Coups and Internet Shutdowns Won’t Silence the Sudanese Civil Society

November 10, 2021

On Monday, October 25, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced the dissolution of the transitional government and placed Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok and other members of the cabinet under arrest. The coup was also accompanied by a nation-wide Internet and cellular shutdown that, as of November 8, still remained in place, effectively placing the country under a digital blockade. The move, widely condemned by the international community, has brought tens of thousands of Sudanese protesters to the streets denouncing the coup and expressing support for the civilian government. 

This is not the first time Sudan has experienced a digital blackout. Back in 2018, during the revolution against the then-president Omar al-Bashir, Internet access was cut for 68 days. In 2019, following the outset of al-Bashir, the Internet was once again cut for 36 days, amidst tensions between the military and the civilian opposition groups over the formation of the new government. 

For the Sudanese activists, the latest Internet blackout has created additional challenges for organizing civil disobedience campaigns against the military. Nevertheless, the people have found creative ways to bypass the digital blockade, such as smuggling overseas SIMs cards, and creating an informal network of information couriers. 

The Internet has played an important role in Sudan’s 2018/2019 revolution that ousted its long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir. Now, as Sudan struggles to hold on to what was achieved during the revolution, it is crucial for the international community to exert pressure and ensure that the Internet remains on in Sudan.

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