Thousands of Sudanese youth and university students have recently been joining a Facebook event page calling for mass protests starting today, January 30th. And it looks like the protests have indeed begun, and are underway as indicated by the pictures being uploaded right now on the Facebook protest page .
Here are some of them.
And here is a video on Facebook of chanting protesters that just got uploaded. Sudanese youth in Washington DC are also planning a solidarity protest later today in front of the Sudanese Embassy there to demand change.
Here are the stated demands on the Facebook event page, organized by the protesters who call themselves “The Spark.”
The people of Sudan will not remain silent anymore, It is about time we demand our rights and take what’s ours in a peaceful demonstration that will not involve any acts of sabotage, We will demonstrate against the rising of the prices, the corruption, unemployment and all false practices of the government such as violence against women and lashing them in ways that breaks all laws of religions and humanity and the violation of minorities rights.
… our brothers in Tunisia did it and so did our brothers in Egypt. It is about time for us
At the time of of writing this, there are “15,709 Attending,” “3,384 Maybe Attending,” “101,409 Awaiting Reply,” and “7,172 Not Attending.”
Many, if not most active members on the page, seem to be Diaspora Sudanese, and not Sudanese living within Khartoum. But those who are, are mostly university students seeking to mobilize their fellow university mates and the general population to protest against a number of things, especially rising prices and economic hardships.
The large number of “101,409 Awaiting Reply” indicates that while the invite on Facebook went viral, it hadn’t captured the attention of the large majority of those who were invited or gotten a response from them… yet, hopefully.
At the moment, BBC Arabic and Reuters are reporting that police is beating and arresting students protesting at the heart of Khartoum demanding the resignation of the government. It’s also using tear gas against them.
According to sources in Khartoum, things have now calmed a bit, but there are plans for more and bigger protests later in the day.
So far Aljazeera seems to be completely ignoring the news, which is annoying to say the least, and I suspect it’s because of the close relationship between the Sudanese and Qatari governments, but I really, really hope I’m wrong.
Let’s see if they remain quiet.
Dear Aljazeera International,
You’ve been amazing so far. Please do the right thing and report on the protests in Khartoum!
Whether this will actually blow up to the same level we’ve seen in Tunisia and Egypt is something that remains to be seen. After all these recent events, nothing seems far fetched anymore.
There’s real anger, and rising prices and economic hardships are starting to sting people including those who are usually politically apathetic. Plus, with the results of the referendum, the South going bye bye, and weak opposition parties remaining, Northerners realize they’re going to be left all alone to deal with the government.
We’ve done it before twice, toppling two military dictatorships in 1964 and 1985, and it may just happen again if the people rise up.
UPDATE: Aljazeera is now officially reporting on the demonstrations (Arabic article). Thank you Aljazeera. Now keep reporting.
UPDATE: Here’s a recently uploaded video of students from Khartoum University’s Faculty of Medicine protesting.
UPDATE: The NY Times has a good piece on the Tunisia and Egypt-inspired protests and how they started.
UPDATE: It’s been confirmed. The protests are no longer limited to the Sudanese capital. People have started demonstrating elsewhere in the country including in Kosti (Arabic article).
It’s also been confirmed that a student has died in one of the protests, and that there are more planned protests. Whether all of this will lead to a revolution or not, is now the big question. For a worthy perspective on this, I encourage you to check out Mo Elzubeir’s take.
You see, Bashir, like it or not, has his supporters among the Sudanese people. He is actually a polarizing figure, unlike Mubarak, who is almost unanimously hated. Looking at the protest event page on Facebook and reading through the comments is revealing.
So, how can you have a ‘popular’ uprising when the country is not really behind you and your core participants would like to see a regime change, no to all politicians and are unable to call for what they really want?
You have an impotent movement.
Sadly, I think Sudan is more likely to experience an all out civil war than a popular uprising uniting all Sudanese. There is a serious lack of a unifying rallying point and a chronic identity crisis that everyone is trying to ignore. We are too far behind to try and emulate what is happening in Egypt or Tunisia. Sudan has a lot of soul searching to do, a rediscovery of what it is to be Sudanese after the South voted to secede.
To learn more about this annoying identity crisis too many Sudanese suffer from, read my post “Sudan: Arab or African?” to a get a pretty good idea.
UPDATE: It seems like there will be more protests today advocated by Girifna (We’re Fed Up):
Tomorrow’s Rally, Feb 3rd, is at 4 pm in Bahari at Agrab Square. Please spread the word. The aim of this rally and all the spark rallies is to break the legend of the security forces and the break the fear. The rallies are nonviolent direct action. There are also sit ins and street speeches urging the people to unite against the National Congress Party (the ruling party in Sudan).
In other news, the ruling NCP issued an urgent message to its members, especially those in the IT sector, accusing the protesters of wanting to disrupt “Sudan’s Islamic Project.” The message also encouraged party members to enter all Facebook groups calling for the protests and discourage people from participating.
Lovely. The cyber-battles have begun, but at least the government didn’t feel the need to block Facebook… yet?
Now, speaking of Facebook in Sudan, to all readers based in Khartoum, here’s how you can ensure that your Facebook is secure from attacks and password phishing attempts by the regime.
As I said before. I would never rule any possibilities out anymore, especially after Tunisia.
BUT… we do need to take into account that Sudan is a unique case, and al-Bashir is different in the eyes of a lot of his people because they don’t see him as an American puppet, unlike how Mubarak and Ben Ali are perceived by the Arab street.
On the other hand, we also need to take into account the worsening economic hardships, widening rich-poor gap, and appalling NCP corruption, which triggered some smaller protests even before Tunisia. These factors are real and might trigger big protests if they continue to worsen. But for now, at least in Khartoum, most of the visible activity seems to be advocated by young university students using Facebook to organize and get their message out.
UPDATE: Sudan cracks down on opposition ahead of protests.
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan widened its crackdown on the opposition by arresting 10 journalists from the Communist Party newspaper ahead of anti-gvernment protests expected on Thursday by activists inspired by Egypt’s uprising.
Sudan has used armed riot police to disperse more than a dozen demonstrations by young Sudanese across the north of the country this week.
The protests are directed against price rises and a government that demonstrators say is restricting freedoms. Security forces have surrounded universities, preventing students from spilling out onto the streets.
The protests have been small but widespread. Hundreds of arrests and beatings have fragmented the movement, with around 50 activists still detained or missing. Khartoum arrested opposition Islamist Hassan al-Turabi and 12 of his party officials ahead of the protests. None have been charged.
UPDATE: The regime has been cracking down on the opposition and many journalists as well in the last couple of days.
The Sudanese government continued cracking down on opposition media and protestors Thursday, as activists continued planning for more rounds of demonstrations.
… The protests in northern Sudan have been small, but widespread. Hundreds of arrests and beatings have fragmented the movement, with around 50 activists still detained or missing. But activists say they are planning to continue demonstrating, with the next protest planned for February 7.
The protestors, largely students and youth, have used Facebook and SMS to communicate with each other. Security forces Thursday used the protestors’ own tactics against them, according to Ahmed.
“The security forces themselves, they sent messages to people to gather in a specific area to protest. When people went there to protest they saw the security forces arresting them immediately when they arrived in the area,“ said Ahmed.
According to Ahmed, future protests will probably be planned over different channels.
Also, if you haven’t yet, check out this Aljazeera video report on the protests