Tag Archives: Peace

An Open Letter From South Sudan’s Diaspora

To Those Who Hold the Fate of a Nation in Their Hands, Pres. Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the South Sudanese Diaspora and friends of the people of South Sudan send an urgent plea:

What should be said when a dream teeters on the verge of nightmare?

STOP!!!!

Celebrations and jubilation marked the founding of our nation. When the celebration waned, reality took over. Governing is hard work and leaders often have opposing points of view. Such opposing views are a necessary and vital part of a representative democracy.

South Sudan now finds itself in a situation in which the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are in jeopardy, thousands have died, and millions are suffering. Fighting could continue indefinitely. Full blown civil war could result in one side eventually triumphing over the other, but such a war would result in a pyrrhic victory, a triumph with a cost so extreme as to make it a loss for the victorious side. It is vital at this point to put forth every effort to end hostilities before they worsen.

The United Sudanese And South Sudanese Communities Association based in Des Moines, Iowa known by its acronym  USASSCA includes leaders from the South Sudanese, Darfurian, Nuba and other Sudanese and South Sudanese communities in the diaspora working together for the benefit of the communities in the diaspora as well as working toward the achievement of justice, equality, liberty and peace for the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan.

With hope to promote peace and unity in South Sudan, the United Sudanese And South Sudanese Communities Association USASSCA and those other organizations signed on to this letter below urge the following actions:

  • The prioritization of compromises and concessions aimed at ending the violence and restoring order over the pursuit of future retribution for actions related to this conflict after its conclusion. The urgent need is to stop the killing and prevent further damage to society in South Sudan. This applies to both sides of the conflict and to the international community.
  • The immediate cessation of offensive military action by either side.
  • The release of all political prisoners.
  • The withdrawal of hostile forces from the oil fields in Unity State to allow the resumption of oil production.
  • Withdrawal of foreign forces from the territory of South Sudan.
  • The placement of UNMISS forces to help maintain the cease fire and to report on violations.
  • Commitment to reconciliation efforts.

With concern for the people of South Sudan,

United Sudanese And South Sudanese Communities Association USASSCA

South Sudanese for the Eradication of Tribalism SSET

Help Nuba

Dr. Henry Lejukole, Chairman USASSCA, Des Moines, IA

Rabbi David Kaufman, Executive Advisor to USASSCA and Co-Chair of Help Nuba, Des Moines, IA

Gatwech Ring, Chairman SSET, Des Moines, IA

Mark Finkelstein, JCRC Des Moines, IA

Rev. Francis Chan, USASSCA and SSET, Des Moines, IA

Cory Williams, Co-Founder, Darfur and Beyond, Phoenix, AZ

Bill Andress, Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, Lexington, SC

Gabriel Stauring, Stop Genocide Now, Director, Redondo Beach, CA

Elana Kahn-Oren, JCRC Milwaukee, WI

Sharon Silber, US Director, Society for Threatened Peoples

Eileen Weiss, Co director, Jews Against Genocide

Neiki Ullah, Communications Director, New York Coalition for Sudan

Laura Limuli, Coordinator, Brooklyn Coalition for Darfur & Marginalized Sudan

Slater Armstrong, Founder/Director, Joining Our Voices

Bakheit Shata, Founder/Executive Director, Darfur Community, Omaha, NE

Mohamed Ebead, President, Darfur People’s Association of New York
Martha Boshnick, Darfur Interfaith Network, Washington DC

Faith J. H. McDonnell, Dir. Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, The Institute on Religion and Democracy, Washington DC

Gloria Crist, Co-Founder, Essex County Coalition for Darfur, Montclair, NJ

Jerry Farjalla, USASSCA, Des Moines, IA

Harun Mudung, USASSCA and Blue Nile Community Association

Important words by Dr. John Garang about Peace

Dr. John Garang de Mabior

Dr. John Garang de Mabior

This is from a speech given by Dr. John Garang on the occasion of the signing of the Nairobi Declaration, June 5, 2004. Dr. John’s words need no commentary. They are obviously applicable to the events ongoing today in both Sudan and South Sudan:

There are many – here and elsewhere – who think that peace is about job allocation, is about apportionment of positions of authority, is about lining pockets through misuse or abuse of public assets, or is about lording it over others. Those who thus think must be reading from a different script than mine.

We have more supreme goals and loftier ideals and alternatives. My script reads that peace is what people think and believe peace should hold for them. Peace to my mind and in the depth of my soul is a promise of better living to the young, the middle aged and the aged, to each individual, to the unemployed and the destitute, to the sick and the unlettered, all over Sudan. It is also a promise to the men and women of Southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, Abyei, Eastern Sudan and other marginalized areas of Sudan who suffered in dignified silence the loss of their dear ones in the war of liberation or who felt and still do feel a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, a promise that we shall never betray the cause for which those martyrs have made the ultimate sacrifice. And theirs is a cause for better and more honorable living.

It is also a promise to martyrs and to those who lost their dear ones on the other side,

promise that just and honorable peace

shall heal all the wounds

that we have inflicted

on ourselves on both sides.

A Sickeningly Happy Smile

I don’t know about you, but I feel sick when I look at the picture of Omar Bashir’s beaming smile as he shakes hands with Salva Kiir. Bashir looks like a child who has just been told that if he shakes this man’s hand, he gets to go to Disney World. I can’t help but wonder how either man could smile at the other, much less beaming like that. Bashir is a war criminal.

Then again, looking at the situation in which both men find themselves, if they have made any progress toward an oil transfer agreement, how they can smile might actually be understandable. South Sudan’s economy is in a shambles and is only deteriorating faster as the days pass and oil does not flow. Without oil flowing, right now South Sudan is closer to becoming a failed state than prospering one. Salva Kiir is in jeopardy of becoming the leader who ran South Sudan out of business.

But Sudan is not much better off. It’s economy is in a free fall and subsidies which were essential in placating the masses so that they would not rise up against the Khartoum Regime have had to be removed. There are mass protests in the streets. Foreign governments and investors would not think about investing in Sudan or even loaning it money. In addition to the protests, rebel groups in the west, south, and east all are challenging it and the ones in the south are fighting, fairly successfully, for control over the last oil reserves the nation possesses. Opposition parties have gained enough momentum to publicly challenge the ruling party and there is for the first time in a long time, a reasonable hope for regime change.

Thus, the smile, that sickeningly happy smile.

Peace and a renewed flow of oil solve the major problems that both men face. Sudan needs it badly. South Sudan is probably in as good a negotiating position as it could hope for. Khartoum can’t afford to delay the opening of the spigot. So, a tentative agreement that allows the oil to flow.

“We’ll deal with the border region later. No one attack the other. We both need the money.” That is the obvious discussion. Mutual butt-saving.

In South Sudan, Salva Kiir will be able to fulfill promises for his suffering people and things will dramatically improve. Peace will bring massive investment and growth. The economy in the South could boom. The people will be vastly better off in the short run especially. Kiir’s butt saved.

But this will certainly put a damper on change in Sudan. The Khartoum Regime will strengthen. The inevitable collapse will not merely be delayed for a bit, but perhaps it will no longer be inevitable at all. Bashir’s butt saved.

The return of subsidies will quell demonstrations. In Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Eastern Sudan, there will be a newly strengthened Sudanese Armed Forces and police presence. Opposition leaders will suddenly become silent, at least the ones who do not go missing. Things could get a lot worse.

I know that it is a stretch to read to much into the smile of a consummate liar, but I just get the feeling that he’s not lying. Bashir seems genuinely happy. That makes me sick.