Six years into an epidemic of human rights abuses in Sudan, protesters have decided to confront the government by putting up tires around the capital, Khartoum, to block traffic and forgo electricity. They started with just one, but two other protesters were shot in the stomach in their efforts to confront government security forces, killing at least one of them.
Demonstrators also succeeded in threatening some Western companies that provide travel services for foreign government employees working for embassies and other organizations in Khartoum.
Although blackouts are now common in Sudan, the latest protests are not just the work of poor people in the vast Khartoum slums. They’re a popular and largely successful practice in what has been a nationwide civil disobedience campaign against Sudan’s government. Sudan had experienced widespread labor strikes, strikes by civil servants and farmers, large demonstrations by women protesting extrajudicial killings, marches by military veterans and even displays of crying babies — not to mention a number of incidents of dahimn and aljari — in honor of the prophet Mohamed, as well as a fast by Sudanese Muslims that started on Friday night.
The main demonstrations have been in response to the government’s decision to triple the cost of gas, which will likely cause a shortage that will result in a drastic rise in the cost of cooking fuel. This, in turn, is a response to protests by the powerful National Congress Party and to economic policies that have drastically worsened living conditions in Sudan. It is also related to the political history of the country, which was split up into two separate countries of South Sudan and North Sudan after a war in the ’50s and ’60s.
One of the main slogans in Khartoum has been “tourism for all,” which was, ironically, the slogan that the Khartoum government actually put out before President Omar Al Bashir, a former general in the Sudanese military, came to power. The slogan has been adopted by Khartoum to rally people against foreigners coming to stay in the country and to push back the many foreign companies that have remained in the country.
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