Transcript, Web links and Credits below.
I can hardly believe it, but this is the 50th episode of The Breakdown! We toyed around with having a special guest, or changing up the format, but the truth is that what I am about to unpack and explain for you is the most important thing going on in the world right now. But you wouldn’t know that from the news.
A revolution is fully underway in Sudan. And to squash it, the military and their contracted vigilantes are slaughtering non-violent protestors by the hundreds. These protestors need our support.
Today I’ll explain the revolution, the politics, where it stands today, and give us a few action steps. We’re not just here to change the news, we’re here to change the world.
Let’s dig in.
This is Shaun King and you are listening to (The Breakdown)!
I’m sorry to be obtuse today, but I have to zoom out a little bit to make my point.
We are human beings. We live on a planet that we call Earth. On this planet live a staggering 7.53 BILLION people. The world population has literally doubled since 1970. And while it may not always feel like it, what happens in one place in the world has a ripple effect all over the world.
Dr. King said it like this, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And it’s true. We often think that something horrible happening to somebody else, from another group, from another culture, from another religion, from another nation, has nothing at all to do with us, but I assure you —as a student of history, as someone who studies world trends—what happens in one nation reverberates all over the world.
We see that happening right now with Donald Trump. He openly embraces dictators. He praises them. He welcomes them. Then when they slaughter journalists and activists and marginalized people, and it has no impact on their relationship with him, the world sees that such behaviors will go unchecked. We see it with the global rise of white supremacy, of hate groups, of hate crimes. We see a mass murder at a mosque in New Zealand and learn that the man admired Donald Trump.
When one nation slaughters and murders their protestors, guess what others do, knowing that nobody is going to call them out? They follow suit.
Over the past year, we’ve seen snipers in Israel mow down hundreds of unarmed protestors. Just yesterday, another medic died after he was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper. We’ve seen women and children killed by long-range snipers. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. And when these atrocities happened, the most powerful nations in the world said and did nothing. In fact, they only doubled down on their support of Israel. And guess what – that then erodes the moral ground for other nations to say – hey, you can’t shoot and kill unarmed, non-violent protestors.
And that’s exactly what we’ve seen happen this past week in Sudan. Because the world was silent when atrocities happened in one place, other nations hardly have any ground to stand on when they now see atrocities unfold right before our eyes in Sudan. Give me just a few minutes to break it down for you.
(Break it down music)
Sudan is huge. Geographically, it’s the 3rd largest nation in Africa. It’s about 5 times bigger than California geographically, but it has about the same number of people living there—around 40 million. And Sudan is old. It has been continuously populated and has had government representation for at least 5,000 years. It’s one of the oldest nations in the world. Some of the history of Sudan is beautiful, and rich, and complicated. I’m talking about ancient Kush, and Nubia, and Kerma. Early-on, and I don’t mean during colonialism, but nearly 2,000 years ago we see Coptic Christianity evolve out of Sudan. We eventually see Islam come through Sudan,and for the past 2,000 years, the history of Sudan was complex. We saw highs and lows, major shifts and changes, but in the 5,000-plus year history of Sudan, I think the single worst period in Sudanese history began in June 1989 when military Colonel Omar al-Bashir took over the government in a military coup. He appointed himself president, suspended all other political parties, banned all independent newspapers, and began executing every leader, activist, and voice of opposition. It went downhill from there. For 30 straight years, Omar al-Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist.
But for most of us, our introduction to Sudan came in the early 2000s as we started learning about massive war crimes and human rights abuses taking place in the western region of the nation which we know as Darfur. In February of 2003, the government, led by Omar al-Bashir, the government began one of the worst periods of ethnic cleansing in modern history. Armed forces murdered over 300,000 people and forced nearly 3 million Sudanese citizens into homelessness as refugees. And because of that, The International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is in the Netherlands, indicted Omar al-Bashir for war crimes. The first warrant for his arrest was issued on March 4th, 2009 and then another was issued on July 12th, 2010.
But the world at large ignored the indictments, and an open war criminal continued to rule Sudan after slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people.
And any time a revolution would creep up to overthrow al-Bashir, he’d squash it, and have the leaders arrested or murdered.
Until this year, when young people – particularly young women — rose up all over the country to demand a fair economy, to demand fair housing and education, and eventually to demand that Omar al-Bashir step down. The protests began in December of 2018, but this year they grew and grew and grew until hundreds of thousands of people joined in and brought the entire nation to its knees. Then on April 11th, 2019, the Sudanese military bowed to the will of the people and removed President Omar al-Bashir from office.
And it was a powerful moment, but I’ve seen that moment happen all over the world many times throughout history – and for every 100 times this moment happens, what happens next goes wrong 99 times. The people rise up, they overthrow the government, and they were right to do so, but 99 times out of 100, the military then takes over and refuses to allow free and fair elections, refuses to allow Democracy, refuses to allow civilian rule, and when the people rise up again, the military begins doing the same things that the previous dictator did to oppress the people.
That’s exactly what’s happening right now in Sudan. And tens of thousands of businesses shut down in protest. It was a beautiful thing. And hundreds of thousands of people stood with them. Banks shut down. Restaurants and businesses shut down. And it was one of the most beautiful acts of civil disobedience that I’ve seen in years. It was masterful. And it brought the entire nation to its knees.
But the military responded. We have to understand that these military leaders were the very military leaders who did the bidding of Omar al-Bashir when he was indicted for war crimes, and many of them are war criminals themselves. So on June 3rd of this year, in the city of Khartoum, a massacre took place against the protestors.
At least 118 peaceful protestors were murdered, shot, and bludgeoned. At least 100 different women were raped. Businesses were burned down and ransacked. And the military proved they were no different.
I want to play for you a recent news clip from CNN International on what happened so that you can get some sound and color to what took place. It’s a good report, and they are hard to come by.
We are told that yesterday the protestors called off the strikes to continue negotiating with the military and they are calling for at least 3 things:
- An immediate democratic government led by civilians and not the military. From top to bottom.
- An open international investigation into the new war crimes committed against protestors this year.
- An immediate return of Internet and cell service. The government has repeatedly cut both services to prevent the protestors from communicating with one another.
I support all three of these demands. And today we’ll end our 50th episode with action steps showing our solidarity with the Sudanese people.
(ACTION STEPS music)
Today I have several action steps for you. Some are homework, because I want you to stay informed, but we also need to begin showing the world how much we care about the freedom of Sudanese people.
- The first is simple. I need you to make an emotional and intellectual commitment to care about this issue. That’s where it all begins. And listen, I understand that we have a limited reservoir for how much we can follow, but this needs to be on your list and in your heart, okay?
- Seek out good information. Google search the latest news stories. If you follow @TheBreakdown on Twitter – we are going to share lists of who you should follow and who you can trust. So follow @TheBreakdown on Twitter, okay?
- Lastly, it sounds simple, but trust me, it matters – we want you to post about Sudan, and the uprising, and the human rights abuses, and war crimes. We want you to post about this all over social media today and tomorrow and whenever you hear this podcast. And when you do, use the hashtag #TheBreakdown and we will be sure to share your posts to amplify them. The world needs to know we are watching. And right now awareness means everything. War criminals thrive in darkness and silence and we need to shed a light on what’s going on.
Thank you all for making it all the way through this episode of The Breakdown!
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Take care everybody.
Produced by Willis Polk II
Additional Instrumentation by Christian “Idrys” Shannon & Lance “Lance Fury” Powlis
Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library
Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush & Jason Coffey
Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg