Khartoum, Sudan – For Eiman al-Khidr, the decision to boycott the country’s elections was very personal.
She recounts how her cousin and sister were shot dead during the September 2013 protests that claimed over 100 lives in the streets of Khartoum.
Her 15-year-old cousin Sohaib was getting sweets from a nearby shop when he heard gun shots and started to run away with his friends. As he was running, the police shot him in the back and he died on the spot.
“Sohaib was not an activist. He was just buying sweets with his friends,” al-Khidr says.
At his funeral, in the north of Khartoum, the whole family gathered, upset and in shock. A large crowd formed outside the house of the deceased.
Al-Khidr says there was heavy police presence, because protests were ongoing in nearby areas.
Her voice starts to tremble as she recalls how one plain-clothed policeman started shooting at the crowd, and how her sister Sara, 29, was shot as she was trying to escape the gun shots.
“We are not a political active family. We were not even at the protests. We were at the wrong place at the wrong time like many Sudanese. No one deserves to be killed like this.”
To publicly show her boycott and discontent for the this week’s elections, al-Khidr responded to a call on social media to put a sign on the door of her family’s house and share a photo of it online.
“Dear candidate, don’t bother knocking. This family is boycotting the elections, so save yourself the embarrassment,” the sign reads.
She says that by putting up the sign, and posting it on Whatsapp and Facebook profiles, she and her extended family are protesting against the government’s brutality and violence.
“We refuse to participate in the killing of our people by acknowledging these elections,” she says.
Another Sudanese woman who opted to show her disapproval of the elections by putting up a sign is Rawa Bakhit.
“I am not aligned with any political movement, but I am against these fake elections and the government’s obsession with trying to make everyone believe the lie that people are participating in this sham,” she says.
Bakhit says local media is biased and does not accurately reflect the atmosphere in the streets.
“The local TV stations are brainwashed and too biased, they don’t show the truth. By hanging the sign outside our home I’m showing my resistance.
“Everyone in our neighbourhood is boycotting, the polling stations in our area is empty.”
After the standard message asking candidates not to bother her, the sign outside her house reads: “#Depart #Irhal the resistance continues.”
Irhal is the name of a nationwide campaign with the ultimate goal to see President Omar al-Bashir, in power since 25 years, step down.
Bakhit works as a human rights advocate, campaigning for children’s rights.
“My field work in Darfur and South Kordofan made me see first-hand the brutality of this government,” she said, referring to two states where the government is accused of grave human rights violations in its battle with armed groups.
“The atrocities committed in these areas is not just reports to me, I saw it and it’s my responsibility to do the least I can to protest. Otherwise I will be as responsible as the government.”