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We Need to Talk About Sudan: A Review of Volume 3 Episode 5 of “Patriot Act”

This week’s episode of Patriot Act focused on Sudan, a country which is plummeting into complete chaos. Police opened fire on protestors last week and at least one hundred are dead, but the numbers are rising. The protests that have been prevalent in the country have been a fight for democracy, partly because the economy is collapsing and partly because the government is treating its citizens extremely poorly. Sudan has been lead by President Omar Al-Bashir since 1989, and Minhaj displayed an edited picture of him on Taylor Swift’s 1989 album, which caused an eruption of laughter from the audience. Sudan has only been independent from British-Egyptian rule for about sixty years, and Bashir has been in power for half of that. The former president was overthrown in a coup last week because of his enforcement of Sharia Law that locked up thousands of political dissidents, carried out a famine in Darfur, a region in Western Sudan, and cleansing for non-Arabs. He has been indicted for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. To top it all off, he also hosted Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s.

Although Bashir mostly oppressed minorities, all different groups came together to overthrow him. The revolution was led by doctors, to which Minhaj responded, “That’s insane to me because I know so many doctors. Like, if you came up to me and told me ‘The doctors are starting a revolution’ I’d be like ‘Karan’s revolting? He can’t even talk back to his parents.’”. Similarly to the United States, the people who are looking to make a change are young. 63% of Sudan is under the age of 25, and 43% is under the age of 15. The protestors’ demands include women’s rights, civilian rule, an end to militia.

Even though they already overthrew President Omar Al-Bashir, the people have not been given these freedoms because they are now being ruled by a transitional government run by the military. They are responsible for the murder of the one hundred protestors last week. Before that, Minhaj had talked with a New York-based Sudanese national, Marine Alneel, who protested in Sudan and has even been arrested for it. She stated that protest preparation is discussed casually in everyday conversation and they even swap Pinterest style “hacks” for dealing with the police, such as mixing yeast and water for a spray to protect against tear gas. Minhaj managed to turn this serious topic into an entertaining one by commenting the hacks he has learned from the internet, which were far less critical and included using a hair clip to squeeze the end of a toothpaste tube to force last bit of toothpaste out. Minhaj spoke again with Alneel after last week’s events, and her emotions displayed a loss of hope among the protestors. However, they vow not to stop until they see a change in their government. This subject matter is a little chaotic, but Minhaj did an outstanding job in making it simple enough for viewers to understand.

 

Part of what is causing the protestors to become less optimistic is because of the military’s rule. The current leader of the transitional government is Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, but there is speculation that his second in command, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, is doing a lot of work behind the scenes. Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, commanded the militia Janjaweed, which oversaw genocide in Darfur. He also commanded the murder of hundreds of thousands of minorities in Darfur, threatened protesters, and potentially sent thousands of child soldiers to fight in Yemen for Saudi Arabia (this has been denied by the Saudi Arabian government). Minhaj added that Hemedti also admitted to believing that it is his right to treat refugees like they aren’t even people.

Although this topic was a little darker than others, I thought it was a really important subject matter that may not be reaching as many people as it should be. Minhaj covered this incredibly gracefully and I thought it was extremely thorough to have met with Marine Alneel not once, but twice. This helped him show over time what the protestors were going through. Additionally, he managed to slip in a few jokes to entertain the audience without being insensitive. He ended the show by saying, “By the time you see this, the death toll will be even higher,” which really grabbed the audience and left them with something to think about. I would recommend watching this week’s episode of Patriot Act and to continue keeping up with Sudan’s growing crisis. Patriot Act comes out every Sunday on Youtube and Netflix.

Featured Image via Youtube

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