As the news of Sudan’s turmoil keeps making its way to Instagram and Twitter feeds, a judge of Khartoum Court of first instance has reordered that internet service be restored “quickly.” The judge’s order comes on the 20th day of an internet shutdown that started on June 3rd, following months of ongoing chaos in Sudan. Protests broke out earlier this month after pro-democracy representatives and the Sudanese military failed to successfully discuss transitioning the country back to democracy after former Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, was overthrown by the people.
Initially, the Sudanese government stated that the suspension of the internet connection was a matter of national security but viral support for Sudan on the ground and across international digital pages has exposed the violence in Sudan. Here’s everything you need to know.
Who is Omar al-Bashir
Omar al-Bashir’s came into power in 1989, after leading a coup to overthrow the previous government led by Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahid. Since 1989, Bashir has been re-elected multiple times, although there is question about his validity. To maintain his power, Bashir dissolved the Parliament after National Congress Party chairman, Hassan al-Turabi, proposed laws limiting the president’s powers.
In 2004, rebels against the government began to protest in Darfur. The Bashir-supported Janjaweed militia was accused of killing more than 15,000 villagers, raping women in Darfur, and using chemical weapons against their own communities.
In 2009 and 2010, the International Criminal Court tried to issue several arrest warrants on Bashir for genocide and war crimes, but the lack of support from the United Nations prevented the cases from going any further.
In December of 2018, the Sudan uprising begins.
Why Are They Protesting?
After years of a cruel dictatorship, tyranny, rape, murder and political oppression, Bashir was forced to step down from power in April of 2019 and his government was no longer. However, Sudanese people do not want to repeat the last 30 years of abuse and tyranny. Instead, they want to make sure that the political party elected next is a civilian-run government. Originally, the military council and civilian-opposing groups agreed on a three-year transitional period to hand the government back to democracy.
However, talks of a pro-democracy country began to break down earlier this month, opposition groups protested with a general strike and a call for civil disobedience in Khartoum. In response, the military killed dozens of protesters during a crackdown on a protest camp, bringing the death toll to 118 people as of June 11th. Reports of hundreds injured and at least 70 women who have been raped made timelines and finally the West, along with other regions, became aware of the oppression and brutality the people of Sudan were suffering.
Sudan is still uprising.
What Impact Has Social Media Had?
Even without internet access, Sudan’s unrest has made its way to social media channels, with millions of people sharing and mentioning the crisis in Sudan. #BlueforSudan is a social media movement that has brought millions of people together in solidarity for Sudan. Social media users have turned their avatars “Mattar Blue” in remembrance of Mohamed Mattar, a 26-year-old man who was killed by the militias in Sudan. Mattar had the same blue for his avatar and to honor him, his friends turned their avatars blue. The movement has spread and it has become a symbol and digital voice for those suffering in Sudan.
The #BlueForSudan movement has spread country news and information across borders and into countries who were unaware of the bread and cash shortages that sparked the protests, as well as the Sudan Eid Massacre and genocide. Along with #BlueForSudan, hashtags like #SudanMassacre and #IAmSudanRevolution brought attention to the suffering experienced in Sudan. Instantly, posts on Social Media sparked awareness to Sudan and outrage against the dictatorship and tyranny left by Bashir. Celebrities like Rihanna, Hasan Minhaj, and George Clooney have publicly used their platforms to denounce the militia in Sudan and who have urged their fans and followers to support Sudan. The turmoil in Sudan is still active and protestors are still demanding civilian-led leadership. The power of social media is bringing awareness to people that would be otherwise both physically and emotionally disconnected from the events. The power behind it trending, being mentioned and posted is a digital movement helping a revolution.