By KATHERINE RAJWAR
On June 30 in Sydney’s Hyde Park, an estimated 225 people rallied for the ‘Millions March’ as part of a global day of solidarity with the civilian uprising in Sudan.
In the months following the fall of leader Omar al-Bashir in April, the country’s ruler since 1989, the conflict in Sudan has become catastrophic. The Transitional Military Council (TMC) has removed power from the population and cut off all internet access.
The ongoing fight for civilian rule has seen the rise of intense violence and brutality from militant forces, particularly on June 3 in Khartoum, where an estimated 100 were killed, at least 700 were injured, and more than 70 cases of rape occurred, as reported by The Guardian.
The Australian Sudanese community has called on the Australian government to take international action as the violence continues to escalate. The June 30 demonstration in Sydney was the first city of 55 protests around the world on the same day, as the Sudanese Diaspora urge the international community to intervene and provide aid for protestors in Sudan.
The event, organised by activist Rashid Anwar, who is originally from Khartoum, saw a sea of blue gathered near the Archibald Fountain, as the colour has become symbol of support and hope. The hashtag #BlueforSudan was prompted by the death of Engineer Mohamed Mattar, who was allegedly shot by the Sudanese military Forces during the Khartoum attacks on June 3. The engineer’s favourite colour was blue, which provoked the online movement.
“I believe what makes Australia different is the cultural diversity, and I believe that everything that affects one community will affect other communities and, in the end, reflect on the whole of Australian society as well,” said Rashid, in the days leading up to the protest.
“Since the revolution started last year in Sudan in December, we created a community, as the matter is affecting the whole community here in Australia in a negative way, seeing the killing of people on a regular basis for 6 months now – it’s horrible and affecting everyone in a bad way.”
The event saw many speakers from both the Australian-Sudanese and wider communities present speeches, songs and poems, punctuated by songs and chants of “al-Bashir to ICC” and “TMC to ICC” (ICC = International Criminal Court).
For Rashid, the matter is deeply personal.
“I was speaking to my mum last week, and she can’t even go shopping… the militias on the street, it’s just not safe,” he said.
He stresses the importance of events such as the protest in Sydney, as well as the use of social media.
“It [Social media] has a great effect, in Sudan the military council has blacked out the internet, so that leaves people like me here of Sudanese background to be the voice of the revolution overseas – we are trying to reflect everything happening over there, through videos clips and photos we can spread the world.
“We’ve been contacting the Premier of NSW… the Foreign ministers and minister of Multicultural Affairs trying to put some pressure for them to take international action.”
Greens member David Shoebridge also spoke at the event.
“We have come together today to demand some pretty fundamental rights; peace, justice and freedom, that’s the kind of thing we should all rally around,” Shoebridge said.
“As more than million people gather in Sudan; we gather here we call upon the Australian Government to make a demand today to challenge the lack of legitimacy of the Transitional Military Council to get them to step back and finally grant a civilian government with no military control.”
Speaker Nancy Nasr delivered a heartfelt speech to the crowd, her desperation evident as she spoke over the loud speaker.
“We seek love and joy and peace in Sudan,” Nasr said. “We are gathered here to let our fellow Australian brethren know – we don’t deserve this… We call on the Australian government to please, please, look into our case, put some pressure on the Military Council on Sudan.”
“If the international society don’t intervene, this is going to be a bloody situation… Please stand with the people of Sudan.”