By Sam Gibbs.
If you have social media, you probably have noticed the influx of posts and stories about Sudan in the past week. As a young person, and as one of the content creators behind GEN-ZiNE, I feel as though it as my duty to learn what I can about what’s going on and inform our audience. That being said, let’s dive into what is happening right now in Sudan and what we can do to help. In April, the Sudanese president Omar Bashir was arrested and forced from power. This followed months of protests and a military coup. Bashir had ruled Sudan since 1989 and had previously been indicted for war crimes and genocide in Darfur, a region in western Sudan. After he relinquished power, military leaders declared they would agree to civilian rule. However, the military has now stepped in to run a transitional government for 2 years. This group is called the Transitional Military Council, and they will rule until a new leader is elected. The pro-democracy movement, led by the Sudanese Professionals Association, wants civilian rule and a long period of transition before new elections begin in order to prepare voter rolls and give the country's political system time to settle and mature. Due to this, they began negotiations with the military. At first, the pro-democracy organizers and military council had agreed to a three-year plan to transition to democracy. However, these negotiations dissolved and the pro-democracy civilians began a 2 day strike in the capital city of Khartoum. Paramilitary and security forces raided a major protest camp on Monday, June 3 in response to the strike. The Sudanese in this camp were unarmed, and peacefully protesting. According to the Federal Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, this violence resulted in 52 people dead and 784 injured. However, civilian reports put the death toll as higher, stating that bodies were dumped into the Nile River and weighted down with rocks; the military was trying to cover up how many people actually died. The group that instigated this attack is called the RSF (Rapid Support Forces). They are led by a man named Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, otherwise known as Hemeti. Hemeti was a commander of a militia group called the janjaweed (from which the RSF was formed) that was accused of atrocities in Darfur in the 2000s. On Tuesday, June 4, the leader of the TMC, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, called for national elections within nine months. He said the elections should be supervised by monitoring groups, including international and regional bodies. Al-Burhan said a caretaker government would be formed to oversee the period before elections. He did not take direct responsibility for the violence on Monday. On Wednesday, June 5, a doctors’ organization that has helped organize protests reported that 101 people had been killed, including those recovered from the river, and 326 injured. If confirmed, the toll would make this attack the deadliest by security forces on the protesters since April, when Omar Bashir was removed by his generals. In the aftermath of the raid, residents reported rapes and robberies at the hands of paramilitary forces, and said that the internet and cellphone networks had been restricted or cut off. This internet blackout left many people without the ability to communicate or disseminate information to the world. This crackdown led the pro-democracy civilians to fear that the miltary were never serious about supporting civilan rule. After all of this, the pro-democracy movement called for civil disobedience throughout the country, starting Sunday, June 9. They say the civil disobedience campaign will only end when the ruling generals "transfer power to a civil transitional authority.” The group has also refused talks with the miltary, who are trying to reconcile after the violent attack on June 3. The only way peace will be restored is when those who were responsible for the violence are brought to justice. What can we do to help? Since there is a continued internet blackout in Sudan, we must share as much information as possible to help spread awareness about this event. Gathering support for the pro-democracy movement will allow an investigation to be held and, eventually, for the government they wanted to come to fruition. In addition, contact your member of Congress and urge them to help the people of Sudan or donate to UNICEF or the International Rescue Committee, which help displaced children and families.