It Was the Young Who Ran Towards the Guns, the Women Who Stood Them Down
Originally posted on Medium.com on December 12, 2019.
An eye witness account from the front lines of Sudan’s revolution
On April 11th 2019, President Omar Al Bashir, Sudan’s ruler for more than 30 years, stepped down. His departure came about following months of demonstrations, in which millions of people across the country had come out onto the street.
In the last days of his rule, crowds had begun to gather outside of the military headquarters in Khartoum, in what became perhaps the largest single demonstration of people power in Sudanese history.
Ahmed* was one of the people there. Below is his account of one day in the revolution.
People as Far as the Eye Could See
‘There were people as far as the eye could see — hundreds of thousands of us from every walk of life, from every profession, tribe and region; men and women, boys and girls, artists and musicians, religious and secular.
We had in a few short days achieved an order and harmony that the government had not managed for decades.
Doctors Set Up Clinics
Street teams swept the roads and collected the rubbish. Doctors set up clinics to care for the sick. Community groups organized food deliveries. Musicians put on impromptu performances. There were discussion groups, speeches and workshops, musical performances and street art. Those who could not be present sent goods, food, and money.
Outside the military headquarters, people gathered singing and dancing and chanting, in solidarity, in hope, and in demand for change.
We understood a reckoning was coming; that the peace could not last and that sooner or later there would be violence.
And sure enough, the violence came. At three o’clock in the morning, gunfire rang through the air and the government’s militias descended upon us. The assault had started.
It Was the Young Who Ran to Meet the Soldiers. It Was the Women Who Stood Them Down.
The crowd surged — some of us in search of protection, others towards the guns. It was the young who ran to meet the soldiers. It was the women who stood them down.
Three died that night. When the violence stopped we did not disperse. Somehow, we grew stronger. The sit- in continued, in mourning, determined. It would take two more days for the government to fall.
*Ahmed is not the authors real name.
Note: On Monday, 3 June 2019, military forces associated with the Sudanese Transitional Military Council used heavy gunfire and tear gas intending to disperse a sit-in of protesters in Khartoum. They killed more than 100 people.
Sudan’s revolution was the culmination of decades of struggle. The months that led up to the fall of the government saw unprecedented levels of public protest. It was a revolution led by women and young people. Many would give their lives before a new government was formed. Today a transitional authority is in place with women and young people determined to continue to play an important role, shaping the policy and direction of the new government.
At Conflict Dynamics we are supporting Sudanese in their efforts to transform their country. Our Sudanese- led Team has been working tirelessly, with persistence and tenacity, to bring about positive change. Our Team supports youth and women’s groups through training and capacity building, and mediation support. To find out more about what we do and to support our work please visit our website.