Sudan: When you corner a dictator!

For the brave students of Sudan, the 30th of January was not a normal Sunday. It was a day that could enter history. Inspired by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolution, thousands of Sudanese students dreamt of their own version of a Facebook revolution.

For Sudan though, the story has its unique complications with a regime that managed to take dictatorships into a new low. The regime, which is a military dictatorship that has overthrown democracy since 1989 , has a long history of misbehavings: The civil war with the south and the Darfur conflict are much publicized in the Western media but some of the less publicized crimes include dragging thousands of teenagers into the frontlines of a civil war in the nineties, hosting Bin Laden and his Jihadis for several years in mid-nineties, and last but not least the so-called Ghosts Houses where thousands of students, professors and activists were regularly tortured and killed. The head of the regime – Omer Albasheer – is being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, he’s the first head of state to be prosecuted while in power. For the president and his regime, sticking to power is inevitable. The brave Sudanese students are faced by one of the worst kind of dictatorships: a cornered one.

On January 30, the first attempt for protests was brutally confronted by security forces. A student was killed by security men wearing civil clothes, he’s not the first student to be killed during this 22 years dictatorship nor the last I am afraid. Hundreds were detained for days, some of them still missing and reported to be under continuous life-threatening torture. Several attempts to gather and reorganize the lines of protesters has been made, but the major obstacle was that the fight – admittedly – hasn’t caught much momentum outside of universities.

The turning point – though – might prove to be a young brave Sudanese girl called Safia Ishag. She is a fine arts student who was raped by 3 officers from the criminal National Security Bureau for her role in organizing the 30th of January protests. She bravely decided to confront the regime with its crime in an emotional video. Safia’s bravery managed to unite people behind her, for the first time, the students’ calls started to make it outside universities’ walls. Several groups decided to take on the streets starting the 4th of March and they are seeking new ways to organize their lines against the density and brutality of security forces.

So how can we help? Believe it or not, but a Facebook share or a Tweet could be enough. The regime – like any other dictatorship – thoroughly targets the youth’s confidence, they force media blackout in order to stop people from gaining the momentum, they’ve learned from other dictatorships’ mistakes. In North Africa’s revolutions, social media played a crucial role in giving the revolutionaries the confidence they need in their battle. Knowing that someone out there listens and sympathizes with your cause can have a magical effect.

So Tweet, Share and Tell your colleagues, friends and family about Safia and her brave friends. It’s the least we could do to honor those brave warriors.

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