What Sudanese Activists are Learning from Campaigns for Political Detainees
The success of the campaign to free Nuba Mountains’ political detainee, Jalila Khamis was not unique. The experience of Sudan’s civil society and youth movements who have campaigned tirelessly for detainees, since 2009, shows that there are a few key elements of success such as:
- The more visibility the better. Keeping the story of a detainee in the public sphere ensures their protection; contrary to what many lawyers and family members may think.
- Video testimonies from family members are a game changer. Videos of mothers and/or families of detainees testifying and pleading for their support, tend to circulate much faster than written statements. They also give a human element to the suffering endured by the families and by those in detention. It’s all about telling the story and telling it genuinely.
- For long-term detainees frequent updates and documentation is necessary: this can be in the form of brief statements or op-eds, preferably in Arabic and English so that it captures local and international attention.
- Using multiple new media tools to target diverse audiences is key: use all the media tools at your disposal, because each tool will target a different audience. In the Sudanese new media ecology, Facebook will target Sudanese citizens while twitter will more likely target the international media; and satellite TV will capture the Middle East region, Sudanese citizens inside Sudan and Sudanese communities in the diaspora.
- Link your online campaigns with action on the ground: and request concrete action from your supporters, such as changing their profile picture to raise awareness and/or attending an ongoing trial of a detainee or a planned solidarity stand.
- When detainees are freed, remember to celebrate and to collect their testimonies in order to help assess their post-detention needs, and to expose the regime’s maltreatment.