Sudanese locals ‘rename’ streets to commemorate fallen protestors

World Monday 02/September/2019 16:33 PM
By: Times News Service
Sudanese locals ‘rename’ streets to commemorate fallen protestors

Khartoum: After the battle on the streets, comes the battle for their names. Campaigners in Sudan have been unofficially renaming public spaces and roads in the capital Khartoum after those people killed in the uprising that started in December last year and led to the toppling of the dictator Omar al-Bashir in April.

“Changing the names of the streets means documenting our revolution. People will keep remembering the martyrs for thousands of years,” said Mohamed Hannen, from the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), one of the main pro-democracy groups.

“We are also changing the ... ideology and building a new Sudan with new names of the streets, and a new way of thinking.”

The initiative comes against a backdrop of frustration among young people at the compromises forced on the pro-democracy movement by the military rulers who took power in the aftermath of Bashir’s fall.

Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders reached an agreement in July to usher in a new period of transitional government.

The agreement came after prolonged negotiations between Sudan’s ruling military council and the Alliance for Freedom and Change, which has been leading the protest movement across Sudan for months.

Protesters used social media to raise the possibility of naming roads after those killed in recent violence. More than 120 are believed to have been killed when paramilitaries moved in to disperse a protest camp in the centre of Khartoum in June. Others died in separate attacks on demonstrators and activists.

The SPA said it supported the initiative after discussions with neighbourhood committees, which have played a key role in the pro-democracy campaign.

Many streets and parks were renamed when Bashir came to power more than 30 years ago after fighters killed in the long and bloody conflict in what were then Sudan’s southern provinces. These seceded in 2011 after a referendum.

A main road from the airport in Khartoum was named after a prominent fighter killed in South Sudan in 1991. Now the pro-democracy protesters are discussing two new alternatives: Martyrs’ Road, to commemorate those who were killed in recent demonstrations, or Kandaka Road, after the ancient queens who ruled Sudan thousands of years ago. The word was also used to describe the female protesters in the crucial days before Bashir’s fall.

Some road signs have already been dismantled and replaced. The Green Space, a huge park next to the airport in Khartoum, was originally named in honour of Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan dictator, whose political thinking was published in a “Green Book” and deployed by Bashir at his rallies. It has been renamed the Freedom Space.

Another main road in Khartoum North, which sits on the north bank of the Blue Nile, has been renamed after Mohamed Hashim Mattar, one of the protesters who was killed during the attack on the protest camp in June. The road used to be known as Rescue Street, after a name given to the Bashir government that came to power in 1989.

Mattar’s mother said renaming the road after her son gave her a sense of justice.

“It’s nice that people are thinking about him and haven’t forgot about him,” she said in her sitting room, where photos of Mattar were displayed.

Another street and square in Khartoum North have had their names changed in honour of Waleed Abdurahman, a protester who was shot and killed while manning a barricade at the Kharoum sit-in.

Streets and squares have also been named after Mahjoun Altaj, a medical student who was tortured and killed in January, and Mohamed Dodo, a 16-year-old who was killed while manning a barricade at the sit-in in May.