Academics join call for civil disobedience after coup

Sudanese universities and academics are supporting calls for peaceful protests and civil disobedience in response to the military coup that has ended the transition to democratic rule.

On 25 October the coup leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in a televised address, announced dissolving civilian rule, arresting political leaders and declaring a state of emergency.

He has been heading the Sovereign Council, part of a power-sharing arrangement between military and civilian leaders, that was established after a popular uprising removed president Omar al-Bashir in December 2019.

Al-Burhan said infighting between politicians, their political ambitions and incitement to violence, had forced him to act to protect the safety of the nation and to “rectify the revolution’s course”.

Also, on 25 October the information ministry said in a statement on Facebook, that Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and his wife were kidnapped from their residence and taken to an unknown destination by a military force. But, according to reports on 27 October they have returned home and appear to be unharmed.

The security forces simultaneously arrested several members of the Sovereign Council, ministers and political leaders.

“We call on the Sudanese people to come out, demonstrate and use all peaceful means [at their disposal] … to oppose the coup leaders,” the information ministry statement said.

Academic community responds

Amid the deteriorating relationship between the military generals and Sudanese pro-democracy groups in recent weeks over the country’s future, four days before the military takeover, academics joined pro-democracy demonstrators who demanded full civilian rule.

This was reflected in a statement on 21 October issued by the Association of Sudanese Professors at Universities, Faculties and Higher Institutions which said to university students, professors and the Sudanese people: “We pledge to you that we will not retreat from pursuing the goals of the glorious December revolution, and that we stand with you to achieve transitional justice and to protect the constitutional document.”

Following the military takeover, the Committee of Staff Members of Sudanese Universities issued a statement on 24 October to invite university professors to join a strike that will continue until the return of civil rule – whenever that may be.

Also, the University of Khartoum Teaching Staff Trade Union issued a statement condemning the military coup, declaring civil disobedience by all university faculty members, and calling upon the Sudanese people to embark on civil disobedience protests in all professional and service institutions, except for emergency medical cases, as well as resisting the coup by all peaceful means.

In addition, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association issued a statement saying: “Let us make the general disobedience a response to the nonsense of Burhan, the coup leader … and to ignore the state of emergency today with more crowds and evening activities ...”

The association is an umbrella group of independent professional unions, including doctors, engineers, teachers and lawyers as well as the Association of Sudanese Professors at Universities, Faculties and Higher Institutes, which led to nationwide demonstrations against al-Bashir’s rule from December 2018 until his removal from power in April 2019.

Furthermore, the Forces for Freedom and Change, an overarching alliance of activists and opposition groups, including university staff, called in a media release for civil disobedience and protests as well as the release of all detained members of the cabinet and demanded that the transitional military council step down and transfer power back to the civilian government.


Video clips posted on social media showed protests erupted in several cities, including the capital, Khartoum, with barricades of burning tyres and plumes of black smoke rising in various parts of the city.

Night demonstrations have also started to challenge the state of emergency announced by the military.

On 26 October, four people are said to have died after being shot by the armed forces, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors which announced in a media release on 25 October their members’ withdrawal from all hospitals except for emergencies.

The Alliance of Sudanese Doctors in the Diaspora which includes the Sudanese Doctors Union of UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Qatar, supported medical practitioners in Sudan, rejected the coup, and called for the return of civil power, according to a statement on 25 October.

This news report was updated on 28 October.