For the past month, Sudan has been rocked by protests against President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power since 1989. The authorities have cracked down, often using tear gas on protestors. Yet some people have decided to respond to this repression by turning the canisters into flower pots, pencil jars and other ingenious – and peaceful – creations.
The protests started on December 19, 2018. Initially, they were a response to a spike in the price of bread. However, soon protesters began to express their general frustration and anger at Sudanese authorities. The result was a heavy-handed police crackdown. At least 24 people have been killed, according to official reports, though NGOs like Human Rights Watch think that the number could actually be closer to 40. About one thousand people have been arrested.
READ MORE ON FRANCE 24: Sudan police fire tear gas at protestors amid call for week of action
In response to this crackdown, many people took to social media to post images of how they transformed empty tear gas canisters – which had been fired at protesters – into both art and practical objects.
Emadh Badawi, a Sudanese poet and writer, made flower pots out of empty tear gas canisters that she picked up in the streets of Khartoum. She painted the names of the neighbourhoods where she found them onto the metal. They include North Khartoum, Bahri, Oum Dormane and Bashdar.
The story behind this flower pot is kind of funny. I was out protesting when I realised that it was my oldest son’s birthday. He was turning 11 and I didn’t have a present for him yet. We had talked a lot about the situation in the country. I told him that when I was his age, we had the very same president. So I wanted to find a present for him that would symbolise this important time in our history.
I saw these canisters on the ground. They were still warm, but I started collecting them. My son helped me to write the names of the neighbourhoods where I had found them on each of them. Before, he wanted a guitar. But he ended up just loving this present, which marks a moment in our history.
We are peaceful protesters. Over the past few days, we’ve taken to the street calling for change and we’ve faced repression in all kinds of ways. For me, turning these empty canisters into flower pots is a way to call for national unity and for the authorities to stop fighting their own people.
Other people also posted photos online, showing tear gas canisters that had been turned into flower pots or pencil holders.