Monthly Archives: April 2012

South Sudanese are Fleeing the North

With relations worsening between Khartoum and Juba, with a state of emergency declared along the border with South Sudan, and with Christians in Sudan being denied citizenship and living under the threat of persecution or worse, people are flooding the South Sudanese embassy in Khartoum to obtain emergency travel documents or nationality certificates so that they may leave Sudan. The South Sudanese embassy issued 3,000 emergency travel permits as the government of Sudan begins to register the “South Sudanese”, meaning all non-Muslims, while noting tribal affiliation and religion. Sudan is implementing a process that has declared all Christians to be “South Sudanese” and demanding that all of them be registered. This is a very troubling development in a nation that has persecuted minorities to the point of committing genocide.

State of Emergency in the South of Sudan

Today, Omar Bashir declared a state of emergency in the southern part of Sudan. After numerous attacks by the Sudanese against South Sudanese forces over the past few weeks, this seems like an absurdity. Of course, there is a state of emergency in South Kordofan. The issue, however, is that the state of emergency has been caused by the Sudanese government, not just called that by it. Sudan is actively trying to starve the people in the region and those trying to counter the efforts to commit genocide in the region are deemed “rebels” thus “justifying” in some people’s minds the use of military force in the region, almost all of which is aimed at civilians. The region faces a famine deliberately caused by the government of Sudan which is not even willing to abide by the African Union proposal for a cessation of hostilities, a proposal which would all but ensure Sudan of the ability to continue its program of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the south. Hostilities would have to cease before Sudan would even need to consider shipping in humanitarian aid and when the rainy season arrives in force, it could simply delay such shipments for weeks or months, accomplishing its genocidal aim.

While the UN Security Council is going to be far more reasonable than the African Union at addressing the upcoming catastrophic famine and the military aims of the brutal Sudanese regime, the famine will only be prevented or even significantly lessened, if the UNSC decides to deliver humanitarian aid by any means necessary and not only through Khartoum or with the permission of Khartoum. Sudan rejects the proposal to bring the situation to the UNSC at all, preferring instead to have the ineffective African Union handle it alone. Meanwhile, South Sudan rejects the leadership of the African Union in trying to mediate the conflict, knowing full well that the African Union is biased in favor of Sudan. Beyond using its own army, Sudan is employing the Janjaweed and other brutal irregular forces to terrorize populations in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei and even in South Sudan.

This article by Maury Clark puts it quite well:

Khartoum’s claim that both the Janjaweed in eastern Sudan and their equivalent in the RSS are not directly controlled by Khartoum is specious, but effective. Unless a direct tie to Khartoum can be proven, Bashir can arguably claim that he has no influence on their actions and their crimes against humanity.   HORSEHOOEY!

It is time to stop discussing the impending mass-scale tragedy and start to work on stopping it. The AU will be no help and the UNSC will not be a help unless it decides to act directly to save the civilians in Darfur and South Kordofan. We cannot rely on the African Union, much less upon the Government of Sudan, to help save the lives of the people in the Nuba Mountains. Let us get the food there! Help Nuba!

US worsens Sudan situation in UNSC

I wish I could have titled this blog posting, “United States uses its chairmanship of the UN Security Council to act to prevent genocide.” Unfortunately, I cannot. I’m stuck dealing with how to explain the United States’ support for the African Union proposal which

  • Defends Sudan,
  • A government that is well known to have committed genocide on a large scale in Darfur and
  • Is equally well known for its attempts to do so in South Kordofan and Blue Nile right now,
  • A government that is actively trying to starve tens of thousands of its own people in the Nuba Mountains, and is a proposal which
  • Demands that all aid going to the groups fighting those trying to commit the genocide must cease, and
  • Threatens sanctions against our friends, the South Sudanese people,
  • Unless they comply with the wishes of our enemy, the government of Sudan.

The United States has done just that introducing a resolution in the UN Security Council to this effect.

In addition, the UNSC under the direction of the United States is seeking to reduce the Darfur hybrid force as a result of “the improved security situation there.” Instead, UN undersecretary-general Herve Ladsous said, according to the Sudan Tribune article, that

Half of the infantry companies will be redeployed in East and South Darfur states which have seen an increase of attacks carried out by rebel groups who cross from South Sudan.

They are planning on using the African Union troops to combat those fighting the genocidal regime in defense of Sudan’s sovereignty.

The Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman indicated that he was happy about the downsizing of the UNAMID forces. A glowing endorsement from the representative of the genocidal regime is hardly reassuring that this is a good decision. Additionally, as Eric Reeves recently pointed out, reports of the improved situation in Darfur appear to be grossly exaggerated. US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice indicates that the reduction in UNAMID forces is not a downsizing, but a “right-sizing”, trying to get the appropriate forces in the right places. Somehow, fighting ones friends instead of fighting ones enemy does not seem like putting the forces in the “right places.”

That the United States would use its opportunity as President of the UN Security Council to take action against the Sudanese Revolutionary Front, the several rebel groups friendly to the United States who are united in trying to combat the genocidal anti-American regime in Khartoum, and to threaten South Sudan, another friend of the United States, if it tries to help the rebels is mind boggling.

Why is the United States aiding Sudan in its fight against the rebels and the South Sudanese who are our friends? Why are we not advocating for them? We do not help people who are facing genocide.

President Obama’s own Senior Foreign Policy Advisor, Samantha Power, in speaking about Bosnia, herself noted that:

No U.S. president has ever made genocide prevention a priority, and no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on.

More to the point, however, she noted something that eerily resembles the Obama Administration’s own position on the rebels in the southern part of Sudan. The Center on Law and Globalization in discussing Samantha Power’s argument about “Why the United States has Failed to Stop Genocide” notes that:

Once the killing starts, Americans tend to believe that if the civilians who are in danger just keep their heads down they will be left alone. After all, a “rational” regime would only be a threat to groups that threaten the government. Why waste time, effort and resources killing innocent people who pose no threat?

In other words, if the rebels stop fighting, the regime will stop attacking the civilians. Of course, in Sudan we have evidence that the Sudanese government deliberately targets civilians. The article goes on to cite the Armenian Genocide. This paragraph is frighteningly similar to what is happening in South Kordofan and the genocide against the Nuba people:

Henry Morgenthau Sr., U.S. ambassador to Turkey at the time, provided detailed and gruesome accounts of Turk atrocities against the Armenians to the U.S. government. However, the official line from Mehmed Talaat, Turkey’s interior minister, was that Turkish forces were merely responding to the threats of Armenian groups against the Turkish government. Civilians were not the targets.

Friends, it is time that we Help Nuba!

Blue Nile Residents are Under Attack

Human Rights Watch reported this week that citizens of Blue Nile state are under attack from Sudanese forces in a similar fashion as the residents of neighboring South Kordofan:

Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Blue Nile, which the government has largely shut off from the outside world, described indiscriminate bombings in civilian areas, killings, and other serious abuses by Sudanese armed forces since armed conflict broke out there in September 2011. The testimony indicates potential war crimes may have occurred.

The video below is posted by Human Rights Watch on Youtube. It contains descriptions of war crimes that are difficult to hear.

Franklin Graham calls for bombing Sudan’s airbases

In an article for the Washington Times, Franklin Graham called upon the United States to bomb Sudan’s runways to prevent Sudan from bombing the civilians in the Nuba Mountains:

I am asking him (President Obama) to use our Air Force to destroy Mr. Bashir’s airstrips – the airstrips his military uses to launch bombers that carry out daily attacks in the Nuba Mountains. The Nuba people don’t want American soldiers – they can fight for themselves. They just want to be free. But they have no defense against bombs dropping from the sky on their villages, schools and hospitals…I certainly am not asking the president to kill anyone, just to break up some concrete to prevent the bombers from taking off. I think that by destroying those runways, we can force Mr. Bashir to the negotiating table. This needs to happen soon because Sudan’s rainy season is coming. If we continue to turn our backs and don’t act, it will be too late for thousands of men, women and children.

A History of Hypocrisy on Sudan

Eric Reeves’ most recent posting about the history of the international community’s hypocrisy in addressing the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan gives an excellent summary. I encourage you to read the whole thing. His conclusion, however, indicates why we must address this issue now more than ever:

Certainly the leadership in Juba has taken stock of what has transpired over the past ten days, and is even now re-calibrating what it can and cannot count on from the international community… The international community will no longer have the influence it had even a month ago.

Khartoum of course is also recalibrating its military policies, and the largest conclusion the regime has drawn is that it may continue its longstanding military policy of aerial attacks on civilian and humanitarian targets in the sovereign territory of South Sudan without meaningful consequences, and that it can continue is campaigns of annihilation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.  The regime has been persuaded, on the basis of ample evidence, that even South Sudan’s putative friends regard “sovereignty” as one thing for Khartoum and quite another for Juba.

It is hard to see a greater encouragement to war.

Groups ask UN Security Council to take escalated action against Sudan

From Act for Sudan

Groups ask UN Security Council to take escalated action against Sudan

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – April 24, 2012 – Today, in advance of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Sudan, Act for Sudan, a bipartisan, interfaith alliance of American and Sudanese grassroots advocacy organizations, is delivering to Members of the UN Security Council a public letter signed by human rights leaders in the U.S. and abroad.

The letter “expresses alarm at the inadequate international attention and action” regarding the multiple crises in Sudan and states that the government of Sudan has “effectively blackmailed the international community into accepting these ongoing crises by threatening to do even more deliberate harm to its marginalized, defenseless and displaced citizens.”

The 65 signatories to the letter include Sudanese diaspora groups and Baroness Caroline Cox signing on behalf of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust.

“For too long, the government of Sudan has heard the international community express grave concerns without imposing consequences or enforcing UN Security Council resolutions. Worse, the international community’s concern too often devolves into a dangerous moral equivalency, blaming everyone and no one, and confusing perpetrators and victims,” the letter states.

“We urge you to end the moral equivalency, the impunity, and the crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide perpetrated by the government of Sudan, and to start imposing consequences for its actions. Condemnation is necessary but not sufficient. We strongly believe that only concrete, escalated action will change the calculations of Sudan’s government officials and break the pattern of grave crimes, human rights abuses and humanitarian crises,” continues the letter.

The groups further outline specific steps they want the UNSC to take in the letter.

The full text of the letter along with the list of signatories may be found at this link.

When Kiir Goes to China

With his country in the midst of renewed fighting with Sudan, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, went on a trip. He did not go on vacation, nor did he go to Washington or Jerusalem to visit South Sudan’s historical best friends. Salva Kiir went to Beijing to meet with China’s President, Hu Jintao. Because of the presence of a significant amount of oil in South Sudan, China is a strategic partner. However, because China also must maintain friendships with allies of Sudan, if not with the Khartoum government itself–also an oil supplier–it is not in a position to help Juba act against Khartoum. In fact, China has been the primary supporter of “Shut up and go to your rooms!” the UN Security Council’s policy on the conflict, basically telling Sudan and South Sudan to ignore their conflict, stop fighting, and let the oil flow. What South Sudan needs is for China to support sanctions on Khartoum, but that is unlikely to happen. Right now, the best that can happen is for China to oppose sanctioning both sides of the conflict and for it to invest in developing the oil resources of South Sudan in the long term.

A Message from the Sudan Council of Churches – Church Burning in Khartoum

A message from The Rt. Rev. Ezekiel Kondo, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Khartoum on behalf of the Sudan Council of Churches:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”. (1 Cor. 10:13)
Introduction:
What had happened this week for the church in Sudan has shaken us as church community in the Sudan. Some of the information in the media were not correct as it was reported to be Anglican church or Catholic Church in Khartoum, but the correct information is a very old Bible School in Gerief West in Khartoum belonging to Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church. Within the Bible School Compound, there is a Church and a number of housing for students.
This was not the first incident, St. John Parish Church in Haj-Yousif, Episcopal Church of the Sudan received a warning letter giving 72 hours for church leadership to demolish the church or else legal and any other means will be used to demolish this building as it is in a illegal plot of land and also South Sudanese have gone to South Sudan. The leaders of the Church wrote the Ministry concern to intervene. The church is still standing after more than 72 hours, but nobody knows how long will it stand?!
Brief history on recent incident of Presbyterian Evangelical Church:

 

On Friday the 20th April: Imams were heard from two nearby Mosques saying they are informing all the people in the area to mobilize themselves to take over the Church because that the land belong to them. The relevant authorities were informed. The Police were brought in to guard the place.
On Saturday 21st: Around 2pm the group of people as many as over 500 came into the Bible School and began to destroy the buildings, burning down books including Bibles and uprooting trees! The most amazing thing was that the policemen were around but did nothing to prevent this happening!

 

On Sunday 22: Christians gathered in the compound to pray and to encourage one another over the incident. All the Christian denominations attended the prayer including Muslims, political parties women groups, and the neighbors. All the speakers condemned the incident that this is not Sudanese behavior nor is it Islamic behavior. Some of the Muslims apologized on behalf of the other Muslims because this evil act was done in the name of Islam which does not represent the spirit of true Islam.
Representative of the government said that this behavior is not acceptable because no civilized person could do such barbaric act. He promised that the ministry will investigate the matter.
Meanwhile, the members of the Church have had a meeting with the Commissioner of the area in his office who had the time had not yet visited the vandalized Church and the School, promised that he was going to form an investigation Committee to deal with the matter, that anyone who is found to have been involved, will be brought justice, that he was going to come to see the place with his own yeas, that all the cost of the church and the school will be paid for by the government and that the police will be responsible in guarding the area until the matter is resolved fully.
Monday 23rd: Heads of Churches in Sudan under Co-Chair of SCC, Fr. Antonious Fakious to strategize how they would handle this tragic situation of the church in the Sudan. The agreed that the must come out with a clear statement on the issue and hold a press conference to inform the public and the world of what the church in Sudan is facing. In this meeting Dr. Faroug al Bushra, Secretary General of Sudan Inter Religious Council joined the meeting and he offered sympathy to the Church and SCC over what had happened and again, he said that this act does not reflect the spirit of true Islam.
While the meeting was going on we received a phone call from SCC Nyala in Darfur that the security has taken over the premises of SCC and Sudan Aid in Nyala. That they came in the morning as usual but found that the place was occupied by others and were told to hand over the keys of all the vehicles and motor bikes. 5 vehicles and 3 bikes were removed from the compound of SCC office Nyala. Offices of Sudan Aaid and SCC Nyala are closed by Security.
Having formed a drafting committee for SCC Statement, we then moved to the Ministry of Religious Guidance and Endowments were meeting was going on over the issue with members of Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church. The meeting was being chaired by the State Minister. The Minister having listened to full story of what had happened. The Minister expressed his sadness and grieve of what took place for the Church and its property and that such veil things can be done in the name of Islam. He assured that church leaders that his Ministry will do all it can to see that justice is done to the church and that those responsible will be brought to justice.
He formed a committee consisting of members from both the Ministry and the Church to handle the issue.
The church on her part has open legal cases against those who destroyed and burned down the church. It has been estimated SDG 5,000,000 value of property which got destroyed and it be more than this.
Conclusion:
I would like to thank many of you, friends around the world who have been praying for the church in Sudan. We very appreciate these efforts. It seems that there is a plan to stop the work of the Church or threaten Church leaders in Sudan to stop preaching after the independence of Sudan. What I know, the church will remain and will continue to operate though there will continue to be challenges on the way. The history tells us so. It happened in the past, but the church continued to this day.
However, sometime we feel have been forgotten even by our close friends. Because it seems no one cares about us here in Sudan after independence of South Sudan. Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile areas people are in a terrible situation and it seems no one cares. We are called insects!
I believe that the good Lord will protect the church in Sudan and whatever happens, there will be way out.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”. (1 Cor. 10:13)
The Rt. Revd. Ezekiel Kondo
Bishop Khartoum,
Episcopal church of Sudan
Khartoum 23rd April 2012

Tobin and Cohen commentaries on the Jewish community and Sudan

Two very good commentaries to note today:

Jonathan Tobin wrote an article for Commentary Magazine in which he argued that President Obama and US policy should not abandon South Sudan. Tobin noted that US support and influence helped bring independence to South Sudan. He also pointed out that in the President’s speech given at the United States Holocaust Memorial yesterday, the President stressed “Never again!” Tobin noted that this sentiment now needs to be backed up. Will the United States stand idly by?

Ben Cohen wrote an article for the Jointmedia News Service in which he argued, as I do, that “South Sudan is a Jewish cause.” Cohen noted that:

Jewish communities around the world, and especially here in North America, need to flex their muscles in support of South Sudan. The ethical imperative is clear, as anyone following the brutal campaign waged by the Sudanese regime in the Nuba mountains in recent weeks would be aware.

I believe that not only is South Sudan a Jewish cause, but so is Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei… We need to speak out. The Sudanese People’s Liberation Army-North is not a “rebel group,” but is instead similar to those fighting for survival in the ghettos in Europe. With an enemy killing them on site and using starvation as a tool, it is not rebels who rise up. All human beings rise up. We should stand in angry opposition to those who say, “Let them first lay down their arms!” May it not come to this:

The force that has overcome Europe and destroyed entire states within days could cope with us, a handful of youngsters. It was an act of desperation . . . We aspired to only one thing: to sell our lives for the highest possible price. 

– Mordechai Tenenbaum, resistance fighter in Vilna, Warsaw, and Bialystok