Why is everyone on social media changing their profile pictures into blue?

Why is everyone on social media changing their profile pictures into blue?
Social media platforms have been inundated with a particular shade of blue this week – here is why.
4 min read
12 June, 2019
This image has circulated widely across all major social media platforms [TNA]
Social media users across all platforms, particularly Instagram, have taken action to raise awareness about the ongoing atrocities taking place in Sudan this week, with many changing their profile images into blue in solidarity with protesters.

The trend, which began in response to the Eid massacre which left more than 100 killed last week, picked up overnight and has seen social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram covered in a shade of blue to counter the internet and media crackdown in the country.

"This is an effort to raise awareness as we the Sudanese diaspora are the only voice left. The internet has been completely turned off in Sudan, the government has shut it down in order to conceal its massacres and crimes against civilians," Sudanese-American campaigner Remaz Mahgoub Khalaleyal said in a post on Instagram.

"Please change your profile photo and let the world know what is happening. We cannot be silenced. United we stand, divided we fall. Our strength is in our unity," the 25-year-old campaigner adds, noting the particular shade of blue was used to honour Mohammed Mattar, one of the victims of the massacre, whose profile pic was changed to the same image prior to his death.

Sudan's military rulers have said they will not restore internet access because it "poses a threat to national security" amid an information blackout following a deadly crackdown.

Shamseddine Kabbashi, the spokesman for the Transitional Military Council, made the comments to local media on Wednesday.

This is an effort to raise awareness as we the Sudanese diaspora are the only voice left

The internet monitoring group NetBlocks said that Sudan's remaining internet connectivity was disconnected late on Monday. Internet had largely been cut off in the capital already.

Sudanese activists and doctors have accused a feared paramilitary force of raping dozens of protesters during the brutal dispersal of a sit-in that killed over 100 people last week.

Activists have said the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which are loyal to the ruling military council, carried out the rapes during the deadly crackdown on the sit-in outside the army complex in the capital Khartoum.

Doctors told The Guardian on Tuesday that they believe 70 incidents of rape took place during the attack on the protest camp.

Read also: Notorious Sudan paramilitary force 'raped dozens' during sit-in attack

Online activists have recounted harrowing details on the alleged rapes on social media and offered advice to victims.

The RSF have their origins in the notorious Janjaweed militia, which was sent to fight insurgents in Darfur, and in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The militia in accused of abuses in the Darfur conflict between 2003 and 2004 in a campaign against ethnic groups suspected of supporting rebels.

Rights groups have accused the militia of abuse against civilians in Darfur, such as rape, extrajudicial killings, looting, torture, poisoning wells and burning villages.

Hollywood star and activist George Clooney on Tuesday urged the international community to go after illicit money from Sudan, voicing hope that financial pressure would change the calculus for generals who violently put down pro-democracy protests.

Clooney – a longtime campaigner for human rights in Sudan's western region of Darfur – noted that the notorious Janjaweed militias were involved both in abuses in Darfur and in putting down demonstrations last week.

Global superstar singer Rihanna also weighed in on Tuesday by reposting images, quotes and statistics from the massacre in a bid to raise awareness.

Meanwhile in Sudan, shops began to reopen in the capital on Wednesday but many residents stayed indoors after demonstrators called off a nationwide civil disobedience campaign that had brought Khartoum to a standstill.

The slow return to normalcy came after an Ethiopian mediator announced that the protest leaders and the ruling military council had agreed to resume talks following a deadly crackdown on a weeks-long sit-in.

Click on our Special Contents tab to read more on the Sudan uprising: