The Blue Bubble
An unknown death toll with hundreds injured. Seven months of protests. No mass media coverage. Sudan has been taken over by governmental turmoil, with protests and government violence shaking the country since December 2018, but they seem to have been all alone in their struggle.
Last December, Sudan was on the brink of economic collapse when President Omar al-Bashir implemented emergency restrictions on access to bread, fuel, and cash. Hundreds of people stormed the streets, demanding that the military remove President al-Bashir and his entire government from power.
Fast forward to April of 2019, the military gave in to the demands of the protestors and removed al-Bashir’s regime from power. A seven-member Transitional Military Council (TMC) was created in order to ensure order and security, but the protestors were still not satisfied. The people of Sudan wanted a civilian and democratic administration, using the TMC as a safe transfer of authority; however, the transition has been anything but safe.
The pro-democracy movement and the TMC have been locked in a power struggle since the TMC’s formation, resulting in mass protesting and killings of civilians. The murder of a 26-year-old engineer, Mohamed Hashim Mattar, sparked a global social media movement aimed to get the attention of international media outlets. The movement, primarily based on Instagram, was brought about and spread through the changing of a user’s Instagram profile picture to blue and reposting the hashtag, #blueforSudan. Remaz Mahgoub Khalaleyal, a Sudanese-American campaigner posted on Instagram:
‘“This is an effort to raise awareness as we the Sudanese diaspora are the only voice left. The internet has been completely turned off in Sudan, the government has shut it down in order to conceal its massacres and crimes against civilians ...Please change your profile photo and let the world know what is happening. We cannot be silenced. United we stand, divided we fall. Our strength is in our unity. This specific shade of blue is in honor of the martyr Mohammed Mattar. @mattar77 Rest In Peace king. This shade of blue was his profile pic on IG and as a symbol to honor ALL martyrs we’ve changed our dp into blue.”’
The online movement has been extremely successful for the protestors as celebrities and other notable world leaders have caught onto the trend and have pressured international leaders from around the globe to condemn Sudan’s military regime.
Negotiations between the TMC and protest organizers have seemed to show limited signs of progress, but in June of 2019, an agreement was ultimately reached. The agreement includes a transitional power-sharing period of 39 months with a General leading for the first 21 months and then a civilian for the 18 remaining. Also included in the agreement is the formation of a sovereign council, cabinet, and legislative body and a nomination of a prime minister by the pro-democracy movement--both viewed as huge wins after the TMC threatened to host a snap election in June following the tragic crackdown. Lastly, ministers of defense and interior will be chosen by the military.
Now, this may all seem like a somewhat happy ending for both sides; however in mid-September of this year, more protests broke out over new appointments and the lack of justice for the military’s actions against protestors. Protestors are calling for the appointment of a new head of the judiciary, as well as a new public prosecutor. They hope these appointments will lead to the prosecution of the military regime, whom they blame for the deaths during the demonstrations under Bashir’s administration. The crowd chanted, “Blood for blood, we won’t accept blood money.”
The crisis that started with an economic collapse and transformed into an attempted democratic revolution still engulfs the lives of the Sudanese people, yet remains underrepresented in a majority of prominent media outlets. With protests and tensions on the rise again, the nation is fragile and ready to burst--its future unknown.