Sudanese Asylum Seekers in Israel Protest in Solidarity With Bashir's Opponents

‘If the demands of the protesters in Sudan are met, I’ll go back to my country right away,’ says one asylum seeker who currently lives in Israel

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
Sudanese asylum seekers demonstrate in support of the fall of President Omar al-Bashir's 30 year regime, April 13, 2019.
Sudanese asylum seekers demonstrate in support of the fall of President Omar al-Bashir's 30 year regime, April 13, 2019. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Some 300 asylum seekers from Sudan demonstrated Saturday in south Tel Aviv in solidarity with opponents of the regime in Khartoum after the Sudanese president was toppled last week after a 30-year reign.

Gathered in Tel Aviv's Levinsky Park, the demonstrators issued calls against the ruling party, the NCP, waved Sudanese flags and shouted the revolution’s slogan, called for by crowds in the capital, Khartoum: “Just fall, that is all.” The demonstrators in Tel Aviv called out the names of Sudan’s leaders rhythmically and after each name added the words “thief,” “crazy” and other epithets.

>> Read more: In the mayhem after Bashir’s ouster, Sudan may find an unlikely ally in Iran | Analysis

President Omar al-Bashir was deposedon Thursday by the Sudanese army. The Sudanese defense minister said that Bashir had been “moved to a safe location” and the government was now in the hands of a military council. Eye witnesses said that the Sudanese army had stationed soldiers on main roads and bridges in Khartoum and that people in the city were shouting “He’s fallen, we won.”

On Saturday night the Sudanese army announced that Defense Minister Awad Muhammad Ibn Auf was stepping down as temporary head of state until elections and would be replaced by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan.

Protesters shared the demonstration in Tel Aviv on social media via their cellphones. Sana, a 19-year-old asylum seeker who was born in Sudan, said that the live broadcast was intended as a message of support to protesters at home. “We are here to raise awareness of the revolution. We are sharing everything on Instagram and Facebook, so they know we’re with them,” she said.

The demonstrators in Tel Aviv called out the names of Sudan’s leaders rhythmically and after each name added the words “thief,” “crazy” and other epithets.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Johnny, one of the leaders of the Eritrean community in Israel, also posted live on Facebook from the center of the demonstration. “Congratulations Sudan, soon it will be our turn,” he said.

Anwar, who came to Israel in 2007 from Darfur, said he was very excited and that he had been waiting for this moment for 30 years. “We want real change. We don’t want anyone from the previous party, he said, referring to the ousting of the defense minister. “The army must listen to the voice of the people. The people are demanding that everyone who committed a crime go to jail, that they dismantle all symbols of the regime. We don’t want it to take a long time, but for it to happen quickly.” Anwar’s brother is among the protesters in Khartoum.

Jack, one of the Tel Aviv protesters said: “This is the first demonstration in Tel Aviv, and the struggle in Sudan is for the Sudanese all over the world. We are part of it.”

Along with Sudanese national and regional flags, there were also Israeli flags visible at the demonstration in Tel Aviv. ““We know that the protesters have presented a list of demands and only when they are met will they go home, and then we can go home,” said Salah, who came to Israel in 2012 from Darfur. “If they come out today and tell us everything is alright, I’ll go back to my country right away,” continued Salah. “I want to go back to Sudan, to study and help my country develop. I don’t want to be here. We’re here just working, not moving ahead or developing.”

Two hours into the demonstration, the protesters came together to hear speeches by their community leaders. Conda, one of the local leaders, told Haaretz: “Right now I can’t say we’re celebrating, because we have only ousted two of the leaders of the regime and for us that’s nothing new. From our point of view all the criminals are free and we want justice. We want the next government to be civilian and not military. We want democracy and to see real change,” he said.

Zilo, who came to Israel in 2008 from Darfur, said with regard to the rapid change in leadership after Bashir was toppled: “I feel like they’re cleaning them one by one, in the end we’ll establish the best government possible. We want everyone who worked in Bashir’s party not to be in the government. After that we’ll sit with all the Sudanese and establish a government.”

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