Monthly Archives: December 2012

The brave Uganda’s

The topic of homosexuality has always been a taboo subject amongst various African countries. Unfortunately, many people have a hard time accepting the idea that there are in fact, people in Africa who are indeed attracted the same sex. Given that the topic of homosexuality in African countries rarely gets talked, I therefore, am taking this website project as an opportunity to explore homosexuality in a social/ political context. The second page to this website,  Homosexuality on South African Gold Mines explores homosexuality in a social context, whereas, the links, Homosexuality in South Africa and Homosexuality in Uganda explore homosexuality in a political context.

Can you imagine that the worst place in the world to be gay is having Gay Pride?”

Kasha Jacqueline

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Uganda‘s Anti-Homosexuality Bill (often called the “Kill the Gays bill” in the media) is a legislative proposal that would broaden the criminalisation of same-sex relations in Uganda by dividing homosexual behavior into two categories: “aggravated homosexuality”, in which an offender would receive the death penalty, or “the offence of homosexuality” in which an offender would receive life imprisonment. “Aggravated homosexuality” is defined to include homosexual acts committed by a person who is HIV-positive, is a parent or authority figure, or who administers intoxicating substances, homosexual acts committed on minors or people with disabilities, and repeat offenders.

“The offence of homosexuality” is defined to include same-sex sexual acts, involvement in a same-sex marriage, or an attempt to commit aggravated homosexuality. It further includes provisions for Ugandans who engage in same-sex relations outside of Uganda, asserting that they may be extradited for punishment back to Uganda, and includes penalties for individuals, companies, media organisations, or non-governmental organisations that know of gay people or support LGBT rights.

The private member’s bill was submitted by Member of Parliament David Bahati on 14 October 2009. Same-sex relationships are currently illegal in Uganda—as they are in many sub-Saharan African countries—punishable by incarceration in prison for up to 14 years. The proposed legislation in Uganda has been noted by several news agencies to be inspired by American evangelical Christians. A special motion to introduce the legislation was passed a month after a two-day conference was held in which three American Christians asserted that homosexuality is a direct threat to the cohesion of African families. Several sources have noted endemic homophobia in Uganda has been exacerbated by the bill and the associated discussions about it. American evangelicals have also been accused of taking advantage of social and economic circumstances in Uganda to export the American ‘culture war’ to Africa.

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The bill, the government of Uganda, and the evangelicals involved have received significant international media attention as well as criticism and condemnation from many Western governments and those of other countries, some of whom have threatened to cut off financial aid to Uganda. The bill has also received protests from international LGBT, human rights, civil rights, and scientific organisations. In response to the attention, a revision was introduced to reduce the strongest penalties for the greatest offences to life imprisonment.

Intense international reaction to the bill, with many media outlets characterising it as barbaric and abhorrent, caused President Yoweri Museveni to form a commission to investigate the implications of passing it. The bill was held for further discussion for most of 2010. In May 2011, parliament adjourned without voting on the bill; in October 2011 debate was re-opened. Bahati re-introduced the bill in February 2012.

In November 2012, Uganda agreed to pass a new law against homosexuality by the end of 2012 as a “Christmas gift” to its advocates, according to the speaker of parliament. Although the death penalty was originally planned to be included in the bill, a committee of Ugandan MPs dropped the death penalty provision from the Bill in late November 2012.

“Right now, you can’t go to places that are crowded, because the mob can attack us or even burn us. We can’t walk alone. We are ostracized by relatives. But if this bill passes, it will become impossible for me to live here at all. And that part hurts the most.”

(Frank Mugisha, in an interview with Saeed Ahmed for CNN)

Unlike the legalization of same-sex marriages in South Africa, government officials in Uganda on the other hand, have proposed a bill in opposition to homosexuality that suggest that there be more consequences to any Ugandan engaging in homosexual activity. David Bahati, the MP in Ugandan Parliament, is the driving force behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Bahati believes that “aggregated homosexuality” should incur harsher punishment (i.e. homosexuals should be punished by death if they are repeat offenders, engage in a homosexual relationship if a partner is under the age of 18, and has a disability, and/or perhaps is HIV-positive.)

THE ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL

The objectives outlined in the Bill are meant to:

(1) Provide for marriage in Uganda as that contracted only between a man and a woman

(2)Prohibit and penalize homosexual behavior and related practices in Uganda as they constitute a threat to the traditional family

(3) Prohibit ratification of any international treaties, conventions, protocols, agreements and declarations which are contrary or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act

(4)Prohibit the licensing of organizations which promote homosexuality.

-Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Uganda, (2009)

Bahati, the Ndorwa West parliament,   as well as religious groups in Uganda, all believe that homosexuality is a deterrent away from what they believe are traditional family values. Bahati has a monolithic way of thinking about familial relationships. As aforementioned in their objectives above, Bahati and those akin to this monolithic way of thinking believe that marriage should only be between a male and female.

Here are some notable provisions in the Bill:

7. Aiding and abating homosexuality
A person who aids, able, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years

10. Detention with intent to commit homosexuality.
A person who detains another person with the intention to commit acts of homosexuality with him or herself or with any other person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years

12. Same sex marriage.
A person who purports to contract a marriage with another person of the same sex commits the offence of homosexuality and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for life

14. Failure to disclose the offense.
A person in authority, who being aware of the commission of any offence under this Act, omits to report the offense to the relevant authorities within twenty-four hours of having first had that knowledge, commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years

16. Extra- Territorial Jurisdiction.
This Act shall apply to offences committed outside Uganda where- (a) a person who, while being a citizen of or permanently residing in Uganda, commits an act outside Uganda, which act would constitute an offence under this Act had it been committed in Uganda; or (b) the offence was committed partly outside and or partly in Uganda.

(Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Uganda, 2009)

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill features extreme legislation against homosexuals. According to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, anyone who is found guilty of engaging in homosexual activity will be subjected to various forms of punishment. The various forms of punishment stated in the Bill, extends from a fine to a lifetime of imprisonment and under certain circumstances, punishable by death.

The fourteenth provision condemns those who know of any men or women that are gay or lesbian, but do not notify public authorities within 24 hours. Clearly, this provision is way too harsh and excessive. The Ugandan parliament evidently wants to have too much power over their citizens. By implementing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the chances of Uganda prospering as a country are very little. It is essential that Uganda let its people have basic human rights.

Lastly, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is also seeking the right to obtain “extra territorial jurisdiction” over Ugandans. Basically, Ugandan public officials want Ugandans to be prosecuted in Uganda if they participate in homosexual acitivities and advocate for LGBT initiatives outside Uganda. Uganda’s extremist approach to rid homosexuality in their country was met with international criticism.

INTERNATIONAL CRITCISMS OF ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL AND THE UGANDAN GOVERNMENT

The criticisms that many countries and organizations around the world have of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexual Bill, were all centered on the idea that anti-homosexuality denies an individual basic human rights to love whomever they choose. Recently, Senator John Kerry spoke out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, stating, “I join many voices in the United States, Uganda and around the world in condemning Uganda’s draft legislation imposing new and harsher penalties against homosexuality. Discrimination in any form is wrong, and the United States must say so unequivocally.”

Another criticm that many people have about this matter is in refernce to the lack of initiative the Ugandan government is taking to calm the tension in their country. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Uganda, Sam Kutesa, responded to why the Ugandan Government has not been proactive in interfering with Bahati’s Bill, Kutesa stated, “To that extent, the Government cannot be seen to interfere with his rights as an MP.” Kutesa believes that it would be wrong for the government to intervene because it is Bahati’s right to introduce a bill he deems necessary to the parliament. Kutesa, goes on to say, “It is a fact that if there are any homosexuals in Uganda, they are a minority. The majority of Africans, and indeed Ugandans, abhor this practice. It is, therefore, not correct to allow this minority to provoke the majority by promoting homosexuality.” Kutesa’s statement forces me to believe that the Ugandan government is not taking an objective or pragmatic approach to homosexuality in Uganda.  As a result, homosexual Ugandans will be left with limited choices they can make (i.e. suppress their homosexuality, or leave Uganda for good)

Personally, I think the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is clearly irrational, unjust, and bizarre. It is very important for Ugandan Parliament to realize that its people are not monolithic thinkers and/or actors. The want to maintain traditional family values in Uganda does not hold any validity in getting rid of gay and lesbian Ugandans. What may constitute as traditional may not resonate with everyone else. In short, The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 does not support the multiple protections that was guaranteed by the Constitution of Uganda. Hopefully, with time, Ugandans will see that thier government is working against them as opposed to with them. The lack of rights conveyed through the Anti-Homosexuality Bill shows that this is true.

a single man

This movie “A Single Man” (2009), the directorial debut by legendary fashion designer Tom Ford, is an opulent evocation of a man’s desperate attempt to escape his single existence. The title takes on a double meaning, referring not only to a literal, and  an emotional one as well.asingleman

Based on the 1964 novel by ­Christopher Isherwood, the film ­follows an unhappy single day in the life of an unhappy single man. George Falconer, played by Firth he is an ­expatriate ­Englishman living in Los Angeles, a ­bespectacled college professor teaching English literature. and Its 1962, and there is fever and of change in the air coming to L.A   and on the recently passed Cuban missile ­crisis, the college ­students youth ­new cultures are breaking through the ­suburban conformity and none of this means much to him, a discreet gay man whose partner, Jim, has just died in a car accident.

We meet George (Colin Firth), a middle age British man living in 1962 Los Angles we cane see that his  life is filled with beauty, evident as we watch him get ready for the day. Impeccable taste, spotless furnitures, subtle and artfully arranged outfit…flawless from head to toe. “By the time I’m dressed,” he looks into the mirror, “I know fully what part I’m suppose to play.” It is obvious that George has perfected his outward appearance. Meeting him for the first time, one can not  help but be envious. We only hope to be so put together ourselves.

However, happiness is not the pervasive tone of this movie, but rather a contrast tool that is preserved in reveries and dotted sparsely in between the dreary monotone shots of George’s real life. The story spans only one day, the significance of which is not to be missed with the sight of a revolver lying in a drawer. George goes about his last day methodically, adjusting a well-oiled routine with spontaneous outbursts of goodbyes and compliments as he gets ready for the ultimate end. He teaches a class on Aldous Huxley, and gets into an impassioned speech about fear of the minority that almost sounds like a self-confession. The students are disinterested, all except one, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), who seems to see past the words and into the man behind the glasses.بدون عنوان

It is an outstanding performance from Colin Firth, not especially because it is a departure for him, but because the part itself is such a perfect match for Firth’s habitual and superbly calibrated ­performance register: withdrawn, pained, but sensual, with sparks of wit and fun. Matthew Goode plays Jim, his partner, seen in flashback sequences. It’s another very assured appearance from Goode, albeit in an undemanding part. His American accent sounds pretty impeccable.

Julianne Moore plays George’s best friend and confidante Charley, a ­fellow English expat and semi-alcoholic ­divorcee. After her appearances in Todd ­Haynes’s Far From Heaven and Tom ­Kalin’s Savage Grace, this role ­underlines a slight gaycentric typecasting for Moore, but like Firth she inhabits it with absolute confidence, and their friendship is touching and warm, even when George is furious to realise that Charley, in spite of everything, believes in her heart that heterosexual ­marriage is more real than gay partnership. ­Nicholas Hoult plays Kenny, a student dangerously fascinated by his charismatic lecturer.

Throughout the day George meets more characters, amongst them a little girl at the bank and a gorgeous Spanish James Dean look-alike at the liquor store. Ford taps into his designer side and evocates these encounters brilliantly with colors. The palette shifts from drab neutrals into warmer, fresher shades of blues, yellows, and pinks. It’s almost as if these encounters actually physically brighten up George’s day. The colors pull George’s eyes and that of ours, into focus, and in a way energizes the film, and George’s day, making his impending choice that much more precarious.

Ford is excellent in engaging all our senses to feel that of George’s. His creative control is absolute, and there is an undeniable confidance in the precise way he uses camera angles, colors, and sound to evoke the intangible anguish and desperation that boils within George. Observe when George converses with his colleague besides a tennis court where sweaty, gorgeous young men are playing. As George steals glances at the players, the conversation slowly fades out and the thumping of heartbeats emboldens until that is all we hear. In matching imagery are close-ups of bare chests, gleaming muscles, and sweaty, touchable parts: lips, eyes, the hollow above the collarbone, the small of an arched back, all cut in rapid flashes to the rhythm of the heartbeats. It’s almost as if we are in George’s head and his thoughts have materialized into cinematography. There is nothing said, and George doesn’t give away a single lustful glance, but the desire hangs so thickly in this scene that I wondered if it’ll ever end…and how. Note one single shot of a conventional family portrait in a barn. The internal struggle is unmistakable.

I have really fallen in love with this film. I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t expecting much, but Ford’s elegance and style really blew me away. Like you mentioned in your review, he does every frame to absolute perfection. Sometimes when a filmmaker is so conscious and tedious about what’s in his film, it can feel lifeless and deprived in a way, but that’s certainly not the case here. Firth’s leading performance is also, for my money, the best work done by a male actor in 2009.

One of the lines that has really stuck with me from the film comes right near the beginning. It’s when Firth is straightening up his tie, and the camera slowly pans up, then Firth says: ‘Just get through the goddamn day.’ The way he says it is just so heartbreaking, and it’s within the first five minutes of the entire movie! That’s how quickly I was won over.

Journalist Kidnapped by NISS

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Somia Hundosa, a Sudanese journalist and activist went missing on Monday 29 October 2012.

Hundosa moved to Egypt recently with her husband and children, before her husband’s death a year ago. After her sick daughter passed away, Hundosa came to Sudan to spend the Eid holiday with her family.

A few days ago, she informed her family that officers from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) were calling her and asking her to come to their offices at Shendi stop in Khartoum North. She also reported to them that a red visto car was following her.

On the night of 29 October, she left her house to buy food from a nearby store. Shortly afterwards, her sister received a call from her and heard Hundosa telling people, “let me tell my family” before the line cut off.

Hundosa did not come home that night.

The next day, her nephew received a text message saying that “Hundosa is in detention since yesterday”.

A member of her family told GIRIFNA that Hundosa’s arrest is due to her interest and reporting on the human rights situation in Sumaya.Hundosa.Oct_.2012Darfur and the Nuba Mountains.

“Her Facebook account was hacked a number of times,” said the family member.

South Sudan blogger and government critic killed

We must be free to challenge all limits to freedom of expression and information justified on such grounds as national security, public order, morality and the protection of intellectual property.

Timothy Garton Ash

 

By Reuters
Juba

A South Sudanese blogger and government critic has been South-Sudan-independence--007shot dead in his home, a week after unknown men threatened to kill him unless he stopped writing, his family said on Thursday.

Police confirmed that Diing Chan Awuol, who wrote online opinion pieces for newspapers and blogs, was shot in the face on Wednesday morning.

It was the first time a journalist has been killed in South Sudan since it gained independence from the north in July last year.

Journalists have frequently complained of harassment and detention by the new nation’s security services. Last year, the authorities closed a newspaper after it criticized President Salva Kiir for allowing his daughter to marry a foreigner.

In his last piece, published by the Paris-based Sudan Tribune website, Awuol broached a sensitive subject by calling on Kiir’s government to foster better ties with its old foe Sudan and refrain from supporting rebel groups there.

The Khartoum government says the south backs rebels in two Sudan border states. The south denies this and South Sudanese newspapers usually support that stance.

A week before his death, Awuol, who wrote under the pen-name Isaiah Abraham, complained that unknown men were attempting to silence him, his brother William Chan said.

“He said he had received threats by phone. (They said) ‘either stop writing or we will get rid of you’,” Chan told Reuters.

Police spokesman James Monday said an investigation had begun and police were yet to identify the shooter or establish a motive. No property was stolen from Awuol’s house, Monday added.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on the government to investigate.

“By getting to the bottom of this murder and bringing the perpetrators to justice, authorities in South Sudan can demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and freedom of expression,” said the CJP’s East Africa consultant, Tom Rhodes.0.0-Censorship-Logo-2-600x534

France-based Reporters Without Borders ranks South Sudan 111th out of 179th in its 2011-2012 press freedom index.

Rhodes said he feared press freedom was declining as the country’s economic situation worsens and a government still unaccustomed to criticism was becoming more intolerant of it.

In January, South Sudan shut down oil production, the lifeline of the young republic, after tensions escalated with the north over pipeline fees.

The two countries later came close to war.

Negotiators from Sudan and South Sudan are meeting in Khartoum this week to try to end a deadlock over how to improve border security, a step both say is needed to resume oil exports from the landlocked south via the north.

Sudan activists urge more protests after student deaths

A revolution can be neither made nor stopped.
The only thing that can be done is for one of several
of its children to give it a direction by dint of victories.

By Al Arabiya with AFP481532_434896889911611_1289337354_n

Student protests reached the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Sunday after four students were found dead following a protest in college, reported Al Arabiya’s correspondent.

A day before, Sudanese authorities had shut down a university after four students, originally from the conflict-plagued Darfur region, were found dead following an alleged crackdown on a tuition protest.

The order coincided with the arrest of students who tried to demonstrate in Khartoum after holding a news conference about the deaths, which they blame on authorities and their “militia.”

“Gezira University activities are suspended after the drowning of four students,” the official SUNA news agency said in a brief alert sent by SMS.

Gezira University is in El Gezira state, south of Khartoum.

In 1964, the death of student activist Ahmed al-Qureshi sparked Sudan’s “October Revolution” which ended the military regime then in power after tens of thousands protested.

The Darfur Students Association of Gezira University announced on Saturday that Al Sadiq Yakoub Abdullah and Al Noman Ahmed Gorshi had been found dead along with Mohammed Yunis Neil and Adel Mohammed Ahmed Hammad.

Activists had reported the deaths of Neil and Hammad on Friday, when police confirmed that they recovered two bodies from a canal near the university.

“Students identified them as their colleagues. They were brought to the morgue to determine the cause of death,” a police statement said at the time.

Activists identified the dead as members of the agriculture faculty.

The Darfur Students Association said all four had gone missing after taking part in a peaceful sit-in which followed meetings with university and government officials.

The students died “fighting for their right to free education in the university,” their association said.

Under a 2011 peace deal between the government and an alliance of Darfur rebel splinter factions, the offspring of people displaced by Darfur’s nine-year rebel-government conflict are supposed to get a five-year fee waiver at national universities.

“We had 80 students arrested and dozens injured” when the pro-government Student Union disrupted the sit-in, the Darfur students said in a statement.

“Gezira University administration, the Student Union and National Congress Party militia bear full responsibility for the blood of our martyrs,” said their statement released at the news conference, referring to the country’s ruling party.

“We call all Sudanese citizens to join the funeral for our martyred heroes on Sunday,” it said.

About two dozen people attended the news conferen262762_434905606577406_717410970_nce. A large number of them were later arrested and taken to a nearby police station after trying to march in the street, a witness said.

The rebel Justice and Equality Movement, which has been fighting the army in Darfur for nine years, said the daughter of its late leader Khalil Ibrahim was among people detained at a separate protest on Saturday evening.

The rally occurred outside Khartoum’s Nilien University in support of the Gezira students, said JEM, whose chief Ibrahim was killed last December.

In June and July scattered demonstrations sparked by inflation occurred throughout Sudan and led to Arab Spring-inspired calls for the downfall of President Omar al-Bashir’s 23-year-old regime.

The protests petered out following a security clampdown.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

Muslim Sudanese Gay Story

[W]hen men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct, that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas, that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes; Abrams v. United States; In dissent; 250 U.S. 616; 630; 1919.

 

The Internet is a common area, a public space like any village square, except that it is the largest common area that has ever existed. Anything that anybody wishes to say can be heard by anyone else with access to the Internet, and this world-wide community is as large and diverse as humanity itself. Therefore, from a practical point of view, no one community’s standards can govern the type of speech permissible on the Internet. we find it as a safe haven for us to express contact with others and find salvation The principle of freedom of speech is also embedded in the Internet’ had been abducted by our government so we cane only use this to act. these videos are not mine but i liked to share it with you and it was made almost a year ago

 

The first video among a series of videos I am creating in order to share my story growing up as a Muslim gay man from Sudan. I am excited to share my story with you and hope it will inspire you to tell your own story.
I look forward to engaging in positive dialogue that will further our love to ourselves and everything in the universe.

Information wants to be free, and the internet fosters freedom of speech on a global scale.

Understanding the Prospects and Challenges for Another Popular Intifada in Sudan

While the attention of the Western and Arab media has focused on the historic victory of the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate in Egypt, street protests of a scale not witnessed for two decades continued into their second week in Khartoum and other major Sudanese cities. Anti-government protests, initially led by students from the University of Khartoum, have inspired similar nation-wide demonstrations in al-Obeid, Kosti, al-Gadaref, Port Sudan, Wad Medani, and Atbara. They began on June 16th with courageous female students at the University of Khartoum’s downtown campus taking to the streets chanting “no, no to higher prices” and “freedom, freedom.” The students initially protested the announcement of a thirty-five percent hike in public transportation fees and called for the “liberation” of the campus from the presence of the ubiquitous National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).  Since then, Khartoum and other cities have been sites of daily protests driven by a widening political agenda. Echoing calls heard in the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria, protesters chanted “the people want the fall of the regime,” “we will not be ruled by a dictator,” and “revolution, revolution until victory.” Clearly mindful (and no doubt apprehensive) of the protesters’ slogans referencing the Arab uprisings as well as two previous popular intifadas that have removed military regimes, President Omar al-Bashir quickly insisted that this is “no Arab Spring.”

Omar_al-Bashir,_12th_AU_Summit,_090131-N-0506A-347

However, since they began, the protests have expanded in both their geographic reach and their social profile. Moving beyond the middle class campus of the University of Khartoum, protests now include more lower class students from other universities, supporters and activists belonging to the major opposition parties, civil servants, the unemployed, and workers in the informal sector. Moreover, despite the use of teargas, batons and sweeping arrests on the part of the State Security and Intelligence Services, the protests have expanded to include residents in the populous informal settlements and working class neighborhoods of Buri, al-Ilafoon, al-Gereif, al-Sahafa, al-Abbassiya and Mayo south of the capital. As the protests continued with greater force into their tenth day security forces, frustrated at not being able to stem the tide of the protests, entered the dormitories of the University of Khartoum’s Faculty of Education and set them ablaze. The students, responding to Bashir’s public statement on June 24th describing the demonstrators as ‘saboteurs’, foreign ‘aliens’ and ‘rogues’ chanted, “we are not rogues, you will end up dead in a sewage system”, referring to how former Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi was caught before he was killed.

The government’s decision to abolish fuel subsidies and the imposition of a wider austerity package that has resulted in a spiraling inflation rate that peaked at over thirty percent this May sparked this wave of demonstrations. They come on the heels of smaller, albeit persistent, protests that have been ongoing for over a year, in direct response to preexisting economic policies linked to the secession of South Sudan in the summer 2011. The secession of South Sudan resulted in the loss of two thirds of the country’s oil reserves, leaving Khartoum with a widening budget deficit, a weakened currency, and rising costs for food and other imports. To make matters worse for Khartoum, land-locked South Sudan shut down its oil production in January after accusing Khartoum of charging exorbitant transit fees for transporting the South’s oil through the Khartoum’s pipeline. Following years of unprecedented oil-exports, which fueled economic growth, wherein some years featured double-digit growth figures, the financial basis that helped maintain the resilience and patronage networks of the regime effectively vanished overnight. In response, and immediately following the South’s secession, the Bashir regime placed restrictions on the outflow of foreign currency, banned certain imports, and reduced state subsidies on vital commodities such as sugar and fuel. With a budget deficit currently estimated at 2.4 billion dollars, on 18 June 2012, Bashir imposed yet another round of more drastic, and desperate, austerity measures, lifted fuel subsides, and announced the stringent enforcement of higher taxes on capital, consumer goods, telecommunications, and a wide range of imports.

While the current protests are partially inspired by the Arab uprisings, the grievances fueling the protests are decidedly Sudanese. The students and largely unemployed activists confronting the formidable security forces in the streets of Khartoum, members of the professional syndicates, and the leaders of the National Consensus Forces (NCF, an umbrella group of opposition parties) have all argued against the government’s claim that the deep economic crisis is beyond the government’s control and the result of “malicious” traders operating in the informal economy who are smuggling fuel and hard currency at the expense of the Sudanese people. Instead, they have noted that these macroeconomic initiatives are indefensible, and persuasively cited widely covered corruption scandals of members of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). The NCF have also marshaled and publicized overwhelming evidence showing that the bulk of the national budget is allocated to the escalating military campaigns in Darfur as well as the clashes along the borders with South Sudan that began in earnest last April. Moreover, as the local media has noted, at the same time that the regime has imposed deep austerity measures, the NCP announced greater investments in government apparatuses,  concerned as it is with sustaining its patronage networks and security apparatus in the context of wide-scale protests calling for the removal of the regime. Ironically, the influential Vice President Ali Osman Taha blamed the economic crisis on the Sudanese themselves who, as he put it, have been “living beyond their means.” In a country where the majority of families rely on funds from labor remittances sent by expatriate relatives (i.e., Sudanese workers abroad) for their livelihood, Taha angered the protestors further by publicly stating that the tendency of Sudanese to maintain extended families―where one individual works and ten others rely on his income―is the real reason that local production and incomes are at such low levels [1]. For its part, the National Consensus Party (NCP), which also includes the Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Islamist Hassan Turabi, and the National Umma Party of former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, has vowed to continue to mobilize street protests to oppose the government’s austerity measures.

Sudan in the Context of the Arab Uprisings: Clarifying Some Misconceptions of the “Arab Spring” Debate in Sudan

The imposition of macroeconomic policies, inspired and rationalized by neoliberal principles (more than the loss of the South), has sparked the recent protests. However, the magnitude of the protests and organizational strategies utilized therein has clearly been inspired by the protests and transitions in the larger Arab world. Nevertheless, in the wake of the Arab uprisings, scholars of Sudan have been near unanimous in declaring that the Sudanese government will “not buckle” to popular protests anytime soon. Interestingly, while the Arab region has long been viewed as immune to democratization, in the context of the Arab protests, Arab “exceptionalism” has been replaced by “Sudanese exceptionalism” in much of the analysis on Sudan. Following in the lines of scholars of Arab authoritarianism, these analysts insist, with little evidence, that Sudan’s military establishment is beholden| to the government just as it has been since Bashir first took power via a military coup in 1989.  That is, that the upper ranks of the military and the security forces are still loyal to his rule, that the political opposition is weak and discredited, and that civil society is even more divided than that of Tunisia and Egypt. These are the very same factors that compelled scholars to predict the durability of authoritarian rule in the Arab world. As one Sudan analyst put it: “there is certainly discontent with the regime, but it’s unclear if enough of the right factors are present to complete the equation in Khartoum [because] protests undertaken thus far have not taken root with a broad section of the population.” [2] The influential International Crisis Group (ICG) similarly argued that “years of subjugation at the hands of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) have yielded both political apathy and a weak opposition.” [3] In contradiction to the current expansion of protests to all of the major cities in Sudan, the general consensus among analysts is that, in the case of Sudan, the heavy hand of the National Intelligence and Security Services and corresponding fears among the population act to inhibit a genuinely popular uprising.

In reality, in recent years, deep divisions have emerged within the state security forces and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) over the potential pitfalls for Khartoum associated with South Sudan’s secession, the ongoing negotiations with South Sudan’s Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) over the oil rich border regions, and on the conduct of the recent military campaigns in South Kordofan. Indeed, far form representing a unified front as in the early years of the Bashir regime there is increasing dissention within the ranks of the security establishment that has led Bashir to sack several high ranking officials for the sake of his self-preservation. These divisions were in clear evidence when Bashir removed Salah Gosh, the long-standing director-general of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), from his post in April 2011. Gosh fell out with the powerful presidential advisor of Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Nafie Ali Nafie, after the former initiated a dialogue with opposition parties leading to fears on the part of Bashir and Nafi that he was in the process of plotting a coup against the regime. More recently, on June 24th, in response to the continued spate of protests throughout the country, Bashir issued a decree relieving nine of his top ranking advisers, including six from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), from their positions. The move, part of a countrywide reshuffle designed to revive waning legitimacy for the regime, saw entire regional governments tendering their resignations with the exception of South Darfur State whose government simply refused to step down.

In the case of Sudan, this analysis, like that of Tunisia and Egypt in the past, does not depict the full picture with respect to the prospects of a Sudanese democratic “spring.” The question having to do with whether Sudan will remain resistant to a significant uprising, if not a democratic opening, requires an analysis that takes seriously the pitfalls made by scholars who mistakenly focused on the durability of Arab authoritarianism.  Will Sudan remain resistant to democratization? The answer to this question hinges on an understanding of factors long associated, albeit mistakenly, with the durability of authoritarian regimes in the Arab world. These include the fact that Arab countries possess weak civil societies, have middle classes beholden to state patronage for their survival, and opposition political parties, which are either weak (i.e., Egypt and Sudan) or simply non-existent (i.e., Tunisia). However, as the events in Tunisia and Egypt have shown, none of these conditions precluded the move towards the difficult struggle over dismantling the long-standing political, economic and social institutions of authoritarian rule. Indeed, what they have demonstrated is that a weakly organized opposition does not necessarily prevent effective mass mobilization.

What then explains the divergence in Sudan from its northern neighbors? And how can we evaluate the potential for a similar popular intifada leading to another period of democracy in Sudan? For Sudan, the answer is relatively straightforward: it lies in the Bashir regime’s capacity to maintain a monopoly on the means of coercion. As analysts of Arab authoritarianism have usefully demonstrated across the region, when the state’s coercive apparatus remains coherent and effective, it can face down popular disaffection and survive significant illegitimacy [4]. Conversely, where the state’s capacity of coercion is weak or lacks the will to crush popular protests, the unraveling of authoritarian rule in the Arab world and elsewhere may begin to occur. In the case of Sudan, the current protests have clearly demonstrated that after twenty three years in power the Bashir regime’s capacity of coercion is weak and increasingly de-linked from the Sudanese people. The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), demoralized and weakened from fighting armed insurgencies Darfur and in two southern border states (i.e. South Kordofan and Blue Nile), has so far chosen not to step in against the protesters. At present, the regime is relying on the Police, but most particularly, on the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) to crack down on the street protesters. There are already signs of discontent between the NISS and police forces in the way the security agents are handling the detentions of the Sudanese citizens. The protestors are well aware of the political and social divisions between the NISS and the police forces, and are clearly banking on persuading elements in the police to sympathesize with their shared grievances against the state. In one of the largest and most significant protests outside the Imam Abdel Rahman Mosque in Omdurman that followed Friday prayers, protestors attempted to enlist the support of the police chanting: “oh police, oh police, how much is your salary and how much is a pound of sugar?” in a clear strategy to persuade the police, the military and members of the government to join the protests as was the case with previous successful intifadas in 1964 and 1985 known as the October and April revolutions. Nevertheless, like their counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt before them, the protestors and the opposition political parties in Sudan are well aware that the dismantling of a long-standing authoritarian regime will require sustained protests and popular street mobilization that would ultimately, albeit reluctantly, enlist the support of significant elements in the military establishment.

Consequently, in the case of the Sudan, the key question in the context of the current protests is not to ask whether they are of the scale of those in Egypt and Tunisia, but rather to understand the relative strength of the Bashir regime’s capacity for coercion vis-à-vis what is clearly a resurgent and emboldened civil society opposition in the country. What the examples of Tunisia and Egypt have demonstrated is that the answer to this question depends on the state’s fiscal health, the level of international support, and the degree to which the state security sector is entrenched in civil society. As in other Arab countries, taken together, these factors will determine whether the level of popular mobilization and current protests outweighs the capacity of the coercive apparatus of the Bashir regime. In this regard, it is highly likely that the durability of the authoritarian regime in Khartoum will be more short-lived than most analysts have argued. This is due to a number of reasons.

First, the level of international support is extremely low. Indeed, only a few months after Southern secession the United States re-imposed economic sanctions on the Sudan. In combination with the standing ICC’s indictment of Bashir issued in July 2010, this has increased the Bashir regime’s pariah status and has resulted in important divisions within the ruling party. It has also diminished the hopes among some members of the NCP to generate much needed foreign direct investment. Second, following almost a decade of remarkable growth in GDP (real gross domestic product), averaging 7.7 percent annually thanks to oil exports, since 2010 growth  sharply declined to three percent even before the secession of the oil-rich South [5]. Sudan’s already depleted oil revenues shrank by a further twenty percent after its main Heglig oil field was damaged and shut down in fighting with South Sudanese troops in April of this year. Consequently, the Bashir regime is suffering from an enormous scarcity of foreign currency with which to finance spending to shore up its support base.  It is this grave financial crisis that led to the recent imposition of economic austerity measures leading to the cost of living protests. Perhaps more importantly in political terms, it has also is weakened Khartoum’s capacity to suppress dissent since over seventy percent of oil export revenue prior to South Sudan’s secession was funneled to support the military and popular defense forces in the country. Third, as witnessed by the protests in Khartoum and throughout the north, a wide cross section of Sudanese have already mobilized in a parallel process to their northern neighbors. In addition, protests that spread to central and northern Sudan have been accompanied by cyber activism spearheaded by the group Girifna (“we are fed up”). In a pattern similar to Egypt and Tunisia, this has maintained the link between Sudanese in the country and the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese citizens in the diaspora. Taken together, these factors have continued to weaken the capacity of the Bashir regime to forestall the call for democratization indefinitely.

The most telling and important reason for the Bashir regime’s diminishing durability is the fact that the hitherto institutionalized security sector is increasingly fragmented and the top leadership is gravely divided. Following the country’s partition, political power is now increasingly centered on Bashir and a close network of loyalists. Moreover, concerned about a coup from within the military establishment, Bashir has purposely fragmented the security services. He has come to rely on personal and tribal loyalties. The formerly strong NCP party no longer has a significant base of social support even among hard-line Islamists [6]. This division was clearly illustrated in 2011 following a much publicized dispute between two of the most influential figures in Bashir’s government: Nafie Ali Nafie and Ali Osman Taha. Nafie (Presidential advisor and head of state security) along with Bashir represent the hardliner faction in the regime, and both have vehemently opposed constitutional reforms. In contrast, Ali Osman Taha (the second vice president) has come into bitter political conflict with the hardliners by calling for inclusion of some opposition parties to help in drafting a new constitution. This significant division in the ruling NCP party, in combination with the country’s international isolation, the deep economic crisis following the South’s secession along with the loss of oil revenue, and persistent levels of popular discontent and mobilization (even if low) are strong indications that Sudan―a country that witnessed two previous popular revolts that dramatically turned the tide of national politics―may find itself drawing important inspiration from its Arab neighbors just as it continues to follow its own path and distinctive “Sudanese” trajectory.

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[1] Magdi El Gizouli, “Sudan: Khartoum-the Political Economy of Bankruptcy, Sudan Tribune, June 23, 2012, p. 3.

[2] Alex Thurston, “Northern Sudan’s Protests Sparked by Egypt and Tunisia, but will they have the same effect?” Christian Science Monitor, January 31, 2011.

[3] Quoted in Jeffrey Gettleman, “Young Sudanese Start Movement,” New York Times, February 2, 2011. For a more cautious analysis that does not directly address Sudan, see Marc Lynch, “Will the Arab Revolutions Spread?” Foreign Policy, January 26, 2011.

[4] Bellin, “The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Exceptionalism in Comparative Perspective.”

[5] Medani M. Ahmed, “Gloval Financial Crisis Discussion Series Paper 19: Sudan Phase 2”, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), London: United Kingdom, February 2010, pp. 1-2.

[6] International Crisis Group (ICG), “Divisions in Sudan’s ruling party and the threat to the country’s future stability,” Africa Report, no. 174, May 4, 2011. Another strong indication of the disunity among the top leadership in Khartoum was signalled by the dismissal of the formerly powerful head of national security, Salah Gosh, from his post in early 2011.

Interview with Representative of Sudan Change Now

[Over the last month, a protest movement has gripped Sudan. The movement pronounced Friday 13 July “Kadanka Friday” in order to highlight the role of women in the opposition movement. Below, Heather McRobie interviews Rawa Gafar Bakhit, a representative of Sudan Change Now, about the overall course of the movement and women’s role in #SudanRevolts. The interview was published by OpenDemocracy on 19 July 2012. 

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Heather McRobie (HM): What are the goals of #SudanRevolts? And how coordinated is the movement, is it a cluster of different campaign groups?

Rawa Gafar Bakhit (RGB): The main role of #SudanRevolts is to provide a strong unified brand for communicating the Sudanese revolution, which in turn is made up of various groups and individuals that include youth groups, university students, women groups, and recently trade unions have been joining too. The most remarkable aspect of this revolt is that it attracted even individual citizens who suffer day in and day out from the regime’s repeated failures, corruption and brutality. These join protests as they happen wherever they meet them with great passion, and become active members in a spontaneously formed group joined by a common goal of resistance against a regime that is no longer tolerated. During the first two weeks, the efforts have been un-coordinated as each group took initiatives based on their own perspectives.  However, as the revolution grew steadier and stronger efforts are being coordinated to produce a stronger impact. To facilitate this coordination, social media has been utilized to maximize the benefit, as it remains to be the only available communications tool with the heavy censorship on traditional media and the brutality that even a small gathering is faced with.

HM: Most of the coverage of #SudanRevolts has focused on activities in Khartoum.  How widespread across the country are the protests and actions, and how is communication between actions in different parts of the country coordinated?

RGB: For the first time in many years, the protests have spread across the country and there are daily updates that we receive through our networks in the different parts of the country, which report any protest activities.  In addition to traditional demonstrations that took place in Khartoum as well as Medani, Gadarif, Halfa, Kosti, and Sinar, these included sit-ins such as those organized by the Lawyers trade union, and those threatened by the doctor’s union which was declared a few days ago after being frozen since 1989.  In addition, there have been silent marches and picketing, as well as the first signs of civil disobedience which is known to be one of the strongest forms of peaceful resistance, such as what happened for three days in Algurair in the Northern State, where the offices of the local authority have been closed, including schools and most businesses.

HM: It was the first anniversary of the independence of South Sudan on July 9th.  To what extent and in what ways did South Sudan independence impact on the issues #SudanRevolts is campaigning for?

RGB: The secession of south Sudan came as a direct result of the failure of the current regime to provide and care for its people. They did not work to make unity a favourable choice for the people of the South, and although we respect their will which was demonstrated through the results of the referendum, we believe that it is a step that cost both nations a lot both economically and socially. The government has been consistently ignoring or deliberately destroying all development projects in the agricultural and industrial fields and started to depend solely on oil, which is a depleting resource that existed in the South, and this was lost with the secession, leaving tonnes of debt and a grossly tilted budget where more than 70% is spent on security and military. And despite losing the oil revenue, the government continues to indulge in war with South Sudan as well as wars with other minorities in Darfur and Nuba Mountains, harvesting innocent lives and wasting non-existent money that should be directed towards the benefit and welfare of the people.

HM:  Elections were held in Libya on July 7th. Do you see similarities between the Gaddafi regime and al-Bashir’s regime, and can you see Sudan holding free elections in the near future?

RGB: Gaddafi was very much a one man show; Bashir is a figurehead of a political party and an ideology. Gaddafi and the Sudan regime share dictatorial traits of oppressing political freedoms but in Sudan the regime has gone even further to oppress personal freedoms in the name of Islam.  In addition, the regime in Sudan has gone into four civil wars through its 23 years in government, which ended with the killing of almost 3 million civilians (including 2.5 million in the war with the south and 300-400 thousands in Darfur). The level of income, basic and social services that was available in Libya prior to Gaddafi’s fall is incomparable with the miserable situation the NCP government is putting the Sudanese through.

As to elections, the Sudanese regime may revert to calling for elections as a way of dissipating public anger. However, given the oppressive nature of government and based on prior experience, any elections that take place under this government will not be perceived as free and fair by the general public.  Elections that took place in 2010 are the known in Sudan as the Shaking Elections because of viral video showing elections officials shaking electoral boxes having stuffed them with Pro NCP votes. We hope once the regime is overthrown an election will take place  after a  period of transition to allow for dealing with issues of peace, transitional justice, legal frameworks democratic transformation and fresh space for  formulation and wider interaction of civil society and political parties .

HM: When the ICC arrest warrant was issued for al-Bashir, a narrative was generated in some humanitarian quarters of ‘justice versus peace’, that the ICC arrest was destabilising or counterproductive.  A similar argument has been emerging over the uprising in Sudan — ‘democracy versus stability’, that supporting these protests could lead to a negative consequence of destabilisation. What is your response to this?

RGB: Injustice, impunity and lack of democratic governance have actually been the cause of instability in Sudan. Actually under this government four new internal conflicts started: Darfur, East Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, in addition to turmoil in Northern and Central Sudan and more recently Khartoum. A new governmental system that allows for the rule of law, respect and the fulfilment of the human rights of the Sudanese in an equitable manner, and provides space for the various groups within Sudanese society to voice and address their concerns in a peaceful democratic manner, is key if any level of stability is to be reached.

HM:  How have women been active in #SudanRevolts organising and protests?

RGB: Women have led and participated in #SudanRevolts protests the first of which was by the female students of the University of Khartoum. Women leaders and members within the new youth movements are also playing a key role. Women are also active as documenters and voice of the #SudanRevolts as citizen journalists, bloggers, and social media activists. Sudanese women are not new to political activism and the history of women involvement in politics and other sectors of the public sphere has been key in shaping the political consciousness of the new generations as well as the culture of resistance to the NCP regime policies of oppressing women. The targeting of female activists since the beginning of #SudanRevolts and particularly on #Kandaka Friday named after Sudan’s ancient Nubian Queens who defeated foreign invaders is a sign of the regime’s knowledge of the power and influence of women in #SudanRevolts.

HM: Sudan has been described as having a long history of civil resistance and non-violent protest, could you explain a bit about the role of women in these civil resistance activities in the past?

RGB: The role of women in civil resistance started the leaders of women’s societies of 1920s  as well as ordinary women who participated in the anti-colonial movements and protests that began with the White Flag movement in 1920s and culminating in Sudanese Independence in 1956, The women’s Union formed in 1952 was the lead organisation in which these activities were formalized. In 1965 and after their role in the 1964 revolution, Sudan elected its first woman to parliament …since then more women have gone into formal politics in addition to being active at civil society. Currently a number of political parties and youth movements have women leaders.

HM: The 1964 uprising famously shook Sudan.  Do you see #SudanRevolts as having any heritage from the 1964 experience, or learning from the demands and tactics of 1964?

RGB: The 1964 uprising as well as the one in 1985 are both good examples that the Sudanese people do have a legacy of non-violent resistance that were successful in toppling dictatorships. The 2012 #SudanRevolts definitely draw a lot of lessons from these experiences and look back at them as a source of motivation and inspiration. However we believe that the times have changed and the front lines of the #SudanRevolts are a different generation with a different mentality and different expectations.   They utilize different methods especially with the new communications tools that are made available. We aim to not only overthrow the regime, but also to protect the revolution and ensure it is not hijacked by opportunists at any stage until we have a stable democratic system in place that is ruled by responsibility and accountability.

HM:  Sudan has a highly complex cultural and social identity, complicated by the legacy of colonialism. Do you see #SudanRevolts as a unifying force for the people of Sudan?  How do you envisage the issue of marginalised regions within Sudan being resolved if #Sudan Revolt achieves its aims?

RGB: #SudanRevolts have proven itself to be a unifying force, not only are its main actors the youth movements and the university students come from all parts of Sudan but they also speak about the concerns not only of the central areas but also of the marginalised areas, and the activities prior to the #Sudan protests have focused on the issues of the marginalised areas. Within the past weeks #SudanRevolts have drawn support from the older political parties as represented by the Democratic Alliance Charter (DAC) and even some of the leaders of the armed movements of Darfur and the Nuba Mountains have spoken in support of the peaceful protests as a valid and preferred option of overthrowing the regime.

We see #SudanRevolts as a civil resistance movement that will achieve a number of goals, including changing the current regime and following through with a full democratic transformation. The democratic transformation will entail developing a national consensus for a constitution that enshrines the values of equality, justice and democracy and respect of human rights. This constitution will form the base for a civil democratic state that and the formulation of a national identity. The fostering of a national identity will be further enhanced through government policies that ensure equitable access to basic services and development opportunities. Part of the democratic transformation process will be reform of government institutions, including the army, so they are no longer an extension of the NCP and are in line with the Constitution and the values it enshrines. The democratic transformation also entails pursuing a truly comprehensive peace process that will focus not only on absorbing those carrying arms into government but will address the root cause grievances and the needs of the Sudanese from all over the country to ensure the sustainability of any agreement reached. The Constitution should include mechanisms to ensure so future grievances are addressed peacefully.

HM:  Although it was a ground-breaking moment in many ways, the April 2010 elections were marred by problems such as accusations of fraud by northern opposition parties.  Do you see such incidences as an obstacle to future pushes for democratic elections in Sudan?

RGB:  The April 2010 elections were held throughout Sudan and were widely perceived as being not free or fair.  Any future elections held under an NCP controlled government will also be perceived as not free or fair. The conditions for free and fair elections can only be met under a different government.

HM:  What would a free, democratic Sudan look like?  

RGB: Beautiful, diverse and peaceful with all its peoples living a life of dignity and welfar

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