By Simon Heywood
June 3, 2019: 118 people killed, 70 people raped, and hundreds injured in the Khartoum Massacre by the Sudanese paramilitary group the Rapid Support Forces. Also reported that of the 118 people killed, the RSF attempted to hide some bodies, upwards of at least 40, by dumping them in the Nile River. How did Sudan reach such dark and tense times?
This recent unrest-turned-uprising started in December 2018 when former Sudan President Bashir and his administration imposed emergency measures to try to prevent an economic collapse of the country, which led to cuts of vital items such as bread and oil. Because of these severe measures, the people of Sudan protested and demanded that Mr. Bashir and his government be removed from power. Protests continued until April 6, 2019, where they reached their peak, and five days later the military announced that Bashir was overthrown.
On April 11, upon the announcement of the former President and his government meeting their end, a council of generals was formed to try to maintain order and security for the country, but a sense of normalcy was unable to be restored. This council of generals, known as the Transitional Military Council (TMC), is led by Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan. At first, when this council took over in April, they were meeting with protest organizers who united under the umbrella group Alliance for Freedom and Change. There were little signs of progress with the TMC and the AFC, but they did come to an agreement in the next month, on May 15.
On May 15, the TMC and the protesters agreed it would be best to give the country a three-year transition period into eventual civilian rule. Both parties even came to an agreement of the new structure for the government; it would include a sovereign council, a cabinet, and legislative body. However less than a month after, on June 3, the head of the TMC stated the TMC decided “to stop negotiating with the [AFC]” and also reverse the initial agreements. This announcement actually followed the Khartoum Massacre. As a result of the massacre, the leaders of the pro-democracy movement also declared cutting communication with the TMC, “calling for total civil disobedience and a general strike” (BBC News). Because of the increased tension and tragedy, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed flew to Sudan in attempt to be a mediator between the TMC and the pro-democracy civilians. Eight days from this horrific event, on June 11, it was announced that protest leaders agreed to suspend their strikes and renegotiate, and the military in return agreed to release political prisoners.
That was a broad overview of the events and tragedies leading up to the Sudan Uprising. However, what wasn’t talked about was how in between the Massacre on June 3 and the discussion of renegotiation on June 11 was that the death toll of Sudanese civilians went up to 500 people, 723 people are now injured, 650 were arrested, 54 people were raped, 1000 are unaccounted for (missing), and now 118 bodies were found dumped into the Nile River. People are dying for utilizing (the nonviolent method of) civil disobedience to protest for their rights.
In addition to that, the military shot down offices of a major media company in Sudan as well as shut down all of Sudan’s access to the internet in waves lasting two days. By June 11, the remainder of internet access points were shut down, and all of Sudan could not access the internet. All of these were further attempts to silence and censor the protesters from trying to spread the news of what was really going on in Sudan. People with contacts internationally had to find ways to sneak around to try to contact those connections; if they were caught, they would be beaten, abused, humiliated, and their devices confiscated. With all of this devastation, why is there no international response?
Most African and western countries support the protesters, however Saudi Arabia avoids directly calling out the military in trying to reopen discussion between both sides, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt have not directly said anything in fear that it could stir revolution within its own borders. So there is international response, however there is a noticeable lack of media coverage. One can search up Sudan in the News section of Google and see at least ten articles on a page, but that requires one to search for news of the crisis itself. No news company, no mainstream media, especially in the U.S., is actively covering what is going on in Sudan. News of this is not trending on any social media platform. Why is this not actively covered by major news and media outlets? Why was the fire Notre-Dame so widely covered but the massacres and crimes against humanity inflicted upon the people Sudan not given that same active attention and coverage?
Word about the crisis in Sudan began spreading massively after beauty influencer Shahd Khidir took to her Instagram (@hadyouatsalaam) posting a personal public reaction to the crisis, as one of her friends was murdered in the crisis by the RSF. Because she is based in New York, she wasn’t affected by the internet shut down that occurred in Sudan and was able to really get the news out in the open, and start offering services, spreading not just information of what happened and what is happening but also information of how to help Sudan, such as by talking about what’s happening or donating, or even getting someone’s messages to a person in Sudan and vice versa. Through her Instagram Stories, those who see them learn that as recent as 22 hours ago and still assumed now, there is still no widespread media coverage and the revolution is not being televised. The RSF was stated to have said that the media is a threat to their efforts, and as stated earlier, have taken exhaustive efforts to ensure the people of Sudan can’t share their stories and what’s currently going on by turning off the internet nationwide.
The crisis in Sudan is ongoing. It hasn’t stopped, and there needs to be more media coverage about this. Everyone from all over the world with full internet access is encouraged to continue spreading awareness of the revolution. There is a humanitarian crisis going on Sudan right now, and the people of Sudan who want true justice and democracy will be heard. People with social media are also encouraged to constantly use the tags, #IAmTheSudanRevolution , #FreeSudan , #SudanUprising, and #IAmSudan among other tags. No matter how hard the other side can try, the truth cannot be silenced, and justice will be served.