Social media users are changing their profile pictures to blue to express solidarity with protesters in Sudan in the wake of a brutal crackdown that killed dozens of people in the capital, Khartoum. The blue wave has spread across various platforms via the #BlueForSudan hashtag, as Twitter and Instagram users attempt to honour the memory of one of the victims: Mohamed Mattar, whose favourite colour was reportedly blue.
The 26-year-old engineer was fatally shot during the June 3 crackdown blamed by protesters on Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group led by a senior member of Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council.Mattar was reportedly shot while trying to protect two women during the bloody dispersal of the protest camp outside the military headquarters."Once he was murdered, his friends and family changed their profile picture to match his, and eventually other people began to join in," said Shahd Khidir, a friend of Mattar's and a beauty influencer on Instagram who asked her followers to change their profile pictures to blue. "Now [the colour] represents all of the Sudanese people who have fallen in the uprising."
The army said it had scrapped all agreements with the opposition, and that elections would be held within nine months. But the protest movement insisted a transition period of at least three years was needed to ensure elections are free and fair. It all began with the unrest in Sudan, traced back to December 2018, when President Bashir’s government imposed emergency austerity measures in an attempt to stave off economic collapse. Cuts to bread and fuel subsidies sparked demonstrations in the east over living standards and the anger spread to Khartoum. The protests broadened into for the removal of Mr Bashir- who had been in charge for 30 years- and his government.
The economic problems brought Sudanese from all economic classes to the streets, but the organisation of demonstrations was taken on by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA)- a collaboration of doctors, health worker and lawyers. The protesters are mostly young, reflecting the country's demographics, but people of all ages have been seen in the crowds.Women are at the forefront of the demonstrations and a video of a woman who has been named Kandaka, meaning Nubian queen, leading the chants has gone viral.The sit-in, which began on April 6, was the culmination of months of protests against Sudan's longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir. He was removed in a coup on April 11, but protesters remained at the site of a sit-in outside army headquarters, calling for civilian rule, until the crackdown.
Since then, the country's military rulers have reduced internet access, leading to what rights groups have described as a near-total shutdown on June 10, leaving protesters more cut off from the outside world. The shutdown has presented a significant challenge to the Sudanese diaspora, which has played a key role in spreading information from the protest movement internationally.