Student shot dead, others injured after protest over housing

A second-year student in the faculty of technology at the University of Zalingei died and four others were injured in a shooting during a demonstration in the Central Darfur state in Sudan. Consequently, the university was shut down indefinitely, except for postgraduate students.

Students protested against the government’s reported refusal to hand over one of the headquarters of the peacekeeping forces, United Nations Mission in Darfur or UNAMID, which had withdrawn from the region, and turn it into student housing as was previously agreed upon. When protesting students tried to enter the mission headquarters, they were shot at.

“Following that, the students marched from the UNAMID site to the presidency of the government secretariat to meet the governor, and hand him a note with their demands, but he fled and left them in a confrontation with the security services … which caused the students’ anger and turned the event into chaos,” the Association of Zalingei University Professors explained in its statement.

“We hold the state’s governor fully responsible for these unfortunate events because of his delay in handing over the UNAMID headquarters to the University of Zalingei and for not meeting the students in front of his office,” the statement said.

In its 31 August statement the association condemned the incident and called for action against those involved in the killing.

According to the university, the student who was killed was Ezzaldin Omar Moussa. In a statement, it called for justice and calm and voiced its support for the students.

Ministry, security forces respond

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research released a statement on 1 September, saying it “condemns the use of excessive violence and the shooting of unarmed students and calls for the speedy bringing of the perpetrators to justice”.

In a 31 August statement the Central Darfur State Security Committee admitted that, after a verbal altercation occurred with protesting students, a soldier subsequently fired at students who tried to open the gate from the eastern side of the former UNAMID headquarters, which is in the courtyard of the new university. The soldier was subsequently arrested.

“After that, the students marched from the UNAMID site to the presidency of the government secretariat, to meet the governor, and hand him a memorandum. However, the matter developed into violence after students burned tyres in front of the government secretariat gate and clashed with the guards.

“As the number of demonstrators was greater than the capacity of the government secretariat guards, the guards decided to withdraw in order to preserve the lives of the students, but some of the demonstrators set fire to offices and some cars and completely destroyed the government secretariat offices and tore up documents,” the statement said.

The Central Darfur State Security Committee announced it was “taking the necessary measures to maintain security after the events …”

In addition, the government of Central Darfur state said an inquiry would be set up to determine what happened and that, whereas it recognised students’ concern over housing, demonstrations should be peaceful.