Activists from Sudan and Saudi Arabia have called on trade unionists in the UK to stand with them in their struggles for democratic change. Speaking at meetings in Cambridge on 13 May and in Harrogate at a fringe event at the UCU union Congress on 25 May they highlighted the importance of mobilising solidarity for the uprising in Sudan and against repression in Saudi Arabia.
Sara Abdelgalil from the Sudan Doctors Union UK and Sudan Professionals Association joined Ameen Nemer, a human rights activist from Saudi Arabia at a public meeting in Cambridge organised by Middle East Solidarity with the support of Cambridge UCU and Cambridge and District TUC on 13 May.
“There have been no real unions in Sudan for 30 years. The unions that were there were pro-regime, and their leaders were affiliated to the ruling party rather than serving their members”, she told the meeting.
“When the protests began, the SPA changed from campaigning around the minimum wage to demanding the regime step down unconditionally and peacefully, and for a civilian government.”
Sara highlighted the importance of the mass sit-in which has involved hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters camping in the square outside the Army General Command in Khartoum to demand that the military council hands over power to a democratic civilian government.
“There is the sit-in which has been going since 6 April. It is the new Sudan. People are singing, people are drawing and painting. They are debating. There is full security and food for street children. It is the way we would like to live our life. But unfortunately we have the Transitional Military Council, which we believe is the continuation of the same regime. That is why we call for a peaceful handover of power to a civilian regime.”
Ameen Nemer pointed to the hypocritical way in which the Saudi regime has claimed to be “reforming” by allowing women to drive.
“The treatment of women activists in Saudi Arabia is an example for oppression. While the crown Prince was presented as a ‘reformer’ who will bring the change to Saudi Arabia, the women activists were arrested, tortured and some of them were threatened with being raped and killed. They were campaigning to lift the ban on driving 28 years but the campaigners are not behind the wheel, the are behind the bars.”
A packed fringe meeting at UCU Congress 2019 organised by UCULeft, Dr Omer Baldo from the Sudan Doctors Union UK urged delegates to show their solidarity with the mobilisation for a general strike on 28 and 29 May.
“You will all be aware that we have had a dictatorship in Sudan, ruling, or rather ruining the country for the last 30 years. The entire revolution has been engineered by unionists. Unions have led their members into this national revolt against an oppressive regime which has destroyed most of the civil service, education, the health service, the agricultural sector in Sudan. I am here today to reach out to other unions to ask them to support the cause of Sudan. I would ask those of you active on social media to pass on the message to everybody about what’s happening in Sudan as the uprising will make or break the Middle East.”
Ameen Nemer also addressed the meeting.
“As an Arabian activist I would like to show my solidarity with Omar and the Sudanese people,” he said. “A successful revolution in Sudan will have a butterfly effect across the region. Its influence will cross the Red Sea to shake the throne of the House of Saud. Therefore, the Saudis are supporting the military in Sudan against the people’s will. Even on Alarabiya, the Saudi sponsored TV channel, addresses the military council as the ‘transitional council’.”
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