A popular and peaceful movement that has been campaigning against Sudan’s dictatorship is experiencing a critical moment as the internet goes dark, making its actions difficult to monitor. While a request to the Network Information Center, an affiliate of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), made via email demonstrates that Internet providers have several options regarding what they could do if an outage were to occur, our request has been ignored.
The start of September this year saw the CyberSudan-Facebook page — one of the platform’s most popular sites — migrate to protest the release of a fake statement by President Omar al-Bashir criticizing his vice president, Bakri Hassan Saleh. Sudanese appeared to respond to the fake news by joining and campaigning for an online campaign to thwart the president by protesting his regime.
This led to the #DownWithBashir campaign which has been updated on Facebook, highlighting the high popularity of the hashtag on Sudanese social media sites. Some fifty thousand people have taken to the banner, condemning the president, or are using it to post their latest protest performances. The hashtag has over 85,000 shares, 20,000 reactions, and 4,000 shares. Sudanese groups are even encouraging people to boycott all government companies, removing financial pressure from the corrupt dictator.
On Wednesday, October 17, the hashtag appeared suddenly to disappear, causing the Egyptian, Swedish, and Swiss embassies in Khartoum to circulate what appeared to be warnings against unauthorized use of social media. It was then that rumors began to circulate — and even actively spread — suggesting that the Egyptian and Swiss flags were being censored by Sudanese intelligence.
Despite the disappearance of the #DownWithBashir hashtag, more protests are taking place on Facebook. More than a hundred people showed up to stage a “ghost protest” against Sudan’s president in Khartoum’s Bab Aldama neighborhood on October 21, disrupting traffic in one of the capital’s busiest areas. Four were arrested.
Read the full story at The Intercept.
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