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News and Press ReleasesThe funeral of Salah Sanhouri in Khartoum. Since he was shot in the ba

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The funeral of Salah Sanhouri in Khartoum. Since he was shot in the ba

10-12-2013, 10:34 PM
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The funeral of Salah Sanhouri in Khartoum. Since he was shot in the ba





    The funeral of Salah Sanhouri in Khartoum. Since he was shot in the back and killed last month, crowds have gathered daily outside his house.
    By ISMA’IL KUSHKUSH
    Published: October 5, 2013

    KHARTOUM, Sudan — The killing of a young pharmacist by Sudanese security forces during an antigovernment demonstration here has become a rallying cry for the protest movement that has rocked Sudan for the last two weeks, threatening the government’s grip on power.


    Since the pharmacist, Salah Sanhouri, 28, was shot in the back and killed last month, crowds have gathered daily outside his house.

    “Oh, Khartoum, revolt, revolt against those who killed Salah Sanhouri,” they chanted on a recent evening. A short documentary about his life and death titled “Stairway to Heaven” has drawn nearly 9,000 views in three days on YouTube. A Facebook page called “We are all Salah Sanhouri” received 44,000 likes in a single week.

    The title of the Facebook page recalled another one dedicated to Khaled Said, an Egyptian businessman whose fatal beating by police officers helped start the Egyptian uprising in 2011. Others here have compared Mr. Sanhouri to Mohamed Bouazizi, the food vendor whose self-immolation was the catalyst for the protest movement in Tunisia.

    The demonstrations here in the Sudanese capital began after the government lifted subsidies on gasoline, nearly doubling the price of fuel overnight and heralding an inevitable increase in the price of other goods. The energy crisis compounded an existing economic crisis, with inflation nearing 40 percent and the value of the Sudanese pound plummeting.

    The government has responded, the authorities said, with “an iron fist” to curtail “destructive actions.” Sudan’s police forces say 700 people have been arrested and 33 people have died in the violence, blaming “trained elements” and “vandals.”

    But a report by Amnesty International on Wednesday said that 210 were believed to have been killed in Khartoum, mostly “due to gunshot wounds to the chest and head,” and that at least 800 had been arrested. Security and police forces have used live ammunition as well as tear gas and batons to break up the protests.

    Sudan’s interior minister, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid, said in a statement on Thursday night that “armed groups and individuals” were responsible for the killing of protesters, according to the Sudanese News Agency. The government has not claimed responsibility for any of the deaths.

    Among the protesters was Mr. Sanhouri. Born and raised in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, he belonged to a prominent business family in Sudan. He studied pharmacology in Pakistan and could have worked for more money in Abu Dhabi, relatives said, but he chose to return to his ancestral homeland instead.

    “He insisted on working in Sudan after graduation,” said Mohammed Ghazi el-Bereir, 27, Mr. Sanhouri’s cousin. “He loved his country.”

    When heavy rains and flash floods hit Sudan last August, Mr. Sanhouri worked with the medical teams that volunteered with Nafeer, a youth-led aid group.

    “He used to provide medical support for Nafeer,” said Ghazi al-Rayeh, a coordinator with the group. “He brought equipment like stethoscopes and medical solutions.”

    The economy of Sudan, a strife-torn country with an authoritarian government, began to unravel after South Sudan split off as a separate country two years ago, taking nearly 75 percent of the oil revenue the two countries had shared. The government responded by lifting subsidies on gasoline and some foods, which concerned Mr. Sanhouri.

    “He felt that poor people would not be able to take it,” Mr. Bereir said.

    The night before Mr. Sanhouri’s death, he and Mr. Bereir were organizing young people in their upscale Burri neighborhood. They spent the evening preparing paper banners. “Peaceful” is what Mr. Sanhouri wrote on one banner, Mr. Bereir said.

    After Friday Prayer on Sept. 27, thousands gathered in Burri and a march began. “We met up with another demonstration, and it became huge,” Mr. Bereir recalled. “I couldn’t see the end of the demonstration.”

    The protesters chanted, “The people want to bring down the regime,” a popular chant during the Egyptian uprising, and “Freedom, peace and justice, revolution is the path of the people.”

    Some of the protests earlier in the week had led to the destruction of public property. The government said that 40 gas stations and scores of buses had been burned.

    Mr. Sanhouri, however, opposed violence and destruction, Mr. Bereir said. “He used to tell everyone at the protest not to throw rocks or burn anything or use foul language,” he said.

    As the group marched, they were met by police officers in riot gear firing tear gas. Mr. Sanhouri and Mr. Bereir were separated. “The last thing he told me was take photos, let the world know what’s happening,” Mr. Bereir said. “I didn’t know these would be the last words I’d hear from him.”

    Witnesses said that security forces fired live ammunition into the air. The protesters ran into alleys and houses, covering the back of their ######### with their hands.

    Mr. Sanhouri tried to run into a house, but as he put his first foot inside he collapsed to the ground.
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