T: We already know you from the Oranienplatz resistance but can you introduce yourself a bit?
A: Adam Bahar. I am coming from Sudan. I’m born in Sudan but I’m in Germany since 2012. Politically active in Sudan since 2002. I was in university fighting for the right of the people of Sudan and against the dictatorship. Also especially because I am coming and I was born in Darfur, where there is war since 2003.
That’s why my main motivation was to start something against the government. Also when I was in this time in university and I was part of a group of Sudanese students organizing themselves. We were organizing ourselves for democracy and people of Darfur.
Result out of that is that we got in trouble with the government and I had to leave Sudan. I came to Europe in 2008 and I was in different countries of Europe. I lived in Greece, Italy, France for 2 years and in 2012 I came to Germany.
T: Our first question is what is the actual situation in Sudan? There was an agreement between Forces of Freedom and Change and the military. And some organizations like Sudan Communist Party told we are getting out from this agreement. Were there other groups inside Forces of Freedom and Change that got out from the agreement?
A: Actual situation in Sudan right now: last week (17th of July, 2019), they signed on the Sudanese constitution transition process. They signed the first letter and it will be completed on 17th of August 2019.
In the first form of the new cabinet there will be 6 people from the opposition parties and 5 people from the military. They will form the cabinet together and power will be hold first 18 months by military and other 18 months by civilian government. New government is supposed to initiate after the 3 years of transition.
But it is just the first part of the whole constitution in Sudan. Second part, there will be a president, there will be a parliament and 67 percent of the parliament will be from the opposition parties which the people are inside and leading the revolution. 33 percent of the parliament will be from the people who were not really taking participation in the revolution but they were also against government and they never worked with the old government of Omar al-Bashir. And the third part of the constitution all the people like youth and women will be the part of parliament.
Sudan in the future will have a parliamentarian government and ministries will have the real power. It will not be like before with only the president having the power. Like how we are having in Germany for example. There is president but president doesn’t have so much power. In Germany there is chancellor – in Sudan we will have prime minister. Also there will be opposition parties.
The problem between the Sudanese Communist Party and the other parties is they don’t want to be a part of the government of the transition period. 5 people from army and 6 people from civilians. Because these 5 people from the army that will take part in, are accused to committing crimes against the people who were protesting in the streets. So Communist Party will not participate in this. But the communist party will be part of the future parliament, because there won’t be any army in the parliament. At the same time they will continue to take part in local politics. They will not just participate in the first level of government where the army that are being accused.
Sudan has been all the time, since 1965, the time when it gained independence from Great Britain, governed by the army. It means army is governing Sudan more than 60 years now. And to take them out completely needs some time.
T: The revolutionaries around the world are curious about how this revolution was being organized? In the neighborhoods – what were the people talking and discussing?
A: The revolution started in December 2018 and it started not because changing of the political situation but started because of the price of bread, which increased 3 times. It started in a marginalized area of Sudan called Atbara where just students of a school went out to the street and demanded to get a bread. Somehow police and security service started reacting violently against the people and killed many students. After that, other people joined this protests of the kids. And because of that, they were really angry and burned the building of the party of Omar al-Bashir, the National Congress Party. The next day people from different cities also went into solidarity with Atbara. Thats how the revolution started.
Before that, we have to also link it to the history. This is not the first revolution in Sudan. But there were two revolutions, 1946 and 1958. And all the time who were pushing for the revolution are the worker unions. When Omar al-Bashir came to power, first thing he did is to crack down all the worker unions. The idea behind it was that the worker unions cannot take any position to fight the government. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) started in 2012 to create an autonomous worker union and they first started with lawyers and doctors. Since 2012, they were just fighting for the worker rights like minimum wage etc. By this way they organized many members inside.
SPA had one demonstration register right of the workers and rise of the minimum wage. 2 days before what happened in Atbara. When they see what’s happening in Atbara they took the lead. And they changed the demand of the demonstration. Not only for the minimum wage, they called all the citizens to join them and putting down the regime of Omer al-Bashir.
This is how SPA took the lead. It was also an autonomous structure where no one knows who they are. But somehow they have been existing since 2012. They called in Facebook all citizens of Sudan to participate and organize themselves. At the same time there were local organizations working in districts called “Sudanese Resistance Committees”. It was created by people seeing themselves not a part of SPA but rather like “I need to participate in revolution”. And they made small groups consisting of 4-5 people. Those people know each other very well. By this way, 15-20 groups are created in every district. And no one knows who is inside of other groups. And they were going to demonstrations together.
At the same time, more people were joining also autonomously structured SPA and starting politically to have this demand. Then after 1 months of beginning, on 1st of January 2019, SPA made a call for a paper called Freedom and Change. In this paper there were suggestions how Sudan should be governed in the future. They said we need a democratic Sudan, this government has to go without any discussion. We don’t want Omer al-Bashir, we don’t want his government anymore. We need Sudan to be democratic country where people feel participating in politics, autonomously deciding for themselves.
They called all opposition parties if they agree on this paper to sign. For example the Sudanese Communist Party, the Sudanese Umma Party, the Sudanese Union Party signed it. And were part of the coalition. Also different political groups and civil society groups signed this paper.
There were 3 different groups who were working in revolution. One group SPA, another group local committees doing practical work mobilizing people to streets, tell them about the demonstrations. SPA was calling for the demo and organizing it.
What made this revolution successful is the local structure. You know, structure is built in this way but no one knows who is inside the structure. It was local in every place and it still exists until now. In this period of transition time of 3 years nothing will stop their mobilization and work. Every day they are doing different kinds of activism. They go to the streets, visiting the local people in the neighborhoods, visiting and supporting the people whose relatives or friends are killed. This is the structure that remained until now. This kind of structure is really helping because people will not rely on political parties still they will have their own structure in a local way. To guard the revolution and don’t let dictatorship to come again.
For example, in the last two days, one political party opened new office in Sudan and local people directly went there and asked where they took the money from to open this office. Because it was a nice place, in the middle of the country. Maybe it was funded by corruption and we don’t want corruption anymore in Sudan.
T: A woman in the revolution said: “Not the bullets but the silence is killing us.” How the people came to that point to sacrifice their life, how they came to this point? We know also that women took an important part in the revolution.
A: This has to do how much women were under repression from this regime. Because this regime of Omar al-Bashir is since 30 years like Muslim Brotherhood regime. Holding power in Sudan in the name of Islam, Sharia law. Unfortunately, when there is Sharia law, first things they do is to control woman. Women are not allowed to sit in public spaces, women are not allowed to wear trousers or other clothes, or in an area they cannot do this job because men are there. There were some universities just for women or just for men. These were happening for a long time since beginning of this government.
But in 2002 there was a law called Public Order Law with laws inside that were clearly against women. Since 2002-2003, women started to fight against this law and organized themselves. This also made women more experienced and have their autonomous structure. When this revolution started, women were already ready. That’s why when we see women on the streets it’s something normal.
Now in the new constitution paper that they signed, government has to support the rights of women. For example, in the parliament women will have a 40% quota.
We still see it’s not enough, because we need to also change the old structure of the opposition parties. Because in many parties women are not really presented. In the negotiation group there is just one or two women, the rest is men. Because of opposition parties who were not participating political work since 30 years in Sudan. They had to only work underground and that made it for women not so easy to participate. By writing this in constitution and pushing the political parties to change their structures, it will be possible for women to participate equally in Sudan.
T: People participating in the revolution didn’t really use violent methods. The reason was because they couldn’t obtain guns or was it a decision from the beginning?
A: I think you have to look to the history of Sudan. In Sudan, there has been war between North and South for 20 years. And the result of it is that South Sudan was born into new country in 2010. There is war in Darfur since 2003, there is war in Nuba Mountain and Blue Nile since 2011. And result of that more than 2 million people got killed, millions of people had to flee. Since 20 years people are getting killed and fleeing because of that reason.
People had this idea in their mind that we can not change this dictator with weapon anymore. Because also Darfur and in Nuba Mountain different groups are fighting against the government with weapons since 2003 and 2011. But they haven’t achieved anything. Because government has always more weapons. And people decided that the only method we can use is a peaceful revolution. For this, we are not going to use any violence against anyone. Because, if we use violence we are not stronger enough than the government. The government has more power to use violence and it gets supported by other countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, even Egypt. All these countries also don’t want Sudan to become a democracy.
Because civil disobedience has more success than using violence. That is what people learned from the history of Sudan. Also learned from the outside, for example what is happening in Syria. Using weapon against weapon collapses the country, but not bringing the people to power. That’s why we say all the time in Sudan, revolution is also about learning, about learning internationally from each other.
The same things happening in Rabaa al-Adawiya revolution in Egypt. All dictatorships learn from one book, but the interesting thing is that people doing the revolution they learn better than dictatorships. In Sudan, the army evicted them with violence and the army had the idea of people will be afraid, they won’t go to the street anymore and that we can hold the power. People saw it already in Egypt and they didn’t accept this. After the big massacre, people went to the streets more and more. The last demo was 30th of the July and in every city there were not less than 2-3 million people.
In Sudan, violence is not something new for us, we have had it since 30 years. This government is killing people since 20 years but people don’t talk about it. All other powers, especially Europe, because of controlling refugees don’t talk about it because of their own interests.
If you see how many people died in the revolution since 8 months maybe we can say 500-600 people. But now, revolution succeeded to reach something. But if people had used violence, maybe millions of people would have died and there wouldn’t have been any success.
T: If there weren’tany street actions, would the soldiers do a coup against the Omar al-Bashir regime? Is there is a big difference between today’s military and the Bashir’s regime?
A: First, if people did not go to the streets, they would not do anything. They are under pressure, because people are on the streets everyday. And that’s why people made the sit-in in front of the army building. This has to do for a long time with the history of Sudan, old revolutions have happened here before. People are going to streets and the army stayed on the side of the people and supported people and take the dictators out. This was happening two times in Sudan already.
For sure they would not do it, because for 30 years they didn’t do it. Because of the pressure by people they are doing. Now the difference is: people take their right on their hand. People are going to streets everyday, everywhere in Sudan opposition parties are making events, discussions and they don’t need to register. Even, it is better than what is going on in Europe. In Europe you have to call the police and ask for demonstration. In Sudan people are going to demo without telling to police. People took their right in their hand.
And in the constitution it will be written that people have the right to demonstrate. Police will not have the right stop people without any reason. Before, the Security service in Sudan had the right to do everything. They could arrest you, they could kill you. They were taking so much power from the president. But from now on it will be just an institution to collect information and give to police under the law.
T: With the Arab Spring there were revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. But the revolutions were stolen by the different powers inside the states or by the international powers. Do the people who are doing the revolution in Sudan have a prevention to stop this? Or can also Sudan revolution be stolen?
A: I don’t think so. Because, if you look at the constitution now, it will be built in a way that the old regime will not exist anymore. I think the problem with the all other revolutions in different Arabic countries is that they change the president but they don’t change the constitution. That means, people who are working for dictators still have the power and can bring us new dictators. People in Sudan learned from it. They say they need to change the whole constitution. That’s why there will be a new parliament where only people who were doing the revolution will be sitting.
The only way for the army or a dictator to come back again is to make a coup again. But also people will not accept this, people will go to streets again. Structures are not in the hands of the army anymore.
When in Egypt people did the revolution they just took out the only Husnu Mubarak, but the regime stayed. Exactly this is what’s happening also now in Algeria. The President of Algeria is away, but the whole constitution is there and the whole government is there.
T: Inside Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) there were different groups like the Sudanese Communist Party, but also there were anti-capitalist Muslims with the tradition of Mahmoud Mohammed Taha. What kind of groups is there in FFC and what is their ratios as power?
A: There are really left, anti-capitalist groups like Communist Party or Republican Party (anti-capitalist Muslims, Mahmoud Mohammed Taha). There are also different communist groups like Movement of Right (Harakat Haqq). They are also part of this coalition. Then, the other side, you see also traditional parties like the Union Party and the Umma Party.
In the constitution any kind of discrimination like race, religion, gender won’t be accepted.
And all agree on this and reached this point. Now, in Sudan, the left ideology is more accepted in society, because Omar al-Bashir government did everything in the name of Islam and Sharia for 30 years. That’s why, in the future, when people go to the streets, the first things they will demand that religion shouldn’t be a part of politics anymore. Religion has to stay in mosques and churches. There has to be a clear division.
But we shouldn’t forget that Sudan is an African country where the structure is not really strong. There is big movements that don’t want capitalism anymore, at the same time there is a big group of people thinking we need to develop the country, we need to have nice buildings, like thinking in a capitalist way. The next step is to not allow capitalism get power in Sudan. This is our next fight.
For example, I’m part of different groups doing politics since 2002, now also in Germany since 2012. But we are kind of a capitalist group, thinking Sudan has to be like Europe, like Germany. An important part of us saying no to it. We say now, until revolution maybe we are friends, but after the revolution we will be enemies. We will fight against capitalism, because we see what capitalism have done to the people. We don’t want capitalism to be strong in Sudan.
T: People who are on the streets leading and joining the revolution, what are the people’s professions? Were they workers, villagers or unemployed? What are their ages, what are their classes?
A: In the beginning it was generally young people who were in the street. First 3-4 months so many young people were on the streets, especially students and workers. I can put inside the workers from the doctors till the unemployed. Also, unemployed people organized themselves and making their own block. Also women did their own block.
But the interesting thing is that the whole society participated in it. Who was not going to streets tried to organize safe places for the people when they got attacked by the police and army. When there was a demo going on and a attack happened by police, old people stayed in front of their doors, opened their door and hid young people.
People, who are out of Sudan, for example in Europe, were preparing themselves from the beginning, spread the information, did info events, organized money, did demonstrations, talked about the involvement of imperialist countries and how they don’t want revolution to be successful.
T: How was the interest to the Sudan revolution from the left wing or opposition movements in Europe?
A: Unfortunately, there was not such a big interest in it. For example, in Berlin, we were fighting hard to just bring the voice of revolution to different groups, even to the streets. We were not really supported by any group. After 3-4 months, when the revolution was getting violent by the army, different left parties tried to lighten the issue but it was not really what were hoping for.
We shouldn’t also forget that Europe has a big interest in not changing Sudan, because the Bashir regime was working for Europe since 2014, for example in Khartum Process, a deal between Europe and African countries to stop African refugees to come to Europe. For that deal, the Sudanese old government got so much money, got training from European countries to control the borders.
I was writing everyday press releases about the situation in Sudan and was sending them to all parties from SPD to the Left Party (Die Linke) and I didn’t get any answer from them. After 2 months we could get an answer from Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung to make an info event about Sudan.
2 months before, when revolution was almost successful, we had a talk with one Left Party member from Germany Bundestag. We worked together and she held a Bundestag sitting where she asked about Sudan revolution and the money Germany gave to the Sudanese old government. But not more.
We made a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany and we went inside the ministry and handed over our demands. We had also a demo in front of EU and we made a call of Sudanese people living in Europe. There, we also gave our demands to stop this deal with Sudan. Our work succeeded to put pressure in government of EU. EU stopped to give money for training the police of Sudan.
The new government will come and they will try to talk again about the deal. This is also our next step to work in Germany as Sudanese community here. Because we are sure to face deportations in Germany or in Europe. Because they will say now, Sudan is democracy then you have to go. They will try to activate the Khartum process.
Unfortunately, there is no international solidarity from left groups or even from left parties. From my side, I wouldn’t focus on leftist parties – I would focus on leftist groups. But leftist groups, they are not interested. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Sudan is far away. They never called for demo revolution in Sudan until now. And I was really thinking like: Is this about racism? This has because African people are not worth it? Are they not equal in the mind of leftists? They are really far away and cannot have any contact with African revolution?
For me, what’s happening in Sudan now, is really politically close to the leftist scene. A revolution hold by people, starting with autonomous structure, where people succeeded to kick out the dictator, where women take the lead. There was not really an interest in these issues. I’m questioning myself from time to time to understand the reason. And I couldn’t see a reason until now. But maybe we have to wait for the activists of the leftist scene to tell us why they don’t have any interest in the revolution of Sudan.