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Sight Magazine – Essay: Sudanese protesters don’t give up despite odds

Sudanese have taken to the streets for non-violent and peaceful protests for more than three months since the military coup on October 25, 2021.

Thousands of demonstrators defied the ban on demonstrations and marched in Khartoum and other cities to denounce the military coup. They are calling for an all-civilian government to lead the country’s transition to democracy, which has now stalled.

Protesters march during a rally against military rule following last month’s coup in Khartoum, Sudan on January 24. PHOTO: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

Since the October coup, at least 79 people Was killed. The internet has been blocked for long periods, preventing protesters from telling the world what is happening.

But the protest’s main organizers – neighborhood resistance committees and the Sudanese Professionals Association – say they won’t leave the streets until the coup regime falls and until military leaders are held accountable for the atrocities that they have committed.

“The protests have remained peaceful and people have not stopped coming, despite the excessive use of force by the army. When military leaders have reacted so harshly and have not given in to any demands, why are the protests continue?

The protests have remained peaceful and people have not stopped coming, despite the military’s use of excessive force. When the military leaders reacted so harshly and did not give in to any demands, why do the protests continue?

We conducted research on youth activism in Sudan and gain insight into what motivates people continue to demonstrate.

We believe the reasons for the continued protests are a combination of; historical proof that protests can bring about change, previous experience in organizing protests and because they are led by young people who have the tools and energy to keep pushing and who have little trust in others to for change to happen.

The drivers
The first is the success ordinary Sudanese have had in overthrowing former President Omar al-Bashir. Resilient protests from 2018 to 2019 against Bashir contribute to the fall of a president who had been in power for three decades.

These events showed the Sudanese that they could bring about change. Walking down the street, day after day, is seen as something worthwhile, something rewarding, which will bring a result.

The main organizers of the protest are the neighborhood or resistance committees and the Association of Sudanese Professionals.

Initially established in In 2012, the neighborhood committees were led by young volunteers to ensure the distribution of basic necessities such as bread, sugar and cooking gas. They transformed themselves into underground resistance committees and, together with the Sudanese Professional Association (an association of health workers, doctors and lawyers), organized popular marches throughout Khartoum and other towns.

young people – Sudanese youth – were the backbone of the protests against Bashir. And continue to be today.

The generation of people, between the ages of 15 and 30, was brought up under the authoritarian rule of the Islamist National Congress Party that ruled the country from 1989 to 2019. Political activism was harshly suppressed, resulting in voluntary charity work one of the few arenas where young people could engage. As opposition to the regime grew, youth engagement gradually turned from charity to political protests, seen in Khartoum and other cities from 2013.

The lessons learned by young people from volunteer work and previous resistance and repression under Bashir were instrumental in the success of the 2019 uprising.

The volunteers had learned how to organize supplies, and the politically experienced people taught others how to mobilize, and both groups knew how to crowdfund. Underground organization and the use of Social Media were essential.

This has allowed the protesters to maintain their stamina and continue to mobilize the protests again and again, regardless of the challenges.

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The second driver is that young people are led to demonstrate by a sense of responsibility to change the situation. This is written based on observations and interviews of our research project which started in 2018.

These emotions are a key aspect of the Sudanese revolution and may explain why protests continue even in the face of brutal army violence. It was also seen in Tunisia and Egypt.

The fact of going again and again to the Mawkib is an act of resilience, but also part of encouraging that the fight is not over.

A third reason for the persistence of the protests is disappointment with formal political participation and channels. Previous protests have proven that informal, underground organizing through neighborhood committees works. In addition, activists are also deeply disappointed with the Forces for Freedom and Change, a coalition of civilian political forces that agreed to power-sharing with the military in the transitional government from 2019, allowing the military to regain power.

Protesters also little faith in the influence of the international community. This is due to the experience of the international community under the Bashir regime. the economic sanctions for example, which were imposed on Sudan in the early 1990s, did not directly affect the regime. But they have had a heavy impact on the lives of citizens.

A call for support
The protesters recognize that change must come from within. In our interviews with activists, they also point out that it can be helped by thoughtful support from the international community.

He could, for example, take direct action against the military itself, as individuals, rather than against the country as a whole.

It could also take the form of pressure on states in the region to withdraw their support for the putschists. And that could mean finding ways to support civil society and activists instead of withdrawing aid.The conversation

Lovise Aalen is a senior researcher in political science at Chr Michelsen Institute and Mai Azzam is a doctoral student at University of Bayreuth. This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons license. Read it original article.

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