London Vigil For Sudan: Remembering Sudan’s fallen martyrs

THE progressive movement for social justice and political transformation in Sudan has been led mostly by young working class people and has managed to topple Omar Al-Bashir's 30 year dictatorship through the largest sit-in in the country’s history. The revolution presses on demanding far-reaching change, the complete dismantling of the systems that made Omar Al-Bashir’s dictatorship and crimes against the Sudanese people possible, and the peaceful transition of power from the interim military council to a civilian government. The transitional military council (TMC) formed in April continues to rule the country, as an illegitimate government, and has expressed no interest in transfer of power, ordering its armed militias, the Janjaweed or rapid support forces, to occupy towns and cities across Sudan.

Months of peaceful protesting and general strikes were met with violence and a campaign of terror executed by the Janjaweed. In the early morning of June 3rd marking the end of Ramadan, the Janjaweed militia under the direction of the military council, launched a massacre on protesters occupying the square in front of the army headquarters in Khartoum - a space that was dedicated to peaceful resistance, and to the hopeful dreams and artistic expression of the Sudanese people; a glimpse of the potential of Sudan with a unity that transcends ethnic and religious differences. This massacre marked the deadliest attack in the capital since the start of the uprisings in December and claimed the lives of more than a 100 people with hundreds more severely wounded.  From Khartoum to Darfur to the Nuba Mountains and beyond, our people have been killed, tortured, drowned, raped, beaten, and disappeared at the hands of a corrupt terrorist regime.

As members of the Sudanese diaspora in London, we called for a vigil after the immediate aftermath of Monday 3rd June’s massacre. We wished for a space that could remember all of those killed at the hands of this regime in the past 7 months of the uprising, against a backdrop of thirty years of systematic murder, rape and oppression. We recognise the importance of creating and maintaining solidarity links that extend beyond our home communities. Several anti-racist and anti-imperialist organisations in London, such as the South Asia Solidarity Group, joined us in solidarity with the Sudanese uprising that erupted in December against a brutal military dictatorship.

The military government has shut down all Internet connections for the nineteenth consecutive day, to cover up its continued massacre by denying its civilians the ability to share the horror unleashed by the regime to the world. Sudan entered days of successful #TotalCivilDisobedience with millions partaking in a general strike by remaining in their houses and refusing to use services that create revenue for the government in defiance of the regime. We wanted the Sudanese people/revolutionaries to know that we bear witness to their ongoing struggle, that they are not alone, and that we will not back down until their demands of a civilian government and freedom, peace and justice are met. Weekly protests have been taking place on Saturdays, organised by various Sudanese trade union groups and MENA Solidarity Network - these are planning to protest outside the Saudi, UAE, and Egyptian embassies in London on Saturday June 15th for their continued support of Sudan’s oppressive regime. In the same spirit of accountability, we refuse to let the EU go unnoticed in its culpability for these murders. This vigil tookplace outside the EU Embassy; as Sudanese activists have done across Europe, we painted our hands red to signify the blood that lies on the EU's hands, an ally of Sudan’s oppressive regime and a major benefactor of the Janjaweed militias since their conception. Our position in the UK means that we are best placed to apply direct pressure on this institution. .

We gathered in front of the EU Commission Embassy to address the EU’s complicity in emboldening Janjaweed militias to continue terrorising and haunting horizons of freedom and liberation in Sudan. In November 2014, the Khartoum Process, an EU deal struck with Omar Al-Bashir’s former government to curb migration particularly from the Darfur region, has financed the expansion and evolution of the Janjaweed into the repressive tyrannical forces they are today. As reported by Oxfam, MSF and Amnesty International, almost €500 million has gone directly into the pockets of the Janjaweed, practically sponsoring and emboldening the systemic murder rape and oppression they've unleashed on the Sudanese population. Through its migration-control-based alliance with the Janjaweed, the EU is now responsible for the lives of Sudanese citizens under a military regime, even more oppressive and unhinged than Omar Al-Bashir’s.

As inhabitants of Europe, we recognise the important role we can play in holding EU member states accountable for sponsoring militias and concocting depraved cycles of human suffering and oppression in places like Sudan. This is why we’ve been organising with the Sudanese diaspora across Europe and events happened both in Oslo, where a vigil in being held to commemorate our martyrs outside the Norwegian parliament and the second day of protests in happening right now as well in Berlin outside the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The significance of this is crucial - Norwegian, German and British authorities are holding a meeting as we speak with the US, the UN, the AU and IGAD today in Berlin to “ease tensions” in Sudan. Among those invited are Saudi, UAE, Egypt - the same regional countries bankrolling the violence against protestors in Sudan. The FFC, the Sudanese political coalition representing the demands of the revolution has not been invited. More than a century after the Berlin conference of 1884 that saw European states divide Africa between them, Europe continues to paternalistically decide the fate of the continent. It is crucial that we raise our voices against the continuation of this colonial practice and stand firmly with the Sudanese people.

This is why we have drafted an open letter to the EU insisting that it takes direct action in the form of ceasing the sponsorship of the Janjaweed and the military in Sudan and imposing targeted sanctions on the military council that is ruling the country illegitimately and through means of terror and violence. This will be published soon, and below is our enlisted demands:

“Europe cannot continue to espouse an empty politics of verbal condemnation towards the TMC’s crimes, whilst sponsoring the same forces that haunt the horizons of freedom and liberation in Sudan. Europe cannot continue to decry the flow of refugees from the Horn of Africa, whilst fuelling the very conditions of war, violence, desperation and social dispossession that necessitate migration in this region. Sudan bears witness to a nationwide movement capable of transforming these conditions for itself - Europe cannot continue to compromise the peoples’ will for a new, free Sudan by coddling the only institution standing in the way of such a vision - the TMC and its paramilitary forces, including the Janjaweed - whilst simultaneously accelerating the deportation of vulnerable Sudanese refugees back to marginalised peripheries of the Sudan.  

We find these grotesque contradictions on your part outrageous and immoral and call on the EU to act concretely to rectify the depraved cycle of human suffering and oppression it has concocted in Sudan. Europe must:

  1. Unequivocally acknowledge its role in funding the Janjaweed militias that have unleashed a campaign of terror against peaceful protestors in Sudan and immediately cut any direct or indirect aid to the TMC and its paramilitary forces.
  2. In line with the EU Director Lotte Licht’s letter, the EU must push the UN Human Rights Council to launch a comprehensive investigation into violations committed since December 2018.
  3. Impose punitive measures and sanctions against members of the TMC should they prove unsuccessful in meeting the terms of the African Union mediation, including:
  • a) The launch of an independent international inquiry into Monday June 3rd’s massacre led by forces of the TMC.
  • b) The removal of deployed armed forces from the capital Khartoum and all towns across Sudan.
  • c) An immediate end to the internet blackout and restrictions on the activity of foreign press bodies in Sudan, including Al Jazeera.
  • d) The liberation of all political prisoners.
  • e) The immediate surrender of former President Omar Al-Bashir, Ahmed Haroun and other suspects wanted by the International Criminal Court for due process and prosecution.  
  • f) Strongly condemn the interference of the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE in support of the TMC.
  • g) Strongly condemn the role of the TMC and its paramilitary forces in the Saudi-led Yemeni war that has claimed the lives of thousands of Yemenis and has plunged millions more in the throes of the worst famine in recent history.
  • h) Cease all forms of relations with diplomatic representatives of the TMC within European member states until a transition to a civilian authority is actualised in Sudan.

The Sudanese people cannot continue to pay for Europe’s mistakes. Their lives, their futures and their revolution are worth more than empty rhetoric and we will not allow their oppressors in Sudan to go unpunished. The world bears witness to the crimes committed in your name. We urge the EU to stand on the right side of history and honour the voices of the Sudanese people fighting for peace, justice and democracy.”

Solidarity Message With Revolutionary Movement In Sudan

(South Asia Solidarity Group read out this solidarity message at a vigil organised by Sudan solidarity groups)

We would like to express our deep solidarity and to share your grief at this time of terrible repression and state violence in Sudan. We are honoured to be able to stand with you in remembering all those who have been murdered, and all those who have been raped, in the massacres of 3 June, and in the last seven months.

The revolutionary movement in Sudan has been a deep source of inspiration for the progressive and revolutionary organizations and people’s movements in South Asia with which we work closely. As the organisers of this vigil today have said so poignantly, ‘all of our struggles are interconnected. The Sudanese people are fighting and sacrificing for the future of democracy and freedom not just within their own nation, but for the entire region and beyond. Perhaps more than ever before, we all need each other’.

There is a long history of African-Asian solidarity against colonialism and against the oppressive and dictatorial regimes backed by imperialist powers which succeeded the colonial rulers in so many of our countries. Many of our experiences are common - like Sudan and its neighbouring countries, South Asia has faced the traumas of arbitrary colonial bordering and subsequently being turned into a Cold War battleground. And this solidarity is today more important than ever to rebuild by making real connections between people’s movements for democracy and social justice.

Earlier this evening, we too had organized a vigil outside the Indian High Commission to remember and honour those who have lost their lives at the hands of fascist, caste supremacist Hindu right wing forces in India. Already since Prime Minister Modi came back to power on month ago, in a highly compromised election process, there have been more lynchings of Muslims and Dalits, more assassinations, more persecution and imprisonment of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists.

Like what is happening in Sudan, the rise of Modi in India is part of a global wave of fascism which is inseparable from the drive of corporate capitalism to intensify the plunder of our countries. As you know, Islamophobia is central to the ideology of Modi and the network of Hindu right-wing organizations which back him. It is also telling that along with Israel, Saudi Arabia, which is so heavily involved in the repression in Sudan, is one of his closest allies and recently Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was lavishly welcomed in a visit reportedly aimed at increasing bilateral trade and investment and strengthening co-operation in energy, defence and security and counter-terrorism.

So given how close our enemies are to each other, it is essential that we are united and that we learn about and do everything possible to support each others’ struggles. We too know how important it is for the diaspora to speak out at times like this. To tell the world that what is being done is not being done in our name. And to use our location in the belly of the beast to amplify the voices of those inside the country that the regime is trying to silence.

And as the diaspora we have also the responsibility of continuously holding to account not only these violent repressive regimes, but also those right here who are sustaining them, who are amassing the profits that these regimes make possible.

It’s so important that you chose to hold this vigil here outside the EU headquarters. The role of the EU in supporting the Sudanese military regime and funding its vicious paramilitary the Janjaweed in order to prevent migration to Europe is one of its most shameful episodes and must be thoroughly exposed.

We hope that this is just the beginning of closer ties of solidarity between the struggling people of Sudan and of South Asia.

Long live the revolution in Sudan!

South Asia Solidarity Group, June 21, 2019, London


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