As Sudan falls deeper into crisis, it’s increasingly clear what’s missing: support from the international community

An internet shutdown has been issued across the country, making it almost impossible for Sudanese people to communicate the unfolding atrocities on the ground. This is as good a time as any to break our silence

Paula Akpan
Monday 10 June 2019 11:42
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Civilians rushed into hospitals as Sudanese forces violently clear sit-in

Over the last week, people have been using the likes of Twitter and Instagram to shine a light on the political crisis currently taking place in Sudan. Despite an internet blackout across the North African country, many are using hashtags like #IAmTheSudanRevolution and #SudanUprising as a vehicle to post updates on the situation, signal support for protestors and raise awareness in the face of silence from the global community.

The nation has seen brutal violence at the hands of paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), including reports of dead protestors thrown in the Nile to mask the number of casualties, reports of rape and sexual violence, and the flogging of demonstrators. The ongoing siege was sparked by a morning attack on pro-democracy protesters who formed a peaceful sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum on Monday 3 June.

The RSF – also known as Janjaweed – is led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (commonly referred to as "Hemedti"), who is the deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) – the governing body that has been in charge of Sudan since dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the military in April after months of rallies. Despite demonstrators’ calls for an immediate move to civilian rule, the military have maintained that Sudan will have a transitional government led by the TMC, leading to protests around Sudan – such as the fateful sit-in that saw state forces open fire on unarmed protestors last week.

Since Monday’s attack, there have been at least 100 deaths across the country, a figure that includes an estimated 40 bodies retrieved from the Nile according to the Sudan Doctors’ committee, the medical branch of the Sudanese Professionals Associations (SPA) who have been leading protests against military rule.

Alongside the mounting body count, the TMC has issued an internet shutdown across the country, making it near impossible for Sudanese people to communicate what is happening on the ground with the rest of the online world. The SPA have urged social media users to use hashtags like #IAmTheSudanRevolution where possible to “draw international attention to the crimes committed in Sudan, including internet blackout to isolate the Sudanese people and bury the truth”.

Despite such dire and visceral circumstances, international outrage has come very slowly – if at all. Condemnations of the attack have come from US and UK diplomats, with the UN Security Council debating possible sanctions, a resolution that fell flat when brought to the fore.

A few days after the June 3 massacre, the African Union Peace and Security Council announced the suspension of Sudan until “the effective establishment of a civilian-led transitional authority, as the only way to allow the Sudan to exist from the current crisis”.

The current critical state of Sudan has failed to capture the interests of the international community – particularly those with ties to the likes of UAE and Saudi Arabia, who both have vested interests in Sudan’s fate.

What is clear is that the silence on Sudan is deafening, to the point where those caught in the crossfire are relying on social media to get the word out and even then, there still remains woeful apathy and this story enjoys none of the viral characteristics seen with when the Notre Dame went up in flames a few months ago.

Independent Minds Events: get involved in the news agenda

As the blaze raged through Paris’ famous cathedral on 15 April, broadcast outlets and social media users alike widely conveyed their shock, timelines were clogged with shared memories and sombre thoughts at the building going up in flames.

Pictures of the damage was splashed across front pages and all over news bulletins around the world. A reported €1bn was pledged towards repairing the Notre Dame, while messages of solidarity rushed in from politicians around the world.

Where is this dismay and uproar for Sudan? It would appear that architecture holds more value than the lives of Sudanese civilians currently in fear for their lives, rightfully worried that not enough attention is being paid to their plight.

As of yesterday, millions of Sudanese people have joined a general strike, resulting in the shutting down of the centre of cities throughout the capital of Khartoum and nearby Omdurman. Through closing down shops and staying at home in protest, the SPA and other pro-reform groups hope to launch an opposition movement in the face of this ongoing intimidation and brutality.

It is our duty to raise awareness and continue sharing information as widely as possible, especially as this state-imposed internet blackout aims to stifle, suppress and silence the Sudanese people.

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