Sudan Revolts: Internet Blackouts and Dead Protesters on the Streets
Sudan is literally on fire. The past five days in Sudan were filled with blocked roads, gas stations on fire, and live ammunition at the funerals of dead protesters, and there have been multiple reports of live ammunition and heavy tear gas in multiple neighborhoods just this afternoon.
Photos of dead teenagers hit Facebook and Twitter followed by a #SudanRevolts on Monday. YouTube footage clearly showed Sudanese security officials in uniform opening live fire on protesters, while the government cut internet connection and claimed those protesters were killed by other citizens—not security forces. Sudan human rights organizations have reported over 100 dead with numbers increasing.
Sudan is no stranger to protests. Waves of protests have been occurring since 2010 amidst a debt and an economic crisis. The last set of protests during July of 2012 went on for several weeks. The government had announced an increase to prices of basic goods, which brought thousands of people to the streets, where they were met with tear gas and rubber bullets. But this time around, it’s different.
Gas prices doubled in a year, but as gas controls everything, when fuel prices double, prices for everything double. Ashraf El-Gaaley, a Sudanese blogger, explains that this increase is only a fraction of what’s rightfully pissing off Sudanese citizens. In a country, still entrapped in civil wars, where 75 percent of the budget goes to military forces and less than 5 percent of the budget goes to education, they’ve reached a breaking point with political, economic, and security failures. The government knows this, and they’re clamping down more brutally than usual.
Naturally, when Sudanese President Al Bashir announced hiking fuel prices and removing subsidies on Sunday citing austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit, people immediately ran to the streets in large numbers.
Taking a break from the demonstrations, Amjed Farid of Sudan Change Now and blogger,Ashraf El-Ga’aly agreed to chat with me about what triggered the demonstrations and what’s happening on the ground in Sudan.
VICE: Let’s start with updates from last night. I heard the government warned that they were going to cut off the internet, what happened?
Amjed: Last night the government committed another crime in the neighborhoods against the protesters in Wad Madani and other neighborhoods. There were night protests by mainly youth, and the government opened live fire against and the bullets killed about 41 of the protesters in one town and five were reported dead South Khartoum. The day before yesterday, 141 protesters were reported dead in different areas in Khartoum from different hospitals. As well as there was testimony from medical officials who said wounds were in the upper part of the body and dying from bullets to the head
How did this all start?
Amjed:Every year our government raises prices of everything in Sudan and states the same reasons. After the announcement last Sunday, the protests immediately began in central Sudan, and the government used excessive force against protesters.
Ashraf:A month ago, the government and the people both knew that this decision would be taken. The government knew that the people would protest and demonstrate against these decisions. Since the first day of these protests, many people have been murdered so that means this was a planned thing to kill the people. In 2012, people protested for a couple of weeks. No one died or was murdered. From the very first day we had around 40 murders. I think they planned it.