Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been facing a massive protest movement demanding his resignation for more than two months, ordered on Friday the release of all women detained for participating in protests against his regime.
“I order Salah Gosh to release all women prisoners,” Bashir said at a reception at the presidential palace, referring to the head of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).
The announcement came on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
I order Salah Gosh to release all women prisoners
The Presidency press office confirmed that President Bashir indeed gave instructions to release all women detained for their participation in demonstrations.
Sudanese officials did not indicate how many women were being held for taking part in the demonstrations. According to opposition activists, about 150 women are behind bars.
Hundreds of people, including opposition leaders, activists and journalists, were arrested during the protest movement that began on 19 December after the government’s decision to triple the price of bread in the midst of an economic downturn. This is the most serious challenge to Bashir’s power in the 30 years he has held the reins of Sudan.
To deal with this, on 22 February the Head of State imposed a one-year state of emergency throughout the country.
It also ordered the establishment of special courts to try those accused of violating the state of emergency.
Since these measures, rallies have become rarer and now seem to take place mainly on Thursdays. Few demonstrations have been reported outside the capital in recent weeks.
According to an official assessment, 31 people have died since December 19. The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports 51 deaths, including children and medical personnel.
A demonstration took place on Friday in the Burri district of eastern Khartoum, which was hit by tear gas fire from the security forces, witnesses said.
Security forces also used tear gas against demonstrators gathered outside a mosque in Omdurman city after Friday prayers, according to witnesses.