Where did this all begin?
Sudan, located in Northeast Africa, is the third largest nation on the African continent. In December of 2018, demonstrations began over increased food prices and fuel shortages. The blame was placed on the President, Omar al-Bashir, and the demonstrations evolved into protests.
So who is al-Bashir?
In 1989, al-Bashir became President of Sudan during a coup, yet he has been re-elected. Human rights groups say these elections were not democratic. Al-Bashir has had many human rights violations in the past, including charges from the International Criminal’s Court for genocide and war crimes (2009). In April of 2019, al-Bashir was arrested during a military coup and the protesters demanded democratic elections from the military council, which took over following the coup.
Now, what happens after al-Bashir's arrest?
Further protests began in May as the desire for democratic elections seemed even more unreachable. The protests have quickly turned violent, as the military council is attempting to silence the protesters. Next, a civil disobedience campaign arose, and a sit-in was lead at the nation’s capital, Khartoum. Military groups began shooting sit-in participants, resulting in the murder of at least 118 people.
Who are the protesters?
The protesters largely consist of young, educated civilians. Women have taken a fronting position and are being recognized on social media. The protesters are demanding free and fair elections, and want them in three years. The three-year period is to ensure that the elections will be democratic, while the military council would like the elections to be held the fall of 2019. Most Western and African nations back the protesters and many have condemned the violence against them, including the United Nations.
Why has social media gotten so involved?
The media has been shut down in Sudan and there is very limited access to the internet. Those with internet access are using it to amplify their voice and bring global attention to the on-going human rights violations. To spread awareness many social media users are turning their profile pictures blue, in honor of Mohamed Hashim Mattar, who was killed during the sit-in on June 3rd.
What can you do to help?
The primary way to help is by donating to trust-worthy organizations that are providing aid to Sudan. Examples of such organizations are UNICEF and Save the Children. Another way to help is by urging your government to take action. If you are in the US, Text RESIST to 50409 and to learn how to reach your elected officials and tell them to help the people of Sudan. There is also a petition on Change.org demanding that the UN "must investigate the 3rd of June human rights violations in Sudan by the military.” One last way to help is by spreading the story on social media to your friends and family. Do not let the news of this humanitarian crisis go unheard.
Lead Image Credit: Unsplash