KHARTOUM: A social media activist working for the World Bank has been arrested in Sudan, her husband said yesterday, part of a crackdown after fuel price hikes sparked deadly protests.
Eight security officers took Dalia El Roubi from her family home on Monday, her husband Abdelrahman Elmahdi said. They also detained her friend Rayan Shaker, a fellow activist, but gave no reason for the arrests.
“As of today we have no clue as to her whereabouts or where she is staying or her condition,” he said. Elmahdi said his wife, a mother of three, belongs to no political party but is “part of the youth movement,” including a group called Sudan Change Now.
He said his wife had joined one protest last weekend, a funeral procession for Salah Sanhouri, a pharmacist gunned down during a demonstration. Security officers seized a video camera and a small digital camera from El Roubi’s home, her husband added.
No one at the Sudan office of the World Bank, where El Roubi works as a communications specialist, was able to comment. The Washington-based Bank works to fight global poverty.
Sudan’s government says it has arrested hundreds of “criminals” after last week’s protests. Authorities say 34 people died after petrol and diesel prices jumped, sending thousands into the streets in the worst urban unrest during President Omar Hassan Al Bashir’s 24-year rule. Activists and international human rights groups said at least 50 people were shot dead, most of them in the greater Khartoum area.
The government said it had to intervene last week when crowds turned violent, attacking petrol stations and police facilities. France, Britain and the United States have expressed concern at Sudan’s reaction to the protests.
Britain said that the deadly protests should serve as a wake-up call for political dialogue, as concern mounted for those detained in the crackdown. Simon Fraser, permanent under-secretary in Britain’s Foreign Office, said on a visit to Khartoum he hoped “these protests will be a warning to everyone including the government that the situation needs to be addressed”.
Last week, Washington blasted the “brutal crackdown” and expressed alarm at reports that civil society activists had been detained, independent media outlets shut, and communications networks restricted.
The Committee to Protest Journalists, a New York-based watchdog, said late Tuesday that Sudan was using “censorship and intimidation” in an effort to make journalists stick to the official line about the protests. The intensity of demonstrations has faded this week but witnesses on Wednesday reported two small rallies.
About 30 women stood silently in Khartoum near military headquarters and Bashir’s guest house, one witness said. In the Red Sea city of Port Sudan, up to 100 students took to the streets denouncing the regime, a witness there said.