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#BlueforSudan: social media users show solidarity for protester | World news

Category: Political Protests,Politics

People on social media are turning their profile avatars blue and posting blue-themed artwork in memory of 26-year-old Mohamed Mattar, who was killed during an attack by security forces in Sudan at the beginning of June.

The hashtag #blueforSudan has been trending internationally on Twitter as people seek to raise broader awareness of the situation in the country. The colour has been chosen because it was the Instagram avatar of Mattar, an engineering graduate.

nafisa (@nafisaeltahir)

One of those killed yesterday was my friend Mohamed Mattar, a truly stellar human being, the brightest light, and a friend to anyone who met him. pic.twitter.com/7nZ6ClAWgb

June 4, 2019

The internet movement started when Mattar’s friends turned their profile pictures the same colour as the avatar on his mattar77 account.

The mattar77 Instagram account which has inspired the #Blueforsudan hashtag
The mattar77 Instagram account which has inspired the #BlueforSudan hashtag Photograph: Instagram/mattar77

Shahd Khidir, a Sudanese beauty influencer and blogger based in New York who has tens of thousands of Instagram followers, posted about his death last week, helping to widen the reach of the campaign.

Khidir told The Cut magazine that she wanted protesters’ voices to be heard in the face of an internet blackout in Sudan.

The #blueforSudan hashtag first started appearing in English on Twitter on 11 June, and by the following day had become a rallying point for Sudanese activists on social media to remember Mattar and to make a broader point about the situation.

Saad The Lion سعد (@Saad_Alasad)

The color blue, one of our martyrs (Mattar) favorite color, started as a tribute to him, now turned to a symbol of all our martyrs, and their dreams of a better Sudan.#BlueForSudan#IAmSudaneseRevolution https://t.co/3LMxrtBOvi

June 12, 2019

Continued protests in the capital, Khartoum, have led to a violent crackdown by authorities in recent days. Doctors in Sudan have accused paramilitaries of carrying out more than 70 rapes during an attack on a protest camp in the capital last week. Social media users said Mattar was shot by forces while trying to protect two women during an attempt to disperse people from a protest camp.

Others who have encouraged the change include students at London Brunel International College, where Mattar had studied.

An Instagram post from a London Brunel student explaining the avatar colour change.
An Instagram post from a London Brunel student explaining the avatar colour change. Photograph: Instagram

1956 Independence Sudan – including the area that will later become South Sudan - attains independence after being under Anglo-Egyptian rule since 1899.

1962 First civil war In a pattern that will later re-establish itself, civil war breaks out in 1962  with a rebellion led by southern separatists, leading to limited autonomy being granted by Khartoum following a peace agreement signed in Addis Ababa in 1972.

1983 Second civil war War between Khartoum and the south breaks out again when ​President Jaafar Numeiri abolishes southern autonomy, leading to almost two decades of conflict.

2005 Peace and autonomy for the south The Comprehensive Peace Agreement is signed between ​John Garang​’s southern Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement and Khartoum which sees a new constitution and autonomy in the south whose administration is dominated by Garang’s former guerilla colleagues, foremost among them Salva Kiir.

2011 South Sudan formed After an uneasy period punctuated by outbreaks of violence, political leaders in the north and south agree to an independence referendum which sees the birth of the state of South Sudan

2013 War in the south ​Peace is short lived, however, with new conflict breaking out in 2013 when president Salva Kiir​ dismisses his cabinet and vice-president Riek Machar in a power struggle within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, leading to conflict with Uganda which supports Kiir’s government forces.

An attempted mediation for which Machar returns to Juba in 2016 breaks down amid more fighting, including accusations from the UN against Kiir of ethnic cleansing. Famine is declared a year later. Despite peace talks the conflict and atrocities continue, creating the continent’s largest refugee crisis.

Many of the people using the hashtag have been posting it alongside a series of blue artworks symbolising the protests in Sudan. One of the most popular images is of Alaa Salah, the singing protester whose image went viral this year.

Anjaly Raj (@raj_anjaly)

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."#BlueForSudan pic.twitter.com/bwGJ0oU0z8

June 13, 2019

Another artwork repeatedly posted with the hashtag has been an image of a weeping woman, bearing the legend: “Please your life did not end here. You will be a part of a new history of a new era.”

Mohamed Abdelstar (@M_Abdelstar_12)

500 killed, 723 injured, 650 arrested, 54 raped, 1000 missing #blueforsudan pic.twitter.com/yNoDzh4r2R

June 13, 2019

The hashtag has become a rallying point for Sudanese nationals outside the country, with users encouraged to share statistics of victims of the government’s crackdown alongside the images.

A second image of a weeping woman, this time wearing Sudan’s national colours as her hijab, is also being widely shared.

𝑳𝒊𝒍𝒚 𝑴𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒂 🇩🇿 (@lilya_papillon)

Stand with humanity, stand with Sudan 🙏😔 #BlueforSudan pic.twitter.com/1pBQxB1R6S

June 14, 2019

As well as grassroots activists, celebrities including Demi Lovato and Naomi Campbell have joined in the trend.

Protests have been ongoing in Sudan since December 2018. Omar al-Bashir was ousted as president in April after three decades in charge and subsequently charged with corruption, but protesters say they will keep up their campaign until the military hands over power.

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