Sudanese Professionals Association
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) is an umbrella association of 17 different Sudanese trade unions. The organisation was set up in October 2012, though it was not officially registered due to a government crackdown on trade unions. Its establishment was formalised between October 2016 and mid-2018, just six months before the revolution started. The three main unions in the SPA are the Teachers’ Committee, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors and the Democratic Lawyers Association. The unions signed a charter. The University Professors Association and Sudanese Journalists Network joined later.
From bread-and-butter issues to regime change
In December 2018, the SPA called for the introduction of a minimum wage and participated in protests in Atbara against the rising cost of living. The revolution started over bread-and-butter issues, but it ended up completely overhauling the political regime in the country. The SPA was a driving force behind the Sudanese revolution. It began a campaign for political, social and economic change through peaceful resistance in late 2018, and coordinated and facilitated peaceful protests throughout the country for several months. Several SPA members were repeatedly arrested, detained and abused because of their activities. On 3 June 2019 a mass protest in Khartoum was broken up by the Transitional Military Council’s armed forces, headed by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). They killed more than 150 people. In June there was a complete internet shutdown, lasting five weeks. Despite the setbacks, the SPA and protesters continue their peaceful struggle for a better Sudan.
The protests organised by the SPA had a huge impact. They resulted in the overthrow of president Al-Bashir and the instalment of a civilian-led transitional government. Since then, important laws have been reformed and the human rights situation has improved significantly. ‘From all sectors and from all areas, citizens, students, and women were amazing in this revolution. No matter if they were from a village or from a town. Whether they’re educated or not. The mothers were especially amazing. They would go outside and encourage the protestors: “We lost our son, but we see our sons in your eyes. So their blood is not dry yet. You have to go and complete this revolution”,’ said SPA activist and geophysics professor Nuha Zein in an interview with Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.