Sudanese communist leader calls for deeper solidarity from movements in Canada

By Jeremy Abbott  

Speaking to several dozen people at an event in Edmonton in late March, Sudanese Communist Party spokesperson Fathi El Fadhl said that the people’s struggles around the world are interconnected and called on the labour and progressive movements in Canada to deepen their solidarity with the Sudanese people.

Speaking on the role of international solidarity, Fathi reflected on the connections between several struggles – the fight for independence in Sudan since the first uprising in 1964 that overthrew its first dictatorship, the Palestinian people’s struggle in the face of invasion and genocide in the West Bank and in Gaza, and the struggles of working people in this country. He called for increased activity within the student, labour and women’s movements in Canada, in response to the crisis that has unfolded in Sudan since 2020.

Fathi gave a historical context to the crisis unfolding today. “In 1964 there was a popular people’s uprising in Khartoum. Since 1956, democracy was recognized for 20 years, and for another 67 years Sudan was under a dictatorial regime. Our people fought three dictatorships and overthrew them in1964 and 1985, and they are now trying to overthrow a third.”

During the Sudanese revolution in 2018, parts of revolutionary forces were able to remove Omar Al-Bashir as head of state and establish a transitional government whose aim was to curb the military’s control of the country and transition toward democracy. But some forces which were aligned with Al-Bashir’s regime consolidated power, and the revolution faced a deviation. This setback eventually resulted in the October 2021 coup which installed General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as head of state. Al-Burhan’s objectives quickly turned toward completely liquidating any civil government in the country. The Rapid Support Forces militia (RSF) and government forces, particularly the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), formed an alliance on this basis.

The people of Sudan took to the streets of the capital to defeat the coup. This mobilization paralyzed the organizers who tried to impose dictatorial regime. Abdalla Hamdok, the serving prime minister who was ousted and briefly returned to office after the coup took place, could not form any civil government and stepped down.

Due to the stalemate, other political forces including Sudanese national interests and foreign capital agreed to join in order to leverage power and influence in the region. Fathi explained that “the main aim of the current war is to supress the revolution and reinstate a regime that would protect the interests of international and regional forces. The foreign intervention in Sudan is influenced by the importance of the geopolitical position of the country.”

The question for these foreign interests and reactionary domestic elements became how to find a partnership with the SAF and the RSF, which could protect their interests.

Since the most recent developments of the war in April 2023, rampant sexual violence and disruption of medical services have become commonplace. Seventy percent of hospitals in Sudan have been destroyed, and agricultural production has been decimated due to the war and particularly the occupation of the main agricultural state of Al Jazirah. The United Nations has declared that 25 million Sudanese people are at risk of starvation.

Western countries including Canada have been largely silent on this issue, primarily due to the interests of transnational mining companies which would profit from the reinstatement of a regime and reactionary forces that would serve the interests of foreign capital. The country is rich in gold and uranium, and it shares a border with seven other African states: this war is about the control of Sudan’s resources and power.

Muslim Brotherhood and allied forces in Iran, Turkey and Egypt prop up the Sudanese Armed Forces, while the Rapid Support Forces receives support from United Arab Emirates and Russia, the latter through the intervention of the mercenary Wagner Group.

Without military support abroad, the warring factions would have negotiated peace. The war’s continuation shows the Sudanese revolution was not welcomed by the country’s neighbours. For decades, many regimes in Africa and the throughout the Middle East have been reluctant to support the Sudanese people – these forces are currently planning to consolidate their authority within the broader region to secure markets and influence.

Resistance committees, civil societies and the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) have united in demanding a ceasefire and humanitarian corridors in municipalities including areas in Khartoum which have been hit hardest by the war.

For the Sudanese people, the fifth anniversary of the April 6, 2019 mass action that overthrew Al-Bashir’s regime coincided with the grim realities of an ongoing war that was nearing its one-year mark on April 15. It was an anniversary that highlights the need for an end to the destabilization of the region, caused and maintained by foreign interests.

The task at hand for the people’s movements in Sudan, and for international solidarity, is to defeat attempts to divide the country and prevent the de-stabilization of the broader Sahel region. The broad people’s front, based on popular resistance formations in Sudan, has already reached an advanced stage through the work of the resistance committees. The basis of a campaign has already been built, but it needs international pressure to curb the influence of foreign capital that is fueling this war.

In this context, the Sudanese Communist Party is calling for full democratic rule by a civilian government, accountability for perpetrators of crimes against humanity on both sides of the conflict, and the immediate release of journalist Haitham Dafallah.

The SCP is also asking for international solidarity from the labour, student, peace, women’s and human rights movements. Specifically, Fathi called on organizations in Canada to:

  • Pressure the Canadian government to stop foreign arms deals to the factions participating in this war, and for Canada to pressure other countries to immediately cease funding which go towards arms procurement.
  • Build and maintain relations with Sudanese progressive student organizations and Sudanese women’s unions.
  • Carry out solidarity actions to Sudanese trade unions, especially doctors and teachers, as well as democratic rights organizations.
  • Encourage human rights organizations to become more involved and give more attention to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.
  • Address Canadian authorities and relief organizations to provide aid through civilian agencies, especially for refugees in Chad and southern Sudan.
  • Organize a solidarity campaign to mobilize against the war, which has now reached an advanced stage.

The event which was jointly organized by the Young Communist League, Communist Party of Canada and the Edmonton Peace Council, also included remarks from Young Communist League leader Ivan Byard. He highlighted the need for solidarity within the student movement to be extended to the people’s movements in Sudan, with a focus on targeting Canadian mining companies and banks from profiting off of the war.

[Photo: UNHCR]

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