By Alexis Herr
Protesters have flooded the streets of Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, demanding President Omar al-Bashir end his more than 24 year autocracy. Street demonstrations began last week in response to the government’s removal of essential subsidies, which have ignited sharp inflation. The government responded by imposing a media blackout to obscure the death of slain protestors and prevent widespread unrest. The call for al-Bashir to step down in addition to reversing austerity measures, reflects the nations’ outrage over al-Bashir’s continued failure to bring peace and prosperity to Sudan. While this is surely not the first time Sudanese have called for al-Bashir’s resignation, it is quickly becoming the largest protest against the autocrat since he took power in 1989.
Girifna Media, a flickr account posting protest photos, reveals the government’s violent attempts to silence public discontent. These graphic images give a face to those willing to risk their lives to demand freedom and change. International media has reported that between 30 and 100 protestors have been killed over the past week. Demonstrators have added the names of their murdered comrades to their protest posters.
Al-Bashir had planned to be in NY this week to address the UN, but has chosen to postpone his travels. It is unclear if this decision is the result of the protests at home or those abroad demanding his arrest. Because the United States is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC)—the UN agency demanding al-Bashir’s arrest for genocide and crimes against humanity—the US was not obligated to arrest al-Bashir nor block his entry. In response, American diplomats and socially minded celebrities protested al-Bashir’s visit.
In support of Sudanese protestors and in honor of those who have died at the hands of their government over the past week, it is worth taking a moment to comment upon their courage and conviction. The international community has failed to enforce justice and hold al-Bashir accountable for his long list of crimes including genocide. Without any reason to believe al-Bashir will resign, protestors are boldly stating their claim for freedom and peace.