“Why do you follow me like a shadow?”
“Why soldier do you make shield of me?” _ Dr. Ahmed Gumma Siddiek
“The manifestations of militarization in civic life were visible long before” _ Dr. Abdelmonim Ali
Civilians have been taken as shields in the fight between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and General Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, also called Hemedti. Civilians, who are trapped inside the Sudanese cities where war is taking place, live in harsh conditions.
But the presence of the military and armed forces in civilian areas has been there before the war broke out. The manifestations of militarization in civic life were visible long before, as the Burhan’s SAF Headquarters and Hemedit’s RSF military baseswere located in the middle of Khartoum, the capital. Since the war began with a gunshot in Sport City, civilians have been used as shields around the city. The fighting continued in densely populated neighborhoods with people’s houses being used to deploy snipers.
The SAF and RSF also mobilize civilians to fight. Youths from poor and uneducated backgrounds are recruited by mobilization committees belonging to fundamentalists and all the other parties. These recruited civilians are being briefly trained and arrive in Khartoum, where they end up being killed. The SAF hit its own mobilized civilian fighters by an airstrike in Omdurman, and said it was mistaken, leaving many dead and wounded.
Due to being forced to stay in their homes and the lack of safe passages to escape to safer places, they cannot leave. The warring parties accuse each other of responsibility for using residences for military purposes. The war left thousands of Sudanese dead, most of them civilians, and more than 7 million displaced and refugees inside and outside the country.
Dr. Ahmed Gumma Siddiek, a 77-year-old Sudanese professor and poet, has composed a poem titled “Human Shields”, which captures the struggles faced by these civilians.
Why do you hide behind my back?
So as not to be killed or tracked?
I am not a soldier
I’ve no gun on my shoulders
Nor do I give the orders
To do you any harm or pain
I am a mere civilian,
I am soooo plain
With only bare hands
I could only raise my voice to say (NO)
But I always obey the law
I’ve no training to defend myself or my family, so
Why do you follow me like a shadow?
You go wherever I go
And you do whatever I do
Why do you track my walk?
And smile the way I smile
And talk the way I talk
Is it a game of fun?
When you put me in the mouth of your gun
But when it is up there,
Like a coward you make the run
To seek refuge under my feet
In the muddy street
Why soldier do you make shield of me?
To save your soul and safety
You dirty, that is dirty!!
How dare you shoot your enemy from my shoulder?
Then you come to hide when the enemy is hard
Why do you force me into a role I would never choose?
This twisted game, where danger is free and loose
In the streets of my town
So step down
And free my back
I will not follow your track
So stand up on your feet
Be brave and face your fate
That you have been trained to meet
You the swine …
This war is not mine