"They are torturing the citizens"

WhatsApp message sent by Liela M. Medani to Waging Peace Co-Directors

The United Kingdom is bedding in for a cold winter marked by steep energy price rises. But meanwhile, Sudan is marking both an important meteorological and political milestone.

The country has now rotated through every one of its seasons, often marked by extreme heat and devastating flooding, under military, Islamist rule, following last October’s coup.

In the below blog, sent to us via WhatsApp by former air hostess turned women’s rights activist, Liela M. Medani writes about how the military junta has been weaponising access to cooling and hydration during a climate change-driven heatwave.

The blog was originally reproduced on the site ‘Prevention Perspectives’.

When I returned from my journey from Sudan, the UK was in a grip of the first hot weather warning that lead to government and COBRA meetings. It's a huge difference between real democracy & rules of a dictatorship. I couldn't stop comparing, so please share.

Thank you for your time & solidarity I arrived from my homeland in the past few days. I left very hot weather for this is autumn, a rainy season in Sudan; a muffled heat, break-through of cold air followed by heavy or scattered rain, but it is different.

In the capital city Khartoum, which didn't stop expanding to unlimited boundaries & increasing population density due to unprecedented exodus from the outskirts of towns & other dreary provinces.

During my journey home I lowered the window as the car quickly swarmed London roads and let the cold air pass through my tired exhausted face from the trip; travelling strain is not easy but the most difficult is leaving the beloved country, emotionally torn between two cities.

Allowing myself to settle though it is difficult, for days I tried to pull myself from the grip of homeland memories, the love & support of my lovely loving family. I wanted to regain space in my mind, but I feel as if it's the first time visiting London, absorbing all around me & comparing with my native country.

This afternoon my eyes were fixed on the TV screen but my heart & emotions with my family & people of Sudan. While watching the weather forecast, all headlines warning of a coming strong wave of high temperature which may reach 40°C & repeated discussions about the universal climate change, feeling very sad, my memory went back to Sudan, society, my family.

The usual temperature at 35°C is normal in the hours between ten & eleven at morning but during the day I think the thermometer explodes above 48°C indoors. Normally people go for their daily activities but sometimes it's too harsh on them, lack of regular public transport & expensive costs of living makes it even harder; people walk for miles in extremely scorching heat, they follow the trees’ or walls’ shadows but mostly shading by weak exhausted sweaty hands, hope only for rest, a cold drink of water extinguishes the body heat & quenches thirst, unfortunately, icy water is a dream, ice-cream is luxury.

The reason that icy water and ice-cream, indeed the ability to quench thirst, are luxuries is because the authorities decided to reduce water pressure & supply, leading to no water or just drops throughout the pipes, in parts of the city this may go on for weeks, and happen in connection with electricity power cut-offs. Wise people invested in plastic barrels to be used as tanks for water storage; for the people who own water pumps there is no electricity to operate.

For the people who invested in electricity motor generators there is no fuel to run, a buzzing fan or air cooler is lottery luck. The government set rules ordering systematic switch-offs of electrical power supply daily. There is no one to answer questions, no explanation nor discussion. Just reality. Live it & don’t dare to oppose it, the law of shoot to kill is activated. They are torturing the citizens.

Can you imagine when temperature exceeds 30°C with no fresh air or active cooling facilities?

Can you feel the pain when the temperature rises to the highest?

Bear in mind that the hours of the systematic power switch-off increase & coincide with the demonstrations calling for the government & regime change. Imagine all the country on blackout every day & night for weeks as if in a war zone or war raid!

This is the 21st Century, everything works by electricity, switched off electricity means life stops functioning. Even in a village electricity is essential, from industries to the simple kitchen, imagine hospitals in blackout & so on, the country on hold, held to ransom.

I am not surprised that the British government meets in emergency rooms to discuss how to reduce the impact of a heat wave on its citizens’ lives.

In Sudan the government meets to discuss how to use the heat wave as a weapon to implement the highest severity of punishment on its people. The ruling authority decided to torture the Sudanese people with the utmost degree of punishment, death; switching off electricity power supply means to the simple person prevention from the main source for refrigeration, deprivation from cold drinking water, stopping the refrigerator & freezer from keeping food safe & to extend its validity period, most important deprivation of cold air; no fresh air, no oxygen, it means death by suffocation or heat stroke, specifically the weak, sick & vulnerable citizens.

The final strike: they forced a directive to switch off electrical power during demonstrations against the regime, high temperatures plus no electricity during this time plus toxic fumes emitted from the poisonous tear gas, a lethal weapon leading to slow death. Now in every house there is someone suffering from asthma which is a new pandemic in Sudan.

Lack of medicine & persistence of power cuts by the military provoke public anger leading to more bloodshed, no matter calling for peaceful protest. The military are targeting & focused on demonstration centres, releasing toxic tear gas from the tanks aiming for more systematic killing, destruction & torture.

So, if not dead directly by a bullet they fall by poisonous air, suffocating by lack of oxygen & lack of cold air. People fighting for every breath of fresh air from air-fan or air-coolers or just any sips of cold icy water.

The present authority is stubborn, hindering the smooth running of the human right to life in different ways. This is only because Sudanese oppose their dictators, calling for freedom, peace & justice, calling for their rights to live a dignified life & to remove those who burden them.

It's time to call on the committees in & out of Sudan & all the civil forces & human rights defenders to come together, unite to move forward against the provocation of civil war, the systematic killing of civilians & uprooting of people from their lands of origin forcing them to take risks.

Many believe that life is not worthy living in such conditions - better be swallowed by the oceans or vanished in a desert or if lucky ending as refugees & asylum-seekers in other countries. This will never stop unless stability is maintained in Sudan by changing the regime.

On the other hand, this harsh time has unified people against government. So for the sake of the oppressed, the voiceless people, it's the only way out to topple the coup, end military dictatorship & to promote a culture of non-impunity.

These forces receive their salaries & obtained their wealth from the Sudanese people's blood, whom they are torturing by different evil methods, forcing the fall of the country into inhumane siege.

It’s time for solidarity & to stand together to face the harsh reality as one nation, raise the voice calling out loud for all the stubborn heads & blind hearts to turn around & face the truth, for everyone who cares to take a stand of sincerity in unity to end this evil regime. Stop them from tampering with people's lives.

We have lessons & guidance to follow. For the rest of the people, stand up for your rights as dignified as you deserve. Long live peace, freedom & justice.

Liela M. Medani London July 2022

Please donate to our work finding creative ways for Sudanese individuals in the UK to speak truth to power.
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