'They need your voices': St. John's protesters rally for Sudan after military coup

·3 min read
Protesters in front of St. John's City Hall are showing solidarity with anti-coup protesters in Khartoum, Sudan. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC - image credit)
Protesters in front of St. John's City Hall are showing solidarity with anti-coup protesters in Khartoum, Sudan. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC - image credit)

Suad Mohamed and her husband Mohamed Birama organized a protest in St. John's on Saturday, as thousands of people took to the streets of Khartoum in faraway Sudan to protest a coup, in which the military seized power over the Northeast African country.

Mohamed and Birama fear for family and friends in Sudan.

"It's very stressful," said Mohamed.

"It's really hard even to know what's going on with your family or your friends.… We cannot be there, but we can do as much as we can here to support them."

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

Mohamed and her family came to Canada in 2003, and moved to St. John's in 2013, where her husband works as a veterinarian.

He says it's important to show solidarity with the people in Sudan.

"This is an international support organized all over the world so that the dictators who took over the power in Sudan should not be recognized and should not be supported and should also be isolated," said Birama.

In a military coup led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the transitional government under Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was dissolved. Hamdok himself was arrested and is currently under house arrest.

In St. John's, about 30 protesters gathered in front of City Hall on Saturday to ask the Canadian government for support.

One of them was Omnia Khamis, a first-year nursing student who hasn't been able to reach her extended family in Sudan for a couple of days due to internet outages and cut phone lines.

"I haven't been able to connect to anybody," said Khamis.

"The internet comes back for like two or three hours a day and people post videos and stuff, but we haven't been able to reach our actual families."

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

Khamis grew up in St. John's, yet she still feels the need to support people in Sudan from a distance.

"Being Sudanese, I feel like no matter where you are, it's always going to be a part of you," she said.

"Any good thing or a bad thing that's happening in that country is going to affect you wherever you are, regardless of how far away you are."

Einam Mohamadain grew up in Sudan and arrived in St. John's in 2018 with her three children. Her mother and siblings are still in Sudan.

Mohamadain says the country was under military control since before she was born.

"We are here because we are running from the war," said Mohamadain.

"Every morning, I tell my kids how lucky we are to be in a safe place. They have education, they have health systems. They have the right to choose whatever they want to say or whatever they want to do."

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

The last time Sudan had an elected government was in 1989 when Omar al-Bashir took power with a coup. The country was then ruled by al-Bashir for 30 years before another coup removed him in 2019.

The country had since been ruled by a transitional government under Hamdok and a sovereign council led by Burhan. A technocratic prime minister is expected to be appointed in the coming days.

"Time for Sudan to experience some peace and … the right to choose who will be in power," said Mohamadain.

Joingingkwe Togol, who is originally from Darfur, says his family has been displaced by the conflict ongoing in the Darfur region since 2003.

"The Sudanese people should have their freedom. The Sudanese people deserve better. That's what we believe," said Togol.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

He says the rally in front of city hall in St. John's is in solidarity with anti-coup protesters in Sudan.

"Many countries know exactly what is happening. But we also want the people in the western world to know exactly what is happening in Sudan, because that is really inhumane," said Togol.

Khamis agrees it's important to get people's attention about the political situation in Sudan.

"I just want the people in St. John's to know that the Sudanese people need your help," said Khamis.

"They need your support. They need your voices. Honestly, just your voices."

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