Since South Sudan seceded, [Sudanese President Omar al-]Bashir’s regime has reignited the war in Darfur and is dropping bombs on restive populations in Blue Nile state and the Nuba Mountains. It is stoking potential war with South Sudan and is using excessive force against urban protesters; 2,000 people are now under arrest.
As Sudanese refugees pour into neighboring countries and new reports of thousands of unaccompanied minors — another generation of “lost boys” and “lost girls” — keep Sudan’s suffering on the radar, it’s time to ask what to do about the Bashir government.
Small Arab Spring-like protests began surfacing in Sudan in June which were set off by student objections to austerity measures imposed by the government. However, the movement quickly waned as security forces violently suppressed the movement. Just this week, a local activist group said Sudanese security forces killed 12 protesters demonstrating against high prices and yesterday, police used tear gas and batons to stop protests in Darfur’s biggest city Nyala against the government and its austerity program.
Prendergast and Eggers write that “it’s time for the United States and others to take a stand with those protesting and fighting — and dying — for democracy in Sudan”:
This support can take many forms, including rapid and substantial support to the Sudanese opposition and civil society, which are working assiduously for real democratic transformation. Washington and others should also work within and outside the U.N. Security Council to create a meaningful consequence for Khartoum’s aerial bombing and humanitarian aid blockade.
“If change can be achieved in Sudan, the country could become a catalyst for peace in the region,” they write, “rather than the engine of war and terror it has been for nearly a quarter-century.”