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Halifax’s Sudanese community hosts vigil to raise awareness of Sudan’s deadly unrest

The organizers are encouraging people to wear blue and white in solidarity.
The organizers are encouraging people to wear blue and white in solidarity. Facebook

The Sudanese community in Halifax are inviting people to join them on Saturday for a vigil and rally at the Grande Parade, created in solidarity with the Sudanese people.

“On June 3rd, the military unleashed a massacre that will never be forgotten,” said the local Sudanese community in statement shared on Facebook.

Sudan: Why have civilians been killed and what are protesters asking for?
Sudan: Why have civilians been killed and what are protesters asking for?

WATCH ABOVE: Why have civilians been killed in Sudan and what are protesters asking for?

At least 128 people have died in the country since June 3, when the military violently dispersed a sit-in camp in Khartoum.

Sudan’s unrest dates back to December when protests broke out across the country over cash shortages and high bread prices brought on by the government’s elimination of subsidies.

Trying to reach out to family

“Right now we’re just raising awareness and just giving people the information coming directly from Sudanese people that know what’s happening on ground. Because oftentimes, when people read news articles, they’re missing so much detail and so much of the personal stories and how people are affected,” said Rafeeda Khashmel, the vigil’s main organizer.

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Khashmel is a first-generation Sudanese-Canadian who recently graduated from Dalhousie University with a bachelor degree in medical science. She’s one of the nearly 500 Sudanese who live in the city.

She said her aunts, uncles and cousins are all in Sudan and hasn’t heard from them for the last two weeks.

READ MORE: Canadian firm inks $6M deal to push ‘political aims’ of Sudan’s military regime

“As of recently, calls haven’t been very effective. There are times where we wouldn’t get replies, so we’ve been basically getting information about them through other people that have gotten in touch with them in other countries, so it’s a very indirect network trying to figure out how people are and if they’re safe,” Khashmel said.

She said the aim of the current regime is to “cut off communication and isolate Sudan from the rest of the world.”

“It’s unsettling for people here in the diaspora,” she added.

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‘Sudanese people are becoming campaigners’

The vigil is Khashmel’s first ever organized event.

“All this is new to me,” she said. “Sudanese people are becoming campaigners, and wherever they are in the world they’re just raising awareness and hoping that that will have a ripple effect.”

So far, 70 people have said they’re going on the Facebook event page.

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“I’m just hoping for a decent crowd,” said Khashmel.

Spreading the news

The vigil will begin with speakers from the Sudanese community delivering speeches about the political unrest.

Lina Hamid is one of the speakers, a 29-year-old first generation Sudanese-Canadian, who will be talking about the role of the internet before the shutdown.

“The internet was pretty much the central role in terms of the growth of the revolution, maintaining it in terms of spreading news to people organizing the protests,” said Hamid, “while it was also used to spread news to not just one another within the country, but to people abroad primarily to the diaspora.”

READ MORE: Sudanese paramilitary accused of sexual assaults, firing on medical clinic during deadly raid

“[The diaspora] then took on the duty to spread the news to others non Sudanese people outside of Sudan,” she added.

Hamid, like Khashmel and other Sudanese people in Halifax, hasn’t heard from her family since May 31.

“It’s obviously tough having to go through your day to day. We still have to go to work, we still have to go to school. We still have to continue with our lives and doing that while our hearts are back home.”

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Lina Hamid, one of the vigil’s speakers.
Lina Hamid, one of the vigil’s speakers. Lina Hamid

Khashmel and others involved in the Sudanese community will be setting up a table at the rally to fundraise money for Sudanese protesters who “are struggling to access basic amenities and emergency healthcare in Sudan.”

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The table will have golden earrings with popular chant “tasgut bas” (“the regime will fall”) imprinted in Arabic, T-Shirts with the slogan “Freedom, Peace, Justice” and hats for sale.

Funds will be donated to Bakri Ali’s fundraiser on Facebook, which focuses on providing food and medicine. The nonprofit is connected to a wide network of grassroots organizations and volunteers inside Sudan.

The organizers are also encouraging people to wear blue and white in solidarity.

“Blue was the favourite colour of one of the martyrs and white has been favored by Sudanese protesters as a symbol of peace.”