Putting spotlight on turbulence in Sudan, student organizer raises awareness locally and online
Local student organizer, Khadega Mohammed, has been working on raising awareness about the current turbulence in Sudan by helping organize rallies across the state and sharing information through awareness campaigns on social media.
Mohammed, who identifies as Sudanese-American, is a Wayne State University student and a youth organizer with One Michigan for Immigrant Rights, an organization that provides resources to immigrant communities.
“Because I’m not on the grounds in Sudan, my role, as well as the role of the Sudanese youth in the diaspora, is to basically echo the voices and the screams of the Sudanese people,” the 20-year-old says.
She has used her platform of over 6,000 followers on Instagram, over 3,000 on Twitter, and over 2,000 friends on Facebook, to share news of the protests, tragedies, and deaths in Sudan.
In December 2018, protests began in Sudan due to the rising cost of bread and gas. Eventually, the protests escalated to a revolt against the government and calls for Sudan’s then-president, Omar al-Bashir, to resign.
Al-Bashir eventually stepped down in April. Beyond the rising cost of living and economic decline, the list of grievances against his regime include charges of war crimes, genocide, and human rights violations by the International Criminal Court.
Currently, the Sudanese military is in power of the country, and it's been reported that hundreds have been killed along with over 300 injured and raped.
Similar to other countries that staged revolts against their governments during the Arab Spring in 2010, protests in Sudan were organized online and picked up momentum via social media. In response, Sudan’s military cut off the internet to minimize protests and external communication in early June.
To call attention to the violence occurring in the country, as well as to honor those who were killed on June 3, Mohammed and other social media users changed their profile pictures to a light blue square on various platforms.
“Our job is to really magnify their voices, to continue to tell the narrative of Sudan, to educate people, to raise money, to organize within our own cities and states, and to raise awareness,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed was born in Sudan, but says her family left when she was two years old because of the poor living conditions following the beginning of al-Bashir’s rule.
“Omar al-Bashir stole 30 years from my dad, and that’s part of the reason why my dad left Sudan,” she says.
She visited Sudan last August for the first time in 12 years, and said her family there was struggling financially and people were already talking about revolting.
“The inflation rate was ridiculous, we’d stand in line for three hours to get bread, there was no gas, and my family had no means of transportation,” she said.
In addition to social media awareness, Mohammed and One Michigan for Immigrant Rights organized and held a community prayer, rally, and panel discussion on June 22 at the University of Michigan’s Diag in Ann Arbor.
This weekend, to mark 30 years since Sudan last had a democratic government, a June 30 protest in Lansing has been organized in conjunction with “Millions March” protests happening worldwide and in Sudan.
On that day in 1989, al-Bashir led a military coup against the democratic government before taking office.