“Peaceful” civil disobedience is always linked in the minds with Mahatama Ghandi’s march to the sea in protest of the British monopoly on salt, his most courageous act of civil disobedience against the famous British rule in India in 1930. However, this time the news come from Africa, specifically in Sudan where Sudanese started on Sunday 27th of November 2016 a five-day civil disobedience with varying proportions of response among the residents of the country.
“Peaceful” civil disobedience organized by frustrated Sudanese youth has been a success through the use of social media websites Facebook and Twitter. Civil disobedience “is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is a symbolic or ritualistic violation of the law, rather than a rejection of the system as a whole. Civil disobedience is sometimes, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance” (peaceful). And that what distinguishes the Sudanese movement alike to that of Ghandi’s in India.
Last Thursday, political activists launched social media campaign calling on the Sudanese people to engage in civil obedience from 27 to 29 November to resist recent government decision to lift fuel, electricity and drug price to stop the surge in inflation and control the fall of Sudanese pound in the black market. It was also evident that the majority of the commercial shops, pharmacies and kiosks in and around down town Khartoum were closed but the majority of groceries and vegetables and fruits stores have been working as normal. Universities and schools were largely impacted by the strike as the majority of students stayed at home forcing some schools to cancel the school day.
Women activists and members of Sudanese civil society have gone on a three-day hunger strike to support people’s campaign of civil disobedience. They call on the president Omar al-Bashir to step down in order to restore democracy and our people’s dignity. They have list of demands that ask for building a democratic regime – not central-, reducing political and governmental expenses, creating an independent commissioner that fights corruption and arrests high official culprits, and dismantling all armed militias in the country.
President Omar al-Bashir has raised fuel prices across the country in order to control inflation, people say they are fed up as it has been for years. State TV channels showed live pictures of normal-day streets trying to prove the failure of the strike and called on the residents to go on with their normal daily lives as much as possible. Most of Sudan’s opposition parties have been supporting the protest calling for “President Bashir to step down”. However, the government has responded by arresting many activists and shutting down local media. Sudan has been in the same economic crisis since the independence of South Sudan in 2011 taking with it about 75% of the country’s oil output. So the government every time raised prices of the goods and commodities to solve these problems. According to the World Bank, almost half of the people in Sudan are under poverty so they cannot afford increasing prices.
President Bashir is wanted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court for committing crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region. He has been in power for 27 years. In the USA, outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, about 100 Sudanese American protestors this week chanted, “Long live the struggle of the Sudanese people,” and “down with Bashir.” (VOA)
Alike Mubarak in Egypt, Gadhafi in Libya, Saddam in Iraq; Al-Bashir has been ruling Sudan for a very long time making generations suffer his hypocritical conducts when they measure them against his proclaimed Islamic values. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese are suffering unemployment, and even those who are employed still suffer not earning their wages and salaries. Desperately, they decide to leave their country exposing their lives to the danger of the Mediterranean swallowing their lives while heading to southern Europe. Still those who are left behind are fighting for democratic mobilization in the hope of transforming the country into a democratic one that enjoys a transparent government and loyal officials. Sudan has been suffering civil wars for a long time now, and it has no other solution rather than this.
Some political analysts today are claiming a second Arab Spring initiated by Sudan this time; however, by lifting the same slogan of a “cyber revolution”. There is no tangible evidence that this will be the case, but with a deteriorating economic situation under the weight of the regime’s conduct, the atrocities committed by the regime against citizens resulting in cumulative effects of oppression, and in a predictable situation of a health crisis that would suddenly remove country from Al-Bashir’s hands, an acute radical change of the future of the country is strongly expected. Others claim another Arab Winter because there is no known succession plan for the president and people haven’t decided yet how they picture the country in the case of Al-Bashir’s removal, especially with a deep structural damage that took place during the 27 years of cumulating corruption that would lead to a more destabilized Sudan.
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“Sudan’s Civil Disobedience Begins amid Varying Popular Response.” Sudan Tribune. Sudan Tribune, 28 Nov. 2016. Web. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article60956
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Amin, Mohammed. “Sudanese Women Declare Hunger Strike amid Protests.” Anadolu Agency. Anadolu Agency, 29 Nov. 2016. Web. http://www.usmuslims.com/sudanese-women-declare-hunger-strike-amid-protests-13091h.htm
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“Civil Disobedience.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_disobedience