Monthly Archives: April 2012

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

The Burning of the Church in Khartoum

General Bashir’s Racism and Promotion of Religious Hatred
are Behind the Burning Down of the Church in the Heart of Khartoum
In the last two weeks, General Bashir and his colleagues have used inflammatory language of racism and religious hatred against his own citizens and the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, describing Southern Sudanese as insects. Later on, he tried to limit it to the Government of South Sudan, but he was much earlier exposed when he dehumanized and robbed half a million Southern Sudanese citizens from their rights. It is evidently clear that it is Southern Sudanese that he is targeting. Moreover, he used an old phrase of an Arabic poem against one of the black Egyptian rulers, which said that “you should not buy a slave without a stick.” This is not an insult to Southern Sudanese only, but it is in the first place an insult to Northern Sudanese in whose name Bashir is ruling. Moreover, it is an insult to humanity and a violation of all human rights and international charters. Likewise, it is an insult to the entire African continent and to black women and men worldwide, which includes all Northern Sudanese.
General Bashir is misreading and misjudging the recent international appeals to him and his government and he believes he is in a honeymoon with the international community. This is a recipe for disaster because it will encourage him to intensify war and human rights violations within the Republic of Sudan and to scale up the aggression against the Republic of South Sudan. He has already taken more than 500,000 civilians, displaced persons, in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile hostage, denying them from their very basic rights to humanitarian assistance, and moreover, he is bombarding them with his air force. He is encouraged that the situation of the hostages has been overshadowed with other crises. The policy of appeasement to Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, is the same policy of appeasement in a different context and environment that long ago created Adolf Hitler.
As a result of Bashir’s language of religious hatred and with direct encouragement and protection from the security and police in Khartoum, who are spoon feeding the fundamentalist groups; a religious group associated with the National Congress, burned down Algreaf Church, an evangelical church, in the heart of Khartoum. They looted the church and burned it down to ashes. This does not represent Islam and in particular the Sudanese Islam, which is a Sufi tolerant Islam. It only represents Bashir, his group and his ideology. This is an extension of what he is doing in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. The only difference is that it moved to Khartoum under his own eyes and protection. We call upon the Sudanese Muslims to stand against the policies of the National Congress and Bashir, who are destroying the very Sudanese social fabric, and we should defend the right of Sudanese Christians as equal citizens of our great country.
It is worth mentioning that the Sudanese security forces launched the biggest campaign detaining more than 30 of the SPLM-N leaders and members in the 15 different states of the North. Those are members of the SPLM-N who are not carrying arms and are working peacefully for what they believe in the areas controlled by Bashir. Among them are Izdhar Jmmua, a lawyer, and Alawya Kepada in addition to more than 200 who are missing, detained and are sentenced to death. Among them are the poet, Moniem Rahma, and Dr. Bushra Gamar and many others.
We, the Sudanese people, and all those who believe in the values of equal citizenship, human rights and religious and ethnic co-existence and those friends who are ready must stand against a racist delusional person who happens to be the president of a state and who is wanted by the International Criminal Court and is committing genocide and crimes against humanity that the world will live to regret. And in particular, the massive starvation policy that is putting more than 500,000 people on the brink of death must not be forgotten and humanitarian aid to them should be the number one priority. This is the SPLM-N’s message on my visit right now to the United States and we will leave no a stone unturned to deliver our message. The SPLM-N is ready to meet all requirements for the delivery of humanitarian aid including the cessation of hostilities on humanitarian grounds.
Yasir Arman
Secretary General
Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement North
April 24, 2012

Sudan Pledges to Fight “Food Smuggling”

The level of incompetence being exhibited by the United Nations in response to events in Sudan is so high as to render absurd any consideration of the organization as effective at saving lives or useful at promoting peace. A few days after ordering South Sudan to retreat from Heglig and demanding that South Sudan not aid the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army-North, which it already said it was not doing, the UN is observing the consequences. Sudan has pledged to continue to prevent food from reaching the tens of thousands of starving people who are fighting against a government that is trying to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing against them. Actually, Sudan is arguing that it is attempting to prevent food smuggling from Sudan into the regions of South Sudan where there are also significant food shortages.

While there may well be clandestine trade between the two nations occurring, the real reason for military action against cross border food trade is not to combat rebels, but instead

  • to try to heighten the famine that will be faced by the people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile,
  • to prevent humanitarian aid from non-governmental organizations from reaching them, and
  • to force the people to flee across the border into South Sudan to find food or
  • to perish in the mountains from starvation.

The United Nations’ Security Council’s refusal to act to save the people of the Nuba Mountains by ensuring that food arrives is tantamount to abetting the Khartoum regime in its war on civilians in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur as well as in its growing campaign against Unity State. That the UN’s policy concerning aiding those being deliberately starved by their government should be to ask that very government to allow the food to be delivered is an absurdity that borders on callous indifference. If sending in food against that government’s will enables the people to save their lives and to continue fighting one of the most brutal regimes of the past century, I should hardly the think the world would be worse for having done so.

South Sudan Demands that the UNSC Act Now

As published today on the Government of South Sudan’s Mission page.

Statement by HE Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Government of the Republic of South Sudan

GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH SUDAN CONDEMNS AERIAL AND GROUND ATTACKS BY SUDANESE ARMED FORCES INTO UNITY STATE, REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN

For immediate release

Juba, 23rd April 2012: The Republic of South Sudan has withdrawn its SPLA troops in Heglig in conformity with the statement of the President of the United Nations Security Council and in response to appeals from world leaders.

This has been done to create an environment for the resumption of dialogue between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan through the initiative of the Africa Union High Implementation Panel.

The SPLA troops completed an orderly withdrawal to its previous positions, however, the Republic of Sudan has continued to conduct aerial and ground attacks within its territory.

These attacks have been conducted from Saturday 21st to Monday 23rd April.

On Sunday 22nd at 9am, Mig and Antinov aircraft bombed the towns of Panakuac, Tor, Unity Oil Fields, Nyapoula (near the bridge) and Ruthriak. This was followed a 1pm by a large ground attack of militia, mujahedeen and SAF troops on SPLA positions. This was repulsed by the SPLA troops and the SAF forces were driven back towards Heglig. The SPLA forces then retreated to their positions.

On Monday 23rd at 8.45am, Mig fighters again attacked Pentiou market and dropped 3 bombs killing 2 civilians, including a 12 year old boy. All those killed and injured were civilians. They then dropped 4 bombs on Abiemnhom but there were no casualties.

The Government of the Republic of South Sudan strongly condemns these senseless bombardments of civilian targets within the territory of South Sudan. We urge the Security Council, the United Nations, the Africa Union and international community to condemn this hostile attitude and urge the Republic of Sudan to desist from their aerial bombardments and ground incursions into the territory of the Republic of South Sudan.

The Government reminds the international community that the Republic of South Sudan withdrew forces from Heglig on a voluntary basis and at the request of the Security Council. The SPLA retains the capacity and capability to repulse these forces and pursue them back to Higlig.

These are acts of provocation on the part of the Government of Sudan. The Government of the Republic of South Sudan retains the right to self defense and to protect the lives of our civilians.

The Security Council must take its responsibility and punish the Republic of Sudan for continuing this aerial bombardment and the violation of the airspace of South Sudan.

Bashir – “The Insects Must Be Exterminated”

Omar al-Bashir in a “victory” speech offered today in Heglig following the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army’s withdrawal from the city repeatedly stated to a cheering mob that, as a friend translated for me, “The ‘popular insects’ must be exterminated.” The term “popular insects” indicates the South Sudanese Army and their allies, the Christians in the country and those Muslims who are seeking freedom and are allied with the Christians, who call themselves the “people’s army.”