June 8 2023 GM
Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IF Square on the TCU Mattermost, at 9am EDT / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.
- Date: Thursday, June 8
- Time: 9am EDT / 1pm UTC
- Who: Digital Rights Lab Sudan
- Moderator: Rima & Erin
- Where: On TCU Mattermost "IF Square" Channel.
- Don't have an account to the TCU Mattermost? you can request one following the directions here.
Community Solidarity with Sudan
In this Glitter Meetup, we will be talking with a Sudanese community member about the latest developments in Sudan with focus on the digital space and mutual-aid/solidarity initiatives.
Invited Guest: Sudanese Digital Rights Researcher (@drightsudan on Mattermost) focused on internet governance. Currently, working on helping HRDs in Sudan during the conflict.
Digital Rights Lab is an initiative led by two Sudanese digital rights researchers in November 2022. Our mandate is to advance Digital Rights in Sudan. Our approach depends on building the Digital Right Community in Sudan for Sudanese, to strengthen civil society by spreading awareness regarding Digital Rights. We believe that this approach will result in a safer digital space in Sudan for users in Sudan. We have partnered with some regional and international organizations to discuss ways of collaboration regarding Digital Rights issues in Sudan. Now, we are working to monitor internet freedom/digital rights status and increase awareness about digital security in during the conflict.
- On 15 April, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), started the armed conflict in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. I can describe this war as an indiscriminate war, where there is neither the law of war nor the ethics of war.
- Until last week, the death toll among civilians had reached more than 800. It is unknown what is the exact number of those who lost their lives due to the collapse of the healthcare infrastructure as a result of the RSF occupation of hospitals and the SAF bombing of hospitals.
- Some decided to flee to neighboring countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia and others. Some succeeded, but others are now stuck at the crossings and cannot enter because of the complications imposed by some countries.
- RSF was looting the citizens’ houses, and numerous raping cases have been reported and documented.
- These circumstances caused high damage to telecom infrastructure in the country as the internet service was disrupted several times for many ISPs except one ISP which holds more than 51 percent of the telecom market share in the country.
- The damage represents the power shortage or outage which impacts the telecom devices operation. The ISPs’ workers were unable to deliver the fuel or spare parts due to security concerns.
- The special event here is that RSF has taken over the Sudatel Data Center, which caused internet disruption for more than 24 hours.
- Regarding privacy violation cases, RSF is inspecting people’s phones, and sometimes they steal the phone, and justify that as “security concerns”. It’s important to know that RSF brought the Israeli Spyware “The Predator” last September.
- On the first day of the conflict, we expect that the authorities will shut down the internet. But, after hours, we noticed that both RSF and SAF are using the internet as a propaganda tool.
- RSF has a bad record in human rights, which led it to find a way to polish its reputation through PR firms.
- On the other side, it’s known that SAF is using the General Intelligence Service’s (GIS) Cyber Jihad Unit to spread disinformation. This unit was established in 2011 as a response to the Arab Spring because the ousted regime observed the power of social media in politics.
- Both sides are using social media to spread fake news regarding their victories, most of this news was fake. This practice causes a lot of threats to the citizens as they move to a specific location thinking that it is safe, while it is not.
- Civil society used to be aware of people not sharing anything without verification. There are some fact-checking platforms that have worked to verify the news and publish the results to the people.
- Information Manipulation during conflict triggered several “negative discussions” which led to generating trends that misled the people about the war and led them to talk about other topics instead of discussing the war violations and brainstorming to find solutions.
- The first fact check platform is Beam Reports, which is a media company that focuses on Sudan and provides explanatory news and fact-check reports. Since 15 April, Beam Reports published more than 30 fact-check reports regarding the current conflict.
- Also, there is Juhaina, which is a platform that focuses only on fact-checking. Juhaina is providing quick fact-check reports regarding the war.
- The people in the diaspora always play a major role during the crisis time in Sudan. From the first day of the conflict, they started fundraising for medical assistance and food. Also, they worked to push the policymakers and other actors in the international community to push for at least a cease-fire.
- The social media users launched two campaigns using hashtags (#لازم_تقيف and #لا_للحرب) (#it_must_stop & #No_to_war). These hashtags have been used in the Sudanese timeline. They impacted a decrease in extremism regarding advocating the war choice.
- Because the movement became almost impossible, the people used social media to publish their needs regarding food, medications, transportation, and even finding someone to help them in their area!
Due to sanctions and the ongoing conflict, many electronic financial services that communities can use for donations/financial aid as well as domestic money transfer are not available in Sudan. What are some of the mutual aid strategies the Sudanese have been using to bypass such restrictions?
- Unfortunately, the central Electronic Banking System (EBS) in Sudan has been down since 15 April. Now, there is only one bank still working. We are using it to receive money from outside using some mediators in other countries.
- The other way to receive money in Sudan is by giving cash money to those who are traveling back to Sudan. SWIFT is not working.
- I think pushing the negotiation is the best recommendation here. There is hope until now for an agreement to cease fire and seek support to rebuild Sudan and repair the infrastructure.
- I don't recommend imposing sanctions on the warlords as they will not stop the war in this case.
- Also, the civil society in the West and MENA region should press on their policymakers to work toward a successful peace process.
- Also, I think conducting research on the current conflict and its impact on internet freedom and digital rights would be great.
- Studying the current environment may produce concrete recommendations for solving the challenges that face the Sudanese people.
- There are no examples in the field of digital rights. But, there are some reports about an organization that works in the field of healthcare support. This organization is taking the medications and then selling them instead of providing them for free.
- Anyway, the CSOs are working well nowadays. Some NGOs started operating from other countries (I'll not mention these countries for security concerns).
What are the best ways we can stay in touch and support the work of Digital Rights Lab?
- The best way to support DRLAB now is to help us to relocate (hosting us) to another country as we are unable to operate from Sudan
- You can follow us on Twitter:@DRLab_Sudan or contact us via email: email@example.com