As the Sudanese government continues to crack down on protestors and arrests nearly 100 journalists in the last week, rebels organize a ‘day of rage’ to pull together opposition.
Demonstrations began after President Omar al Bashir announced tax increases and spending cuts at the same time: tough economic measures for a country with nearly a quarter of its population living below the poverty line.
But since then the scope and scale of the protests have increased and, buoyed by the successes in Egypt and Tunisia, many are now calling for Bashir’s head.
Using the hashtag #SudanRevolts, netizens have been using Twitter to organize a full day of protests, more widespread and with better coverage than any in the previous week of demonstrations.
Well-known activist, Usamah Mohamad, who was detained last week, filmed himself and posted the video to YouTube to explain why he would take part in the protests:
“I think my country Sudan, has really hit rock bottom and things cannot get any worse than what they are now. I think after 23 years of oppression and injustice, poverty, crimes that are all committed under the current regime, change now is inevitable,” he said.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, Sudan’s security forces have been using live ammunition to break up some of the protests and have beaten people while in detention.
Sudanese authorities have also tried to stop the demonstrations by putting out their own counter-revolutionary media message. A pro-government newspaper recently claimed the protestors were “homosexuals and whores.”
Unsurprisingly, President Bashir has blamed foreign influences and Islamic extremists for the uprisings. In his speech on June 24, he threatened to respond to demonstrators “with real jihadists”.
But so far the biggest problem for protestors has been the lack of media coverage in the country. Many have complained that the world’s press seems uninterested in their plight. However, journalists who have been reporting on the ground have been arrested or thrown out of the country.
Salma El Wardany, an Egyptian reporter working for Bloomberg was one of them. She had been reporting on the protests, including uploading videos showing Khartoum authorities using tear gas to disperse protestors.
Ms. Wardany told AFP that she had been ordered to leave on Tuesday and was only allowed to collect her belongings before the deportation under the supervision of a guard.
With the arrests and deportations of journalists being as widespread as they are, protestors are turning to social media and YouTube to try and get their message heard internationally.
By Helen Brooks
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