Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Anger over dictatorship, not bread, fuelling Sudan uprising

The protest wave sweeping across Sudan was never about bread; it is a nation fed up with a decades-old military dictatorship, say human rights activists and experts.


People took to the streets in the town of Atbara in the northeast on December 19 to voice their grievances, spawning similar protests in the streets of other towns and the capital, Khartoum.

The protesters are calling for freedom, peace, justice and a change in leadership in the northeast African country. The government of President Omar Al Bashir is responding with live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades. Protesters who survive the deadly clashes regroup and return to the streets.

“In most of Sudan’s almost 170 cities and big towns, someone has been shot. In some of them, more than 15 people have been shot. The shooting is happening through unofficial types of militia that the regime is using,” says Khansaa Al Kaarib, a Sudanese human rights lawyer and activist.

“For 30 years, this is what the Sudanese people have been getting from Bashir: killing, killing, killing and more killing. People are simply fed up with this and they want to change this regime. They want to get out of the perception of a people lying under an ICC-wanted criminal, as soon as possible.”

President targets ‘infiltrators’

Al Bashir has vowed to crush the “bread protests” he insists are being orchestrated by opposition “infiltrators,” some of whom are supposedly backed by Israel and all of whom are intent on sabotaging his regime.

Sudanese opposition leaders are among those who have been arrested for the protests. A group of Darfuri university students “confessed” on national television to being a “sabotage cell.” They are accused of an arson attack on the offices of Al Bashir’s ruling National Congress in Atbara.

“There is no one to blame. The whole of the country is out on the streets. Bashir has nothing else to say,” says Al Kaarib.

Sudanese activists and international human rights groups dispute the official death toll of 19 provided by Khartoum since the start of the protests, saying it is much higher.

‘Nobody is talking about bread’

Sudan expert Magdi El Gizouli agrees that the government’s claim of infiltrators is “complete, absolute nonsense.” The protesters are young men and women who have been pulled into the political sphere over the failures of government policy, he notes.

“The wave of protests has nothing to do with the formal opposition. What the government cannot deal with is that these [are] individuals, people, students who don’t really have this political record that they’re looking for in an opposition activist,” says El Gizouli, a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute in Germany.

“There’s been a lot of talk in the media to say that these protests have been triggered by fuel prices and economic problems. The protesters have been repeating a call for freedom, peace and justice – and for the regime to go. Nobody was talking about bread since day one,” says Al Kaarib. — Deutsche Welle

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Deutsche Welle 1
Guest Author
Benita Van Eyssen
Benita Van Eyssen
Benita Van Eyssen works from Germany. foreign correspondent/editor/native of nowhere Benita Van Eyssen has over 53 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Kenya’s beach boys fall into sex tourism, trafficking

In the face of their families’ poverty, young men, persuaded by the prospect of wealth or education, travel to Europe with their older female sponsors only to be trafficked for sex

High court reinstates Umgeni Water board

The high court has ruled that the dissolution of the water entity’s board by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was unfair and unprocedural

Mkhize throws the book at the Special Investigating Unit

It’s a long shot at political redemption for the former health minister and, more pressingly, a bid to avert criminal charges
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×