THE SUDANESE CRISIS AND HOW WE CAN HELP
Sudan is in crisis. Since the 3rd June, over 120 people have been murdered and hundreds arrested, detained, raped and beaten by Sudanese Security forces. Rapid Support Forces patrol the once peaceful Khartoum with guns, arresting or shooting anyone who is deemed to be a threat.
How did this happen?
After President Omar al-Bashir was ousted after 30 years in dictatorial power, peaceful protests and sit-ins were organised throughout the country. Protesters spoke of a new dawn as civilians came together to celebrate the fall of a dictator and the rise of a new Sudan. Murals were painted in the street and strangers broke bread together. Yet after talks between protestors and the military broke down, the generals leading the Transitional Military Council sent in forces to crack-down on the protest camps. On the final day of Ramadan, forces stormed the camps, beating, raping and murdering over 100 civilians. Over the following days, bloated bodies with bricks attached to their limbs were hauled from the Nile, revealing an attempt to cover up the amount of murders that took place. The celebratory murals created in the days of the sit-in were painted over and the protest camp destroyed, removing traces of an opposition to the state, and people are reporting friends and family missing every day.
The full details of what happened during and since the massacre are hard to come by since the state has imposed an internet blackout in the interests of ‘national security’, although speculation suggests that this is to control protestors who were using social media to harness support and organise protests, whilst also keeping the rest of the world out. What is clear is that a national crisis is unfolding in front of the world’s eyes, and a significant amount of the country’s 40 million residents could be heading towards famine as the rainy season looms and food shortages continue.
Sudanese people and their international supporters have been quick to call out the lack of action from the international community, calling for greater empathy and demands for change. The response, or lack of, has been often compared to the fire at Notre Dame. When Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames in April, $1 billion dollars was raised to rebuild it within two days, and an international outcry of support and sadness dominated the headlines and social media. Protesters worldwide have compared this – the reaction to a ruined building with zero people killed – to the lack of support for a collapsing country at the hands of a brutal military.
There has, of course, been some response. Amnesty International have condemned the Sudanese government as committing war crimes, and the UK, EU and US condemned the violence and demanded a transition to civilian rule. People have been turning their social media profile pictures a shade of blue in memory of Mohammed Hashim Mattar, a 26 year old man who was killed by the Sudanese security during the massacre. Celebrities such as Rihanna, Demi Lavato, Cardi B, J Cole, Ariana Grande, Sza and Naomi Campbell have all used their social media accounts to bring the injustices to the public eye and call for change, and the hashtags #IAmTheSudanRevolution and #SudanUprising have been utilised. It may seem that simply posting on social media or using a hashtag is futile, a response from the ‘keyboard warrior’ generation, but when thousands upon thousands of people do so, it shows the Sudanese community that people are aware and that they care. It also increases awareness and reaches people who may not regularly read or watch the news.
Of course, this is not enough on its own. The war crimes need to be investigated, the military condemned and removed, the civilians sent aid. And there are ways this can be done – donations can be made to UNICEF, Save The Children or various GoFundMe pages, and there are various petitions for action on change.org.
And surely, if a cathedral can generate 1billion dollars of aid, a country begging for international help should be able to expect the same.