Posts Tagged ‘South Sudan’

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9th July, 2011 – Rebecca Fowler

South Sudanese celebrate Independence Day in Parramatta, Western Sydney NSW.

A happy Southerner showing off her flags.

Today i had the honour to stand alongside my Southern Sudanese friends in celebration of their Independence Day.  The mood was electric, over 2000 Southern Sudanese living in Western Sydney made the trek out to UWS Parramatta for their day of celebration. In attendance were Elders from the local Southern Sudanese Tribes, Honorable Local MP for Parramatta Julie Owens, SPLM Chapter and many local media and journalists. The day was filled with people coming and going, chanting “South Sudan Oyeee”. Dancing outside the UWS Audatorium starting and everyone seemed to get into the mood of celebration.

Australian Born friends of Southern Sudanese were also in attendance, and I also met an Arab man from Northern Sudan who had moved to Australia and was standing alongside his Southern Friends. I was able to have a great discussion with him and many others about their lives back home in Sudan and what the future now holds for not only Southern Sudan but the North as well. Many were happy to share their tales from the war, from being displaced and their journey to Australia.

A Southern Sudanese Woman raises her Flags in celebration

Many faces were happy, smiles were everywhere, but the deep concern over the next steps is always present. In each and every speech that was made, people were congratulated but also reminded of the challenges that now face Southern Sudan in their rebuilding, the first new steps of their newly elected government GOSS, solving volatile issues such as those in Abyei, South Kordofan and Nile State as well as Darfur and upholding Human Rights and Democracy for the people.  As President Salva Kiir Myardit said in his speech “to those in Darfur, Abyei, South Kordofan and Nile State, we have not forgotten you”, and I truly hope that the rest of the world stand alongside President Kiir Myardit in his words. Freedom may have been obtained for the South, but those area’s still under dispute are far from seeing Freedom and Peace.  This MUST remain the top priority for GOSS as well as ensuring democracy and human rights will be upheld.

In the last 2 years of working with some of these Men and Women i have seen that their Courage, Determination and Faith in God is inspirational. The atrocities these communities faced are some of the worst in recorded history, but yet they do not hold revenge in their hearts, they forgive, move forward and strive to ensure they have what every human deserves, Freedom. It is in true honor these people have fought for their freedom and dignity and i am so honored to be able to work along side some of the most remarkable and passionate people i have ever met.

A Toddler stands along side his SPLM Chapter holding his Southern Sudan Flag

Congratulations to the Republic of Southern Sudan, May God bless your fertile land with abundance, freedom and happiness.

For more pictures Click –> Freeuganda.

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

Inside Story on Aljazeera. 23 May, 2011.

Inside Story, discusses with Rabie Abdul Atti, member of the NCP and advisor to Sudan’s information minister; Eddie Thomas, an author on Sudan; and Barnaba Benjamin, Southern Sudan’s minister of information.

Freeuganda’s Comments:
I watched this Inside Story last night and i must say i was extremely frustrated with the Rabie Abdul Attie and his “skirting the issue” each time he was asked a question. There is no doubt in my mind that the Northern Sudanese Army has forcibly occupied Abeyi with military action for their own gain. This is in breach the CPA signed in 2005. Mr Attie’s words “nobody can tell the Khartoum Govt what to do” just go to show the reality of the situation. They may take on board the international pressure, yet they do nothing in order to change what they are being pressured for. They MUST immediately leave Abeyi and allow the citizens to vote in a free, fair and peaceful election. The international community need to do more than just watch this time. Bashir is wanted by the ICC and the international community must start applying pressure to those countries to whom he visits (such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda) and they allow him to roam free and do not arrest him and have him sent to Hague to face trial. I call upon all people who care about humanity, to take action. Write, Call, Protest (Peacefully) and use your FREEDOM’s to help those who have suffered at the hands of Dictators and Tyrants for decades. I challenge YOU!

Sudan’s disputed border town of Abyei is ablaze, with gunmen looting properties days after troops from the government in Khartoum entered the area, UN peacekeepers say.

The peacekeepers belonging to UNMIS, the UN mission in Sudan, said on Monday that the burning and looting was perpetrated “by armed elements” but it was not clear whether they were from the north or the south.

Omar-al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, said a “peaceful resolution” for Abyei would be found.

“We are efforting to solve the remaining issues and remove tensions in Abyei,” he said in a speech.

The developments in Abyei drew strong reaction from the US, with its special envoy to the country saying Washington would rule out dropping Sudan from a terrorism list if it continued occupying the oil-rich district.

Princeton Lyman said the “occupation” of Abyei by northern troops is “an extremely disproportionate response by the government of Sudan” to an attack on a UN convoy escorting the troops last week.

Envoy ‘optimistic’

But Lyman added that there was still hope of the two sides resolving the crisis.

“I am optimistic in this sense: These two entities – Sudan and soon-to-be independent South Sudan – need each other,” he told Al Jazeera.

“They have to collaborate for their own good, and while we’re now facing a major crisis in Abyei, we’re hopeful that the leadership, particularly president al-Bashir [in the north] and vice-president Kiir [in the south] will re-establish the spirit that they talked about … ”

Sudanese government officials in the north say their troops moved into Abyei – inhabited by two tribes backed by the south and north respectively – to drive the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) out, who they said had been occupying Abyei since last December.

The SPLA is the armed force of South Sudan, which held a referendum for independence in January and is due to become an independent state in July.

UNMIS strongly condemned the burning and looting in Abyei and called upon the government of Sudan to “urgently ensure that the Sudan Armed Forces fulfil their responsibility and intervene to stop these criminal acts”.

Hua Jiang, the chief public information officer for UNMIS, said the burning of property and looting was continuing on Monday.

She said the Sudanese troops from the north had prevented peacekeepers from “conducting our daily, routine patrol”.

“So we’re not able to get out of the compound right now to carry out our duty,” she told Al Jazeera from Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

‘Humanitarian disaster’

Thousands of civilians are reported to have fled southwards after northern SAF troops and tanks took control of the town on Saturday.

South Sudan also claims Abyei district, which has special status under a 2005 peace deal that ended 22 years of south-north civil war, and has called the occupation “illegal”.

Barnaba Benjamin, the minister of information in South Sudan, told Al Jazeera that north Sudanese troops had “illegally and unconstitutionally invaded Abyei”.

“What the Sudanese forces are doing now [is] they are looting the place; they are burning the place,” he said.

“They have made thousands of people – children, women and the elderly – a humanitarian disaster. This is what they have been doing. They didn’t find any SPLA troops in Abyei.

“Their claim that there are SPLA troops in Abyei is not true … They entered the town without any confrontation … So why are they there?

“Why are they bombing the civilian targets; the villages around? They are airlifting Misseriya Arab tribes into the territory to occupy the areas of Dinka Ng’ok.”

The nomadic Arab Misseriya tribe, which is backed by the north, grazes its cattle in Abyei. The Dinka Ng’ok tribe, backed by the south, lives in Abyei year round.

A senior official from the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum, the capital of the north, denied the reports of looting but called Abyei “a war zone”.

“They [troops] are not looting the place,” Didiry Mohammad Ahmed told Al Jazeera.

“We know that this place, right now, is a war zone. The army is struggling very hard to see to it that no looting happens, but nonetheless some isolated incidents had happened.

“We are doing our very best right now – working in tandem with the UN mission in the region – to ensure no looting takes place. Nothing can be traced back to our forces.”

Read the full report HERE  at – Al Jazeera English.

Yesterday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay released two new reports that detail Joseph Kony’s campaigns of violence against civilians in northeastern DR Congo and South Sudan over the past year. The reports are the first public accounting of recent LRA crimes from the UN.  Joseph Kony

Pillay described LRA brutality as “consistent, deliberate and egregious,” and the report includes gruesome witness accounts such as that of one man who “reported discovering the mutilated body of a fellow villager. The villager’s leg had been chopped off, his jaws had been dislocated and his teeth had been pulled out.”

In her press briefing about the reports, Pillay called for regional governments and international leaders to enforce outstanding International Criminal Court warrants for the arrest of Kony and other senior LRA commanders, and for UN peacekeepers to act more boldly to protect civilians from the widespread violence.

Even though the reports conclude that LRA violence constitutes one of the deadliest situations of violence in the world – the rebel group murdered at least 1,300 civilians over the past year – few international leaders have called for aggressive international action to execute the warrants. LRA violence is taking place in incredibly remote areas of the Congo, Sudan, and Central African Republic, and international attention to the region has been focused much more on separate situations of violence in eastern Congo and Sudan.

The UN reports come amdist  growing fears that the LRA intends to repeat the “Christmas Massacres” of 2008, in which hundreds of Congolese civilians celebrating the holiday were brutally killed. UN peacekeepers in the Congo are deploying additional troops and are said to be on “high alert” to address this immediate threat.

As reported: United Nations rights chief: “Arrest Joseph Kony” | Resolve Uganda.