Organizing under a military dictatorship. An interview with Sudanese Anarchist Gathering

First image: Anarchists on a march, flying white anarchists flags with a red circle A. Second image: two anarchists in Sudan holding a red and black flag with a white circle A.

As the internationalist section of the anarchist organization Perspektive Selbstverwaltung (Perspective Selfmanagement/Selfgovernance), this summer we spoke with various revolutionary groups in Sudan about their work and the political processes on the ground. The following interview with the group „Sudanese Anarchist Gathering“ was done by e-mail. Due to the language barrier(s), a difference in political socialization and terminology, some difficulties arose in our communication. This has greatly delayed the publication of the interview which was held August 2022. Questions as well as answers have been translated and edited for better readability. However, we are now happy to share the interview and understand the previously mentioned hurdles as a logical part of internationalist work.

Submitted by WithDefiance on January 17, 2023

Tell us about Sudanese Anarchist Gathering (inso far this is possible without risking repression for you and others). What are your goals and what strategies do you use to achieve them? How are you organized? Do you have local groups in different cities or are you working together with other anarchist groups?

We are a group of a Sudanese youth which believes in the libertarian socialist anarchist idea. We formed our revolutionary group in the wave of the December revolution (2018), where we met during demonstrations and in universities. We came together in order to spread anarchist ideas and achieve anarchist progress on the ground throughout Sudan. This is done despite the danger the government authorities pose, as they will operate against any instigators or propagators of the anarchist idea. But despite this risk, we were determined to establish a group that would struggle against the government and its corrupt institutions, even if we face the​​​​​​ risk of imprisonment for life or being killed by the fascist state. After the foundation of our group, we contacted individual anarchists in all states of Sudan and also communicated with a group of anarchists in northern Sudan. They are doing a great job spreading the idea of ​​anarchism and organized the first anarchist student movement in Sudan at the University of Dongola which we, the Khartoum anarchists‘ group, support. Now we are working on the formation of a general and inclusive organizational body. Its‘ main purpose is to connect all groups and individuals who believe in anarchist ideas and who want to be a part of this movement.

What are your goals and what strategies do you follow to achieve these goals?

Our first and main goal is to bring down the fascist military regime, which poses a great danger to anyone who expresses their opinions freely, arrests anyone who appears to be affiliated with an anarchist group and which therefore is limiting our capacities to spread our ideas openly. Only the downfall of this fascist regime will open the door for us to pursue our other goals, because currently under this system we are classified as saboteurs, terrorists and as a danger to the entire country. Accordingly, our current main goal is the downfall of the fascist military regime. We employ many strategies in this struggle that are based on existing tools of peaceful protest but we have also invented additional peaceful forms of action that have proven themselves to be effective.

How do you organize yourselves and your work? Do you have local groups in different cities and the countryside?

We organize ourselves and our decision-making mechanisms through forms of non-hierarchical direct democracy. For now, only two organized anarchist groups exist in Sudan: one group in the north of the country and our group, which is located in the capital city Khartoum.

It seems that you are focusing on universities. What is your future vision for working within the broader working classes in Sudan?

Yes, the universities are our hubs. But even in the capital city Khartoum it is tremendously difficult to organize anarchist student groups within the universities. This is because the state is using all its power to protect capital and to prevent the work of political student groups. Whenever such groups are discovered, all their activities are stopped and the university administration is asked to dismiss every student who is associated with the organization from the university. This is why we still operate underground as a hidden organization inside universities. Until we topple the regime, this will be necessary as we only can become a publicly known group, when the people themself hold power.

Is there a strong division between the countryside and the big cities?

Yes, there is a great division between cities and the countryside, especially socio-economically. It is very clear that the accumulation of capital and labor in big cities like Khartoum happens at the expense of the countryside and rural areas. ​​​​​Communicating and interacting with the countryside is a challenge for us, but we are using the networks and connections of our comrades to reach a large scale of rural and non-urban areas.

We know women play an important role in the revolutionary movement in Sudan. How is this in your organization?

Yes, women are an integral and active part of our group. We pay attention to distribute roles and rights within the group as equally as possible, a practice that is part of our group its charter. We support the anarcho-feminist movement.

We have published the translation of a program for an anarchist student union. What was your response to the program?

We welcomed this step taken by the anarchists of north of Sudan, and we are working hard to reach all the universities of Sudan.

How do people react in conversations with you who do not share your anarchist ideas?

Discussing such issues with people of all walks, they are often in a state of great astonishment for our strength and determination to organize within universities. They consider it a brave position and many support the ideas as well as the efforts to spread them. Generally, it has been our experience that once you begin talking to people on the street, they are quite interested in anarchist ideas.

Are you as a group or as individuals working with the resistance committees? And what role do you play there and in the Sudanese revolution in general?

We are active within the resistance committees as individuals. We support strikes, rebellions and protests in the public discourse and on the ground as well.

What do you think are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the resistance committees?

So far, we see no major defects, the resistance committees are very effective in organizing the collective struggle and resistance on a national scale. Additionally, they partially follow anarchist ideals by practicing non-hierarchical, direct-democracy and by organizing horizontally. In sum, this enables decision making on a grassroot level.

What is your opinion about the different charters of the Resistance Committees? Right now, there is a process of merging the charters to a common one. Do you participate in this process and what potential do you see in it?

We have reservations about some points in the charters, but they are being amended and the agreements are merged into a one final charter. We participate as individuals within the resistance committees and this merger process, which could have the potential to unite the different opinions within the committees.

We are following the Sudanese Revolution with great hope. Nonetheless, history shows a frightening number of possible counter-revolutionary dangers. Are you afraid that, if the stakes get higher and the Sudanese uprising grows in international relevance, you will be subjects to counterrevolutionary interventions? Which forces form the greatest threat for the revolution at the moment?

Revolutions throughout human history have been crushed by those who are invested in totalitarian and military regimes. The Egyptian revolution (2011) is still fresh in our memory. Its trajectory had many mistakes and it bears important lessons we can learn from, just as from many other experiences globally. In our opinion, the Egyptian revolution failed because certain countries did not support the uprising. We seek to counteract such developments by organizing youth groups who, in various forms, are at the center of the revolution itself and will also be crucial in the continuation of its struggle, passing it on to more people and future generations. Ultimately, it’s is our mission to spread libertarian socialist ideas that pave the way for the desired radical change that uproots the current military regime.

Looking at Sudan, besides the Sudanese regime the governments of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Emirates, Turkey and Qatar all support the counter-revolution as they have vested interests in the previous and current regimes and support totalitarian military regimes generally.

And, for you’re international allies, what is the best way to support you?

In regards to actions international comrades can take, we always welcome media pressure, protest rallies, and support for the revolutionary Sudanese communities that organize solidarity protests and criticize foreign interventions in Sudan’s internal affairs by countries supporting the oppressive military rule.

We need international solidarity, pressure your governments! But also material support as well as knowledge transfer and media skills are much needed. ​​​​​​​

Anarchist Foreign Relations Office in Sudan, 26th of August 2022

Comments

Steven.

10 months 3 weeks ago

Submitted by Steven. on January 17, 2023

Just FYI, the tag Organizing Work refers to a group/online publication with that name, so I have removed it from this article

WithDefiance

10 months ago

Submitted by WithDefiance on February 6, 2023

Hey Steven, thanks :) It is also a bit difficult to see which tags to take for Sudan as a feedback. Some seem to be doubling.

Submitted by Steven. on February 6, 2023

WithDefiance wrote: Hey Steven, thanks :) It is also a bit difficult to see which tags to take for Sudan as a feedback. Some seem to be doubling.

Thanks for letting us know, someone had created a duplicate tag which I have now deleted