On April 11th, 2019, victory spread across Sudan as large-scale pro-democracy protests led to the removal of a dictator and President Omar al-Bashir who had ruled over the country for close to three decades.
The al-Bashir regime was notorious for its crimes against humanity particularly during the war in Darfur, located in the western region of Sudan, where the government was responsible for the murder, rape, and torture of its ethnic African population. In 2009, al-Bashir became the first sitting president indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur.
Last year, protests reached a climax as the economic crisis intensified leading to rising bread prices and cash shortages. Rallies began taking more of an anti-government stance focusing on the failures of the al-Bashir regime and ultimately setting the stage for the ousting of the President.
Following his removal, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) gained power and it was decided that Sudan would have a transitional government for two years until a new leader is elected. However, demonstrators continued to protest, suspicious of the links between the TMC and the al-Bashir government, demanding instead the introduction of civilian rule. For the last two months, protestors have taken part in a peaceful sit-in outside the army’s headquarters in the capital of Khartoum.
A Rapid Slide into Violence
This all changed on the 3rd June, shortly after the end of the holy month of Ramadan and one day before celebrations for Eid al-Fitr were to commence when the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began killing and wounding protestors. Following this, the TMC reneged all negotiations it had agreed upon with the opposition and decided to call for an election to be held in nine months.
The commander of the RSF, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, and the deputy head of TMC is infamously known as the leader of the Janjaweed militia responsible for the war crimes in Darfur. Prior to the removal of al-Bashir, despite his close relationship with the President, Dagalo was the first high-ranking official to side with the protestors.
Yet, with support from anti-democratic Arab regimes such as Saudi-Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, some have raised questions as to who Dagalo truly serves. While Dagalo hasn’t taken accountability for the RSF-led massacre, thousands of its soldiers continue to patrol the streets, robbing citizens, beating innocent victims and causing terror in Khartoum.
As of now, the precise number of victims is still unknown, but it can be agreed that over 100 protestors have been killed, with as many as forty bodies pulled out of the Nile, 400 wounded and several women raped. Many of the Sudanese protestors have been utilising social media to get their message out into the international community.
Symbolic hashtags including #SudanUprising and #IAmTheSudanRevolution have quickly garnered thousands of tweets. However, the TMC has resorted to blocking both internet services and telephone calls, in hopes to suppress and silence the movement.
After overthrowing al-Bashir’s three-decade-long regime, revolution doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon, but as civil unrest continues to rise in Sudan, so does the death count. With both international and regional condemnation, what is actually being done by the global community to help Sudan?