Sudan Reporters Begin Strike as Anti-Bashir Dissent Rumbles On

(Bloomberg) -- Sudanese journalists began a three-day strike to protest alleged intimidation as they try to report on week-long demonstrations against President Umar al-Bashir’s government.

Media workers in the African nation have faced threats including arrest and torture since the protests began, the Sudanese Journalist Network said in a statement, urging the government to respect their freedom of expression. Sudanese doctors went on indefinite strike earlier this week, while authorities have shut schools and universities in the capital, Khartoum.

Amnesty International said Monday it had credible reports that 37 protesters had been shot dead by security forces in the demonstrations in Sudan’s major cities. Thousands of people were arrested this week in Khartoum.

The demonstrations, which come amid acute cash shortages and inflation of almost 70 percent, represent one of the most serious challenges to al-Bashir, 74, since he led an Islamist-supported military coup to power in 1989. Sudan has faced sporadic protests, often sparked by rises in living costs, since South Sudan seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the united country’s oil resources.

Al-Bashir has blamed the protests on foreign countries and “mercenaries.” The government gave a death toll of eight last Friday and hasn’t revised the number since.

Sudan’s cabinet on Thursday announced that government ministers have returned their work-issued vehicles as part of new austerity measures, the state-linked Sudan Media Centre reported. The vehicles will be used as ambulances outside the capital, Minister of State Salma Mohamed Ismail was quoted as saying.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.