By: Tasnin Khan
You may have seen a lot of distressing images or words of frustration and anger circulating the internet about what is currently happening in Sudan. With communications in Sudan being deliberately blocked by the paramilitary, it is no surprise that many of us have no idea what is going on. Additionally, developed countries, such as the United States, have been slow to give Sudan the media attention it deserves and the information that we, the people, need. But no worries, we are here to try to bring a little bit of clarity based on the latest resources. Please read until the end to see how you can do your part and help the Sudanese people.
Here is what we know: A major coup (intended to overthrow the existing government) took place in Sudan this past April that ousted President Omar Al Bashir from 30 years of power. This was after months of protest led by pro-democratic Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA). The first protest was stirred in December 2018 after the prices of bread and fuel nearly tripled. Civilians had had enough of Sudan’s struggling economy and its crippling effect on them. The dissatisfaction with the government eventually transitioned into sit-ins at military headquarters beginning in April 2019 to demand Al Bashir step down from power altogether.
President Al Bashir initially came into power in 1989 by taking advantage of the Civil War turmoil taking place in Sudan at the time. Al Bashir has been wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2005 for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Several arrest warrants were sent out by the ICC in following years. However, the Sudanese government has defended Al Bashir’s innocence, denying all claims of guilt.
The SPA is comprised of a union of professionals in Sudan such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Here is a statement from SPA’s website posted on April 11, 2019 describing their motive behind the protests:
“Our glorious people,
After our struggle and perseverance for more than four months, filled with blood, sweat and tears, we urge the masses to mobilize, continue and enhance the sit-ins. We assert that the people of Sudan will not accept anything less than a civil transitional authority composed of a patriotic group of experts who were not involved with the tyrannical regime.
The leadership of our people’s armed forces ought to handover power to the people, according to what was expressed in the declaration of freedom and change.”
This past May, the civilians and the Transitional Military Council that took to power after President Al Bashir’s removal from office cooperated under the guise of “establish[ing] civilian rule in the country, agreeing on a three-year transition to democratic elections and granting power to civilian-controlled institutions” according to Politico.
Despite the non-violent nature of the sit-ins organized by the SPA, violent retaliation quickly ensued earlier this month by paramilitaries from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) after breaking the false promise of cooperation with pro-democracy civilians. The RSF is also known as the Janjaweed and have been notorious for the heinous and violent crimes committed against civilians from as long as 14 years ago in Darfur - including rape and torture.
Violence is now rampant in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital and its largest city. People were taken to mosques and killed by the RSF in front of others on Eid, a day that was meant for celebration and family. Current updates indicate that over 100 Sudanese people have been killed in these attacks, at least 70 men and women raped, and more than 700 injured. Internet and phone communications remain deliberately cut off to prevent communication amongst the people.
We know that this is a lot to take in. It can be so overwhelming to hear this kind of news and try to piece together why there is so much anger and hatred going on - frankly, it brought me to tears. But the good news is that you can make a difference. Because there is a deliberate attack on the free speech and ability to share what is going on by Sudanese people, the more we discuss and spread knowledge the more we can draw attention to solutions and urge our officials to step in and do something. Here are some details on how you can use your voice to help and take action:
Spread awareness - share this article and other resources (such as those listed below) on your social media accounts, via email, or through word-of-mouth to spread access to information for all.
Donate to provide medical services to those injured through this GofundMe set up by the diaspora in Manchester, UK - https://www.gofundme.com/emergency-medical-aid-for-sudan
Donate to provide food, water, and medical care to the people of Sudan here - https://www.facebook.com/donate/977085802497357/