December 19, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese police used force on Wednesday to break up a protest staged by hundreds of schoolteachers against low wages and alleged corruption in the ministry of education.
A Sudan Tribune reporter said that the protesters gathered in the early hours of the morning near the houses of parliament in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, where they started chanting slogans criticizing the government’s economic policies.
Heavy police forces moved in and dispersed the protesters using teargas and batons, our reporter said. Police forces chased protesters and closed all roads leading to the parliament.
The protesters, who told Sudan Tribune that they called their demonstration “the protest for returning human dignity to the teacher”, managed however to submit a memorandum to the parliament demanding that their wages be increased to 2000 Sudanese pounds (approximately 450 US dollars as per the official rate).
They also demanded stoppage of what they described as “the process of corruption that plagued” the ministry.
According to the protesters, big chunks of their salaries are being deducted to finance a private trust fund setup by the union of schoolteachers, which is affiliated to the government. They added that the scheme failed to provide them with any financial security and that their contributions were “siphoned off”
The memorandum threatened to escalate the protests if the demands of schoolteachers are not met.
Sudanese authorities are known for their zero tolerance of peaceful protests and assemblies unless, of course, they are supporting the government.
Police and security forces used heavy force and mass arrests among activists to end weeks of protests in June and July this year against the government and the austerity measures it announced in response to the economic crisis that has befallen the country since it lost three quarters of its oil production – and main source of state revenues – to South Sudan when the latter seceded in July last year.
One of the protesting schoolteachers told Sudan Tribune “protesting is a legitimate right and I believe that this legislative institution [the parliament] should be concerned with fighting corruption and therefore we decided to resort to it”.