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An Open Letter to the President of Republic of Sudan

[Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Image from Wikimedia Commons] [Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Image from Wikimedia Commons]

[The following letter was originally published on Young Professionals in Human Rights on 30 June 2012.] 

Dear Mr. Omer Elbashier:

When you took over power, it was uncomfortable. When you fired skilled workers in civic service, it was unreasonable. When you introduced Sharia laws, it was painful. When your regime announced war against South Sudan, I feared for my family and friends.

But now, after 23 years under your governance, after 23 years of discriminating, forcing, abusing and killing, now it is personal.

Here I am in London watching the uprisings in Sudan exploding all around our country. People are fed up with seeking permission from your government just to survive. We were already struggling with your authoritarian system and restrictive laws, but the recent dramatic increase in the cost of living and fuel prices has pushed our country to the brink. We are angry and have reached the point of no return. Nothing is going to shut us up and we will not back down.

Following the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, the Sudanese people are now speaking out and protesting in cities across the county including Khartoum, Eljazeera, Elobaied, Portsudan, Kasala and Gadarif. Women, children, students, workers and the whole nation are out in our streets at the moment. We are calling for change and for you and your regime to step down.

Don’t think that you can get away with arresting and torturing hundreds of thousands of our citizens, some of whom we might see after they have been tortured and others whom we might never hear of again. We have been watching in horror for the past 12 days. Sadly, here in London, I barely see any mention of the protests in the news, in TV or newspapers. It seems a few hundred dead and thousands arrested cannot compete with the death record of Syria or Afghanistan.

Don’t worry, Mr. President, we will soon have an “accepted” death record for the media to happily pay attention to!

Before today, I never took the crimes of your regime personally, although I have been subjected to discrimination as a woman, an atheist and an activist.  Four days ago, I was devastated when I got word that six of my university classmates were arrested. Five years ago at University of Khartoum, Amro Azhari, Fayiz Abdullah, Haj Ahmed, Kifah Osman, Fahad Mohamed and dear Mohamed Salah and I were friends. Now they are all arrested. No one knows where they are or what’s going to happen to them.

Now it is personal, Mr. Elbashir. It is very personal. And now is when you should be very worried because we have an entire country of individuals just like me who are taking this personally. It is not only my friends who are threatened by your regime: there are hundreds of our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins, and friends who must be let free.

I cannot imagine what it is like in your prisons or “Biut alashbah” (torturing/ghost houses).There are few people who have lived to tell their stories, but Wail Taha and Naglaa Sid-Ahmed’s stories are among the most recent and terrifying. Your regime’s crimes continue to pile up: the case of Safia Ishag caught many people’s attention as she was arrested and gang-raped by three of your policemen. Safia is now somewhere outside of the country after being threatened for pursuing her case.  Unfortunately, the situation may be repeating itself. Three days ago, two feminist and human rights activists (Kareema Fatih-Alrahman and Sarah Daif-Allah) were just arrested while protesting. Nothing is clear yet because your officers won’t allow visitors or give them access to lawyers. From what we have seen in similar situations, I would guess that the least they will be subjected to are sexual assaults and I won’t allow myself to imagine what could happen after.

Mr. Elbasir, what you have done to our country is deplorable. It breaks my heart to see this happening there. But if you look around you at the protests and the activity of my fellow citizens you will understand that these are more than angry, hungry, hopeless people causing problems in streets. We want our children to have access to education, women to gain rights equal to  men, rural areas to receive health care and everyone to have a room in Sudan. We want change, we want real change.

Finally, as a Sudanese, an activist and a human, I will join with my fellow citizens to use every available platform to push you out of power and change your regime. I call on every individual in the Sudanese diaspora in London and the world to act. I call on the international community to help and support the Sudanese nation to overthrow Mr. Elbashir’s authoritarian government and achieve civic and democratic change.

Mr. President, now it’s personal for the Sudanese people. Your regime’s time is coming to an end.

Nahla Mahmoud
London, UK

 

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