As news of the crisis in Sudan spreads, the color blue has become a symbol of solidarity with protestors in the country on social media.
People are changing their profile pictures to blue in an attempt at raising awareness of the extreme violence inflicted upon civilians by the military rulers. An internet blackout — imposed in an attempt to stop protests — has made spreading information difficult.
The color blue is in remembrance of Mohamed Hashim Mattar, a young man who was killed during the June 3 crackdown on peaceful demonstrations by the Sudanese Military. The blue trend was brought to the United States with a viral Instagram post from Remaz Mahgoub Khalaleyal, who asked her American followers Tuesday to reach out to their representatives and condemn the violence. She urged Instagram users to use the color as their profile photos.
According to his cousin, @OmerYousifff, blue was Mattar’s favorite color. In a viral tweet, he said Mattar died protecting two women during the shootings. BuzzFeed reports that Mattar’s family and friends had changed their profile pictures to the color blue the day he died.
This particular shade of blue is also Mattar’s profile photo on Instagram.
The conflict began after months of civilian protests against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who was ousted by a military coup in April. Al-Bashir was charged by the international criminal court in 2010 for leading a genocide in Darfur, but suspended the case four years later due to lack of support from the United Nations Security Council. As CNN notes, that’s just scratching the surface of al-Bashir’s crimes during his 30-year rule.
After al-Bashir’s arrest, a military council and civilian protestors originally agreed to a three-year transition period to a democratic government, but the peaceful transition fell apart on June 3 when the military opened fire on a pro-democracy demonstration in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum. Doctors report at least 100 people were killed in the violent crackdown. The exact number of deaths is unknown because officials allegedly dumped bodies into the Nile River in an effort to hide evidence, the Guardian reports. Doctors also say that dozens of civilians have been raped and hundreds assaulted by the military.
Protest leaders called for a nationwide strike on Sunday in response to the violent attacks on civilians. It ended on Tuesday, and both sides agreed to attempt negotiations again, according to the New York Times.
In wake of the internet blackout, influencers have stepped up to share information about the conflict. Activists are urging social media users to change their profile pictures to Mattar’s blue to raise awareness and show solidarity.
Celebrities like Kehlani and Demi Lovato are showing their support for Sudan by changing their profile photos to Mattar blue. Others, like Rihanna and Ariana Grande, have urged their followers to take action by signing petitions or donating to medical relief funds.
Social media users are paying their respects to Mattar by commenting on a 2013 tweet about the color blue. They’re also commenting on his Instagram posts with the blue heart emoji.
may you rest in peace and may allah save you the highest of seats in jannah 💙
— gigi (@icarusIive) June 14, 2019
People are also showing their support by signing a Change.org petition, which urges the United Nation to investigate the Sudanese Military for human rights violations. The United States, meanwhile, is sending a special envoy to mediate talks between the military and protest leaders. According to a statement from the State Department, special envoy Donald Booth will assist in finding “a political solution … that reflects the will of the Sudanese people.”