Why are social media profiles turning blue?

Image via Twitter user @lilya_papillon

A nation is currently in crisis but you may not know it or realise it yet. Social media accounts the world over have been steadily turning a specific shade of blue, and there is a good chance you have already seen a couple but not known the reason. The reason for this is currently unfolding in Sudan, as a brutal military crackdown has seen over a hundred protestors killed, and many others raped, according to the opposition. Now, if you did not know that before, don’t worry, that is the point of the blue for Sudan movement, and this article will take you through some of the context and show how you can help.

This particular crisis began back in December of 2018 when economic turmoil led to the government tripling of the price of bread. Struggling to get by as it was, protestors soon took to the streets to demand the resignation of Omar al-Bashir, the military dictator who had ruled the country for 27 years.

In April 2019, under massive pressure and after a sit-in outside military headquarters Mr al-Bashir finally fell after top military generals withdrew their support for his regime. However, this then led to a standoff between the military – who had by now seized power – and the protestors, keen to avoid swapping one autocratic, militarily-backed regime for another. Discussions between the two groups soon broke down and on the third of June the Sudanese military broke the deadlock with the sound of gunfire.

Image via Twitter user @OmerYousiff

Around 100 are reported to have died that day. Massacred in a bid by the military government to break up a peaceful sit-in outside the capital city of Khartoum, and that brings us to the blue profiles. Amongst those killed was a man called Mohammed Hashim Mattar (pictured above), whose profile picture at the time was blue. Mattar has become a martyr for the protestors and his favourite colour has taken over countless social media profiles in a bid to focus the attention of the whole world to the atrocities happening in Sudan at the moment, and it seems to be working.

The future in uncertain in Sudan. Despite widespread condemnation, including from the UK government, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) is still refusing to hand over power to the protestors. Some commentators are even warning that another civil war in the country could be imminent. However, the more attention this gathers the world over, the more difficult it will be for any given nation to sweep this under the rug or ignore.

To be sure, the Transitional Military Council has already proven that it is willing to let militias loose on the street, free to kill and rape innocent protestors, and there have even been reports of 40 bodies being retrieved from the river Nile. As I’m sure you are beginning to appreciate by now, the current situation is dire for civilians living there.

On a large scale there are already measures being taken to counteract this and stand up for the protestors. As already mentioned, the UK and countless other international bodies have already formally condemned the action of the TMC. Added to this, the African Union has suspended Sudan and is also currently threatening sanctions on its military leaders.

However, on a small scale there are also actions that every one of us can take to help alleviate the crisis for the people of Sudan. A donation to Unicef would help vulnerable children in Sudan; a donation to Save the Children would have a similar effect; there is also a fundraiser on Facebook called Food & Medicine for Sudan, which has already raised over £300,000 for the cause; or you could sign the Change.org petition, urging the UN to investigate the massacre on the 3rd of June.

Finally, of course, you could turn your social media profile picture blue in honour of Mohammed Hashim Mattar, or even just use the hashtag #BlueforSudan to raise global awareness about the crisis.

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Matthew Hemmins

Second year History/Economics student with a passion for politics and plenty of opinions on a variety of topics!