Interview | Sudan Backs to Streets One Year After the Revolution
Sudan has been going through an extraordinary period since December 2018 when people started an uprising against 30-year-old Islamist dictatorship of Omar Al Bashir with general strikes and mass sit-ins. In August 2019, when people overthrew the dictator Al Bashir, military had intervened the process with a coup and prevented the uprising to demolish all regime. With the consensus of the bourgeois elements and the support of the Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the uprising, a Transitional Government came to the power with so called radical reform promises. From 2019 April to 2020 July, apart from some partial reforms, Transitional Government has not fulfilled the promises and led the country with the main figures of the old regime. After the one year of the political revolution in Sudan, Sudanese people has started a new protest wave against the failed transitional government to demand real economic and social reforms. Sudanese people, surrounded by underdevelopment, corrupt regime, imperialist powers, army and armed conflicts is still fighting for a good future on the streets.
We present you the interview with Rawan Ibrahim who is a young student activist in democratic opposition, on the latest developments in Sudan. We find her answers to better understand the objective conditions, limits and details of the struggle in Sudan.
1- A new wave of protests has begun across Sudan with one protestor killed on July 1. What has triggered these protests again? What are the demands, and why people back to the streets?
The reason behind the new protests projects a different scope from where the past protests were mainly over the fall of the dictatorial regime, which removed Omar Al-Bashir from power (1989-2019). The people of Sudan recently are not protesting against the transitional government, but rather standing firmly in a bid to correct and regulate according to the path of the revolution, asserting their mandate as a nation that will not tolerate injustice. Thus, a Million’s March took over the cities of Sudan on the 30th of June, to pressure the reforming of the Parliament, speed up the peace agreement with the armed forces, provide better (and faster) access to essential goods and services, in addition to the demand of assigning civilian governors to states, and demanding more measures to be taken against officials linked with the ousted President Omar al-Bashir. The date (30th of June) was chosen by the protestors to commemorate the previous Million’s March on the (30th of June 2019), which lead to the signing of the transitional agreement.
Days later, social media shed light on thousands of protesters who staged a sit-in which was held outside the administrative headquarters on the 28th of June, in the town of Nertiti, central Darfur, that gained massive attention from the activists' community on social media. The sit-in continued for more than a week and is still “on-going", with demands for the people’s rights for security, stability, improvement of essential services, and better living standards. seeking protection from state violence and the armed militia (RSF) created by the ousted dictator Omar Al-Bashir. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia are still left in the state terrorising the civilians, people reported the atrocity of the raping of female farmers as well. The protests have gained online attention, and after 6 to 7 days of protesting, a crew of ministers and government officials have visited the state to support and listen to the demands of the people in Darfur. Worthwhile the peaceful protests in Nertiti lead to the sacking of Sudan's police chief and his deputy on the 5th of July.
Following these events, thousands in Kabkabiya, North Darfur are forming mass sit-ins, there are reported active protests and mass sit-ins in 8 states at present in Sudan.
This nation keeps proving that the ultimate power to influence change and develop the country is in the hands of the people, their pressure on the government and their resilience. Keeping in mind that within a week the cabinet ministry has been reformed as an outcome of the recent demands.
2- The people overthrew the dictator Omar al-Bashir and the military coup took the government by promising a civil transition. Through this, they protected the regime from a revolution and prevented the masses from continuing their movement. An opposition coalition proposed a three-year transition towards free elections. What has happened since the transitional government took power?
The empowerment of women and the declaration of their rights in the country is a positive change that I take pride in. Women in Sudan were a pivotal force that lead to the success of the revolution. Given that their rights and positions have been declared by the government, the transitional constitution of Sudan states that women should represent at least 40% of the transitional legislative council. Moreover, the constitutional amendments declare the cultural act of Female Genital Mutilation to be criminalised, the public law orders that restricts women’s freedom of choice and life style to be void and the law that prevents women from traveling with their children without the father’s written consent has been struck down as well. As we are heading towards democratic rule, women’s conditions and rights in the country of Sudan are looking quite promising.
A great advancement reflected is the raise of the general minimum wage from 425 to 3,000 pounds and the raise of minimum wages for specific public sector jobs. On top of that, there are committees working in returning the wealth and assets of the people who have been oppressively stripped off their possessions.
The inclusion of youth in comprehensive institutions and governmental sectors, and the focus on establishing communication between governmental officials and the youth bodes well for increased representation and opportunity for all Sudanese. For example, even twitter has emerged as a well-traversed platform that links officials with the civil rights activists of Sudan.
While striving to assign competent and qualified technocratic civilian ministers within the government is an ongoing process, it is gradually striving to replace officials previously linked to the ousted President Omar al-Bashir and members of the Islamist movement from the former regime who are known for their religious abuse.
Furthermore, the financial support received from the International community and the strengthening of international relations, especially the positive interaction with western nations that has increased Sudan's rank and significance among other countries.
Another important outcome was the religious freedom laws that have been established, particularly impressive given that Shariah law was the prevalent legal order in Sudan prior to its current secular state of affairs. The revolution is ongoing and the journey of building Sudan has just begun.
3- Can we say that Omar al- Bashir's rule is completely rooted from the country? If not, why?
Unfortunately, many officials linked to the ousted dictator Omar Al-Bashir still hold important positions in multiple sectors of the nation, while the system that allowed and empowered the corruption and cruelty of former military dictator Al-Bashir still stands despite his removal. The people of Sudan are aware of the significance and consequences of Bashir’s sacking. It has become clear that the associated links to the ousted president can and intend to work against the development of the country, and create conspiracies to weaken the strength and goals of the revolution’s path to progress. Keeping in mind there have been reported attempts of assassinating the Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok on the 9th of March.
It has been 30 years of ruling with deep-rooted corruption in each and every sector of the country. We are gradually building the Sudan of our dreams, reconstructing norms and mind-sets that have only known corruption. While raising awareness to change the residual effects that the former regime inflicted on the people who have been dealt the plight of surviving this corruption
The uprooting of the former regime and dismantling of its system is a challenge, but an expected one, and the people of Sudan knew that this fight is deeper and harder than just the fall of one head; it is the fall of the entire system.
4- Is there a political leadership to lead these new protests? The Sudanese Professionals Association was the main actor during the mass movement in 2019. What is its role now? Who are the main actors?
The Sudanese Professionals Association which led the Sudan Uprising Revolution have lost most of their support and trust that they had from the society and civilian protestors. This has occurred because of conflict between the parties that built up the association and the noticeable division between them, especially after the voting on the new secretary. We can say that the voting was the straw that broke the camel's back. Meanwhile the Resistance Committees are now leading the social movements and civilian protests in Sudan, they are neighbourhood networks of Sudanese residents “that started organising civil disobedience campaigns against Al-Bashir's regime since 2013” and have become a significant unionised network that compete a key role throughout the Sudanese Revolution.
5- Sudan has experienced an extraordinary year. Despite the powerful and wide opposition, demands are not fulfilled. In Sudan, where capitalism gives people only misery, poverty, and a gateway to oppression, what is the solution?
There are no clear plans stated from the Transitional government to change the capitalist economic system, which continues to be the undisputed default. However, with the power of the people, Sudan will clearly not tolerate any forms of injustice. The people are aware of their rights and resilient enough to be the source of change that will gradually and hopefully dismantle all systems of repression. Their force of actions is appearing to be a form of a third authority in regards to the development and decisions made for this country.
6- Before the pandemic, all around the world protests erupted. People in Chile, Iraq, France, Ecuador, and Lebanon went to the streets against neo-liberalism. In the US, we saw the biggest protest wave after Floyd was killed. Pandemic revealed the inequalities and injustice all around the world. After the lockdowns, this movement seems to back to streets. How did the COVID 19 affect Sudan?
Sudan remains in a crucial moment of transition at a terrible time globally. Inheriting a weakened economy, ravaged by the coronavirus, which had severe effects on the living standards nationwide, the people from Khartoum were reporting on social media how the electricity is cut off on daily shifts for 5-7 hours per day, as well as the poor water services. This is a form of living on “survival mode” during a pandemic, where people are already facing the unbearable pandemic challenges.
Protests filled the streets of Sudan regardless of the fatal and contagious virus, when the revolutionaries stated their demands by organizing the Million’s March on the 30th of June.
Marginalized groups in the other hand have reached a critical state in regards to their living standards, non-developed cities, and the lack of their basic needs of medical care, pharmaceutical and consumer products, on top of a non-existing security on their land.
There is no peace nor security for the people in the state of Darfur, the lack of security was the main issue that sparked the protests in Darfur on the 28th of June, and the people organised mass sit-ins regardless of the pandemic crisis.
Last year we heard the whole nation of Sudan chant “We are all Darfur” in the revolution protests that forced Al-Bashir out of power, to end the injustice our people in Darfur have endured for over a decade, and for the very reason of how marginalized, ignored, and racially discriminated our people in Darfur are.
The RSF militia violently dispersed the peaceful protests that have been ongoing for over a week in Darfur, on the 13th of July, attacking two cities, injuring 20 and brutally killing over 13 citizens.
The peaceful protests in Darfur demands mainly security from the RFS militia who have been committing genocides since 2003 in Darfur. But the question remains... When will the government of Sudan prioritize and protect the “Human-being" in Darfur. When will they take action to the injustice, nightmare and the terror that occurred and is re-occurring in Darfur. Will the people in the state of Darfur ever live in dignity, will they ever witness peace and security in their land.