Interview | Rawan Ibrahim: A Breakthrough For Sudan's History
Sudanese revolution was triggered by the protests against the increase in food prices by 70% and inflation in December 2018. All the year around, people took streets with mass protests as economic crisis hit people. The neoliberal austerity implemented make the people pay the bill of the crisis that brought about a dramatic deterioration of the life standards. Elimination of wheat and electricity subsidies and declaration of that Omar al Bashir was a candidate in the upcoming 2010 Sudanese presidential tried people’s patience. As elections are only perfunctory; election of al Bashir’s candidacy meant that he would continue ruling the country after his 30 years rule. Bu people wanted a change in the rule of corruption and dictatorship. An increase in price of bread sparked the revolution. Army seized the power to stop the heroic mass movement, clashes and strikes of the Sudanese people, accepting the fall of Al Bashir. In this way, the army sacraficied Bashir to keep the dictatorship regime alive. A new era Sudanese revolution has started with the rule of the junta because the protestors didn’t accept this fake change. While Sudanese Professionals Allience was conducting the negotiations with the Transitional Military Council when army made a bloody massacre on 3 June. To fight back, a general strike and civil disobedience were declared. Although the vanguard workers of the general strike were arrested, Transitional Military Council had to start the negotiations once again with SPA on establishment of a civil government.
We made an interview with Rawan Ibrahim who is a part of the youth and women which is one of the main force in Sudanese Revolution. The answers clearly reflects the political dynamics and demands of the ongoing uprising. And the interview is important in terms of presenting the limitations of the revolutionary movements in Sudan and Northern Africa and in terms of manifesting current perspective of the vanguard activists.
First of all, we , as revolutionaries in Turkey, salute the heroic struggle of the Sudanese laborers and the youth.
1)Sudanese revolution has similar characteristics like Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions. Demands of bread and freedom seems to unify the laborers and overcomes the ethnical and religious divisions. Is this the reality? Can you describe the atmosphere of Sudanese Regime?
Yes, we do share the same motives and goals in our revolutions. The trigger behind all revolutions in the northern region of Africa is essentially the economic inflation and the dire living standards combined with the long history of repressive and corrupt military rule. In Sudan, particularly, the 3 decade long tyranny deteriorated the living standards and introduced new forms of articulated corrupt practices that are unprecedented to the region. The regime instigated a reign of terror over the nation so to have the young and delicate hearts succumb to their demands and to accept the standards and lifestyle that the regime dictates. Today, however, the people stood up in unity and said “enough!”. Every person out in the streets of Sudan today will not return to their homes before ensuring that every dust particle linked with the former government is being held accountable.
2) Sudan is a very difficult country to be a woman and we see that women and the youth are on the front line. Can you explain this leap?
Your question only helps prove the point I made earlier. The deterioration cause by the military rule has caused the world to view Sudan as a country where women cannot live in ease, even luxury. Looking at Sudan before the late 80s, one will appreciate that women enjoyed their rights and that the gap between men and women barely existed, if at all. The people of Sudan acknowledge this and that is why it was far from surprise for us to see women as the vanguard of the revolution from the first day, fighting against the institutionalized oppression of the former government. When a person, irrespective of their gender, is silenced for long, their cry for freedom would inevitably be loud.
3)Strike movement of the laborers played a key role to overthrow Omar al Bashir. After the massacre of June 3, general strike and civil disobedience is declared. Can you explain the role of the class movement, poor peasants, unemployed people and the crafts?
The civil disobedience included all classes alike. The main cause behind the successes of the revolution thus far is the theme we adopted for it – peace. I understand that the concern here would be related to how people will survive through a disobedience where suppliers of basic products and needs are on strike. But, given the peaceful approach of the Sudanese hearts at large, no person with a commodity or a service that may be needed by others has failed to share or provide the same till date. I know it is not as easy as one would want it to be but the success of the revolution has called for drastic measures and drastic measures is what we will take till we succeed. Today, the success of the civil disobedience has started bringing the transitional military council to its knees requesting an end to the civil disobedience.
4) Can you give information about the Union of Sudanese Professionals, which led the mobilizations, and the umbrella organization called Freedom and Chance Alliance?
The Sudanese professionals association (SPA) was initially an alliance by unions of doctors, journalists and lawyers. It was not recognized for long years since its formation in 2012 due to government crackdowns on trade unions; but became slightly more formal in 2016 when the association started growing as professionals became aware of the power of unity and the worsening of the living standards. Today it plays a prominent role in organizing and leading the ongoing protests and comprises 17 trade unions. As for the Alliance of Freedom and Change, it is a consortium of 22 parties and associations, including the SPA, the Alliance of the National Consensus Forces, the Republican Party, the Unionist Party (Opposition) and the likes. Its main role today is to negotiate the transition of the government with the transitional military council and to voice the opinions of the people of Sudan to the council and the world, in general.
5) What do you think about the negotiations with the Transitional Military Council and process of implementation of a civil government? What is the possibility of a civil government and do you think that a civil capitalist government can solve the urgent problems of the people? What is your opinion about a real solution that can solve deep social problems of Sudanese people just like of Middle Eastern people or of African people? How can be these problems solved?
At the outset, allow me to clarify that what I want and think is far from what reality. On one hand what I want is to wake up tomorrow to a civil government where the military are merely an arm of the government concerned only with the defense of the country and its security. On the other hand, reality calls for a negotiation between the two ends – the people and the military – without foreign interference so to find a common ground for everyone to stand on till we are able to successfully achieve the status of an independent democratic government. This new government will be sworn in to take the nation back to its independence and forward to its growth and developments. Sudanese diaspora around the world have proven to be elite professionals capable of achieving goals and contributing to the world in ways that would require pages and pages to write about. Their efforts coupled with an opportunity for the people residing in Sudan will surely suffice in resolving the Sudanese economic predicaments and taking the entire nation on a leap into the future.
6) Can you give information about Islamist movement in Sudan? What is their role in the revolution?
The Islamist Party in Sudan is a nightmare that the revolution aims to wake up from. The people in Sudan refer to the people of the Islamist Party as “Kezan” – plural of the term “Koz” which means a metal cup – since the Islamists had once described themselves as a drinking Koz from which the faithful could imbibe Islam. Bearing that in mind, religion was, unfortunately, used by extremists to support the regime as a brainwashing tool to control the public and has led to the enrichment of the Kezan in Sudan and making Sudan a hub for the Muslim Brotherhood. With the revolution’s success, it is made clear that the people are not willing to have the Kezan control the show any longer and that the people are aware of how religion has been used to manipulate the people in the past.
7) After the massacre on June 3, the camp of the protesters abolished, there is an immense oppression on streets. In addition, negotiations are still on the table. How about the protests nowadays and what can happen next?
It is very sad to see that such a peaceful country with so much potential go through what took place on the 3rd of June, minding you that despite the atrocities, not one Sudanese protestor fought back and instead they stood their grounds screaming “Silmeeya” – Arabic for ‘in peace’ – at the top of their lungs as you may have seen in many clips that are shared over social platforms. Avoiding the spill of blood, people took to their homes and camped there instead of the outdoors where the animalistic forces attack every man woman and child. As a next step, the people will continue with the disobedience till such time that serious steps is taken towards accepting the Declaration of Freedom and Change. Following that, we may see the 6 million people walk back to the sit-in area and continue their joyful chants till the Declaration of Freedom and Change is implemented.
8) Like Sudan, Algeria is also experiencing a massive popular movement. Even it is a very different country, in France; the Yellow Vests movement was triggered by neoliberal attacks. What does the vanguard section of the Sudanese Revolution think about internationalism?
Nations are revolting and uprising against all forms of injustices. In this generation, it is rather impossible to control what people may or may not become aware of. The internet has helped everyone get a better grasp of what their rights are, and distinguish between what is right from what is wrong. Consequently, Internationalism is destined when rights are violated and it is definitely a call on every oppressed nation to take action if they face such grave injustices in their lives – be it a first world country like France or a third world country like Sudan, what needs to be rectified, needs to be rectified.
Thank you for answering the questions. We hope that the revolution of Sudanese people would make their revolution permanent and inspire all world.