On June 3rd, a peaceful sit-in taking place in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum was brutally dispersed after paramilitary forces killed and wounded hundreds of protestors. The sit-in, which had begun in April 2019, was a way of demanding for civilian rule after the ousting of then-dictator and President Omar al-Bashir.
However, following the end of the holy month of Ramadan and one day prior to Eid, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – a militia with links to war crimes in Darfur – began violently suppressing the revolution. The number of victims is still unknown, but many are already predicting over a hundred deaths, hundreds more wounded and many women raped since the violent crackdown began.
Mohamed Hashim Mattar was one of the victims. A 26-year old graduate of London’s Brunel University, Mattar was shot while trying to protect two women from gunfire. Shortly after his death, friends and family began changing their social media profile pictures to a shade of blue, his favourite colour, to remember Mattar.
This shade of blue began spreading across social media, both on Twitter and Instagram, as a way of honouring Mattar and the other martyrs of the Sudanese revolution. Soon enough, high-profile celebrities were changing their pictures to blue to symbolise unity and support.
As of June 10th, the current ruling junta, the Transitional Military Council, cut off the remaining available internet in Sudan. Reports now reveal that the country is undergoing a ‘near total’ ban of its internet services.
With social media becoming an important tool used by the protestors, the blackout was a means of suppressing and silencing the uprising while minimising the extreme reports coming out of the country. However, the Sudanese diaspora has stepped up and played an important role by sharing and spreading news when protestors couldn’t.
The Importance of Raising Awareness
With a large portion of the online community going blue for Sudan, many have criticised the campaign as frivolous. Those who have called it trivial believe that there is more that needs doing, nevertheless, while it may not resolve anything in the long-term, the power of raising awareness has already played a massive part internationally.
As more and more online users take part, even more, are beginning to take notice and become involved. Sharing hashtags, places to donate and the latest updates, the virality on the social media sphere is beginning to force western media to report on the subject. Keeping people informed is usually the first step in solving any conflict, and while it may only make up one part of a bigger fight, it has proven to be a significant part.