Sudan Calling | 28 januari 2019 | by Jelena Sporin

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For the first time in 30 years the people in Sudan are taking part in large-scale protests. In 1989, Omar al-Bashir seized power through a military coup and has since ruled with an iron grip. Sudan has become a police state with massive corruption. The economy has gotten so bad that people have had enough: young people, women, elderly, the poor and the rich throughout the country are protesting peacefully against the corrupt, racist and violent regime, with slogans such as "peaceful peaceful against the thieves". The regime's response has been anything but peaceful; dozens of people have been killed, hundreds have been arrested, some have been tortured, and police and security services have been using tear gas and ammunition to disperse protestors.
Every week we call with activists and friends in Sudan to hear how things are going and what has been happening.

Sudan Calling: When they’re even arresting donkeys…

This week, I speak with Amar, an activist and friend of PAX.

Amar often sends me pictures or short videos showing the protests. Now that people have been taking to the streets in large numbers for over a month, it seems like the security services are starting to get desperate.

“Hi, Amar, how’s it going?”

“Alhamdulillah [Praise be to God], everything’s good. And you? It’s Sunday — have you had a nice weekend?”

“Yes, I was visiting family and just came home. You just sent me two pictures, a donkey with an Arabic text and that blue pickup. What am I looking at?”

“Haha, it’s funny: people keep coming out to demonstrate, despite violence from the police and the security services, and the government is inventing crazier and crazier stories. When the protests started in December, they said the Israeli secret service was behind it. That was so far-fetched that people laughed out loud. So they said that rebels from Darfur had infiltrated Khartoum to stir up trouble because of the bad economy. People also found that so ridiculous that one of the slogans during protests across the country is now “the whole country is Darfur”.

“About that photo, the one with the donkey — someone wrote  with a spray can on the side of the donkey ‘I’m against al-Bashir’. It’s not allowed to criticize the regime – if you do, you can go to prison.”

“So that’s what you see in the second picture — that’s a police pick-up truck, and that cop has put the donkey in the back, like he’s arresting him.”

“Hahaha, that’s hilarious.”

“I also had tears of laughter when I saw it. When they’re even arresting donkeys, they must be very desperate.”

“I get it — If they arrest all the donkeys, they’ll look silly, but if they don’t do anything, they’ll be anti-Bashir donkeys walking around everywhere. Brilliant. — It’s late Amar, I’m going to bed – talk to you next week.”

“Tamam [ok], sleep well. When I’ve got more photos, I’ll send them to you.”

[Amar is a pseudonym, to protect his or her safety]

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