Words || Angelica Ojinnaka
[CONTENT WARNING: Sexual Violence, Rape, Gun Violence]
How many times have you thought about Sudan this past week?
How many blue circles on your Instagram or Sudan hashtags have you seen lately?
How many of those blue circles have faded into the abyss, never to be seen, heard or talked about again?
People living in or as part of the diaspora of Africa continue to fight every day to have their injustices addressed, voices heard and humanity respected. The recent events in Sudan saw hundreds of innocent civilians murdered, raped, displaced and abused but all we hear now are whispers. Many people in Australia did not even know that Sudan was in a crisis, only finding out from blue circles on Instagram.
Although the changing of avi’s showed incredible solidarity and support from those outside of Sudan, they were still met with silence of mainstream media. Funding campaigns that were being run to provide much needed aid to civilians were scarcely shown or promoted. Sudan protestors continue to endure violence while many sat in ignorance.
Doesn’t this happen in Africa all the time anyway?
No. It does not.
I was asked this question in person. Mass genocide is not an “average day” in any African country (although wildly stereotyped as such) and even if it was, why should we glaze over it? Our community has played a strong role in benefiting from the wealth that Africa possesses. Sadly, this has come with the acceptance of diabolical and ruthless leaders who have continued to exploit and taunt the lives of African people for centuries. This exploitation and the silence of the people with guns and violence has being the norm.
The TMC’s to silence Sudanese people during Eid celebrations has been met with silence from the rest of the Western world.
How did it all begin?
Omar al-Bashir is with whom Sudan’s recent turmoil began. Omar al-Bashir was President for 30 years before he was removed from power in a coup during the month of April. His past ruling of Sudan has deeply affected the entire nation for years. This is a trend that occurs in Africa, where leaders remain in power for years on end, for their own political and monetary gain. Prior to his removal, then President al-Bashir had enforced an increase on living resources including fuel and food, as well as decreased access to food supply. Consequently, this was not received lightly by the nations people, and peaceful protests began in reaction to these drastic changes. Protests soon evolved into calls for the removal of al-Bashir from office. The powerful voices of the protestors reach all the way to the military in Khartoum (the nation’s capital), eventually resulting the president being ousted.
The Transitionary Military Council (TMC), formed by generals and other officials in Sudan, soon came into power to rule in the meantime – another situation that was not received positively by Sudan’s people. This sparked further revolt, with many calling for a transition to civilian control in the country instead.
What happed on 3rd of June?
Families were in the midst of celebrating Eid, a time of true joy and festivities for many people across the world, especially those in Sudan. Protests were still ongoing, along with negotiations about the future ruling of the nation during this time.
However, on the 3rd of June, talks ceased and military/security forces began to open fire on protestors. About 100 Sudanese people were murdered in cold blood, many of whom were thrown into the Nile River.
One young girl was reportedly raped by multiple military officers – but this was one of MANY reported instances of sexual violence inflicted to young men and women who were raped that day and the days following.
This continued to occur for days with little to no “mass” condemnation from the rest of the world. Dozens of dead bodies were being recovered from the Nile and many videos shared across social media would show public beatings by military officials and more. To further silence the voices of protestors, many people in Sudan we not about to access methods of contact or internet to inform the world of what was truly happening. Many feared speaking out would result in their lives being lost.
The response was beyond slow. The complete and utter SLOW ACTION from many international bodies is what shocks me till this day.
The violence has now seemed to settle slightly, but there is still much unrest and havoc occurring in Sudan since this traumatic event. The TMC has also taken responsibility for inciting the “crackdown” that day.
So, what is my part in this?
While I do acknowledge that lack of news coverage has led to many people in Australia being ill-informed about the bloodshed and genocide occurring in Sudan, we cannot continue to put sole blame on the media. This is the same premise for those whose who blame not having anyone in their “inner circle of friends” who is from Sudan to tell them what was happening. By you reading this piece, you are slowly doing your part to internally acknowledge the suffering of those in Sudan. This is an important step to breaking down stereotypes associated with Africa as a whole, and in turn increase global solidarity and action against criminal acts invoked by its military forces.
I praise those who attended vigils and went to marches in support of those in Sudan. But this still is sadly not enough. If we continue to educate one another and open our eyes to what is happening over our shores, maybe just maybe we can build greater empathy too and faster responses will occur.
Although I do see hope for the future of Sudan, and Africa, I keep asking myself this one question – when will the bloodshed of innocent civilians in Africa become more important that the riches of Africa’s oil?