April 1, 2011Posted in: Online
Jimmy Carter observing the referendum on the independence of southern Sudan
The ruling National Congress Party of Sudan has issued a warning that
“cyber jihadists” shall “crush” internet-centered dissent. High-ranking
NCP official Mandur al-Mahdi declared that the government’s “cyber
battalion” was at the forefront of “online defense operations.” The
government took power in a coup d’etat in 1989. It is concerned
following unrest in Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia.
This latest move comes after a surge in anti-government campaigns
orchestrated through Twitter and Facebook which resulted in several
anti-government demonstrations. While youth groups have been active,
protests have so far failed to mobilize large numbers of people.
Nevertheless, the government reacted violently and many activists were
detained or intimidated.
This week, the NCP alleged that what small protests have so far been
in evidence were the work of students aligned with rebel groups from the
war-torn Darfur region, and certain political figures. He referred to
opposition as “residues of communism.”
Internet censorship is a common tool or repressive regimes, but there
is as yet little evidence of Sudanese cyber battalions. As the January
protests approached, NCP supporters posted messages to the Facebook
pages of dissidents and opposition groups, warning them not to join in.
Yet more upheaval may occur when the southern part of Sudan becomes
independent in July, following a referendum earlier this year.