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The War We Don’t Discuss: Protests and Vigils Planned in Solidarity with Sudan Amid Call for Media Attention

Activists are calling for the media to shine a spotlight on the state of the war and Sudan’s humanitarian crisis 

Large crowds gather outside Downing Street in protest against the military coup in Sudan and demand a return to civilian rule in 2021. Photo: Vuk Valcic / Alamy Live News

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British media outlets are being urged to shine a light on the glaring humanitarian crisis in Sudan, a year into a conflict which has forced eight million citizens from their homes. 

London for Sudan and other activist groups are organising protests and vigils in the capital over the next week to “show solidarity with the people of Sudan amidst the harrowing war on civilians”. 

The conflict has been described as the devastating outcome of “a power struggle” between the leaders of the two forces: General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the SAF, and General Mohamed Hamden Dagalo, as the head of the RSF, according to the House of Commons library. 

Both Generals took part in a 2019 “people’s revolution” that deposed long-time dictator President Omar al-Bashir, and oversaw the creation of a subsequent civilian-led government. But in October 2021 they overthrew that government and took power themselves, after which tensions between them emerged over Sudan’s future, the Commons briefing notes. 

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Those tensions erupted in fighting in the Sudanese capital Khartoum between two groups – the SAF and RSF on 15 April 2023, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis. 

London for Sudan and other solidarity groups say the fighting is rooted in struggles over the country’s resources and wealth. 

The protests mark the one year anniversary of what they say is the world’s biggest humanitarian displacement, with eight million citizens forced to flee their homes and Sudan in a state of famine. 

“This war on the Sudanese revolution, people and state has terrorised the nation, with rape used as weapon of war. Vital facilities including hospitals, schools, and communication networks have also been destroyed, prompting a global call to action,” a spokesperson for London for Sudan said. 

The movement started in November 2023, prompted by the lack of media attention to protests and calls for action from Sudanese families on the ground. 

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A spokesperson for London for Sudan urged UK media to take notice of the conflict, which has largely gone ignored compared to the war in Gaza: “We urge media outlets to cover the significance and importance of amplifying this crucial cause. The protest and vigil serves as a platform for the Sudanese diaspora and allies to unite and advocate for those still enduring suffering.

“Your coverage will play a pivotal role in shedding light on the plight of Sudanese people and garnering support for humanitarian efforts and urging government action.” 

An organiser for the group, Laila, told Byline Times the lack of focus could be down to dismissive attitudes towards African issues and “anti-blackness”. Britain’s colonial history in the region also plays a complex role in triggering “decades of trauma and destabilisation,” she said. 

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Palestine receives more attention as it’s seen as clearer who the “bad guy” is and what actions individuals can take, she said. Specific actions to help Sudan include boycotting goods from the UAE, the activist added. 

And while there have been peace talks, more international support for Sudanese refugees, especially from the UK, is needed, Laila, who is from neighbouring Eritrea, said. 

“Right now, most people just want to get to safety…But unfortunately, this government has made things harder for those seeking refuge.

“The media can bring the spotlight, and delve a bit deeper into what’s going on, as opposed to just skimming past it as mainstream media usually does. News outlets need to be educating people on this,” she said. 

Protesters will gather in London this Saturday April 13th at 1:00 PM, starting at Church Street Market, before concluding at Trafalgar Square around 3:30 PM. A second protest on Monday, April 15th at 6:00 PM will see campaigners gather again at Trafalgar Square. Over a thousand attendees are expected, with several organisations involved including the Sudanese Initiative Against War, Kordofan Development Foundation, and a coordination group of Sudanese unions. 

Sudan was a British colony from 1899 until 1956, with Britain ruling the country indirectly as part of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, a ‘dual colonial government’ run by the UK and Egypt. 

The colonial rulers allowed the south of the country to develop as a separate state. Some historians say this exacerbated later grievances between north and south. South Sudan eventually gained independence in 2011. 

Sudan has already faced decades of war this century, with the ‘Darfur genocide’ – the systematic killing of ethnic Darfuri people – raging since 2003. The brutal campaign primarily aimed at the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups has prompted the International Criminal Court to charge multiple individuals with crimes including humanity, rape, forced displacement, and torture. Between 2003 and 2005 alone, an estimated 200,000 people were killed.

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