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Sudan Security Agents Arrest Opposition Members, Umma Party Says

Four members of Sudan’s main opposition Umma party were arrested yesterday in the capital, Khartoum, party officials said.

The four were picked up at a cafe by plain-clothed men who identified themselves as members of the state security service, Mohamed al-Mahi Mohamed, a party youth leader, said by phone today. Police spokesman al-Sir Ahmed Omar didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment.

“The regime thinks that by targeting us, they silence opposition voices,” Mariam al-Mahdi, an Umma party spokeswoman, said by phone. “This repressive environment will help us mobilize people against intellectual and political terrorism practiced by the government.”

Sudan’s human rights record deteriorated last year with the eruption of new armed conflicts and crackdowns on students, rights advocates and the media, New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Jan 22. At least 73 students were arrested last month during a sit-in at Khartoum University to protest police violence and to demand the overthrow of the government.

Another Umma party member was arrested by state security agents on Jan. 27 after he organized protests in support of people displaced by the Merowe hydroelectric dam, north of Khartoum, Mohamed said. About 20 Umma members have been detained in the past three months, he said.

Six members of Girifna, or the “we’re fed up” movement, were detained on Jan. 25 after participating in a seminar on human rights, their lawyer said.

Girifna was established in October 2009 on the eve of the voter registration for Sudan’s presidential and parliamentary elections in April, 2010, to campaign against President Umar al-Bashir and his ruling National Congress Party, according to the group’s website.

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