There is a war going on right now in South Sudan and you should know about it, especially if you’re Black. Not because Black Americans have some moral obligation to empathy that the rest of the world doesn’t, but because this conflict demonstrates from a global perspective how the global Black experience is truly one in the same. From the abuse and rape of Black women to the calloused disregard for Black male life to the political oppression of majority black communities, the war on Black life is happening and it’s happening everywhere. The world is standing by and watching, just like they stood by and watched Black American men, women and children endure state sanctioned violence and genocide, so maybe it’s time we advocate for ourselves. Here’s what you need to know to do so.
A 30 Year War In The Making
Sudan, a country in North Africa, has had a dictator for the last 30 years. His name is Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Al-Bashir was forcibly removed from the office of President back in April of 2019, after protestors demanded his immediate removal when the price of bread and other household staples more than tripled in price. After a military coup brought al-Bashir’s reign to an abrupt end, a longtime enforcer of his, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdanas, claimed to have abandoned his former post and announced that he was now on the side of the people of Sudan and the democracy they sought. But when protestors refused to accept Hamdanas’ less than urgent transitional plan which called for a 3 year window, protestors refused to disperse, resulting in Hamdanas calling in reinforcements in the form of his personal military unit, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. As military forces and protestors clashed on June 3rd, the result was nothing short of devastating. Reports surfaced of the brutal rape of men, women and children, the killing and burning of Sudanese protestors and the dumping of people in the Nile river. Sudanese doctors put the toll at 118 dead as Hamdanas dismissed the incidences from his office in Khartoum, claiming recent events were brought on by the provocations of the protestors and referring to news coverage of the events as “fake news”.
The Revolution Will Be Female
Non-Arab Sudanese women are leading the charge in the protests against political oppression in Sudan. Unfortunately, this has made women and children a huge target in the ongoing war crimes and atrocities taking place. There’s something about patriarchy that no matter what color it is, no matter what name is behind it, it presents the same way when challenged, and the war in Sudan is proof positive of that. Female physicians, in particular, have been targeted for rapes and brutal beatings, reporting that paramilitary Rapid Support Forces would intentionally use their military issued batons to beat the women in their genitalia. These intentional attempts to use violence, aggression and intimidation to coax women into obedience are nothing new and have been used by men in positions of power since the beginning of time. Sandra Bland and countless other black women have demonstrated for us what lengths men will go to when challenged by a women, and unfortunately that commonality extends beyond American borders.
Young Black and Brown Men Are Dying
The hashtag #BlueforSudan started in honor of Mohamed Maltar. He was 26 and had travelled to the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, from London where he was studying engineering. Blue was his favorite color. During a protest of former Sudanese dictator, al-Bashir, Mohamed was killed by members of the Rapid Support Forces while attempting to shield two women from an attack. He was unarmed. He was martyred. Not by his own choosing. Mattar is one of the many young men who have lost their lives attempting to protect women. Men have reported being attacked when attempting to interfere with vicious gang rapes and other attacks on women and children, and others have reported being raped themselves. The internet has been shut down at the demand of leader Hamdanas in an attempt to smother “fake news”, but these slayings are a harrowing tale of just how little value Black and Brown bodies hold in comparison to the systems that abuse them.
People Are Profiting From Black Deaths
As with all tragedies, theres always someone looking to use others pain to turn a profit. The war in Sudan is no different. As details of the horrors in Sudan began to circulate social media timelines, philanthropic accounts began popping up left and right. “For every STORY REPOST this post gets, we will provide one meal to Sudanese children, and you will help spread awareness on what’s happening in Sudan,” read the caption under one post made by instagram user @SudanMealProject. After some probing by a few investigative journalists, it was revealed that the user had no actual plans to carry out any of the promises made in exchange for the support requested.
“What I am obtaining is followers and exposure,” the owner of the profile @SudanMealProject said when interviewed by The Atlantic. “I love how the left likes to twist these stories.” After gaining millions of followers over the weekend and gaining the attention and support of a few celebrities, the administrator of the account changed the account’s handle to @SudanPlan. Instagram later deleted the account. Unfortunately, this is one of many accounts that has surfaced on the social media platform over the past few days, using photos of starving African children and mangled African bodies to garner attention and support. Instagram and other social media platforms have pledged to crack down on fake accounts but as of now have no way of stopping them from surfacing.
The West Is Profiting From Black Deaths
A report released by the London-based Conflict Armament Research organization has indicated that some 200,000 arms and ammunition had been sold to South Sudan over the course of the last 4 years. The report details how countries spanning Europe, North America, and Asia have been fueling the conflict in South Sudan for the past 5 years, even as some are now involved in peace talks and negotiations with the country. In one study it was determined that a network of companies facilitated the sale of weapons and a US military jet to South Sudan, violating multiple international arms embargoes. These findings have called into question whether or not it is in the best interest of western countries to not only facilitate conflicts in Black and Brown countries, but also stand by and allow them to continue.
Why Should This Matter To You?
The crisis in Sudan proves that it’s not enough to remove dangerous men from positions of power if the systems that put them there remain in tact. As we live under the constant threat of unstable leadership, we should remain mindful of the fact that with or without individual players, the system still functions. And although poor leadership should be renounced, we should keep in mind that it was the system that permitted their rule and therefore the system should remain our focus.
Secondly, the war on women is real. We are seeing the policing of women’s bodies right here in our very front yards, we are reading about the rapes and murders and disappearances of black and brown women in this country on a daily basis. We are not alone in this matter and we shouldn’t fight alone. As the women in Sudan attempt to lead their country to a more equitable place, the system that has long held women at bay is reacting in a predictable, violent way, as it always does, and these women need the support of all women, especially those of us who fundamentally understand their plight.
And finally, we are stronger when we are connected. Whether we are fighting injustices in Phoenix, Arizona or in Dallas, Texas or in Khartoum, Sudan, we are stronger when we fight together. We can no longer turn a bling eye to the atrocities committed around the world simply because help is asked for with an accent. Whether we are from Haiti or South Africa or Puerto Rico or Tallahassee, the world sees us as fruit from the same melanated tree and our inability to do the same has made many of our battles much harder. We are in the same fight, in different corners of the ring, but we’d be much more powerful in each other’s corners.
What Can You Do?
- Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121 and tell them you support helping the people of Sudan.
- Use ResistBot to text your members of Congress. Text RESIST to 50409 and it will help you contact your elected officials and tell them you support the people of Sudan.
- As a result of the war, Sudan has another crisis on its hand, famine. The World Food Programme (WFP) reported about 7 million people are facing food shortages, with more than 20,000 dangerously near famine. This is predicted to continue worsening as the country prepares for its rainy season. If you’d like to donate food or items, it’s best to donate to a local rescue organization with boots on the ground and a reputation for actually getting donations to the people who need them. The University of Khartoum Alumni Association’s fundraiser, an organization created by Bakri Ali, has actual University of Khartoum alums working behind the scenes and in collaboration with a network of local Sudanese volunteers, organizations, and communities to assist the people of Sudan with both food and medical attention.
- And finally, you can sign this Change.org petition demanding that “The UN must investigate the 3rd of June human rights violations in Sudan by the Military.” Sign here