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Foreign Policy's story on Sudan's stunning, two-week-old protest movement comes with the following subtitle: The best way to help the protesters in Sudan? Cover the story.

See, despite the remarkable circumstances and jaw-dropping bravery suddenly being exhibited in Africa's third-largest country -- ruled for 23 years by a genocidal President -- little mainstream media attention (or attention in the progressive blogosphere, for that matter) is being paid to the events transpiring there.

And this is significant.

Why? I'll explain soon. First, though, a bit of background on the protests themselves. Here's FP's Christian Caryl:

The current wave of unrest was started by women. On June 15, a group of female students at the University of Khartoum launched a public protest against drastic hikes in the prices of food and public transportation. Their male classmates joined them, and together they marched into the center of the city, where they were met by the combined forces of the police and the infamous National Intelligence and Security Service, who attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and iron rods. Courts have sentenced some of the detainees to lashes -- in some cases as many as 60.

But this failed to stop the revolt, which soon spread to other universities in Khartoum and then outside of the capital. Since then there have been demonstrations around the country, including places as far afield as Omdurman and Kasala. And the protests are no longer only about the high cost of living -- contrary to some of those headlines about "austerity protests." In the eastern town of Gedaref, members of the crowd chanted, "the people want to overthrow the regime" -- the mantra of the Tunisian and Egyptian protesters. Observers say that political demands have come to the forefront as the demonstrations have progressed.

The political protests are scheduled to intensify tomorrow, as activists across the country have planned mass demonstrations on Friday ahead of potential strikes:
Street protests have entered their second week in Sudan, and activists have called for mass demonstrations on Friday, June 29. The demonstrations have been dubbed "licking your elbow" protests, referring to a Sudanese metaphor for achieving the impossible.

They have also called for a general strike day on June 30, the 23rd anniversary of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's National Congress Party coming to power.

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               A Sudanese metaphor for achieving the impossible is to lick one's elbow.

These protests, which are gaining momentum, and which are naturally being considered by many as the next iteration of the Arab Spring, are truly amazing when one considers the unspeakably brutal and genocidal leadership protesters are risking their lives and the lives of their families to resist.

Again, FP's Caryl:

What's happening in Sudan is nothing short of amazing. This is the country that has been ruled since 1989 by President Omar al-Bashir -- the man who faces a global arrest warrant after being charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court for his country's exterminationist policies in Darfur. This is a guy who was willing to kill millions of his compatriots -- and not only Darfuris -- in order to keep himself in power. Now, thousands of Sudanese are taking to the streets to defy him and his regime. Many have already disappeared into torture chambers for their efforts.
Protesters are well aware of the dangers, and yet they are showing incredible determination, just as protesters in Syria and Bahrain have done. Though Caryl notes that in this case, it's critical for outside media attention be placed upon this story for several reasons:

1. Most Sudanese get their news from foreign media sources, and such news can not only connect Sudanese activists with one another, but steel their morale, for...

2. Bashir's regime has shown a sensitivity to foreign media portrayals in the past and an ability to be, at times, pressured by criticism.

Which is why one of the most important things that can be done to help the Sudanese right now is to actively cover and promote this story, demonstrating that it is an important one. For doing so may compel large media outlets to invest more in covering it, which will in turn show the Sudanese exactly what their government is doing to them.

Again, Caryl, who hits it out of the park:

Quite simply, there's a huge story in the making here. Omar al-Bashir is now Africa's longest-serving autocrat. Like Qaddafi, he's been the instigator of countless conflicts -- not only against his own citizens in places like Darfur or South Kordofan, but also among his neighbors. (He even lent his support to Joseph Kony, the leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army.) His fall would offer the opportunity of a fresh start not only to Sudan but to an entire region. Surely that's a story worth covering.
Let's do our part.

Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG

Originally posted to Writing by David Harris Gershon on Thu Jun 28, 2012 at 08:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am glad to see Sudanese People Revolt Once More (8+ / 0-)

    We failed to save the Islamic reformer Mahmoud Mohammed Taha in 1985 by not lending our support to the Sudanese people when they protested his execution:

    On Jan 5, 1985 Taha was arrested for distributing pamphlets calling for an end to Shari'a law in Sudan. Brought to trial on January 7 he refused to participate. The trial lasted 2 hours with the main evidence being confessions that the defendants were opposed to Sudan's interpretation of Islamic law.[3] The next day he was sentenced to death along with 4 other followers (who later recanted and were pardoned) for "heresy, opposing application of Islamic law, disturbing public security, provoking opposition against the government, and reestablishing a banned political party."[4] The government forbade his unorthodox views on Islam to be discussed in public because it would "create religious turmoil" or fitnah. A special court of appeal approved the sentence on January 15. Two days later president Nimeiry directed the execution for January 18. Despite the smallness of his group thousands of demonstrators protested his execution and police on horseback used bullwhips to drive back the crowd.[3] The body was secretly buried.[5
    Maybe we liberals can redeem ourselves this time and show our solidarity with the Sudanese people through social media. Thanks for the coverage The Troubadour! Love you dude!
  •  Human Rights Watch & Us State Dept... (8+ / 0-)


    Security forces have arrested scores of protesters, opposition members, and journalists, beat people in detention, and used rubber bullets and live ammunition to break up protests that began on June 16, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday.

    "Sudan is using these protests as an excuse to use violence and intimidation to silence dissenters," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

    Meanwhile, the US have condemned the crackdown on Sudan protests,"Sudan's economic crisis cannot be solved by arresting and mistreating protesters," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

    "There have been reports of protestors being beaten, imprisoned and severely mistreated while in government custody. We call for the immediate release of those detained for peaceful protest,"

    Thanks for posting about this...Cheers.
  •  I failed to note that Bloomberg and the Lede (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, luckydog, Don midwest, Just Bob

    of the NYT has been doing some good coverage. But mostly it's been crickets in the U.S.

    I'm "THE" Troubadour," and not "Troubadour" without the article. We're different people here at DK :)

    by David Harris Gershon on Thu Jun 28, 2012 at 08:52:18 PM PDT

  •  is this related in any way (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Just Bob, angry marmot

    to the recent establishment of South Sudan?

    exception: analogy subprocess error #09: analogy too deeply nested, analogy will be aborted so please vote for me, because these larger than average pancakes are quite impressive.

    by nota bene on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 02:08:17 AM PDT

  •  Another useful article is... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Troubadour, sofia

    Paul Mutter's piece at The Arabist:

    But despite al-Bashir’s curt, dismissive remarks – he has called those chanting the Arab Spring slogan “the people want to overthrow the regime” pie-in-the-sky “elbow lickers” – his actions evidence a deep sense of unease over the protests (for their part, organizers have taken his words and are calling the planned marches “Elbow-Licking Friday”). The loss of three-quarters of the country’s oilfields to South Sudan in 2011 - and a stalemate in negotiations between Khartoum and Juba over affecting (among other issues) a possible pipeline agreement that could ameliorate the loss of oil revenue – has undercut government spending significantly as inflation, fuel prices and food costs have all risen dramatically. Around 40% of Khartoum’s revenue comes from its oil fields, and the recent clash between Sudan and South Sudan over disputed territory is thought to have cost Khartoum some US$741 million this year.
    None of this month’s events bodes well for the government, especially if violence escalates and it finds itself confronting major demonstrations all over the country.
    Good diary, and thanks.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Fri Jun 29, 2012 at 07:13:14 AM PDT

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