Caricature of a 22-year-old Alaa Salah leading protests in Sudan
“A civilian government or a revolution forever.” This powerful slogan echoed in the streets of Sudan, one of the poorest countries in the African continent. In 1989, Islamist-backed military dictator Omar al-Bashir took over Sudan in a military coup, ousting a civilian government. He is infamous for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, for directing attacks against civilians.
Toppling of Omar al-Bashir and the raise of military
Following an economic crisis that emptied the bank machinery, the government tripled the price of bread and fuel. After months protests and a sit-in camp outside military headquarters in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, the army officers overthrew Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
Soon after ousting President Omar, the military or the seven-member Transitional Military Council(TMC) assumed the power to ensure order and security in the country. The military demanded that the elections will be held in nine months. But the protests insisted on a transition period of three years; so as to ensure free and fair elections.
On June 3rd, the military killed dozens and wounded hundreds of protesters during a crackdown on a protest camp, described by Al-Jazeera as the ‘worst violence’ in the country since Omar al-Bashir was overthrown. The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors have put the death toll at 118 people as of June 12. Over 40 bodies have been fished out of the Nile River alone. More than 70 women have reportedly been raped by paramilitaries.
Mohamed Mattar, a 26-year-old engineer, was one among the first victims of the massacre. He was shot dead while he was reportedly trying to protect two other women. His favourite colour was blue and hence prompting social media users to turn their profiles blue and honour him. The military has also banned the internet services in the country citing national security move, which is hampering protests and connection with the world.
Women have been at the forefront of the demonstrations owing to the century’s long repression in the country. The most viral video during the crisis was that of a 22-year-old architecture student Alaa Salah, who delivered a fearless speech, and encouraged the crowd not to remain silent at the time of a revolution. The crisis also paved way to murals around the military headquarters in Khartoum. Many of the artworks carry the message that bullets and bombs are not the order of the day and the demonstrators want a peaceful transfer of power.
Hunger crisis soars
According to the World Food Programme (WFP) reports, about seven million people in neighboring South Sudan are facing record starvation. This is predicted to worsen with the onset of rains in the month of July. The few organizations through which people can donate and directly make an impact are – The World Food Programme, The United Nations Children’s Fund, The International Rescue Committee and The University of Khartoum Alumni Association’s fundraiser.
The whole idea of sharing about Sudan through social media posts, articles and videos is to drive the attention of various news organizations and world leaders to the crisis. Civilian power should always be considered greater than gun power. Ultimately, humanity and peace deserves to win.