The Sudanese Migrant Association in Malta urges all members of the United Nations and the Security Council to stop collaboration with the Sudanese government until Omar al-Bashir steps down and a democratic system is restored in the country.
by Mussa Abbass
Image by the Sudanese Migrant Association in Malta
We, the Sudanese community in Malta, would like to inform the Maltese society of the deteriorating situation in our country at the moment, brought about by its ruling President, Omar al-Bashir, who has ruled the country since 1989.
Sudan is located in the north eastern region of Africa called the ‘Heart of Africa’ since, if you consider the map of Africa as a body, the location of Sudan corresponds to the heart of the body. The population is around forty million people and its size is close to two million square kilometres. Its people are mixed between original African tribes and other Arab tribes who historically migrated to the region.
The most common spoken language is Sudanese Arabic, but there are around seventy further native languages. In the early 19th century, Sudan was conquered by the Ottoman ruler of Egypt, and in 1899 Britain and Egypt came to an agreement which effectively transferred the rule of Sudan to the British. The aftermath of the 1952 Egyptian revolution paved the way for Sudanese independence and the end of British rule.
In June 1989 Omar al-Bashir took power from a democratically-elected government by a military coup supported by the Muslim Brotherhood.
This culminated in a people’s vote which resulted in Sudanese Independence on 1 January 1956. For a while, Sudanese democracy and militaristic governments cascaded. Until June 1989, when Omar al-Bashir took power from a democratically-elected government by a military coup supported by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Bashir’s governing, which has been going on for these last thirty years, has been characterised by excessive measures such as suspending political parties (in 1996, he was the only candidate legally allowed to contest the election), carrying out executions of military officials, banning political organisations and independent newspapers, and imprisoning critical journalists.
Sudanese elections in recent history have been marked by corruption and intimidation. In 1993, al-Bashir ‘appointed’ himself President of Sudan.
The 2003 Darfur War resulted in destruction of the country and an estimated death toll of three hundred thousand persons, as well as an estimated two million refugees.
This tyrannous government has destroyed the country. It has literally split the country into North and South Sudan following a 2011 referendum, a move interpreted as a response against, among other factors, the predominant Christian southern people. Al-Bashir’s government has also created discord and disagreement between Arab and African tribes in West Sudan (Darfur), resulting in severe instability, such as the 2003 Darfur War, which resulted in destruction of the country and an estimated death toll of three hundred thousand persons, as well as an estimated two million refugees. Recurring civil warfare under al-Bashir’s rule has left the country in severe economic problems, failed commerce and corruption.
This is some of the background that explains what is currently going on in Sudan.
After thirty years of al-Bashir’s rule, the people are protesting and demonstrating. Some of the concerns of the people are the lack of food, bread, fuel and medicinal supplies. The situation is grave for the large part of the Sudanese population.
The same cannot be said of the greedy individuals surrounding the dictator Omar al-Bashir. It is speculated, through information revealed by WikiLeaks, that Al-Bashir took some nine billion dollars in oil money and deposited it in foreign bank accounts. Some of this money is used to pay the security forces that protect him and enable him to rule the poor people whose lives are becoming increasingly impossible to live.
The allegations also claimed that al-Bashir masterminded a plan to destroy the main ethnic groups with a systematic campaign of mass killing, rape, burning villages and deportation.
In 2008, the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleged that al-Bashir was criminally responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur since 2003. The allegations also claimed that al-Bashir masterminded a plan to destroy the main ethnic groups with a systematic campaign of mass killing, rape, burning villages and deportation. Since 2009, in fact, there has been an arrest warrant issued for al-Bashir, making him the first sitting president and head of state to face such an indictment.
Since 19 December of last year, demonstrations have been ongoing in Sudan by people protesting the worsening situation of the country and demanding al-Bashir to step down. The response from the authorities to these assemblies has been in the form of tear gas and bullets. As of the time of writing, the death toll has gone up to twenty-nine individuals, with hundreds remaining injured in hospitals. The protesters have claimed that they will not stop the demonstrations until the unjust government steps down.
We feel that Sudan is going to enter a dark tunnel in future months.
The millions of people who have left the country and are now living in different countries have been organising protests in front of Sudanese embassies all over the world to demand that the government stops killing its people on the streets, and to demand that foreign governments stop any type of collaboration with the al-Bashir regime. Even here in Malta, on the 29th of December of last year, the Sudanese community held a protest in front of parliament and spoke to the media, to explain the purpose of the protest.
As a Sudanese community in Malta, composed of around three to four hundred people, mostly refugees from this tyrannical government, we hope that, one day, Sudan is freed from its power. We established the Sudanese Migrant Association in Malta in 2015, and we work very closely with various NGOs in Malta. We hold different activities and we contribute and participate positively in Malta.
Our message to the international community is that all members of the United Nations and the Security Council stop collaboration with the Sudanese government and deport the ambassadors of this government until Omar al-Bashir steps down and a democratic system is restored in our country.
Mussa Abbass is a treasurer and a board member of Sudanese Migrant Association.