Op-Ed by Joziah Thayer
Late last month al-Bashir’s government began restricting access to popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter which have been used by demonstrators to coordinate protest in major cities across Sudan. President Omar al-Bashir has ruled over Sudan for 30 years after coming to power during a military coup in 1989.
According to Reuters, there are 40 million people in Sudan, and 28 million of them have mobile phones, which has made the Internet a vital tool in combating media censorship. President Omar al-Bashir’s actions reflect that of a paranoid lion ready to strike out with brute force against anyone who threatens his reign. He has arrested political opponents by the dozens even as the U.N. urged Bashir to release political foes and protesters imprisoned as a “good faith gesture.”
The protest began in mid-December, and instead of responding like a stable-minded leader Bashir publicly urged government forces to use less force, but his forces didn’t seem to listen as they cracked down on protesters resulting in dozens being killed. January 9th of this month, more protest erupted in the city of Omdurman leading to one protester being killed and six others injured. On the same day, President Omar al-Bashir held a rally in Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum, where he pledged to stay in control, seemingly oblivious to daily protest calls for him to step down.
According to a report from Human Rights Watch’s Associate Director in Africa, Jehanne Henry, Sudanese government forces entered hospitals terrifying patients and started to beat and arrest protesters being treated for injuries as well as the doctors who were treating them. Government forces were reportedly heard telling the hospital staff “we don’t care if you are doctors.” Later that same day, doctor organizations across Sudan condemned the attacks on hospitals by government forces and announced they were joining a nationwide general strike.
Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada all condemned the attacks on protesters stating that the actions of Bashir and his government are being monitored and will dictate how these nations deal with Sudan in the future. Whenever we have unrest in a region, Western nations feel as if it is their right to be the policemen of the world. Why should a nation like the United States that has 25% of their population in prison be the moral authority of human rights globally? Sudan does not need the United States or the United Kingdom – all Sudan needs is a pure rebellion, from the citizens who live there.
In recent history when Western powers intervene in unrest in the Middle East or North African countries it often ends with the citizens who Western powers are allegedly helping, being displaced from their homes. The ‘War on Terror’ has killed millions of Muslims. These interventions rarely help the citizens of the nations where they intervene. Instead, they are used as pawns for public acceptance for the very atrocities being committed against them.