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Who are they shooting in Sudan, and why?

Thousands stage a demonstration demanding the end of the military intervention and the transfer of administration to civilians in Khartoum, Sudan on October 30, 2021 [Mahmoud Hja/Anadolu Agency]
Thousands stage a demonstration demanding the end of the military intervention and the transfer of administration to civilians in Khartoum, Sudan on October 30, 2021 [Mahmoud Hja/Anadolu Agency]

On 13 November, the youth of Sudan went on the march with the same level of organisation and for the same goals that they did on 21 and 30 October. The streets of Khartoum and dozens of other Sudanese cities were filled with chants defining those goals: the rejection of attempts to block the path of democratic transformation by a return to oppression and tyranny; and the reinstatement of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to carry out his duties. The latter is the only way to achieve the former, regardless of any other details that can be discussed later.

It is obvious that the organisers of the street protests are based in local neighbourhoods; they aren't party leaders and do not hold high positions. Their organisation is meticulous, with a strict adherence to peaceful protest, and yet they have been fired at with live ammunition. Some have been killed and others have been wounded.

Who is shooting at the protesters, and on whose orders? Who is the fire directed at? At the country's young people and true forces of the revolution? Or at organised crime gangs?

People are tired of the official statements claiming that some have deviated from peaceful protest and the security forces had no option but to open fire. This is a line that has been repeated in every era in which the authorities disregard the lives of the youth, to the extent that nobody believes it any more. There is more than one way, other than shooting to kill, to rein in unruly revellers, if they actually exist.

Sometimes it seems to me that those in leadership positions underestimate the movement of these young people, despite knowing that without them and their blood that was shed, they would not be in senior positions. However, underestimating and ignoring the young people will only increase their determination and resolve.

READ: The Sudanese Army's attempts to renegotiate a deal with civil society is unlikely to succeed 

When they took to the streets in December 2018 they did not do so because of a decision by a political party. It was a response to the struggles of the Sudanese people after decades of setbacks, and in response to the calls and need for an intellectual and political break from all of the wrong perceptions and practices which led to the crisis. Young people from different social classes and ideologies, as proven by experience in Sudan and abroad, have the ability to overcome intellectual and ideological differences to create a melting pot of slogans of the same tone. They have vitality, a sense of adventure, a thirst for knowledge and an awareness of destiny, all of which are characteristics that bring about radical change. They can go beyond the limits of the "movements" and traditional political opposition, so they do not stop at the idea of a minimal programme as much as they search for the start of the right path to redraw their country's fate through the will to deliver justice that does not exclude anyone.

Sudanese diaspora based in the UK protest against military rule in Sudan, on Whitehall, near Downing street on 30 October 2021 in London, England. [Guy Smallman/Getty Images]

Sudanese diaspora based in the UK protest against military rule in Sudan, on Whitehall, near Downing street on 30 October 2021 in London, England. [Guy Smallman/Getty Images]

This is why I insist on reiterating that the revolution of these young people was not just a hungry uprising, or to achieve short-term political goals, but a revolution of a generation that has risen up to break the deadlock created by oppression and totalitarianism, and the disappointments of politics and politicians. It is the revolution of a generation that will not rest until it is victorious.

So why are they being shot? Why are they not being listened to? They understand fully the lessons from history that it is not strange for revolutions to pass through several stages before revealing all their possibilities and finally crystallising as a radical new formation, and that the December revolution is no exception. It can have multiple stages, each of which might be lacking in something and without the required success in relation to the final goals. In any case, these young people will get what they want, sooner or later, whether those in the leadership like it or not.

Take note of the goals of the protesters. They do not demand the return of the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), but they reject any arbitrary measures against them. In fact, since the beginning of the transitional period, they have been critical of the FFC, accusing them of failing in their duty, especially after the formation of the partisan quota government, which they and the rest of us see as a violation of the constitutional document to which all civilians and military personnel contributed. Moreover, the protesters are still keen to know what is going on with the current initiatives by do-gooders to defuse the crisis. They have even interacted positively with each other, even though they view this as a different path but not one that necessarily collides with theirs. It is not necessary for them to adopt each other's paths, and so they neither reject the other's efforts nor act against them as long as they do not interfere in their own tactics. It is the outcome that matters.

Everyone, on all sides, recognises the need to reform the course of the transitional period and the performance of those involved. However, reform cannot come as a response to the pressures of one party or to meet the interests of another. Nor can reform be achieved by imposing the measures and procedures that have been implemented, and are still being implemented, by the leadership of the armed forces since 25 October. These measures will not achieve reform, but will make the situation worse. I see no other way to avoid bloodshed other than a consensus based on a new political document that addresses all the mistakes of the past two years of the transitional period, regardless of the differences or similarities in the positions of the various forces.

READ: Civil forces in Sudan are the ones who lost their revolution 

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 14 November 2021

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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AfricaArticleOpinionSudan
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