As pro-democracy protests in Sudan are met with violence, allies and activists around the world are trying to raise awareness and donations for critical resources. In an effort to show their solidarity, people are turning their profile pictures blue for Sudan across different social media platforms, in a tribute to a Sudanese engineer who was killed by military forces last week.
Since the ousting of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir back in April, protesters have been advocating for civilian rule in Sudan, rather than another military-ruled government. But on June 3, soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) — paramilitary forces operated by the Sudanese government — raided a pro-democracy protest camp in Khartoum, the country's capital. Medical officials reported that more than 100 people were killed during the raid, including 26-year-old Mohamed Mattar.
Mattar was an engineer who was reportedly shot by RSF soldiers while trying to protect two women, per Al Jazeera. According to CNN, Mattar's favorite color was blue, and he used this color on all of his social media profiles. Following his death, his friends and families turned their own profiles blue as a tribute to him, and not long afterward, people around the world were going #BlueForSudan.
In the days since the June 3 raid, social media users around the world have used the color blue to show solidarity with Mattar and all of the other pro-democracy demonstrators in Sudan. They have also launched donation campaigns and petitions to challenge the RSF's reported human rights violations, and to raise money for resources like food, water, and emergency medical attention.
After Bashir was ousted in a coup back in April, Sudan's military leaders have heavily restricted internet access, according to Human Rights Watch. And since the June 3 raid, the country has become almost completely cut off from the internet, making it more difficult for protesters in Sudan to contact people outside the country. But as social media campaigns like #BlueForSudan and #IAmTheSudanRevolution began to gain momentum, more and more people began to pay attention to what was taking place in Sudan, despite the country's internet and social media blackout.
Many celebrities have also used social media to draw attention to recent events in Sudan, including Rihanna, SZA, Naomi Campbell, and Cardi B. Celebrities that haven't spoken up, meanwhile, have faced criticism for failing to use their platforms to help, BuzzFeed News reported.
Doctors have said that more than 70 people were raped during the Khartoum raid last week, and that 40 bodies had been pulled out of the Nile, per Reuters. But according to The Guardian, protesters in Sudan have not given up despite being met with increasing violence by military forces.
On Friday, protesters resumed massive demonstrations in Khartoum for the first time following the June 3 raid, The Guardian reported, and several Sudanese military officers have reportedly been arrested for their actions at the pro-democracy camp. Sudan's military leaders have also reportedly admitted that their soldiers had committed abuses during the attack on the Khartoum camp, and opposition leaders are working to convince military officials to transition to civilian rule.