Despite Viral #blueforSudan Movement, Awareness Fades

Cora Jackson, Staff Writer

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Throughout the spring and summer of 2019, many social media users changed their profile pictures to blue to show solidarity with Sudan and be a part of the viral #blueforsudan movement. Once the first few people started changing their profile pictures back, opposers of the wave reacted harshly and let people know that the switch back to regular profile pictures did not signify the resolution of the conflict in Sudan. Now that the blue wave has almost completely died out, no one seems to be asking, “So what is happening in Sudan?” 

The Third Sudanese Civil War began right before South Sudan’s scheduled independence on July 9th, 2011 when the status of the Abyei region was being debated. This oil-rich region was located in both South Kordofan, a state remaining with the North, and Northern Bahr el Ghazal, a state planning to secede. 

Tensions rose between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, leading to an armed conflict on June 5th, 2011.  Over the past 8 years, over 2.3 million people have fled, 1.9 million people in the country have been displaced, and the death toll is at an estimated 500,000. 

However, Omar al-Bashir’s regime has been committing violent acts since the 1980s, using assault tactics including: “use of mass starvation and mass forcible displacement as a weapon of destruction; obstruction of humanitarian aid; harassment of internally displaced persons; bombing of hospitals, clinics, schools, and other civilian sites; use of rape as a weapon against targeted groups; employing a divide-to-destroy strategy of pitting ethnic groups against each other, with enormous loss of civilian life; training and supporting ethnic militias who commit atrocities; destroying indigenous cultures; enslavement of women and children by government-support militias; impeding and failing to fully implement peace agreements” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum).

A brief survey conducted shows that only about half of the students have heard of the conflict, despite 92% of the responders being aware of the #blueforsudan movement on social media. About half of the students aware of the Third Sudanese Civil War have a basic understanding of the conflict, though no one has been updated on its current status. In fact, one responder assumed that the “rebels are losing,” and that is fortunately not the case as the nation moves toward peace.

Though the conditions have been scary, people have continued to protest and raise their voices and in April of 2019, Omar al-Bashir was overthrown. The peace negotiations that followed between the rebels and the new interim government led to the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration, which mandates that a peace agreement between South Kordofan and Blue Nile within the first 6 months of the 39-month transitional period to a democracy.