On February 19th 2019, a revolution finally erupted in Sudan. The then leader, Al-Bashir, called a state of emergency and used all available powers to quash the will of the people. He did not succeed. Sudan’s community came together to put an end to a 30 year regime that had left many impoverished, and most angry at what their beautiful country had become.
After months of protests and senseless violence enacted by security forces, on April 11, the army arrested Al-Bashir and put in place military rule. Within a day, initial leader Awad Mohammed Ibn Ouf was replaced by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan after further protests from the Sudanese people. The world watched in awe as a nation decided its own future.
However, we are now in July, and Sudan is still in revolution. The massacre of protesting civilians on June 3rd stalled negotiations between the protestors and the ruling military council, with general strikes and civil disobedience still going on in a campaign for democratic elections. When the TMC enacted an internet blackout in Sudan, the diaspora in the West led a social media campaign to draw attention to the events in their home nation. We saw a sea of blue profile pictures on Twitter, in memory of martyr Mohammad Mattar – who’s favourite colour was blue. #IStandWithSudan and #SudanUprising was trending all over Twitter, but the buzz seems to have now died down.
The world we live in at the moment cares only about the latest trend – be that Starbucks unicorn frappés, or humanitarian crises – and once something new comes up, we leave the previous issue in the gutter. So, in a culture of fleeting hashtags and five seconds of fame, how can we keep the people of Sudan in the news – and contribute to them finding peace?
In order to better understand how to be a good ally, I spoke to Momo Koubani, an Edinburgh University graduate and a member of the London based activist group Madaniya SDG. His main frustration is the lack of mainstream media coverage of the situation – “Normally I hate social media, but it’s been the only thing that’s kept me updated on what is happening in Sudan”.
His first piece of advice to me was to educate myself on the current situation. To do this he recommended some great Twitter accounts of journalists and activists, who are up to date on the revolution and post regularly. “Follow @bsonblast: Sara writes articles and has produced some great podcast episodes on the uprising so far; @YousraElbagir who is a journalist producing reports for Channel 4, and @Ehabthebeast, he shares quick videos with a rundown of everything that’s happening.” By sharing and reposting these accounts, you can keep Sudan in the zeitgeist, and let people know that the revolution is still ongoing.
Other really basic and simple ways you can help include writing to your MP! The UK continues to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, and this same country is now giving those weapons to the TMC (Transitional Military Council: the pseudo government that protestors oppose in favour of democracy). Lobby your representative to stop the government selling these weapons – it’s that easy to make a change.
The Sudanese revolution in the UK seems to be led through WhatsApp chats. If there is one positive to come out of the revolution, it’s the unity of the Sudanese people. From the protests in Khartoum, to grassroots projects in the UK – “in London, the Sudan diaspora has come together. I have such a strong community of Sudanese friends now, all united by this common goal. I truly feel proud to be Sudanese” says Koubani. “The protests are more like a party”. It appears that all are welcome, so if you have a free day, have a look on Facebook for local meetups – or even show solidarity from your own home. The Instagram account @sudanuprising.updates is welcoming letters of love to the survivors of rape via their direct message inbox.
The trauma the people of Sudan have been through is abhorrent. No person should have to die to make their country better for their children; but that is what is happening right now. It is very easy to feel helpless with all the terrible things that we hear about daily, but if the Sudan uprising can teach us anything, it’s that people have power, and if we use it effectively, we can make a change. So if you changed your profile picture for Sudan, don’t change it back just yet, our work isn’t over.
Words by Emma Penney