Message of Solidarity from the SSA board
June 13th, 2019
The Sudans Studies Association expresses its solidarity with the protesters in Sudan, among them the members of the Sudanese Professionals Association, composed not only of doctors, lawyers, engineers, and pharmacists, but also of professors and instructors from Sudan’s universities, and many other professionals. As scholars and students of the two Sudans, we denounce the killing, repression, and arrest of hundreds of activists, most recently in the massacre of June 3rd, in which Rapid Support Forces attacked the sit-in in front of Military Headquarters, killing over 100 civilians. We salute the bravery of these protesters, as well as their diversity. We stand with our colleagues in Sudan and wish them success in their historic struggle as they exercise freedom of expression to demand civilian rule and democracy.
Statement of the African Studies Association Concerning Freedom of Expression in Sudan June 2019
The African Studies Association reiterates its solidarity with its academic colleagues in Sudan and condemns in the strongest terms the violent crackdown of the Transitional Military Council in Sudan on peaceful protesters during its attack on the sit-in outside military headquarters on June 3rd. According to estimates by the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors this crackdown resulted in the violent deaths of over a hundred Sudanese protesters, many of whom came from the ranks of doctors, students and professors with whom our members have had long professional relationships.
A full account of the attack is not yet known due to the Sudanese government’s attempts to silence protesters, both by raiding press agencies like Al Jazeera and blockading the internet across the country. Yet it is clear that the Rapid Support Forces, a force represented on the Transitional Military Council, attacked the sit-in at 5 a.m. on June 3rd, shot live ammunition at protesters, and killed over one hundred people, injuring roughly seven hundred, and sexually assaulting at least five. These attacks extended far beyond the sit-in itself: RSF forces proceeded to gather the bodies of those killed and threw them into the Nile. They surrounded hospitals where wounded protesters were taken and shot ammunition inside of them. They attacked the University of Khartoum, rifling through offices and stealing university property. These attacks were a coordinated effort to stifle the mass movement that Sudanese protesters have participated in since December of 2018, calling first for the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir, then a transition to a civilian government.
Since the attack, the Sudanese government has undertaken an extensive crackdown designed to stifle further dissent. The internet has been blocked across the country, and the RSF has undertaken terrorizing patrols, at times escorting workers on strike to their place of work at gunpoint.
Academics in Sudan have been at the forefront of these protests as members of the Sudanese Professionals Association. Academics, alongside their students, have attended the sit-in and protests, and academics, alongside their students, are now mourning the loss of protesters—some of whom they had taught six months ago. We stand in solidarity with them as they fight to exercise their freedom of expression. Moreover, we call on our governments to pressure the Transitional Military Council to refrain from further violence and commit to a peaceful transition to civilian rule. We also ask the United States and the rest of the International Community to continue to follow the lead of the African Union in demanding that the military regime in Sudan allow a civilian government to come to power in Sudan.
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On this International Women’s Day, we would like to bring your attention to the daily suffering of the women of Darfur—and to honor their resilience. Despite the fact that Darfuri women are still under genocidal attack and continue to be victims and survivors of brutal and systematic mass rape, they continue to persevere and serve as the lifeblood of their communities. Today, on International Women’s Day, we need to let them know that they are not alone, and that there is hope.
Darfur Women Action Group strives to change the way the world responds to crimes committed against women in Darfur and we need your help to do so.
Today, we will honor some of these brave women by sharing their stories. On February 5th, two women, three girls and two boys from the Zamzam camp for displaced Sudanese set out on a 13-kilometer journey to collect straw to make bed mats, hats, baskets and other items essential to daily living. Being able to complete this task safely is something many of us would take for granted, but in Darfur, common activities like this are fraught with risk. Unfortunately, this story, like many others, ended in tragedy.
“A sheikh of Zamzam camp for the displaced, near to El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, told Radio Dabanga that on Monday, a group of herders attacked two women, three girls, and two boys while they were collecting straw at Um Hashaba area, 12 kilometres west of Zamzam camp.
The attackers beat the boys, took the women and girls at gunpoint, and raped them repeatedly from 4 pm until 10 pm.
The sheikh said the incident was reported to the police and the victims given medical treatment.
A patrol under the leadership of the Commissioner of El Fasher went after the culprits on Tuesday, but there are no reports of arrests.”
We were horrified by the news reports of this incident. These women and children will be expected to pick themselves and find a way to continue to persevere in the face of the type of adversity that is unimaginable. They need to know the world is watching. They need your support.
What is happening in Darfur?
For more than 15 years, the Sudanese government’s military forces and their allied militia, the Janjaweed, have carried out systematic attacks against the Darfuri people based on their ethnicity. They have bombed villages, abducted civilians, looted private property, and used rape against women and girls as a weapon of war.
Rapes in Darfur are well-planned and deliberately orchestrated attacks to tear apart families, break down leadership structures, and leave long-term social, emotional, and physical scars on entire communities. All of these tactics are used by the Sudanese government and its allied militia to perpetuate genocide. No research has been conducted to determine the exact number of women raped and the impact of sexual violence on women and girls. Regrettably, not a single perpetrator has been brought to justice.
As a result, more than 3 million Darfuris were forced to leave their villages for internally displacement camps or ones located in Chad. More than 80% of these people are women and children. The government of Omar al-Bashir has blocked much of their access to humanitarian assistance, and they have little access to education or protection.
You can help. The saddest part of all of this is that it can be stopped, but the world community refuses to act. World leaders are convinced by the Sudanese government’s narrative that the crises in Darfur is over, even though news reports confirm that the violence in Darfur is progressively getting worse. In November alone, 50 villages in one region were burned, displacing 50,000 people. In February, the government declared a state of emergency allowing unfettered ability to arrest anyone who questions their authority.
If your elected leaders knew that you were aware of the situation in Darfur, they might change their policies. Currently, Western governments are removing sanctions, allowing al-Bashir to travel freely, reducing peacekeeping forces, establishing new diplomatic relations, and taking other steps to normalize relations. But we know that the more freedom al-Bashir attains, the more violent he becomes.
Please join us this month to speak up for the women in Darfur, empower survivors, and seek justice for victims.
How can you help?
Please take the following actions to help DWAG:
● Share the story of the women and girls of Zamzam and educate 5-10 of your friends and family. Please let us know their reactions. Report back to us via Facebook, Twitter, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
● Support our Stand with Sudan campaign by contacting your member of Congress, the United Nations Security Council, or writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Follow this link for more information: http://www.darfurwomenaction.org/stand-with-sudan/
● Share our statement on social media and use the hashtag #StandWithSudan.
● Organize a screening of our “Violence Against Women” video to educate more people. Contact us and we will send you a link!
● Organize a fundraising event for DWAG. We will give you all the tools to help us reach our fundraising goals.
● Invite speaker from DWAG to speak at your school, congregation or community in order to educate more people about the situation in Darfur.
We must recognize and reinforce these women’s resilience that brought much hope for all of us
" Together we can change this.”
Niemat Ahmadi, DWAG President.
7 March 2019
SOLIDARITY WITH THE WOMEN OF SUDAN
As the world celebrates International Women History Day on March 8, The Human Rights Task Force of the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS), an affiliate of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), stands in solidarity with the women of Sudan, who have been at the forefront of the protests that started December 2018 and continue to this date. While Sudanese women and men initially protested the rise of the prices of basic commodities, such as bread and gas, protestors now demand an end to the rule of the National Congress Party (NCP). The NCP has been in power for the last three decades, during which the majority of the people of Sudan have faced oppression, militarization, and social, economic and political exclusion. The regime in power has been particularly oppressive and violent toward women and girls in all parts of Sudan, including through rape as a tool of war, and through its infamous ‘Public Order’ and criminal law provisions that restricted women’s freedom of movement and imposed a dress code on women. The regime particularly targeted low-income women such as street vendors, and women in historically marginalized areas of Sudan such as Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and the Blue Nile.
Women in Sudan continue to lead and to protest despite the regime’s use of excessive force, sexual violence against women and other forms of torture. Detainees include key figures in the women’s movement. Associations and Movements from across the Middle East, Africa, and globally, including the Middle East Studies Association of North America and the African Studies Association of North America, in addition to over twenty organizations from across the Middle East and Africa, have condemned this violence. In January 2019, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also condemned the Sudan regime’s excessive use of force against detainees and has asked that the regime respects its people’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Sudanese protestors have marked March 7 as a day to recognize and celebrate the bravery and heroism of Sudanese women. We take this opportunity to express our support for the rights of all Sudanese, especially women and men to peaceful assembly and protest, and we honor their dreams and aspirations for social, economic, and political change and social justice, gender equality, freedom, prosperity, and human rights. And we call for the immediate release of all detainees, especially women and academics. The African Studies Association has issued a statement concerning freedom of expression in Sudan; and twenty-two African and Middle Eastern human rights associations issued a statement condemning the use of force against protestors.
Please read the following petition and sign if you agree with the content:
The AMEWS Human Rights Task Force
Nancy Gallagher, Chair, University of California, Santa Barbara
Sondra Hale, University of California, Los Angeles
Nadje Al-Ali, SOAS University of London
Anita Fabos, IDCE Clark University
Hind Ahmed Zaki, Harvard University
Angie Abdelmonem, Arizona State University