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Why Are We Really Silent About Sudan?

Politics

There is a brutal massacre happening in Sudan right now.

At this very minute and this very hour, over one hundred people perhaps more have been killed. On record, there are seventy rape cases against women, children and a few boys and men. UNICEF is reporting nineteen children are among those pronounced dead. Despite this, for the most part, the world has been silent. Why?


"Maybe because they are Black. Maybe because they are African. Maybe because they are Muslim," posted one Twitter user. It could also be because the military behind these atrocities have powerful friends in the Middle East and Europe bankrolling and supporting them for their own personal gain.

It is a bit chilling that something so horrific wouldn't warrant much attention. Especially considering how much attention and sympathy is given to other countries who have had less casualties. Even historic but empty buildings generate more support than Black human lives.

It is difficult to grasp the fact that the world just doesn't care about the violence and deaths of people of color no matter what part of the world they live in. Maybe it wouldn't hurt so much if the reasoning behind the Sudan crisis wasn't about freedom and democracy. But it is.

This massacre and protest crackdown was ignited purely because the people of Sudan want to be free like America and other countries. Right now, the mostly women-led protestors are simply asking the military power to step down as promised for a democratic transition of power elected by the people. Ironically, western nations like the U.S., England and France have always quickly intervened and aided countries who were fighting for democracy (as Sudan's alliance of opposition is currently doing), but this time the passion to defend a country's fight for democracy seems to almost be irrelevant and unimportant.

There was no Facebook profile to change our profile to a Sudanese landmark of flag. There is no massive Instagram outpour and hashtag to "Pray for Sudan." Naomi Campbell, Rihanna and George Clooney have been very vocal about what's happening in Sudan but most celebs who gave all their energy to Paris have been silent about Sudan. Why?

For those of you who don't understand what's happening in Sudan, here is a brief history.

Sudan's rich resources has always been of interest to its exploitative neighbors in both the Middle East and Europe who have been able to rape the country for it minerals and natural resources by supporting the dictatorship rule that has come at the expense of its citizens (Remember Blood Diamond?). Decades of internal conflict, a lack of economic progression and negligent governance with a military supported by Saudia Arabia and the UAE made life in Sudan difficult for the average person trying to make ends meet. The genocide and civil war between militia and rebel groups in the city of Darfur, Sudan was responsible for millions of deaths and the displacement of 2.5 million people.

In 2009, the international courts held Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity during this present-day genoicide. The International Courts issued an arrest warrant for the president in 2009 and again in July 2010 to no avail. Unfortunately, the Sudanese government, the African Union and the League of Arab States did not recognize this decision. From that time, Bashir faced several protests leading all the way up to April 11, 2019 when Bashir was removed from his position by the Sudanese armed forces. This removal created a potential problem for Sudan's powerful exploitative neighbors who were benefiting under Bashir's undemocratic rule.

Many Sudanese assumed that Bashir's departure would lead to the democracy they had been protesting for. They wanted power to be turned over to a civilian (democratic) government whose interest was in its citizens and not power and wealth. Instead the vice president, Lt. Gen Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, declared himself the Head of State. He dissolved the cabinet and national legislature and announced that he and the military would rule for two years until there was a peaceful transition of power. This ignited more protests from the majority women-led demonstrators who continued to push for true democracy and the resignation of military rule.

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On April 12, the military agreed to shorten their rule to one month and Auf stepped down as head of the Military Council and made General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan his successor. In the past few months, despite negotiations between protest leaders and the military, there has been no clear resolution of how the military rule will transfer power to civilian (democratic) rule. Thousands of protestors camped outside the TMC and held sit-ins to demand that TMC step down. With the strong financial and military backing of Saudi Arabia and the UAE (home to everybody's favorite vacation spot Dubai), the military ordered a crackdown on the protestors, which included random killings, beatings, rapes and the imprisonment and deportation of some high ranking protest leaders. The military is working alongside the Janjaweed forces who administered the killings that made Darfur a trending topic during its genocide.

The forces showed no mercy as they targeted hospitals, homes and raped children as young as six years old. The internet blackout was also successfully administered to limit the people's communication with the world and silence them. Somehow Russia also had their hands in the crackdown months before as The Telegraph reported and published a letter by the Dossier Center in which Vladimir Putin- linked businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin (a military contractor) criticized Bashir's regime "for not cracking down" on the peaceful protests. The Telegraph writes that the Russian businessman was angry that Bashir was too soft on the protestors "and ignored Russian advice to paint the protestors as "pro Israel", pro LGBT and anti Islam as a way to discredit them" in the Islamic dominated country. As you can see, there are many factors fueling the crisis in Sudan with so many hands meddling in the country's fight for democracy and stabilization.

Now that we understand Sudan's crisis, it is up to us to break the silence.

In an op-ed in Politico, George Clooney ,who has been active in speaking out against the exploitation and violence in Sudan and other war-torn countries for more than ten years, outlined suggestions to help Sudan and stop the military regime. Clooney wrote the following:

"Traveling throughout the Sudanese region of Darfur and neighboring refugee camps during the mid-2000s, we saw firsthand evidence of the monster the Sudanese regime had built to carry out a genocide. The government organized, armed and deployed militias, known then as the 'Janjaweed,' alongside the regular army as the primary instruments of its killing machine. Ethnic cleansing and mass rape were the Janjaweed's weapons of choice….If this sounds like another hopeless African crisis, it isn't. Sudan is a country that has unified Republicans and Democrats in Congress and successive administrations in Washington in defense of human rights and peace. Much more can be done now by the current Congress and the Trump administration — as well as allies in Europe and Africa — to create consequences for the leaders of (Sudan's) regime."

I believe much more can be done by each of us to help save Sudan's children, women and citizens.

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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