In 2004, a coalition of religious, political, and humanitarian organizations came together to address disturbing reports of atrocities that began emerging from Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003. For years, they raised awareness and advocated for international action to support the Sudanese people’s quest for peace and an end to the brutal regime headed by Omar al-Bashir, who was removed from power in April 2019. Now, Sudan’s new civilian prime minister has linked the profound changes in Sudan’s governance structure to the solidarity of those international activists and organizations.
Advocacy in the United States focused on the genocide in Darfur led to houses of worship displaying signs, over a million everyday citizens signing petitions, and more than 50,000 people protesting on the Capitol mall at a major rally in 2006, hearing from speakers that included then-Senator Barack Obama, Elie Wiesel, and George Clooney. Over 10 years after that display of political power and concern, the hopes and aspirations articulated on that day are beginning to become a new reality in Sudan. The Sudanese peaceful protest movement that began in December 2018 was able to successfully change the country’s political dynamics, and Sudan’s Prime Minister has told activists in the United States and around the globe who were a part of that struggle that their work is recognized and that it was important to the current outcome.
“… the campaign here in the states and elsewhere in the world created that momentum which helped our people inside the country to topple the dictatorship. So the struggle here, the Darfur movement, Enough, Save Darfur, and all these efforts over the years which helped us to reach where we are now, and I think we are very appreciative and we owe it to that effort.”
Prime Minister Hamdok’s comments show that advocates for and representatives of the communities targeted in Darfur, as well as Sudanese civil society and diaspora groups, acknowledge and appreciate the global attention the movement generated for the plight of the victims. Activism played an integral role in mobilizing humanitarian resources to address the needs of those impacted and displaced by the conflict, and it helped strengthen calls for justice and accountability for the perpetrators of violence. The bridges of solidarity and partnership built between international grassroots activists and Sudanese civil society and diaspora communities stand strong to this day.
To the many activists who marched, fasted, wrote letters, and spoke, Prime Minister Hamdok’s words about the role of international activists will long be remembered and appreciated. They serve as a reminder that activism must continue until real and lasting change is achieved, no matter how long it takes.
The Enough Project was co-founded in 2007 by Gayle Smith and John Prendergast to help harness the power and increase the effectiveness of the movement that began in response to the genocide in Darfur. Enough, and its partner The Sentry, will continue to support the aspirations of the Sudanese people for peace, human rights, and good governance.