We, the Sudanese Community in South Africa, stand by our people
Opinion / 21 January 2019, 3:56pm / Sudan Solidarity Group in South Africa
What has triggered the revolts in Sudan is the general break down of systems and institutions which have left the people in great distress.
Omar Al-Bashir has ruled Sudan for almost 30 years. The Darfur crisis in the west of the country started in 2003 and led to displacement, environmental destruction, the emergence of tribalism and numerous armed factions – some of them armed by the government itself. These crimes led to a call for the president to be indicted by the International Criminal Court.
In 2013, a youth uprising erupted and was brutally suppressed with the killing of an estimated 200 young protestors. No investigation or prosecution was ever carried out. The secession of the South in 2011 led to an even deeper economic crisis as well as more racism and a deep belief that the division of the country stands as one of the biggest crimes committed by this regime.
The country is undergoing the most severe crisis in its modern history. The people of Sudan are protesting their loss of basic human rights, freedom of expression, access to fuel, bread, medicine, and even their own money, now kept in banks to which they have no access.
Peaceful protests erupted in mid-December 2018 and continue until today – these are the most widespread protests the large country has witnessed and the biggest threat to the current regime through their scale and distribution.
The comparisons to the Arab Spring have been strongly rejected by the protesters. They believe that this is the third mass uprising in Sudan, the October Revolution in 1964 and the April Revolution of 1985 both having led to peaceful regime change.
The protestors have also objected to the dilution of the main trigger of the uprising by some media stating that economic difficulties are the reason for discontent. They strongly demand their calls for regime change to be heard.
The government is trying to solve the economic problem with measures that have repeatedly failed. The economic crisis will only be solved through political change which could open the way to stop conflicts and re-direct resources to restructure the economy. Political change will allow the active fighting of corruption, reforming the civil service and ending the state of one-party dominance in favour of a citizen state.
They have been met by the use of excessive force; fatalities caused by live ammunition have been reported.
People are having difficulty accessing the internet because of an alleged blockade by the government. The ongoing uprising currently raging throughout the country is being faced by the detainment of thousands, and gruesome killing of tens of peaceful, unarmed young protesters.
Singing “Peaceful" and "The whole country is Darfur”, the protestors have been met with incredible aggression. Another issue that the protestors have raised is that of religion being used by the government towards their political intentions – many chanted and believe that this form of religion is alien to us and a misrepresentation of Islam.
They see the use of religion as a cover for a dictatorship that is trying to protect itself and wants to remain at all costs. The president has even used Koranic verses to justify the use of force on protesters, many of whom are committed Muslims.
While it started off as small pockets of protests here and there, it quickly spread across many regions, cities and small towns across the whole country. It has also led to massive mobilisation and organisation led by different groupings, most notably the Association of Sudanese Professionals. Different sectors of society are now organising themselves and setting up structure in a highly disciplined and powerful manner in preparation for further resistance as well as in anticipation for the future once the current regime is gone. The fact that the regime must go is seen as a non-negotiable.
WHO ARE WE, THE SUDANESE SOLIDARITY GROUP IN SOUTH AFRICA?
We, the Sudanese Community in South Africa, stand by our people in their revolution against the current regime in Sudan. We have previously supported the Civil Disobedience in 2016 and staged a number of protests at the Sudanese Embassy in Pretoria over the years, including this weekend.
We reject the oppression and the racist practices of the current regime and the laws which aim towards the humiliation of women. We seek the establishment of democracy, peace, security and justice throughout the country. We stand in solidarity with the struggle of our people to establish a state of equal citizenship in which all are treated without discrimination irrespective of race, colour, religion or gender.
We call on the international community to hold the government of Sudan accountable for its actions.
URGENT APPEAL: THE MORE ATTENTION WE DRAW TO THE SUDAN, THE LESS THE KILLING
We need to save the life of Yasir Elsir Ali and many more who are held in the regime's prisons. Yasir Elsir Ali travelled to Sudan on 20th December due to the ill health of his father, who passed away on 22nd December 2018. On the 25th December, Yasir was shot by a sniper in Khartoum. The bullet fractured the 6th rib and punctured his right lung before settling in the T9 (spinal chord).
The surgeons believed that Yasir should travel to another location for the operation as his condition is critical. He spent 9 nights in ICU and was discharged on the 3rd of January. He was set to leave the country on January 5th.
However, a travel ban was issued and on the morning of Saturday 5th January, 12 men wearing civilian clothes and balaclavas, armed with Kalashinkov guns, stormed the family, showed no documentation and arrived in an unmarked truck with no number plates, and took Yasir away against the will of the entire family. Those who spoke or tried to film the event were threatened. We still have no idea where he is being held or what is his current health condition.
We appeal to all human rights and humanitarian organisations to intervene to save Yasir’s life and putting pressure on the Sudanese government to free him and enable him to leave the country immediately. Many more are in a similar situation! The more attention we draw to their plight, the less the possibility that they will be tortured or killed.
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* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.