May 08, 2019
A young man drinks juice to hydrate himself on the first night of Ramadan after iftar on May 6, 2019, at the sit-in in Khartoum, Sudan.
By Jason Patinkin | VOA News
KHARTOUM, SUDAN – The youth volunteers unrolled long green carpets on Monday before distributing loaves of bread and bowls of stew to the seated faithful. Nearby, dozens of others cheered and waved Sudanese flags.
It is Ramadan in Sudan, and at a sit-in in Khartoum, where thousands of people have camped out since April demanding an end to military rule, no one seems ready to go home — and few seem to have lost their energy for protest.
Instead, the protesters have organized an iftar to break their fast, with food for more than 2,000 people, according to volunteers.
Despite the heat during the day, student protester Khalid Sharif Ibrahim Abdallah says they will keep demonstrating until they see real change in government. Muslim faithful do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset.
”There’s thirst. There’s hunger. There’s tiredness,” he told VOA. “But you are aiming for a goal, and you must get to it. All these things, if they don’t make you weaker, they will only make you stronger.”
He said rather than slowing them down, Ramadan will give them motivation to keep going to reach their goals, which he described as “a civilian government, a democratic government, and a country for citizens with equal rights.”
The previous government, led by former President Omar al-Bashir and dominated by the military, ruled for 30 years and is accused of corruption, atrocities and curbing basic freedoms.
While youth have led the revolution, people of all ages joined the Ramadan celebration in a show of solidarity.
Abdalshafer Ahmed Ibrahim, in his 70s, holding a Quran and wearing a white jalibiya, sat on a carpet waiting for sundown.
“We want the freedom to change the situation,” he told VOA. “The pressure has become too much. We want freedom. That’s all.”
When at last the call to prayer echoed across the sit-in at dusk, the protesters quietly took their first sips of water and bites of food since dawn.
Volunteers also brought food and drink to share with the protesters. They welcomed anyone to eat from their plastic tubs of rice, and poured cold hibiscus juice into waiting cups.
One volunteer, named Khalda Kamil Abuker, and her friends are part of a group that works to support cancer patients.
“Every Ramadan, we feed the cancer patients in the hospital,” she said. “This year we thought we would start here as we wanted to share with our brothers and sisters in the sit-in.”
With darkness enveloping the sit-in site, Abuker explained that cancer treatment in Sudan is subpar, and said the previous government didn’t do enough to support health care.
“Cancer patients in Sudan suffer quite a lot, especially if they need surgery,” she said.
She said she hopes the new government will be more responsive.
“We hope the military council will fulfill the demands of the people and of the nation for the sake of stability and peace of mind,” she said. “The civilian government must be put together as soon as possible.”
She added: “We hope this sit-in can bring an honorable result, not just for Sudan but for the whole world. If the demands of the youth are met, Sudan is going to have civility, safety, and the country will be moving forward.”
When the last bits of food were eaten, the youth rolled up the green carpets.
Then, the music started again, and the youth began waving their flags once more.
The Sudanese at the sit-in continued celebrating Ramadan, and the revolution.