The Revolution Will Be (Instagram) Live

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Heels to the ground, phones in hand, the women of Sudan have been igniting a revolution armed with action and their social media platforms.

Sudan is a nation that has severed itself due to civil war and endured genocide, government induced famine, sexual violence and decades of autocratic rule.

Protests for civilian rule lead to former President Omar al-Bashir’s ouster by the Sudanese military who have facilitated the takeover of the government by establishing the Transitional Military Council (TMC). Most recently in the news has been the horrific military crack-down resulting in reported rapes and the deaths of up to 100 civilians whose bodies were discarded into the Nile River. Not only have the TMC cracked down physically on the Sudanese people, but just this week they have banned the internet over national security concerns. This is crippling to the revolution that has been going viral around the world, conjuring up memories of the Arab Spring.

 
To many, social media is a place to connect with friends, watch animal videos or share hilarious memes. To the Sudanese, it has been a way to project their voice onto the International stage in order to be heard not just by their own government, but in places like the halls of the U.S. Congress and our own homes. 


The Sudanese Professionals Association, with 800,000 likes on Facebook, were making regular announcements regarding protests and providing daily updates on the situation in Khartoum.

While this organization is comprised of mostly men, according to the BBC 70% of protestors marching in the street have been women. They shared photos and videos of the action, recording living history.

The now-famous image of protestor Alaa Salah by Lana Haroun.

The now-famous image of protestor Alaa Salah by Lana Haroun.

One image in particular has come to encompass the entire revolution — Alaa Salah clothed in a white thoub, pointing her finger towards the sky, and chanting the words of the many brave Sudanese women who have come before her. This stunning image, taken by Lana Haroun, has since been shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram hundreds of thousands of times. Explanations of its symbolism have spread chills worldwide, and the hope it instills in not just Sudanese protestors, but in all of us, cannot be overlooked. 


In the wake of the social media and internet blackout, protestors are isolated and less able to convene and continue to fight against the violence and injustice that the military is now imposing upon them.

We must continue to lift up their voices. The beautiful thing is that social media has given us the tools to do so, but with caution.


Campaigns have been spreading rapidly, such as #blueforSudan. Facebook users are turning their profile pictures blue in remembrance of Mohammed Hasim Mattar, a 26 year old shot-down by the TMC. However, there are also always those seeking to take advantage of humanitarian crisis for monetary gain. The Atlantic recently published an article on @SudanMealProject’s campaign to donate a meal to Sudan for every post shared. This was unearthed as a scam to gain followers as the account was not pairing up with any known organization to provide meals and the administrator refrained from commenting on how they would achieve this. This serves as a reminder to fact-check even the simplest shares.


In times like these, many of us tend to feel helpless. We feel like changing our profile pictures or sharing a viral Instagram post are all we have time for or can afford to do. However, it is possible to take meaningful action. In a world that is so connected, we can join our sisters and brothers in revolution by elevating their voices from behind a keyboard, so that they will not be forgotten while being actively silenced.

Below is a list of actions you can take.

Image by Gerard Bottino.

Image by Gerard Bottino.

ACTIONS

 
+ Call your member of Congress - call 202-224-3121 and state your zip code. Once a connection is made, tell them you support helping the people of Sudan in your own words. It has also become popular to reference George Clooney’s Politico essay: 
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/06/11/george-clooney-congress-save-sudan-227102 

For first timers reaching out to Congress, I suggest checking out Refinery 29’s Guide: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2017/01/138465/how-to-call-senator


+ Use ResistBot In addition to calling, you can text members of Congress through ResistBot. Text RESIST to 50409 and it will help you contact your elected officials regarding providing assistance to the people of Sudan.


+ Sign this Change.org petition - it takes less than a minute to sign a petition. This petition specifically calls for the UN to investigate the 3rd of June human rights violations in Sudan by the Sudanese military. Sign here.


+ Continue to Educate others - While keeping in mind that social media only has power if you use it the right way, posting educational articles on what is happening in Sudan and taking the time to understand them yourselves so you can be a better ally is important.


+ Follow @Sudanuprising.updates and similar accounts on Instagram.


+ Donations (see below)

The reason you may see some of the same organizations listed every time there is a major humanitarian crisis is because these particular NGO’s have long established relationships in most countries around the world along with partners who keep them safe. For this reason, it is more difficult for smaller organizations to remain in a country when the situation turns violent.

You can however, always look for crowdsourcing fundraisers who have a direct connection on location such as… The University of Khartoum Alumni Association’s fundraiser, created by Bakri Ali. The alumni of this University are working directly with a network of local Sudanese communities and volunteers to provide food and medical assistance. https://www.facebook.com/donate/977085802497357/

Doctors Without Borders for providing medical care in conflict zones https://www.msf.org/sudan

International Red Cross for general humanitarian assistance and advocacy https://www.icrc.org/en/where-we-work/africa/sudan

The World Programme for providing meals https://www1.wfp.org/countries/sudan


Erika Firestone is a relentlessly curious traveler, learner, reader, writer, in constant search of the next grand (or tiny) adventure. Hang with her on the web at ErikaFirestone.com, and follow her @tinymaps.