Africa on Track Towards Information Black Hole

Alaa Salah, a 22-year-old Sudanese student became the symbol of the peaceful ouster of dictator Omar al-Bashir. Courtesy: CC by 2.0/Street Art/ Shoreditch

By Miriam Gathigah
NAIROBI, Jul 16 2019 – It is an image of resistance that went viral across the world. Alaa Salah, a young Sudanese student, dressed in a traditional white thobe standing atop a car with an enthralled crowd surrounding her as she and they boldly chanted Al-Thawra—Arabic for revolution.

It is what many remember of the peaceful ouster of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir and one of Africa’s most towering dictatorial regimes.
Sudan had finally broken away from an era characterised by media censorship and harassment, or so the story goes.

“At that very moment, we all believed that this was the beginning of Sudan’s best of times. In 30 years, very few could testify to anyone so boldly challenging the system and living to tell the story,” Ali Taban, an independent Sudanese journalist, tells IPS.

“For many days afterwards, we were in this magical moment and journalists were there to chronicle every step of it. Not anymore. We are now more afraid of being silenced with violence than ever before,” says Taban.

As the Transitional Military Council (TMC) slowly tightens its grip on Sudan, eerily filling the gap left behind by al-Bashir, hope is quickly turning into a nightmare. In June, as troops violently broke up a week-long peaceful sit-in killing at least 100 protestors, the world remained silent in horror.

Even worse, to isolate Sudan and put a lid on a plethora of ongoing human rights violations, the TMC cut internet services for over a month. The Council’s spokesman General Shams al Din Kabashi went on record to justify the internet shutdown as a matter of safeguarding national security.

However, the internet was restored earlier this month through a court order, but the TMC is reportedly appealing the decision.

During the blackout, Sudanese pleaded with the world to be its voice as the country slid into an information black hole. They were not disappointed. The Twitter hashtag ‘IAmTheSudanRevolution’ became the most trending topic in Kenya, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Filed in: Latest World News

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