Sudan is one of the largest countries in Africa and inhabited by many people of great diversity of origin, ethnicity, cultures, religions and languages. The country's population was about forty million people before the separation of South Sudan in 2011. The country has been driven by numerous internal civil wars since gaining independence from Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1956, which have claimed millions of civilian lives, destroyed huge material resources and held back development and progress, which eventually led to the current economic crisis in the country.
The causes of these civil wars are complex but mainly due to the fact that the Sudanese people have failed to respect and address the country's diversity, which became one of the most difficult issues to be resolved. In addition, there are other many divisive issues beside ethnicity and religion: these include lack of economic development, corruption of government officials, and the lack of wealth and power sharing, which have been concentrated in the hands of certain Sudanese elites of Arab descent and the consequent marginalization of the non-Arab groups. This of course has been a great problem, holding back the country from progressing and establishing a vibrant Sudanese society of tolerance, as well as the promotion of a democratic process in the country that would accept everybody, especially those of different ethnicity and political views.
In the light of all these factors, it is no surprise to see the massive political turbulence in the country today, and the ongoing mass protests throughout the country which have become a true “popular revolution,” demanding regime change and for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to step-down. The protesters are chanting: “We need a new Sudan” and “We want Peace, Freedom and Justice.”
The current mass protests are much bigger than the September protests which started in Wad Madani 2013 when the government announced an end to food price caps and fuel subsidies which seemed to have far reaching implications on the living conditions of the people. These peaceful protesters were faced with severe government repression which included the use of live ammunition and excessive force against demonstrators, as a result of which many people were killed. Thousands of protesters have been detained and tortured. These unprecedented human rights violations have been recorded by a number of internationally-respected human rights reporters.
The latest protests started on 19 December 2019 in Atbara city in northern Sudan, quickly spreading across the entire country and are now in their fourth month. The protesters are well organised and started as a group of youths who were later joined by people affiliated to trade unions and professional bodies, as well as doctors, lawyers, teachers and the political opposition. These are now the biggest protests in Sudanese history. This is one of the first times that people from all different colours and walk of lives came together united in their determination to overthrow Omar al-Bashir and his authoritarian regime.
Saturday 6 April 2019 has been a decisive day in Sudan which mark the April 6 people revolution that overthrew President Gafar Neimeri 1985. The Sudanese people throughout entire country have decided to come out on this fore the support of People Revolution and marsh to the Precidential Palace and Army Headquarter to bring down President al-Bashir and his fundamentalist Islamic regime. These mass demonstrators have been demonstrating in front of the Army Headquartes for the past three days with utter determination to overthrow President al- Bashir’s government.
The fact that this current popular uprising in Sudan is not merely because of rising food prices and fuel shortages, but because of many compounding factors, including corruption and economic mismanagement, which have led to the present economic crisis and the fall of Sudanese pound drastically against the major world currencies, which have had far-reaching implications on people’s survival.
Since President al-Bashir seized power in June 1989 the people of Sudan have never known peace; the country has been overcome by war in Darfur, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, Beja Hills and of course, South Sudan which resulted in its separation in July 2011. The reason that the people of these regions resorted to armed struggle was because of the unfair policies of Bashir's government which resulted in the marginalization, discrimination, suppression and utter neglect of the people in these areas. Additionally the government has engaged in other countries' wars, such as the war in Yemen and Libya and elsewhere, which have nothing to do with Sudan. As a result many soldiers from these marginalized areas were used in these wars and many have been killed for absolutely nothing.
Bashir's government, in its thirty years rule, has proved itself to be the most authoritarian, ruthless and corrupt regime that Sudan has ever seen. However, despite the President's protection by military officers, police and the security service, he went on to impose a year-long state of emergency on the country. In so doing he has dissolved both federal and state governments and appointed military generals to run the country during this emergency period. The fact is that there is no reason for the President to declare a state of emergency; the only reason that he has used this State of Emergency legislation has been to crackdown on peaceful protesters who have been calling for freedom, peace and justice. These are basic human rights that people are entitled to under the United Nations charter. This crackdown on peaceful protesters is still being carried out by government security agents. Recent report show that over sixty protesters have been killed, many more injured and thousands of people, including politicians, have been detained and tortured.
In 2009 President Omar al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur and he is still on the run from justice. His government's agents are still committing human rights violations by killing peaceful protesters, medical staff in Omdurman Teaching Hospital and by security agents breaking into people’s homes, arresting them, stealing their money and valuables, torturing and detaining them.
Despite such human rights violations being committed against peaceful demonstrators in Sudan by the government of the internationally-indicted President, the international community has remained virtually silent about what is going on in Sudan, which is very sad and shameful. Only limited condemnations have been made by a few countries. The Sudanese people are now calling on the international community, and in particular, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to take positive and immediate robust actions to stop the killing, torture and mass detention of peaceful protesters and to compel the Government of Sudan to adhere to international human rights norms.
Finally, the indicted President Omar Hassan al-Bashir must be brought to the International Criminal Court to answer the charges relating to the crimes committed in Darfur and the many other war crimes he has subsequently committed against people in the Nuba Mountains region (South Kordufan), Blue Nile region, in Beja region and also for the violence currently being unleashed against peaceful protesters.
Suleiman Musa Rahhal, FBMS