Posts Tagged ‘GoSS’

By Refugees International
The referendum on southern Sudan’s secession from the north took place as scheduled in January of this year, with over 98% of southerners voting for an independent south Sudan. This is seen as a promise of change in the lives of southerners, who suffered through decades of war and the displacement that went with it for millions of them.

The transition to independence in July may not be entirely peaceful, however, as violent clashes continue not only in the transitional area of Abyei territory, coveted by both North and South, but also in several southern states.

Some of the clashes are indigenous disputes over land and cattle between neighboring ethnic groups, sub-groups and clans. In recent years the toll in terms of casualties and displaced is higher due to the exponential growth in the availability of automatic firearms.

Other violence appears at first glance to have nothing to do with Sudan: southern Sudanese in Western and Central Equatoria states suffer from destructive raids by the Lord’s Resistance Army, an armed opposition group from northern Uganda. The LRA now operates in a vast area straddling the borders between Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Its attacks often involve kidnapping of children to be turned into soldiers and provoke displacement in all three countries. Seemingly an outside actor, the LRA in fact received support during the war from Khartoum, which is strongly suspected of continuing that covert support even today.

In contrast, the Khartoum government is very clear in its intentions concerning Abyei: to maintain control of this oil-rich territory by assisting the cattle-herding Misseriya tribe in their fight to keep Abyei part of Southern Kordofan. Northerners argue that the territory was never part of the south – in the administrative map upon Sudan’s independence in 1956, Abyei fell within the boundaries of Kordofan. Southerners insist that it should nonetheless be consider part of the south because the Ngok Dinka majority of the settled population of Abyei is southern, indeed part of the south’s largest ethnic group.

And then there is the series of rebellions in several southern states. Seemingly based on local grievances against the semi-autonomous government of southern Sudan, the rebellions are strongly suspected of receiving support from elements of the government in Khartoum who – according to the current speculation – want at the very least to ensure that the future Republic of South Sudan is weak and divided and thereby more easily manipulated by Khartoum.

One of the latest of rebellions to spark has been in oil-rich Unity State, the scene of massive displacement and human rights violations during the war. The leader of the supposedly local uprising is none other than Peter Gadet, notorious during the war years for his leadership of a Khartoum-backed militia group that cleared thousands of people out of vast swaths of land to make way for oil installations and the pipeline. Some of the rebel leaders in other states have similarly sordid histories. Hence the impression that despite the six-year-old Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the war is making a comeback in the lives of southern Sudanese.

The U.S. government needs to up the pressure on Khartoum and Juba to complete the CPA process and, more specifically, to make the political compromises necessary to stop the violence.

By Peter Orr, Senior advocate at Refugees International

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10th January, 2011 – Rebecca-Anne Fowler

Video from the Sudanese Australian Celebrations in Sydney last night for the start of Referendum.

The dancing and singing is amazing, these women are amazing, resiliant and so beautiful.  Thank you to the Sudanese Australian Community for inviting me to share this wonderful night with you all.

10th January, 2011 – Rebecca-Anne Fowler

The second day of referendum voting for Southern Sudanese in Australia has started again at 8am this morning. 

Last night i was invited by one of my Southern Sudanese friends William, to attend a celebration/meeting of Southern Communites after the first day of referendum voting ended.  The night was a mix of speech’s, dancing and celebration for the coming months ahead.

Speech’s were given by elders and leaders, women were dancing and singing and the mood was electric, the theme: A New Sudan. When anyone mentioned a New Sudan the place erupted into cheers, it was amazing to see the Unity of the Southern Sudanese Tribes in this room.   I myself was even called to give a speech. This was totally out of the blue and not expected. I did my best unprepared speech and got a huge round of applause. I felt so welcomed by all who attended.

It was also a great night for me to catch up with a few of my students and others whom i met at the Youth Conference in Sydney in NOV. I got to catch up with the wonderful Mr John Garang (not the late of course) and he was dressed in his military attire. He was happy to pose for a photo with one of his friends. 

After speaking with a few of the attendee’s last night, i got a brief feeling that the general consensus for this vote will be a separation. One of the speakers said “The Late John Garang fought for this freedom for us, our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers who were killed in the war have fought for this for us, now it is our turn to fight for them by voting in the referendum for separation.” Words than rang so true with most of the attendee’s.

I also spoke with a former “lost boy” who whilst not going into full details of his life, i could see that it had taken a devastating toll on the life of many. This particular gentleman now works for ActionAid and is doing great things here in Australia for his own community and many other communities around the world. It is so inspiring to know that someone who has been tested in the most atrocious  of ways in life, has come through and is now giving back to community. I am inspired and at awe of these wonderful resiliant people who have come through devastating times to find some hope in their future. It simply amazes me.

This Tuesday i will be heading into the referendum centre here in Homebush Sydney and will be speaking with some Southern Sudanese on their hopes and dreams for the referendum. I feel so simply honored to be able to be a part of their lives here in Australia and to share their stories with the world is truly a blessing for me.

This year i hope to start writing a book with a few of my students, their life stories. Its going to be an amazing year for the Southern Sudanese communities and i wish them all the hope and happiness for their futures.

-Freeuganda

 

Speakers and Woman Dancing at Celebration

All Photographs Copyrighted to Rebecca-Anne Fowler. Please DO NOT Distribute WITHOUT Permission

The Canberra Registration Centre Location
Copland Building
The Australian National University (ANU)

Monday 15 Nov to Wednesday 1 Dec

Monday – Saturday
(08:00 am – 05:00pm)
Sunday
(12:00pm – 05:00pm)

The Sydney Registration Sub – Centre Location
The Waratah Room
Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre
Olympic Park Sydney

Parking is at (P4) on the map and trains stop at the Olympic Park station.
Mon 15 Nov to Wednesday 1 Dec

Monday – Saturday
(08:00 am – 05:00pm)
Sunday
(12:00pm – 05:00pm)

The Melbourne Registration Centre Location
Meaklim Pavilion
Melbourne Showgrounds
Enter by Gate 7
Leonard Crescent (off Langs Road)
Ascot Vale

Monday 15 Nov to Wednesday 1 Dec

Monday – Saturday
(08:00 am – 05:00pm)
Sunday
(12:00pm – 05:00pm)

For further details:

* Email ausinfo@iom.int
* Ring 1800 938 936 or
* Visit www.southernsudanocv.org