Category Archives: Christians in Sudan

Negotiations and Urgency

Thabo Mbeki of the African Union met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir to discuss arranging negotiations with Sudan. South Sudan’s response, “Sure, let’s meet.” Sudan’s response, “No, give us what we want to achieve in the negotiations as preconditions for negotiations and then we’ll negotiate.” You can read more about the meeting between Mbeki and Kiir here.

In other news, the United States has donated $30 million to the UN World Food Program to address food insecurity in South Sudan. The donation will be delivered through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). While we have discussed the need to get food aid into the Nuba Mountains before the rainy season hits, there is also a major need to get aid to many regions within South Sudan. According to USAID’s press release:

Due to South Sudan’s poor road network, about 60 percent of the country will become inaccessible during the rainy season. This contribution helps WFP complete prepositioning of much-needed commodities across South Sudan, where roads will soon become impassable.

Meanwhile, Sudan and the UN have grossly differing estimates for the number of refugees from Sudan who are currently in neighboring countries. Sudan’s estimates are less than half of those of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Regardless, hundreds of thousands of Sudanese now reside in neighboring countries because of the inhuman conduct of the Khartoum regime in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, while hundreds of thousands more are internally displaced. Remember that the several hundred thousands Christian former citizens of Sudan have become “South Sudanese” in the eyes of the Khartoum government and are being pressured to leave. In addition, many thousands more in the border region of South Sudan have also been displaced because of Khartoum’s cross border bombing campaign and cross border raids.

Sudan Council of Churches Office in South Darfur Ordered Closed

Sudan has raided and closed the offices of the Sudan Council of Churches in Nyala along with Sudan Aid without giving any notice, according to a report from Compass Direct News. Three employees of Sudan aid were arrested. National Intelligence and Security Services also shuttered a church that was caring for the needy in the area.

Salva Kiir- South Sudan opposes Islamization and Arabization

The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, explained that South Sudan has been fighting against the expansion of Islamization, the combination of Islamic religious views and the enforcement of them using political and military force. Kiir stated in his Sudanese People’s Liberation Army Day speech that:

The government in Khartoum once said we are the obstacle and if they can defeat us they will expand Islamization and Arabization up to South Africa.

What is “Arabization?” In this context, Arabization is the enforcement of Arab Islamic societal and cultural norms while subjugating African ones as inferior and to be abolished. In Darfur, it was Arabization which was opposed by much of the African Muslim population that led to genocide of the African Muslim population there by Arabists. I say “Arabists” because in Darfur, these were racial Africans, not racial Arabs, who were enforcing Arabization under the penalty of death.

In the Nuba Mountains, the government is attempting both to promote Islamization  and Arabization against the African Muslims there while forcing the cultural African Muslims and all of the Christians to flee or die. The SPLM-North is defending them against the Sudanese government while ultimately seeking to create a government that would allow for religious freedom.

Though not speaking about the events in South Kordofan, but about South Sudan, the Sudan Tribune notes that:

Kiir explained that the SPLM manifesto calls for a secular state where “no religion is better than the other” and “no region and tribe should be better than the other” because “religion belongs to God” and the “land belongs to the general population.”

Below you will find videos of the Salva Kiir’s SPLA Day speech which was delivered in Arabic.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir speaking on SPLA Day 2012

Part I

Part 2

US says the UNSC May Sanction Both Sides

The U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice was happy with the vote:

With this vote, the Council has clearly imposed tight deadlines for concrete action, in line with the African Union decision. This Council, especially those members with particular influence, including my own, must continue to press both parties to implement the African Union Roadmap by ending hostilities, ceasing cross-border attacks and movements, halting aerial bombardments, withdrawing all their forces from the border areas including Abyei, activating the necessary border security mechanisms, and ending support to rebel groups working against the other state.

It is also essential that both parties return at once to the negotiating table under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel to reach agreement on critical outstanding issues. We support the plans of the African Union to travel to Khartoum and Juba in the coming days to begin the process. This is ultimately the only way that further conflict can be avoided.

If the parties fail to take these steps promptly, this Council is united in its determination to hold both sides accountable. We stand ready to impose Chapter VII sanctions on either or both parties, as necessary.

The clear and unmistakable impression given by this statement is that the United States will offer no support whatsoever to those people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile who are fighting for their lives against a genocidal regime that wishes to kill them precisely because fighting for their lives constitutes a rebellion against the government of Sudan’s wish for them to leave or die. Is it possible for a rational human being not to wish for regime change under such a circumstance, nor to fight for it to happen?

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.

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!

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 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

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