Reposted from the Enough Project website.
Despite mass protests against austerity measures in Sudan in recent weeks – leaving about 210 protesters dead and over 2000 arrested and detained –the international community, including the United States, has been silent and appeared unconcerned. Graphic images of injured and dead protesters have spread widely through social media, visually portraying the story of an incipient Sudanese revolution and the government’s brutal crackdown in response. The hopes of opponents to the regime for international solidarity and support have so far been disappointed. Despite a few condemnations, the relations of most countries with Sudan have continued without interference.
Today, the Interior Minister of Sudan, Ibrahim Mohamed Hamed, participated in an event in New York hosted by the International Peace Institute to discuss “how to strengthen the resilience of communities in Sudan and deliver a more efficient and sustainable humanitarian response.” This is an attempt to work with the Sudanese government on strengthening communities in Darfur. While is a worthy idea in principle, it sends the wrong message to a country where large numbers of Sudanese are mourning the deaths of 210 people at the hands of Sudanese police led by Mr. Hamed. It provides him with a platform to continue to spread falsehoods that have been disseminated by the government on the protests and the rising violence in Darfur.
He gave a preview of the government’s line last week in a press conference in Khartoum when he was asked about the excessive force used against the protesters. According to him, “The police have it under control…. They have been around for 150 years and they work with organization and strategy that we trust.” According to him, the protesters are “saboteurs” who were trying to burn gas stations and government property, forcing the police to take action to control the situation. Meanwhile, videos of police and military shooting at peacefully demonstrating protesters have circulated the internet acting as a testament for how the police really have handled the situation. When asked about the graphic images of obviously Sudanese protesters slain by the police, he blatantly answered that they were fabricated images taken from the Egyptian revolution.
The United Kingdom has also remained supportive of the government, and has continued to encourage investment in Sudan at the same time as the protests, when the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) issued a brochure entitled “Doing Business in Sudan, a guideline and invitation for British businesses to engage in business opportunities in Sudan.” These opportunities include urging investments in the extraction of gold and copper, the control of which is a driver of the renewed war in Darfur.
It is the responsibility of the international community and governments with influence to make clear that the actions of the Sudanese government are not acceptable. One way not to do that is to invite senior officials with bloody hands to events at which they can showcase their positive spin, while brushing an inconvenient reality under the rug.