Sudan’s government is widely suspected of abruptly cutting off the country’s internet Wednesday in an effort to stop protests from spreading across the country.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets across Sudan in recent weeks, most of them using Twitter and Facebook to organize. Using the hashtags #ابينا and #sudanrevolts, to spread the word, organizers said they have managed to circumvent the country’s infamous security forces.
“We used the methods we saw used in Egypt and Tunisia. We know we too deserve the chance to show the world that we deserve democracy,” said one activist, who reached out to BuzzFeed last week via email. “This has spread beyond our imagination, the Sudanese people want this.”
The Sudanese government would not verify that it had shut down the country’s internet, and activists in Sudan could not be reached Wednesday for confirmation. On Twitter, some reported reaching family members through text messages:
The internet monitoring firm Renesys confirmed that it had observed an internet blackout in Sudan, but couldn’t saw with certainty why it was happening.
“From the connectivity data alone, we cannot tell whether the blackout is government directed,” Doug Madory from Renesys told The Guardian. “However, it is either a coincidental catastrophic failure of all three independent internet providers and their connections out of Sudan, including a terrestrial link into Egypt — unlikely given it’s not just a single connection — or some centrally directed, government action.”
The blackout came just as Sudanese nationals began to tweet that massive protests were filling the capital of Khartoum.
Reports said two people were killed in the protests Wednesday, though some put the number much higher. Photos posted online showed bloodied bodies in the streets, and videos appeared on YouTube showing demonstrators chanting in the streets.
In it, protesters chant, “We’ve come out against the people who stole our country.”
Protests in Sudan started earlier this month, after the Sudanese government removed fuel subsidies, but they have now spread into a wider movement that looks to remove President Omar al-Bashir, who has ruled the country for more than two decades.