because of the use of tear gas," said the rights group official. The government has called the demonstrators "rioters" who threaten Sudan's stability. The
European Union, Canada, the United Nations, Britain and the United
States have expressed concern over the response to the protests, which
began over high food prices on June 16 at the University of Khartoum.
President Omar al-Bashir announced austerity measures, including tax
hikes and an end to cheap fuel, demonstrations spread to include a
cross-section of people around the capital and in other parts of Sudan.
has played down the demonstrations as small-scale and not comparable to
the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere, maintaining that he
himself remains popular after 23 years in power.
Sudan has lost
billions of dollars in oil receipts since South Sudan gained
independence on July 9 last year, taking with it about 75 percent of
Sudanese crude production.
The north has been left struggling for revenue, plagued by inflation, and with a severe shortage of dollars to pay for imports.