'I'd be on the streets': Young Yellowknifers protest military coup in Sudan

·2 min read
Mikayla Pitt, left, Ritaj Hamad Dawoud, centre, and Amna Idris, right, were at a rally in Yellowknife on Saturday in support of democracy in Sudan.  (Liny Lamberink/CBC - image credit)
Mikayla Pitt, left, Ritaj Hamad Dawoud, centre, and Amna Idris, right, were at a rally in Yellowknife on Saturday in support of democracy in Sudan. (Liny Lamberink/CBC - image credit)

A young member of Yellowknife's Sudanese community said she would take part in pro-democracy demonstrations in Sudan if she weren't halfway across the world.

"I can guarantee you I'd be on the streets, protesting with them," Amna Idris, 15, told CBC News during a peaceful rally at Somba K'e Park.

The event in Yellowknife on Saturday drew a crowd of about 40 people, and took place as similar protests unfolded in Inuvik, N.W.T. and other parts of Canada.

Tens of thousands of Sudanese took to the streets in the capital of Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman on Saturday, marking the largest pro-democracy protest in the country since the military seized control on Monday. Three protestors were killed and dozens were injured, according to a doctor's union.

Mackenzie Scott/CBC
Mackenzie Scott/CBC

The coup has been condemned by the international community, and is threatening to derail Sudan's fitful transition to democracy. Military and civilian leaders have governed in an uneasy partnership since the 2019 ousting of longtime autocrat Omar-al Bashir.

"Students, much like ourselves, are on the streets protesting for their future without a thought if it could be their last day," said Idris, during a speech she delivered with 12-year-old Ritaj Hamad Dawoud.

"I know that all those kids want to do is have a good time. Play soccer, and learn as students should be able to do," Idris said. "Sadly, their youth is being stolen from them by this military rule. Some kids are losing parents, siblings and friends. Still, they want to protest because this is their future that is at risk."

Hamad Dawoud said the majority of her family lives in Sudan.

"It's really difficult to see what's happening there and knowing that my family over there can possibly be harmed and hurt," she said. "It is now up to us to hear their silenced plea for help in democracy."

Internet access has been widely disrupted in the country.

Liny Lamberink/CBC
Liny Lamberink/CBC

Shams Atroun told CBC News there are about 40 to 50 Sudanese people living in Yellowknife. All of them have close relations living in Sudan, he said, and all of them are worried because they haven't been able to communicate with those family members.

"They're in the middle of that mess," said Atroun, referring to his own parents and siblings. "You're dealing with militia too, which is making it worse. You don't know how far they can go, and that makes it so scary."

Pro-democracy groups had called for protests across Sudan Saturday to demand the reinstatement of a deposed transitional government and the release of senior political figures from detention.

The United States and the United Nations had warned Sudan's strongman, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, that they view the military's treatment of the protesters as a test, and called for restraint.

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