Attack on Education: Targeting University Students from Darfur is an alarming trend in Sudan

Over the last two days, pictures of tragedy have surfaced on social media. A group of young university students, with only backpacks, a dim sadness on their faces and exhausted from miles of walking on their feet’s to reach the capital of Sudan. It’s the Sudanese authority that has prevented the public transportation to carry them.

Around 1,000 Darfuri students forced to resign from the University of Bakht El Rida in El Duwiem in the White Nile state, this week. Reports from the university indicate that officials consistently harassed Darfuri students. The events at the University of Bakht El Rida highlight the widespread, systematic discrimination against Darfuris in Sudan by the government and its security apparatus for more than a decade. In May of 2017, nine Darfuris were arrested on falls accusations of murdering two police officers without any evidence to back up this serious claim. This sadly not a single incidents other students consistently faced discrimination from pro regime university leaders

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies cites a police raid on the 9th of May which was targeted towards Darfuri students exclusively, and many reports claim that were often excessive use of force against the student population. This was not the first police raid the university experienced. One on 21 June 2011 left 18 students injured. Reports over the years highlight the abuse these students experienced. There were consistent attacks, leaving many injured and or killed in the wake. Students were also randomly arrested or detained. Students who attempted to fight back and reclaim their right to education were brutally beaten and targeted. Reports from inside the university highlight how officials created a racial discrimination against Darfuri students

As of the 20th of July 2017, the over 1,000 students who resigned en masse were stopped from entering Khartoum. Bus drivers in El Sough El Shaabi in El Duweim were routinely told by government authorities not to transport Darfuri students, leaving students with no choice but to march to the capital on foot to demand the release of the nine students accused of murder. The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) is preventing the students from entering the capital, in what Amnesty International calls a “callous disregard of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.” Reports state that the group of students has grown in number, now reaching about 1,500. As they are not able to enter Khartoum, these students are in Sheikh El Yagout in the White Nile state. The Sheikh El Yagout village has been praised by many for providing these students with lodging and other necessities during the plight of these students.

It should be noted, however, that many students did not let this intentional discrimination and miss treatment interfere with their desire to get an education. When buses stopped transporting them, they began to walk. The ultimate outcome should not diminish the bravery these students exemplified; they were consistently trying to overcome the discrimination they faced. Darfuri students organized protests and worked extremely hard to do well in school.

The systematic abuse of the Darfuri population runs too deep, however, and the actions that were taken by these students to end discrimination against them only helped to fuel it. Those who participated in demonstrations or were at the top of their classes were targeted and isolated. Many were accused of crimes with no shred of evidence to back up the accusation.
We should not be fooled by the narrative the Sudanese government is promoting. Violence in Darfur has not decreased, and violence against Darfuris has only become more intense. What happened to these students demonstrates the vile nature of the government’s tactics against Darfuris; these attacks are seeping into their everyday lives with the goal of depriving them of any semblance of a healthy and happy life.
It’s a part of deliberate tactics to weaken the Darfuri societies. When millions are driven out of their home, children can’t go to school, and university students are systematical targeted, what will be the future of Darfur with an entire generation deprived of education

It should be noted that this story is still developing; the 1500 students are still in Sheikh El Yagout trying to get into Khartoum; We must keep an eye to ensure that the government wouldn’t harm them. Trying to fight for their most basic rights, and as they are fighting, they should know that their struggle is not in vain. We must demand accountability for the Sudanese government and its barbaric behavior and human rights violation against students and expose them to the world.