On Wednesday afternoon, UC Berkeley students and faculty gathered in front of the Li Ka Shing Center to raise awareness about the political and humanitarian situation in Sudan.
The protesters marched from Li Ka Shing to Sproul Hall, chanting rallying cries in solidarity with the Sudanese people in their fight for democracy and peace following the violence which erupted after the military coup d’état that took place Monday. About 50 people joined the march at its peak.
“The people don’t want this dictatorship anymore, they want democracy,” Khansaa Maar, a campus doctoral candidate from Sudan who organized the protest, said during the event. “I want to help us raise our voices for the people of Sudan, for democracy.”
Currently, the Sudanese people are urging the military to stop killings and resume the civilian government, according to organizer and campus doctoral candidate Valeria King.
“We’ve been living in a very bad situation for the past 30 years because of Omar al-Bashir (a Sudanese former military officer), who abused the people, tortured them. The military right now in Sudan is the continuation of 30 years of abuse,” Adil Abbas, a member of the Sudanese Society in the Bay Area, said during the event. “We want this to stop. We want the whole world to support us to change the situation for the Sudanese people.”
Maar added she is very worried about the Sudanese people and cannot contact any of her family members in Sudan. She also said the military government blocks the internet in Sudan so people cannot make their voices heard.
Protestors passed around a pamphlet explaining the current crisis. Ten people have been killed and 150 injured in Sudan as of press time, according to the pamphlet.
Maar said she hopes the protest will help pressure the United States government to utilize its power and help save lives.
“It’s important for us as people in society to talk about social issues and injustices in the world, especially as American citizens with a lot of privileges,” Michael Ly, a doctoral candidate who attended the protest, said during the event.
The organizers also launched a petition to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein urging her to condemn the military’s actions and stand with Sudanese people.
As of Wednesday, more than 170 campus students and faculty members have signed the petition.
“It warms my heart seeing so many students and faculty members come and support me and my people,” Maar said. “It gives me hope that we can make changes.”
Maar urges members of the UC system to sign the petition, send individual letters to senators and attend the protest for Sudan in San Francisco on Saturday at noon.
Maar said she hopes to connect Sudanese students on campus and help students feel safe to speak out for their people at school.
“I am so thankful that this is happening because there are so many Sudanese people who don’t have anyone around to support them or to show them support,” Maar said.
Contact Winnie Lau and Dima Aboukasm at [email protected].