PhillyforSudan protests paramilitary coup in Sudan

Dozens of demonstrators, predominantly young Sudanese activists, gathered outside Philadelphia City Hall on May 26 calling for action to oppose the injustices Sudanese people are facing at the hands of the paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).  

Lead banner, PhillyforSudan protests, May 26, 2024. (Credit: Betsey Piette)

Organized by @PhillyforSudan, protesters demonstrated their solidarity with the resistance forces in Gaza, wearing keffiyehs and carrying Palestinian flags. Chants included: “From Sudan to Palestine – occupation is a crime!”

Indigo, a member of the Philadelphia Palestine Coalition and Queers for Palestine, opened the rally with a poem highlighting the unity between the two struggles.

A popular uprising in Sudan in December 2018, resulted in the military under the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) ousting President Omar Al-Bashir, who had been in power for 30 years. Negotiations that followed between the armed forces and popular democratic political organizations, including the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA), along with other forces, including the Communist Party of Sudan, resulted in a civilian-military transitional government, under the Transitional Military Council. 

Throughout the spring of 2019, the SPA mobilized mass protests and even general strikes, while negotiating on and off with the TMC. They demanded a greater role for civilians in the transition to a civilian-elected government with elections scheduled for 2023. 

However, in June 2019, the RSF formed with backing from Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the U.S., which has provided a steady weapons supply, took over control in several Sudanese states. The RSF are the equivalent of the death squads, such as those the CIA trained and used in Central America and elsewhere.

On April 15, 2023, violent clashes erupted between the SAF and the RSF, resulting in the displacement of more than 8.6 million people, including those already internally displaced, asylum seekers and refugees in Sudan.

‘A global proxy war’

Speaking for @Phillyfor Sudan, Amira explained how the efforts to form a democratic government set into motion by the 2018 popular uprising in Sudan have been overthrown by the staged RSF coup in April 2023: “Protests against the coup have demanded a return to democratic negotiations, but the UAE, the U.S., and Israel do not want a return to democracy in Sudan. 

Signs on display for PhillyforSudan protest, May 26, 2024. (Credit: Betsey Piette)

“These governments have controlled the RSF with money, weapons and other benefits, and the result has been war on civilians with the largest displacement, destruction, and complete disruption of our country.  This is not a civil war.  It is an anti-revolutionary war, anti-civilization – a global proxy war.  But Sudan is not for sale.”

Over a year of conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and RSF since April 2023 has resulted in major destruction of the capital city Khartoum and the forcible displacement of 10.7 million people – the largest internal displacement crisis globally. Millions of people are at risk of famine.  Sudan is one of Africa’s largest countries by area.

Amira concluded: “The RSF is a terrorist organization for international players who we must demand stop exacerbating the war.  We must work toward restoration and reconstruction of a democratic country controlled by the Sudanese people.”

The rally was followed by a march up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a closing rally.

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