Hundreds rally on Christmas in support of Sudanese protests

Approximately 400 people gathered at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Christmas in support of violent anti-government protests taking place in Sudan.

About 400 protesters at Yonge-Dundas Square demanded Canada take action to respond to the violence in Sudan

Protesters gathered at Yonge-Dundas Square on Christmas to show support for the anti-government protests taking place in Sudan. (Submitted by Danya Elsayed)

Approximately 400 people gathered at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Christmas in support of anti-government protests taking place in Sudan.

Demonstrators assembled Tuesday afternoon, drumming, singing and chanting "stop killing in Sudan" and "free Sudan" to show support for those in Sudan who are now demanding the country's president of almost three decades, Omar al-Bashir, step down.

"We're Sudanese-Canadians who are standing in solidarity with what's happening back home," rally organizer Danya Elsayed said.

"The Sudanese regime has continued to oppress our people, and they're killing people back home."

Rally organizer Danya Elsayed said protesters were standing in solidarity with anti-government protests taking place in Sudan. (Michael Cole/CBC)

Hundreds injured in Sudanese protests, organizers say

An increasing cost of living and shortages of food and fuel in the northeastern African nation has sparked violent protests across the country over the past week.

London-based rights group Amnesty International said it had "credible reports" that Sudanese police have killed 37 protesters in clashes during the anti-government demonstrations.

An opposition leader said over the weekend that 22 protesters were killed. The government has acknowledged fatalities without providing any figures.

The latest violence happened on Tuesday when police used tear gas and fired in the air to disperse thousands of protesters attempting to march on the presidential palace.

Omdurman Islamic University students hold a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan on Saturday. The protest was one in a series of anti-government protests across Sudan, initially sparked by rising prices and shortages. (Sudanese Activist/Associated Press)

The protest was called by the umbrella of independent professional unions and supported by the country's largest political parties, Umma and Democratic Unionist.

The organizers want to submit a petition that demands the general-turned-president hand over power to a "transitional government of technocrats with a mandate agreed upon by all segments of Sudanese society."

"We are asserting that we will continue to exercise all popular and peaceful options, including general strike and civil disobedience, to bring down the regime," it warned.

Living conditions are worsening, protester says

In Toronto, protester Alia Ali said on Tuesday that she has family in Sudan and that their living condition is worsening.

There is no medicine, no food, their money is being taken, Ali told CBC Toronto.

Sudan, a country of more than 40 million people, lost three quarters of its oil wealth when the mainly animist and Christian south seceded in 2011 after a long and ruinous civil war against the Khartoum government.

More recently, a currency devaluation earlier this year caused prices to surge and a liquidity crunch forced the government to limit bank withdrawals, leading to long lines outside ATMs.

Waleed Khogali is one of the protesters at Tuesday's rally. (Michael Cole/CBC)

Another protester, Waleed Abdoulhamid, said Sudan has enough intellectuals and resources to become a rich country. 

"As long as we have dictator regimes like Bashir, we're not going to succeed," Abdoulhamid said.

Bashir, 74, seized power after a 1989 military coup that overthrew an elected government. Since then, reports of violence and corruption have engulfed his government.

In 2009 and 2010, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Bashir's arrest for various crimes including committing genocide, crimes against humanity, and forcible transfer, torture and rape.

Canadians who continue to profit off the exploitation of Sudanese people needs to end, said protester Waleed Khogali​.

Demonstrators gathered in Toronto at Yonge-Dundas Square Tuesday afternoon. (Michael Cole/CBC)

"We want our neighbours to contact members of parliament to demand our government condemn the ongoing killing in Sudan."

Following the march in Sudan, a joint statement released by the United States, Britain, Norway and Canada, stated they were concerned by "credible reports" that Sudan's security forces have used live ammunition against demonstrators.

In an address on Tuesday, Bashir, blamed the country's economic woes on international sanctions and enemies of Sudan who don't want it to progress.

With files from The Associated Press