Over 100 civilians died in Khartoum, Sudan when security forces cleared a protest camp on the 3rd of June 2019. The protestors are demanding for democracy, and the Transitional Military Council had them chased, whipped, shot at and, according to several reports, raped.
But to know how things got this bad, we must go back to December 2018. Sudan has been under the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir who has been in power since 1989. Ever since Sudan gained independence from the British and Egyptian rule (in 1956), the Sudanese government centralised around a small group of elites in Khartoum. The government sought to enrich its members and disregarded the needs of its people. Their flawed economic policies led to an economic crisis that emptied banks and tripled the price of bread. People gathered in protest and demanded a change in government, and in April, Omar al-Basir was forced to step down.
He was replaced by a self-appointed Transitional Military Council that said that there will be a 2-year transition to civilian rule. But the protesters, led by an organisation called the Sudanese Professionals Association (a sort of Sudanese equivalent of Indian Medical Association), did not want this and kept chanting “Victory, or Egypt”.
As many of you might remember, Egypt went through a revolution in 2011. The Egyptians replaced their dictator with democracy, only for their democratic government to be overthrown by another dictator. The Sudanese protesters did not want this to happen to them too. They have called for civil disobedience across the nation, and have made three demands.
- Civilian rule
- End of militias
- Women’s rights
But after months of peaceful protests, the Transitional Military Council sought violent means to break the revolution by traumatising its supporters. On the 3rd of June, they set their Rapid Support Force militia loose on the protestors. The militia wreaked havoc in the city. They shot at and beat up civilians, and according to some reports, raped women protestors.
They shut down the internet and put the country in a blackout. However, few stories trickled out. One of the first victims of the massacre was Mohamed Mattar, a 26-year old engineer. He was shot dead by the militia while he was, reportedly, protecting two women.
Here’s a post that Mattar put up on Instagram before he was killed.
As you can see, his dp is just a shade of blue. This shade of blue has become the symbol of Sudan’s struggle for democracy, and people have been sharing it on social media to honour Mattar.
The hashtag #BlueForSudan is being used throughout social media to spread awareness and show support for the protestors. This support is vital as it shows governments around the globe that we care for the people of Sudan, and that we do not want them to stand idly by, as they have so many times in the past, while people suffer.
The next few days are crucial for Sudan. We might see the country slowly stumbling towards the establishment of democratic rule. If not, the clashes between the militia and the protestors will continue.