For nearly all of 2019 so far, Sudan has been engulfed in violent conflict and a resultant humanitarian crisis. In recent months, hundreds have been raped, injured, or killed, with many bodies of the dead being discarded into the Nile River. The government has cut the internet and mobile phone connection throughout the country, making it difficult to spread news of the crisis. Additionally, the country is running low on food and supplies and UN humanitarian aid is being blocked from entering the borders of the nation.
The conflict began in December 2018 when the now President Omar al-Bashir, the country’s former authoritarian leader for 30 years, ordered that bread and fuel rations be cut to prevent economic collapse. This reignited years of discontent among the Sudanese people with the regime and starting the protests. The regime is widely hated by the Sudanese people for its enforcement of Sharia law (strict Islamic law) and its reputation for being among the most corrupt nations in the world. Months of protest, during which protesters were often subject to gunfire and tear gas, resulted in the removal of al-Bashir from power. However, that was far from the end for Sudan on its road to freedom. The military, consisting of a council of seven generals, took control of the government, but not all sides believe in its legitimacy. Civilian protests have been lead by the Sudanese Professionals Association (mostly doctors and lawyers), but many others from different occupations have participated. Some of their protests have become violent. The military attacked protesters in early June, leaving 30 dead and an additional 100 people dead in the following weeks. While both sides agree their should be democracy, the civilians want a three year transition period to ensure the former regime is completely dismantled. However, the military has called for elections in nine months, ensuring the former regime continues. On July 5th, the military agreed to the creation a military and civilian joint council, with a legislative council also to be created in three months. Whether the military will hold itself accountable to the agreement has yet to be determined.
The conflict in Sudan is notable for the attention it received on social media during the months of protest. Many young people on social media have attempted to spread awareness of the events unfolding in Sudan, claiming Western media has failed to do so. The movement has attracted positive and negative attention. A social media account claiming it will donate one meal to people in Sudan for each time its post is shared emerged, but was later exposed as an illegitimate charity. Although the account user stole attention away from the issue at hand, it led to increased awareness about how to identify false charities. Personally, I knew little about the conflict in Sudan before the social media movement, which inspired me to write this article.
Abuelgasim, Fay, and Noha Elhennawy. “Both Sides in Sudan Political Crisis Hail Power-sharing Deal.” AP News, 5 July 2019. AP News, http://www.apnews.com/97dff45b35ac49c0bfe4d3c68bd68bbb.
“Sudan Crisis: What You Need to Know.” BBC News, 13 June 2019. BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-48511226. Accessed 6 July 2019.
Walsh, Declan. “Bullets, Tear Gas, and Love: Romance Blooms in the Midst of Sudan Protest.” The New York Times, 3 May 2019. The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/03/world/africa/sudan-protests-khartoum.html?action=click&module=RelatedCoverage&pgtype=Article®ion=Footer. Accessed 6 July 2019.
Yuhas, Alan. “100 Killed in Sudan and Dozens of Bodies Are Pulled from Nile.” The New York Times, 4 June 2019. The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/world/africa/sudan-war-facts-history.html. Accessed 6 July 2019.