4 days of rioting in Khartoum and other parts of the country over (amongst other things) the lift of subsidies on fuel, as prices skyrocket and people starve. They are angry – we are angry – and with right. The remnants of burning tires litter the streets, fuel lines wrap around the block and last for hours, shops are closed, the city looks almost deserted at the height of rush hour, and the people are holed up in their homes.
Except for those who aren’t – young men and women, even children, who are stretching the weak muscles of self expression and exercising their right to a life.
Their reward? Extermination. With the police being instructed to shoot to kill, there’s no other word to describe it. In 3 days, an estimated 140 people have been murdered by the authorities. A vast number of casualties died as a result of direct hits to the head and chest. I know of at least two stories of people who were shot in the back, shot in front of their homes., shot at even after they entered their homes. I know of stories of people who were shot at funeral processions for others who have fallen under the same hands. How is this not extermination?
For the rest of us, there’s the internet blackout. 24 hours of complete shutdown of the internet to show us that this is serious, that they are not above cutting us off from the world to continue their policy of oppression. We are an infestation of rats tapping away at the keys exposing their actions and they will come for us. 24 hours of internet blackout with the promise of more, on this Friday, particularly if people decide to hold organized protests. No one will know what happened – the smoke will clear and the bodies will be swept away, and no one will know.
I want to write something deep and telling, something to make people read and go, “Wow, what insight, what power, what emotion”, something to make people feel something for us. But I am out of words, because I myself don’t know how to feel. My Facebook and Twitter timelines are flooded with the most graphic images of young boys strewn on the street, blood pooling around their heads, chests open, and I am disgusted that I have no problem looking at these photographs. I don’t even flinch. Instead, I share. I caption, draw attention to the fact that the boy is still in his school uniform rather than the fact that this is a child dead in the streets.
I am numb.
Not in disbelief, because anyone who knows the Sudanese government knows better than to put anything past them. I completely believe that this is happening, that they have instructed the police, the intelligence forces, their armed militias and drugged up thugs to attack, to intimidate, to kill. I completely believe that they target and perform mass arrests and torture of activists who they think might be organizing to protest. I completely believe that they prevent families from claiming their fallen loved ones at the morgue unless they sign gag orders on the cause of their loved ones’ death. I completely believe that they are planting doctors at hospitals that will let victims die rather than survive and be able to tell their story.
I am numb because I don’t know how this is going to end. I am numb because I am ill equipped to handle further escalation. I am numb because now, I feel that the possibilities are endless, on either side of the spectrum.
So I write this – ill structured, confounded, confused, and useless. But I write this.
Because if all goes dark, I want you to know – we exist.