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'The diaspora is key in helping stabilise a better Sudan'

A Sudanese protester holds a national flag as he stands on a barricade along a street in June, 2019 [File: Reuters]

Abubaker Abdelmonem Alfadlaby woke up from surgery on December 21, 2018, to find three of his fingers missing.

Three days earlier, during a protest at the University of Khartoum, the 23-year-old student was hit with a tear gas canister launched by security forces.

He picked the canister up to throw it away from himself and the crowd.

“But it ended up exploding in my hand,” he told Al Jazeera by phone. “I accepted my destiny, because it happened for my country.”

Protests across Sudan were just beginning then, over the rising costs of bread and fuel.

The rallies eventually led to the removal of Omar al-Bashir as president and the establishment of a transitional government. 

But protesters were often met with force in the way of tear gas and sometimes live ammunition. 

In total, since late last year, more than 200 people have been killed and over 1,000 were injured.

The diaspora is key in helping stabilise a better Sudan. People have gone as far as vowing to give up their month’s salary – or a regular amount monthly – it’s been inspiring to see.

Despite a signed accord for a power-sharing between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and an alliance of opposition groups in early July, the crackdown by security forces continued.

In late July, five schoolchildren at a rally were shot dead in the city of El-Obeid, once again igniting nationwide protests.

The head of the TMC, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said the killings are “unacceptable”.

Alfadlaby was rushed to hospital where he was immediately taken into surgery. But the hospital lacked the needed equipment to save his fingers. That was when Sudanese doctors outside of the country and local activist Nazim Sirag got involved.

After hearing his story, they arranged treatment in India.

Soon, a worldwide fundraising campaign rose up to help other injured protesters in Sudan; for many, the support from outside has been life-saving. 

When protests began, the Sudanese diaspora launched charities to provide critical items such as food and medical equipment – to date raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through various campaigns. 

Contributions exploded after Sudanese security forces attacked a sit-in site at the military headquarters on June 3, killing more than 100 and injuring hundreds more.

After the June 3 attack, medical facilities came under attack, underscoring the need for urgent assistance.

Alfadlaby’s travel and medical costs were funded by the University of Khartoum Alumni Association in North America (UOKANA), which works with organisations and volunteers inside Sudan to reach individuals who have limited to no access to medical care.

“One of our first fundraisers was called Support Sudan Uprising, which started December 20, a couple of days after the uprising started. We collected $104,000 in about a month,” Bakri Ahmed Ali, a volunteer with UOKANA, told Al Jazeera.

Sudan diaspora

Alfadlaby arrived in India in March.

“Without their support, it would have been very difficult for me to get the treatment I needed, they helped me a lot,” he said.

He underwent six, ultimately unsuccessful, surgeries to try and recover his fingers. In the end, his hand was amputated. 

But he avoided infections, something he feared was more likely in Sudan.

“I felt much more comfortable and confident with the treatment in India,” he said.

UOKANA covered all of his expenses, including the final stage – a prosthetic hand.

“We’ve helped with very expensive medical treatment and surgeries such as prosthetic arms,” said Ali, referring to other Sudanese nationals the group has helped. “These treatments can reach $15,000. We support [victims] for as long as they have to stay. We provide monthly living expenses and we support a family member of theirs to be with them.”

Demonstrations in Sudan- - KHARTOUM, SUDAN - JUNE 03 : Sudanese protesters burn tyres and set up barricades on roads to army headquarters after the intervention of Sudanese army, during a demonstratio

In Alfadlaby’s case, his brother was able to join him in India.

“The number of injured is in the thousands, so it’s very expensive to treat them all, so these fundraisers have been key,” explained Ali.

In another example, a youth-led fundraiser launched after the June 3 attack has so far raised more than $65,000, with more than $20,000 flooding in the week after the violence.

Sudanese-American Ali Yousuf, a 25year-old from Minnesota, participated in this initiative – he has been collaborating with Minnesota-based non-profit organisation The Sound Heart to provide humanitarian and medical assistance to people in Sudan. 

These efforts will continue and multiply in the transition to democratic reforms.

“We also sponsor orphanages in Sudan and support them with all expenses. When the protests started … The Sound Heart started working with protesters to cover medical fees, medical supplies and everyday essentials,” Yousuf told Al Jazeera. 

For Yousuf, the act of charity is about more than raising money. It also shines a light on the conflict.

“The goal of my fundraising efforts is to raise money and increase awareness, so I know that I must target both Sudanese and non-Sudanese people to achieve this,” he said.

Online campaigns have allowed the diaspora and non-Sudanese supporters to get involved.

The digital world allows the diaspora “to tell the world about Sudan,” said UOKANA’s Ali, “to take it beyond the fundraising and tell people about Sudan and change the image of Sudan that’s been inherited from the former regime.”

To rebuild Sudan into a civilian-led democracy, the diaspora is key to the current transition period, activists and analysts said.

‘We’ve still got a long way to go’

For more than 40 years, Sudanese people have been migrating.

There is no concrete data on the Sudanese diaspora, but Sudan’s government estimates that about five million live abroad – from the Middle East to North America.

Years of civil war, inadequate education and decades of economic instability are among the reasons people leave.

After the fall of al-Bashir, some have returned, including from self-imposed exile. 

“The Sudanese diaspora are … realising they have a role to play. The diaspora is key in helping stabilise a better Sudan,” said Ali. “People have gone as far as vowing to give up their month’s salary – or a regular amount monthly – it’s been inspiring to see.”

During the protests, the diaspora called on local politicians for support. 

“In the US, for instance, Sudanese protested in front of the White House and the Capitol building. They reached out to their Congress representatives, and created solidarity groups with doctors in Sudan to exchange medical knowledge and technologies,” said Amal Hassan Fadlalla, an associate professor at the University of Michigan.

“These efforts will continue and multiply in the transition to democratic reforms.”

Back in Khartoum, as Alfadlaby learned to use his prosthetic hand, he reflected on the sacrifices demonstrators have made.

If he could send a message to the people of Sudan, it would be: “Don’t allow the martyrs’ blood be in vain.

“We’ve still got a long way to go.”

Sudan diaspora

Source: Aljazeera

China's e-sports: Health concerns for young gamers

Born from video games, e-sports is now a booming industry in many parts of the world, especially in China.

Thousands of young players are competing for millions of dollars in prize money.

But some are finding out that there is also a downside to the pressure to stay on top.

Source: Aljazeera

Turkey femicide: Anger over a mother's murder

The killing of a woman by her ex-husband in front of her child has caused outrage in Turkey.

Emine Bulut was stabbed to death in a cafe last Sunday in the central Turkish city of Kirikkale.

According to the women’s rights group, We Will Stop Femicide, more than 200 women have been killed in Turkey this year.

The issue of gender equality is growing on social media.

Source: Aljazeera

'Genocide Day': Thousands of Rohingya rally in Bangladesh camps

Rohingya refugees gather to mark the second anniversary of the exodus at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh [Rafiqur Rahman/Reuters]

Thousands of Rohingya refugees have marked the second anniversary of their exodus into Bangladesh by rallying and praying as they demand Myanmar grant them citizenship and other rights before they agree to return.

Almost 200,000 Rohingya participated in a peaceful gathering, which was attended by UN officials, at the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh‘s Cox’s Bazar on Sunday, police officer Zakir Hassan told AFP news agency.

Children, hijab-wearing women, and men wearing long lungis shouted: “God is great, long live Rohingya” as they marched in the heart of the world’s largest refugee camp to commemorate what they described as “Genocide Day”.

Some carried placards and banners, reading “Never again! Rohingya genocide remembrance day” and “Restore our citizenship”.

On August 25, 2017, nearly 740,000 Muslim-majority Rohingya fled Rakhine State for Bangladesh – joining 200,000 already there – after Myanmar’s armed forces launched a brutal crackdown following attacks on security posts.

Sunday’s rally came days after a second failed attempt to repatriate the refugees, which saw not a single Rohingya turn up to return across the border. 

“We want to tell the world that we want our rights back, we want citizenship, we want our homes and land back,” Mohib Ullah, one of the organisers of Sunday’s protest, told the Associated Press news agency. “Myanmar is our country. We are Rohingya.”

“I have come here to seek justice for the murder of my two sons. I will continue to seek justice till my last breath,” 50-year-old Tayaba Khatun told AFP as tears rolled down her cheeks.

‘Long-term problem’

On Saturday, Bangladesh police said they shot dead two refugees during a gunfight in a camp after the pair were accused of killing a ruling party official.

Nearly a million Rohingya live in squalid camps in southeast Bangladesh.

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from the Kutupalong refugee camp, said: “The scale of this camp is like nothing you have ever seen. It has roughly the same population as Islamabad or Oslo.”

“A city of refugees, but without the infrastructure needed to cope,” she added. 

The Rohingya, a mainly Muslim minority, are not recognised as an ethnic group in Myanmar, despite having lived there for generations. They have been denied citizenship and are rendered stateless.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal in November 2017, with a plan to return the refugees within two years.

Bangladesh, with the help of the UN refugee agency, attempted to start the repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya on Thursday for a second time after the last attempt in November, but none agreed to go back voluntarily. 

“They asked if we wanted to go back to Myanmar, I said no. They asked me why. I told them that our homes were burned, our family members were raped and killed. This is why we suffered to come here. How can we go back without knowing that we will be safe?” Noor Hossain told Al Jazeera.

Rohingya leader Mohib Ullah said the stateless minority wanted to return home, but only after they were granted citizenship, their security was ensured and they were allowed to settle back in their villages.

“We have asked the Burmese government for dialogue. But we haven’t got any response from them yet,” Ullah told the rally.

Al Jazeera’s Dekker said many were too “terrified and traumatised” to go back.

“There are reports that most of the homes of these people have been razed to the ground by the authorities, that other structures have been put up in their place, so where will they be going back to?” she said.

“These are the issues that haven’t been addressed and I think many people tell you realistically that this is going to be a long-term problem for Bangladesh and potentially the region.”

‘Genocidal intent’

A UN-established investigation last year recommended the prosecution of Myanmar’s top military commanders on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the crackdown on the Rohingya.

Myanmar dismissed the allegations.

On Thursday, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released a new report concluding that rapes of Rohingya women by Myanmar’s security forces were systemic and demonstrated an intent to commit genocide.

The report said the discrimination Myanmar practised against the Rohingya in peacetime aggravated the sexual violence towards them during times of conflict.

The UN has called the Rohingya crisis a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

“The Rohingya genocide is the last step in the continuity of persecution and a deliberate campaign of terror, violence, killings and rape waged against our people that began decades ago,” the UK-based Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) said in a statement on Sunday.

Source: Aljazeera

Kenya census to count intersex people

Kenyans have been ordered to stay at home on Saturday and Sunday, as the government carries out a census.

It is the first in Africa to recognise intersex people, those born with physical charateristics that do not fit the typical definitions of male or female.

Source: Aljazeera