#SudanPoorGovernance: 'I want our parents' and our trauma to be the last'

#SudanPoorGovernance: 'I want our parents' and our trauma to be the last'
Sudanese protesters have banded together online and offline to protest corruption in their country.
3 min read
26 Jul, 2018
Sudanese diaspora protesting in London against corruption [Maddy Crowther]
More and more dictators seem to be championing the virtues of life-long rule.

Even Donald Trump has said being "president for life" sounds great. Now strengthening his position among the top rankings of tyrants is President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, who on 30 June marked the start of his 30th year steering the Sudanese ship.

But on the day of his 29th anniversary in power, those whose lives he steers - and for some of them it has been their entire lives - united to show their dissatisfaction with his seamanship.

On 30 June 2018, in the blazing summer sun, hundreds of Sudanese diaspora, joined by Waging Peace and the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, assembled opposite the Sudanese embassy in London to protest against the poor governance of the Sudanese regime, and, despite this, the UK's continued "strategic dialogue" with Sudan's elite.

Despite the searing Khartoum-worthy weather, spirits were high and many voices united as one, demanding a change and hoping passers-by would listen to the plight of Sudan and its people.

At 2pm there was a moment's silence as protesters paused to remember in solidarity all those affected by genocidal policies in Sudan. As quiet descended, the raised hands of those protesting signalled a quiet, steadfast defiance. The group later made their way to Downing Street, the UK Prime Minister's residence - whose tenure seems likely to be significantly less long-lived than Bashir's - to hand over a petition signed by several parliamentarians, as well as 500 concerned Sudanese and British citizens.

It was a strong statement to make, and immediately drew condemnation within Sudan itself, where state-controlled news pieces decried the idea that protesters had any valid criticisms. The embattled embassy media attaché, Mustafa Batal, even decided to criticise the quality of the handmade signs, rather than the content of their messages - which has to be the definition of missing the point.

He also asked to be invited to any future demonstration, as his input - that of someone whose role is to censor bad press - would surely make the event more "interesting". So, as an organiser of this year's protest, we would like to welcome Mr Batal to attend our demonstration next year. And this time, he should come out in front of the embassy, instead of nervously curtain-twitching from indoors.

And to those reading this, please also join us in standing in solidarity with the Sudanese on 30 June 2019. Show the regime that we are watching, we are listening, and that their actions are not going unnoticed.

The fight is not over. It is important to remember that a protest does not just end when the feet have left the streets or when the (handmade) banners have been cleared away. The struggle is ongoing and the British government remains directly implicated in its collaboration with the regime. Sudan's poor governance is more than just a hashtag - #SudanPoorGovernance - it remains a lived reality for Sudan's many victims.

Let's help fulfil the dream shared by one of those who gave a speech at the demo: "I want our parents' and our trauma to be the last."

Co-authored by Maddy Crowther and Rhona French from Waging Peace.