Crisis in Sudan and the importance of Social Media
What’s going on in Sudan?
The unrest in Sudan began in December 2018, When President Bashir’s government forced emergency austerity measures in order to help restore the economic collapse. This change brought cuts to bread and fuel subsides, leaving many citizens struggling to afford basic supplies. With many citizens frustrated and angry, demonstrations erupted in the capital Khartoum. The protesters demanded that president Omar al Bashir should be taken down from his title after 30 years.
Since then Protests in Sudan increased in numbers and on April 6th 2019, demonstrators occupied the military’s headquarters to demand the removal of the president. This act was successful as five days later, the military announced that Mr Bashir had been overthrown. Since 11th April, a council of generals assumed power over the country, however this change left many unable to live a stable life. Clashes between protesters and the Transitional Council (TMC) escalated as violent attacks on protestors reportedly left at least 30 dead. Other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom condemned the situation, stating the attack as “brutal”. In response, the TMC expressed “sorrow for the way events escalated” adding that the operation had targeted “troublemakers and petty criminals”.
How Sudan’s Social Media Presence unfolded.
As these current events have taken place in Sudan during the past few months, mainstream media have not used their platform to spread what is really going on. Protests have continued as protesters walk the streets in unity. As most of the demonstrators are young, many took to social media in order to document these historical events. One woman dubbed with the name Kandaka which means “Nubian Queen”, went viral for leading the chants against political corruption and the rising of living costs. Her photo has been compared to the statue of liberty monument due to to it’s similarity and she has become a symbol of revolution for the country. On June 3rd, Mohamed Mattar, a 26-year-old engineer who graduated from Brunel University in London, was shot and killed in an attempt to protect two women during a protest which reportedly left 100 people dead. Since his death, some took to social media and changed their profile picture into a blue colour, as this was Mattar’s favourite colour. Following this, a social media campaign with the #BlueForSudan became a viral movement, with thousands of people replacing their profile picture to show solidarity with the protesters, demanding that the military should be accountable for their actions. These two viral instances have overall helped spread the awareness on the crisis in Sudan on a global scale, despite Sudanese citizens being deprived of internet access by the military government.
Being from South Sudan and having family in Sudan living under the fear of uncertainty, I have always seen what power Mr Bashir had on his people and the fact that the Sudanese government have tortured, raped, taken many as slaves and killed, makes me question why we are not allowing the citizens of Sudan to express themselves through mainstream media. My concluding thought is that it is very important to allow the suppressed to speak up and mainstream media should do more in giving coverage to what is really going on.