Sudanese women demonstrate in Ottawa after deadly crackdown

A group of Sudanese-Canadian women is calling for the protection of protesters after a deadly crackdown in their home country earlier this month. 

"The Kandaka in White" campaign was launched just a week before violence erupted in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, on June 3.

Security forces violently dispersed a sit-in, killing more than 100 people in the capital and across Sudan in a sweeping crackdown, according to protest organizers.

It was an alarming turn in a two-month standoff between the protest movement and the military, which removed former president Omar al-Bashir from power in April amid a popular uprising against his rule.

Global Affairs Canada released a statement following the attack calling the violence a "blatant attack on the basic rights of the Sudanese people."

The statement also said Canada is willing to do "whatever it can to support a civilian-led transition to a democratically elected government in Sudan."

On Wednesday, a group of protesters took to the streets of Ottawa to call on Canada to make good on that promise, and the international community to take action.

Many of the women wore a traditional white garment called a Thobe to demonstrate. They say it was the traditional garment Sudanese women wore to work in the 1950s and 60s, and represents both peace and power. 

Elham Bakri, campaign organizer, Toronto

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Elham Baki is leading the campaign and helped organize the Ottawa demonstration. She said those responsible for the killing of peaceful protesters need to be punished. Baki is calling for an independent investigation led by the United Nations Security Council.

We have one major demand, big demand, is to hold those criminals accountable for all their violations, atrocities, violence and all the killing.

It has been painful, the most painful experience, and I believe every single Sudanese in the diaspora is really traumatized right now.

Wajan Mohamed, 21, Ottawa

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Youth have played a major role in the Sudanese revolution, with post-secondary students participating in many of the initial protests. Wajan Mohamed attends the University of Ottawa but has family in Sudan. She said it was important for her to be part of Wednesday's demonstration in Ottawa.

I have a voice that I know that they don't have, and I'm privileged enough to go to school, to see and be aware of my rights and to be aware of the ways that I can utilize my resources and ... the strong bonds I have with everyone within the community.

A lot of people are not aware of that. They accept what they have in Sudan, they accept the conditions that they're in because they are unaware, because they have been kind of brainwashed into thinking otherwise, brainwashed into thinking that they can't go out there and protest.

Mahera Mustafa, 25, Ottawa

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Mahera Mustafa was born in Sudan, but moved to Canada when she was five years old.

At the end of the day, Sudan is still my home and I have really strong family ties there and I go back almost every summer, as much as I can, so it just feels like I got to do something.

It's been heartbreaking, honestly. It's so hard to see people I consider family going through such a difficult time, and it's tough.