By Alex Kho
The Sudanese power conflict is a fierce rivalry emanating from Sudan’s past and clouding the country’s future. In the early 2000s, prior president Al-Bashir founded the RSF to extinguish the local rebellion against his oppressive dictatorial government. In 2019, Hemedti’s RSF and the country’s military led by Al-Burhan worked together to depose Al-Bashir. Since then, however, conflict between those two parties has erupted, as the pro-democratic movements, seemingly supported by Al-Burhan, have been opposed by Hemedti’s RSF. On the surface, while it may seem like the RSF is the only group responsible for violating the rights of the free citizens, Al-Burhan is also involved in many scandalous deaths: he led a coup alongside Hemedti in 2021 that killed pro-democratic protestors. These injustices have not settled well with the public; citizens still protest vigorously. As the regional director of Amnesty International puts it, “20 years after the Darfur conflict began, the Sudanese authorities are still failing… to investigate and prosecute those allegedly responsible for crimes committed”(Amnesty International). The director’s claim highlights the purposeful ignorance of the government. In the event a peaceful government is established in Sudan, an appropriate Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) would approximate a balanced form of justice for the survivors of the protests.
To date, the most successful TRCs seem to be the ones operated in South Africa and South Sudan. South Africa confronted their countries' past human rights violations through victims’ stories utilizing a strict legal approach where they received compensation and violators faced stringent punishment (Tuazon). South Sudan initiated their TRC, then reconstructed their government based on the direct input of citizens, so that together they could bring their country to a future where “grave violations of human rights never happen again” (UNDP). While these two TRCs function on different principles, a TRC in Sudan could adopt aspects of both.
The TRC in South Africa openly promoted the stories of those on both sides of human rights violations. Rod Tuazon of Colleges of Law claims that “the healing process through storytelling is likely TRC’s biggest accomplishment” (Tuazon). This process allows emotional resolution for a damaged community. However, he acknowledges a flaw with this TRC: it failed “in addressing social and economic transformation” (Tuazon). The TRC in South Sudan could solve that problem.
The Sudanese TRC would be framed after South Sudan’s with respect to the citizens, giving them the power to reshape their country. The UN Development Programme describes the rebuilding process in South Sudan as starting “with a consultative phase in which South Sudanese, … can provide their views” (UNDP). Being able to share their thoughts would open the door for citizens to safely express themselves regarding the structure of their own government, decentralizing it to ideally prevent social injustice and dictatorship, hopefully looking like this: using the stories of all the victims, a board of international researchers would find those responsible for the citizens' losses. After crime and victim statements have all been announced, the newly-elected Sudanese government would decide economic reparations and which people to put on trial.
However, although a TRC executed in these ways would mercifully bring compensation and resolution to peaceful Sudanese people, the fierce machiavellian leaders of the two conflicting parties would tolerate the possibility of a TRC less than they tolerate each other. As happened before when a power was above them—prior-President Al-Bashir—they would ally their forces. Thus, in a situation where citizens could put these leaders on trial, Hemedti and Al-Burhan would have no other choice but to join military forces to maintain their political authority. Since together they control all of the military, Sudan’s misery seems inescapable.
Tuazon, Rod. “Examining South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” The Colleges of Law, 25 Aug. 2022, www.collegesoflaw.edu/blog/2019/01/08/trc-south-africa-study-abroad/.
“South African Truth Commission.” Legal Information Institute, www.law.cornell.edu/wex/south_african_truth_commission. Accessed 8 June 2023.
“Truth and Reconciliation the Way to Chart South Sudan’s Path Forward: United Nations Development Programme.” UNDP, www.undp.org/south-sudan/truth-and-reconciliation-way-chart-south-sudan%E2%80%99s-path-forward. Accessed 8 June 2023.
“Sudan: New Conflict Escalation Exacerbates 20 Years of Suffering for Civilians in Darfur.” Amnesty International, 2 May 2023, www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/04/sudan-new-conflict-escalation-exacerbates-20-years-of-suffering-forcivilians-in-darfur/.
“Sudan Conflict: Why Is There Fighting and What Is at Stake in the Region?” The Guardian, 27 Apr. 2023, www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/27/sudan-conflict-why-is-there-fighting-what-is-at-stake.
Hendawi, Hamza. “Sudan under Al-Bashir: Long History of Turmoil, Conflicts.” AP NEWS, 3 Jan. 2019, apnews.com/article/ap-top-news-osama-bin-laden-international-news-omar-al-bashir-cairo-8c637e57658243aca 3ee36318a6b5e20.
“Who Is Al-Burhan, Sudan’s Military de Facto Head of State?” Politics News | Al Jazeera, 16 Apr. 2023, www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/16/who-is-al-burhan-sudans-military-de-facto-head-of-state#:~:text=General %20 Abdel%20 Fattah%20al%2DBurhan,de%20 facto%20league%20of%20 Sudan.