Posts Tagged ‘sudan’

The “War On Terror” Spreads to Africa: U.S. Sending Troops to 35 African Nations

The U.S. is sending troops to 35 African nations under the guise of fighting Al Qaeda and related terrorists.

Democracy Now notes:

U.S. Army teams will be deploying to as many as 35 African countries early next year for training programs and other operations as part of an increased Pentagon role in Africa. The move would see small teams of U.S. troops dispatched to countries with groups allegedly linked to al-Qaeda, such as Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. The teams are from a U.S. brigade that has the capability to use drones for military operations in Africa if granted permission. The deployment could also potentially lay the groundwork for future U.S. military intervention in Africa.

NPR reports:

[A special American brigade] will be able to take part in nearly 100 separate training and military exercises next year, in nearly three dozen African countries

Glenn Ford writes:

The 2nd Brigade is scheduled to hold more than 100 military exercises in 35 countries, most of which have no al-Qaida presence. So, although there is no doubt that the U.S. will be deeply involved in the impending military operation in Mali, the 2nd Brigade’s deployment is a much larger assignment, aimed at making all of Africa a theater of U.S. military operations. The situation in Mali is simply a convenient, after-the-fact rationale for a long-planned expansion of the U.S. military footprint in Africa.

Timothy Alexander Guzman argues:

AFRICOM’s [the U.S. military’s Africa command] goal is to eliminate China and other countries influence in the region.  Africa’s natural resources is another important element to consider because it includes oil, diamonds, copper, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, bauxite, silver, petroleum, certain woods and tropical fruits.

In a must-watch interview, Dan Collins of the China Money Report agrees that the purpose of the deployment is to challenge China’s rising prominence in Africa:

Read the full report via Global Research

World

Shortly after midnight on Thursday a column of tanks drove slowly down one of the main boulevards of Khartoum. Although residents of Sudan‘s capital of Khartoum awoke hours later to what seemed like another normal day, something significant had taken place during the wee hours. Amid a flurry of conflicting reports and wild rumors, information minister Ahmed Belal Osman announced Thursday that 13 suspects — among them senior officials — had been arrested for plotting against the state. “The government has decided to abort this plot just before the zero hour as a preventive measure to avoid entering the country into chaos,” Osman said.

The news of a coup attempt would have come as little surprise to countless Sudan watchers, who for months have watched storm clouds gather around the regime of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Facing armed resistance from restive ethnic groups in all corners of the country, as…

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Israel’s Airstrike on Khartoum: Part of a Broader US-NATO-Israel Military Agenda

israelus

by Mohammad Reza Haji-Karim Jabbari

The recent attack on a weapons production plant in Ash Shajara area of Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum, on October 24, can have many reasons. However, irrespective of those reasons, this attack cannot be analyzed separate from the large-scale and main strategy of the United States and Israel in the Middle East and North Africa. This means that the aforesaid operation has been certainly part of the big puzzle of the United States’ and Israel’s strategy in these regions. Meanwhile, any analysis of the attack should first focus on the conditions under which the airstrike has taken place because those conditions will show us whether it has been a unique operation or not?

1. The Israeli airstrike against Sudan followed an earlier operation by the Lebanese Hezbollah in which an Iran-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) penetrated deep inside Israel. Many reports have been published on that operation, but the gist of all of them is that the operation greatly scared the inhabitants of Israel. On the one hand, it was a deterrent operation which aimed to change Israel’s calculations with regard to launching any possible attack in the Middle East region, and also posed a serious challenge to rumors about Israel’s attack on Iran. Therefore, the Israeli leaders needed to not only boost the morale and spirit of their people, but had to do the same for their military commanders as well. As a result, they had to launch an operation which would prove the upper hand of the Israeli forces both in military terms and in terms of intelligence and espionage in order to boost their people’s morale. The attack on weapons production facility in Sudan could be analyzed from this viewpoint.

2. There is also another large-scale aspect to this attack. Following the recent developments in the Middle East and in the light of the Arab Spring and the Islamic Awakening, Israel actually intended to test regional countries and reassess its regional standing in view of the aforesaid developments. This means that by conducting such a military operation, which amounted to a blatant violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, and also by carrying out the operation against an Arab and Islamic country, Israel intended to know what changes have been made to decision-making systems of these countries in the wake of the Arab Spring and what possible reactions these countries may show to Israel’s military operation. Unfortunately, the Arab League only showed a very feeble reaction by issuing a simple statement and this issue may embolden the Israeli regime to continue such attacks.

3. To carry out the operation, Israel needed to cross the Saudi Arabian airspace or that of Egypt. Have those countries been informed in advance? Had Saudi Arabia been especially pre-warned of the attack in view of the policy that Riyadh has been following in the Persian Gulf region and the entire Middle East? In both cases, Saudi Arabia’s responsibility will not be reduced. If the attack had been carried out in coordination with Saudi Arabia, it can be considered a really catastrophic development for the Arab world and the entire Islamic world as well. If it had taken place without Saudi Arabia knowing anything about it, then it would follow that the American military advisors who are in charge of management and training of very advanced military equipment in Saudi Arabia do not provide such information to Saudi Arabian government. In fact, Saudi Arabia’s hands are totally closed for dealing with such issues as its government does not know what is going on within its borders. In both cases, Saudi Arabia should be held to account for this incident. On the other hand, the weak statement that the Arab League has issued, which has been naturally under the influence of Saudi Arabia, clearly proves that Saudi Arabia is not willing to come under pressure for this issue. Either Riyadh wants to prevent the attack from emerging as an acute issue in the Arab world, or it is not willing to support Sudan as an Islamic country which is also part of the resistance front in the Middle East and North Africa.

4. As everybody knows, the United States and Israel have started joint military drills since last week. The drills are, per se, unprecedented in the history of Tel Aviv’s relations with Washington. A total of 1,000 American troops have already arrived in Israel while another 1,000 Israeli troops are also taking part in the maneuvers. According to some reports, 2,500 American forces have been also posted in various parts of the Mediterranean region and elsewhere in Europe. The main goal of the maneuvers is to test the readiness of Israel’s missile defense system. Therefore, the operation inside Sudan has been carried out simultaneous with the joint military drills by the United States and Israel.

5. This operation has been carried out after certain developments in the besieged Gaza Strip. Israel restarted its aerial attacks on Gaza last week after which Tel Aviv accepted a cease-fire mediated by the government of Egypt. A few days later, Egypt sent its new ambassador to Israel who presented his credentials to the Israeli President Shimon Peres along with a letter from the Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi which conveyed a half poetical, half reconciliatory message. These conditions have been certainly influential in emboldening Israel to carry out the attack.

6. This operation has greatly reduced defensive abilities of Sudan at a time that the government in Khartoum needs all its ammunitions and defensive capacity to repel possible attacks from South Sudan. The country’s defense capacities have been attacked on such baseless grounds as the plant belongs to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s armed forces, or under other ridiculous pretexts including that Sudan has been possibly using the demolished facility to build a nuclear bomb. However, the main goal was nothing but to undermine and weaken Sudan’s defense capacities.

7. Israel has embarked on a limited military operation in order to make up for the humiliation it suffered due to Hezbollah drone operation and at a time that despite intense rhetoric about attacking Iran, it lacks the practical ability to do so. In this way, Israel will be able to claim that it has dealt a blow to the Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas as well as Iran. The operation, however, was in fact a compensation for the humiliation that has greatly undermined military and security prestige of Israel.
8. By attacking Sudan, Israel wants to show that it is aware of every political and military movement in the region and will lose no time to react to them. Israel had already carried out limited operations in Sudan in 2009 and 2011. In 2009, it attacked a convoy of trucks in Sudan which Israeli officials claimed to have been smuggling arms into Gaza Strip to be used by Hamas.

In 2011 and under the same pretext, Israel attacked another vehicle. On the other hand, the United States attacked a pharmaceutical factory called Al-Shifa (The Cure) near Khartoum in 1998 and razed it to the ground. The American officials claimed that the plant was going to be used to build chemical bombs. Later investigations refuted that allegation. Therefore, the military attacks carried out by the United States and Israel against Sudan prove that the Americans are undoubtedly providing intelligence to Israel and are thus implied in Israel’s attacks on the Arab country. Even the Sudanese Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein has noted that some elements in Sudan’s military forces have possibly played a part in providing the Israelis with intelligence relevant to the attacks.

Therefore, it is clear that a host of regional, international and domestic factors in Israel have prompted Tel Aviv to take such a step. As for domestic factors, Israel is trying to repair its tarnished military prestige through the attack. On the regional scale, Tel Aviv is trying to show that it is still capable of conducting intelligence and military operations at any point in the Middle East and North Africa. When it comes to international level, Israel is trying to prove that although such operations amount to the violation of international law, Israel does not consider itself bound to any limits when its security is at stake. However, a closer look at the operation clearly shows that due to its small scale and the lame excuse used to launch it, the operation actually indicates that Israel is currently in a weak position and this point has not been overlooked by the global community.

The point which should be borne in mind here is that the mainstream Western media such as the daily Guardian in Britain and the Washington Post in the United States have tried to connect the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, and finally Iran to this operation. This measure has been taken in order to discredit Iran’s allies in the region while there has been not a single shred of evidence to prove that Iran has had any role in what was going on inside Yarmouk weapons production plant in Sudan. Nobody has been so far able to produce such evidence and it seems that incriminating Iran is mostly an excuse and a cover for what Israel has done. A close review of the remarks made by the Sudanese officials is enough to show that the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has clearly stated that the main goal of the Israeli operation was to weaken the defense abilities of Sudan as a country which is supporting Hamas. He continued by warning the Israeli regime that such hopeless measures will not prevent Sudan from supporting the cause of Palestine. On the other hand, Sudan’s minister of media has pointed to various issues stipulating that Sudan will never give up its position on the issue of Palestine, noting that his country had been attacked due to Sudan’s support for Palestine. The permanent representative of Sudan to the United Nations also stated that the aftermath of Israel’s invasion of Sudan will not remain limited to his country, but will jeopardize peace and security throughout the entire region.

Of course, the Israeli officials have noted that recent attacks on Israel from Gaza have not been carried out by Hamas, but have been actually launched by Iran. Israel has not officially claimed responsibility for attacking Sudan, but no Israeli official has rejected the remarks made by Sudanese officials either. Therefore, it seems that Israel is trying to show that it is still capable of conducting operations on regional scale. The officials of Sudan have announced that they were actually planning to move Yarmouk plant from Khartoum to another region, but the Israelis had got wind of Sudan’s decision beforehand and embarked on the preemptive attack.
On the whole, Israel wants to use this very limited and actually blind operation to buy new regional credit. This is why when asked whether this operation has been carried out by Israel or not, Major General Amos Gilad, head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s diplomatic security bureau, noted that the operation aimed to boost the morale of the Israeli army. He claimed that the Israeli air force is the most prestigious among air forces of the world and has proven this more than once. The emphasis he put on the Israeli air forces was the most remarkable point in his remarks. The strange point, however, is that Sudanese officials made no effort to incriminate South Sudan for the attack while South Sudan is the main beneficiary if Sudan’s defense capacities are compromised. On the contrary, officials in Khartoum noted that recent agreements they had reached with South Sudan have infuriated Israel and the United States.

The Arab League has been also playing a very significant role in recent regional developments. In the case of Libya, the Arab League allowed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to launch military operations against the government of Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The Arab League also planned to do the same in the case of Syria, but Russia and China effectively vetoed a draft resolution for military attack on Syria at the United Nations Security Council, thus foiling the Arab League’s plan. In the cases of Yemen and Bahrain, however, Saudi Arabia has been taking any unilateral measures it deems necessary to suppress popular protests in those countries. The Arab League, meanwhile, has not only refrained from making any protest to Saudi Arabia’s interventions in Yemen and Bahrain, but has also indirectly supported Riyadh’s interventionist policy.

This clearly proves that the Arab League has become a plaything in the hands of Saudi Arabia and is complying with Saudi Arabia’s policies at a time that a member state, that is, Sudan, has become target of such a large-scale military invasion. Although the invasion has been carried out by the Zionist regime of Israel, the Arab League, under the Saudi Arabia’s influence, has so far shown no serious reaction. Such double standards will certainly be detrimental to solidarity among the Arab League members in medium and long terms. Unfortunately, the international community sees the political developments in the Arab world from the viewpoint of the Arab League. Such double-standard policies have made it easy for Israel to continue its aggressive and invasive policies against a number of important regional countries even after the downfall of regional dictators without being faced with any serious protest from international community.

Mohammad Reza Haji-Karim Jabbari is Iran’s Former Ambassador to Ivory Coast 
Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD) http://www.irdiplomacy.ir/

Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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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

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.

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

So today is my second last day at the HARDA office for this years African Men’s English Program. Tomorrow we will be having our graduation for 2010 and my students are excited yet aprehensive.

“What will we do for the next 8 weeks?” is a common question that is arising. With both our classes and TAFE classes finished for the year the men seem to be at a loss at what they will do with their time. Alot of them are asking about employment over the holidays, what can they do to gain some casual employment.

I feel troubled by the prospects of them going back to the parks they were sitting in before we were able to gain their attendance.  With all the weeks of nothing ahead (f0r our single students) they are at a loss. It pains me that i can not do more. I feel like i’m sometimes caught between a rock and a hard place. But yet again, i am only one person. I do what i can to make the lifes of those around me better and i guess that is all i can do.

I am looking forward to our graduation ceremony tomorrow morning and i know my students are as well. They have invited their families and i am hoping to see a great turnout in support of them. I have started to receive the tutor reports and am amazed at how well some of them have come in the last 12 months due to our program.  It makes me feel like we are doing something worthwhile and giving back to those who need our help.

I have made some wonderful friends with the Sudanese males that i have been involved with and the stories they can tell, wow they will blow you away.

Just this morning one of my students was telling me that he finally got to speak to his sister last month after 24 yrs of absence. She had no idea he was living in Australia and had not seen him since he was a small boy. I think of my own family and not seeing my sister for 24 yrs and how hard that would be on my family so i can only imagine how hard it has been for him. Living here in Australia with NO family. A Lost Boy, still searching for the life he wants. It pains me to hear his stories, so we made a pact, we will go to Sudan together one day and meet with his family. I myself am not rich, i struggle on financially with my own family and life but somehow, someday, god will help us take this journey together, so i can retrace his steps, meet his family and learn more about how my fellow friends from southern sudan have been forced to live for far too long in unresolved war like conditions. Ipray for nothing more than peace for southern sudan and for my friends to be able to return home to a democractic society that they so enjoy here in Australia.

I have also been trying to get on here and blog about my experience at the Horn of African Youth Conference a fortnight ago but am having issues with my internet cable (kids have tripped over it one too many times and its not working) and then my camera decided it did not want me to print the pics on the SD card when i took it to officeworks. So once i have fixed the “Technical” issues facing me ill have the blog up and the pics of the weekend up as well. (I am blogging from the HARDA office this morn).

Also Please Please Please if you want to do something  for someone this Christmas purchase one of our Shirts or Products from ALL FOR CHARITY STORE and 100% of the profits made are used to support a Child Headed Household in Uganda of 5 Children. Betty the eldest girl is a budding scientist and we would love nothing more than to see her acheive her goals. For more information on Betty and her family, please VISIT HERE

-Freeuganda

Tuesday 23rd November 2010

I was at the HARDA (Horn of Africa Relief & Development Agency) office today as usual for my Tuesday Morning Volunteering to co-ordinate the African Men’s English Program. We had a great conversation at our Morning Tea session and i thought it was worthwhile to discuss.

John, (our dear leader) had raised the subject of how hard it was for African Refugee’s to gain employment in Australia and what services are available out there for further training. It was a great topic. A few of our students were really encouraged and opened up to us. “I worked for 20 months after coming to Australia as a printer” Santino from our level 3 english classed divulged. “In Sudan i worked as a printer in Khartoum”. He also added. “In Australia i learnt great lessons in my 20 months working, that quality of product is very important, the machinery is different and up to date in technology, that arriving on time to work is very important.” Santino advised. “I’ve applied for over 30 jobs in the Construction Industry” Spoke Ateem, “yet i’ve not gotten a job yet”. Ateem previously worked in construction for 12-18 months but was unable to continue his employment due to his english skills. This is why they attend our Mens English and Computer Classes, so he can gain a better understanding of the english language and how to adjust to life here in Australia in a casual and stress free setting. Even though they have completed 500 hours of English training through TAFE, they found that coming from a non english speaking country (in particular Dinka, tribal or Arabic languages) it is much harder to understand and learn english. They found that TAFE did not make them feel confident in learning the english language and they could not have too much extra help due to the high amount of students per teacher. Our courses offer low student to teacher ratio to ensure effective learning and absorbing of information.

This journey i have begun with the Southern Sudanese Community in NSW has been an amazing journey full of interesting, heart breaking and couraging stories of life. I really cannot fathome how there is so much racism and misinformation surrounding these lovely people living in our beautiful and free country. My dear Aussies, i ask of you to just take the time to get to know these wonderful and resilient people and the friendships you will make are ones that will last the tests of time. My friends have such wonderful faith and kindness to share with the world, their amazing culture and traditions are to be retained for their future generations and their expressions of love and life through dance and song is to be adored. They make the most amazing music and dances i have seen.

So its now time for me to sign off for tonight but i leave you with a refreshed and revamped website that i have been working on tonight to update my information as my paths entangle and my life takes on new challenges and projects, i hope to continue on this journey with you.
-Freeuganda

Khartoum — The ruling National Congress Party NCP on Saturday expressed its dissatisfaction with the voter registration process for the South Sudan referendum in the North saying there were clear violations that undermines the credibility of the process.

Mandoor Al-Mahdi, a senior NCP official, told the government sponsored Sudanese Media Center SMC that the Sudan People Liberation Movement SPLM, in control of the South, is exercising intimidation against potential voters in the capital and also those urging Southerners to register.The official alleged that SPLM members are present at polling stations to persuade Southerners not to register.

He added that these incidents were reported to the South Sudan Referendum Commission SSRC to rectify the situation but no action was taken.The presidential adviser and NCP figure Al-Sheik Beesh told SMC that they will not recognize the outcome of the referendum if the registration process continues in this non-transparent manner.Voter registration began on Monday for the January 2011 referendum on whether oil-producing southern Sudan should secede from the north.

It is widely expected that Southerners will choose independence.In Khartoum, registration centers were empty as many southerners who live in the Sudanese capital made the trip south to enroll or abstained from registering altogether for fear of intimidation by the ruling party in the North.

The presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie toured the registration centers in Khartoum this week and appeared visibly angry on TV saying that the low turnout was a result of SPLM instructions. He has also reportedly clashed with poll workers after they turned away a prospective voter who did not have the required documentation to register.

However, the SPLM made similar accusations to the NCP that it is seeking to pressure Southerners in the North to vote for unity through “citizens’ committees” by collecting the phone numbers of those who registered.

The SPLM’s Atem Garang said southerners were being told: “You must vote for unity when you come and vote next time.”

“It is intimidation. It is against the law,” Garang told a news conference in Khartoum. He also denied that they had asked Southerners in the North to boycott the registration process.

The southern Sudanese, we never urged them not to register because we want them to be free. When we talk about a free and fair referendum, it means when you are going to registration you must be free. We did not to talk to them to boycott the registration,” Garang said.

Around five million southerners, living in both north and south Sudan and abroad, are eligible to sign up for the referendum which could result in the African continent’s largest country being split into two.

For the south to secede in a valid referendum, there must be an absolute majority of a minimum of 50 percent for independence plus one vote, and 60 percent of those eligible must also have cast their ballots.

via allAfrica.com: Sudan: NCP Threatens Not to Recognize the Referendum Outcome.

“A very serious situation and its not a good sign that threats are being made. The north needs to remember they agree’d to split peacefully if the referendum decided separation. I pray this does not re-ignite the situation and bring about more unrest in Southern Sudan” -Freeuganda

In recent weeks there have been requests  for new Sudanese Referendum Registration Centres to be opened around Australia.  As Australia is such a vast country and therefore should have registration centres in each state.  Due to the calls for more centres, 2 new centres have been arranged and are in the process of opening in the coming days.

HR Manager, David Miche’l from the The International Organization for Migration in Canberra has confirmed this morning that new Referendum Registration Centres will be opened in Australia. Two (2) new locations have been confirmed in Brisbane, QLD and Perth, WA.

Brisbane Location is (CBD):

Hospitality Suite, Exhibition Hall 1

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Merivale St, Southbank QLD

Brisbane Registrations will be opened from  Tuesday 23rd November (an exact time frame on how long they will remain open is not yet available)

PERTH LOCATION is due to be released this week and an updated post will be submitted as soon as information is received.

For more information about the REFERENDUM in SUDAN please Click HERE

This morning i found out through one of my Sudanese Students that the registration for Southern Sudan Referendum voting has been placed on HOLD in Australia and the USA.

From what i am aware after speaking with a few other NGO’s and crisis hub, the reason for this is due to the fact that the Council are meeting to decide on whether they will open more registration centres in Australia and the USA. An urgent meeting is due to take place in the next 24-48 hours and the outcome of this will be made public and the voting registrations should then be opened.

I can only hope this is not a ploy of the north to yet again hamper efforts to hold this referendum on time. In the last few weeks, tensions have risen, Northern Bahr El Gahzal state has been bombed under “false pretenses” and reports of southerners returning to the south being abducted by northerns posing as local tribesmen.

My students today seemed very concered about this move to place the registrations on hold here and abroad. They do beleive that this could ultimately affect the holding of the referendum and without registering on time they will miss their opportunity to vote for a ‘New Sudan’.

I pray for freedom and liberties of my good friends and hope that peace can surely come to their land.

Freeuganda

 

7th November 2010;  © Copyright Rebecca Fowler

Sydney Baha’i Centre in Silverwater came alive last night (saturday 6th November) as the Bahr El Gahzar Community of NSW Youth Union held their 2nd annual Culture Day.

Invited by a student that i work with through the HARDA African Mens English Project, i was enthralled in culture the moment i walked through the doors.

Arriving at around 6.15pm i was greeted by some 500+ Bahr El Gahzar community members. Speech’s were made by community leaders and Youth leaders and songs from the homeland sung to unite the community. I was engaged in cultural dancing and song. A local Bahr El Gahzar rap group of Youth’s took to the stage and the atmosphere turned electric. As soon as these youth picked up the microphones the crowd went wild. they belted out their tune singing about a “New Sudan” and “Unity” between the Southern Sudanese. It was a great moment, part of it i was able to capture on video but due to the noise of the screams had to cut it short…VIDEO HERE

The Youth Leaders spoke to the youth of the community about how they need to use their time in Australia for good. To stick with their education and be motivated by the prospects of a New Sudan in the year ahead. Supporting the referendum in January was also high on the list, as well as keeping the youth off the streets.

As a westerner looking in on African Culture it seems we are not so different. The challenges they face with their youth here are exactly what we face with our youth. Our culture is as baffling and confusing to them as theirs is to us and yet they carry on each day with such resiliance and motivation it needs to be commended. Imagine coming from a very rural village to a major city bustling with trains, cars, traffic, traffic jams, accidents, sirens, complete and utter chaos is basically how you could describe the transition.  But it has its up side, our country is at peace, and unfortunately Sudan is not. Decades of war have taken its toll on these people and the only way to sustain their lives and culture was to leave their homeland and seek shelter in a country of peace. We are so lucky to have such resiliant visitors to our shores, let us hear of their stories, learn a bit about them and their cultures and you will find they are just sooo much like us. Family is important, community is important, love, friendship, fun, entertainment, dancing, singing, you would be utterly surprised how alike we are. Aside from skin colour, we are all similar and i really don’t know how people cannot see this.

Coming from Rural Sudan to Blacktown City of Australia must be a huge and amazing change of life and circumstances. Blacktown City is a vast city that has expanded massivly in the last 30 years. I should know, i was born here. As a local Blacktowner i have seen my town grown into a vast city, seen our vast array of bushland be cleared for Urban development, seen our infastructure fall behind due to the vast rise of population and seen the massive change in the community. The Southern Sudanese who have came here have done a remarkable job to adjust to the hustle and bustle of Australian life after years of living in war torn areas. We don’t realise being Australians how confusing our rail or bus system can be to a new Australian. How our tax system can boggle their minds and how even using our vast array of electrical knick knacks can seem like you need to take course to use it.

After my experience last night, being welcomed into the Bahr El Gahzar community i feel so completely honored and motivated. I hope that in January of 2011, A New Sudan will emerge through the referendum and my dear friends who would love to return to their homeland are able to do so as free and democratic citizens of a “New Sudan”.

FreeUganda (Apologies for the poor quality footage, my video camera is requiring a new charger cable)

HARDA (Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency) is holding our Family Wellbeing Day this Saturday, October 30th at Auburn Park, Macquarie Rd, Auburn NSW from 10am to 3pm.

Building Resilience – Good Friends help us bounce back!

There will be Jumping Castle, Animal Farm, DJ Prince 2000, Celebrity Soccer Player, Novelty Races, Halal BBQ, Drumming Workshops, Hip Hop Workshop, Information Stalls and Much More!

All are welcome to this FREE Event. for more information visit HARDA Website or call 02 8762 4225 or email harda@harda.org.au

(Kampala) – The rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) killed at least 321 civilians and abducted 250 others, including at least 80 children, during a previously unreported four-day rampage in the Makombo area of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in December 2009, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

“The Makombo massacre is one of the worst ever committed by the LRA in its bloody 23-year history, yet it has gone unreported for months,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The four-day rampage demonstrates that the LRA remains a serious threat to civilians and is not a spent force, as the Ugandan and Congolese governments claim.”

The 67-page report, “Trail of Death: LRA Atrocities in Northeastern Congo,” is the first detailed documentation of the Makombo massacre and other atrocities by the LRA in Congo in 2009 and early 2010. The report, based on a Human Rights Watch fact-finding mission to the massacre area in February, documents the brutal killings during the well-planned LRA attack from December 14 to 17 in the remote Makombo area of Haute Uele district.

LRA forces attacked at least 10 villages, capturing, killing, and abducting hundreds of civilians, including women and children. The vast majority of those killed were adult men, whom LRA combatants first tied up and then hacked to death with machetes or crushed their skulls with axes and heavy wooden sticks. The dead include at least 13 women and 23 children, the youngest a 3-year-old girl who was burned to death. LRA combatants tied some of the victims to trees before crushing their skulls with axes.

The LRA also killed those they abducted who walked too slowly or tried to escape. Family members and local authorities later found bodies all along the LRA’s 105-kilometer journey through the Makombo area and the small town of Tapili. Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that for days and weeks after the attack, this vast area was filled with the “stench of death.”

Children and adults who managed to escape provided similar accounts of the group’s extreme brutality. Many of the children captured by the LRA were forced to kill other children who had disobeyed the LRA’s rules. In numerous cases documented by Human Rights Watch, children were ordered to surround the victim in a circle and take turns beating the child on the head with a large wooden stick until the child died.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Congo (MONUC) has some 1,000 peacekeeping troops in the LRA-affected areas of northeastern Congo – far too few to protect the population adequately, given the area’s size. Yet instead of sending more troops, the peacekeeping force, under pressure from the Congolese government to withdraw from the country by July 2011, is considering removing some troops from the northeast by June in the first phase of its drawdown.

“The people of northeastern Congo are in desperate need of more protection, not less,” said Van Woudenberg. “The UN Security Council should stop any drawdown of MONUC peacekeeping troops from areas where the LRA threatens to kill and abduct civilians.”

In mid-April, the Security Council is due to visit Congo to discuss the peacekeeping force’s plans for withdrawal and the protection of civilians.

The Makombo massacre is part of a longstanding history of atrocities and abuse by the LRA in Uganda, southern Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), and Congo. Pushed out of northern Uganda in 2005, the LRA now operates in the remote border area between southern Sudan, Congo, and CAR. In July 2005, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for the senior leaders of the LRA for crimes they committed in northern Uganda, but those indicted remain at large.

The Human Rights Watch research indicated that the Makombo massacre was perpetrated by two LRA commanders – Lt. Col. Binansio Okumu (also known as Binany) and a commander known as Obol. They report to Gen. Dominic Ongwen, a senior LRA leader who is believed to command the LRA’s forces in Congo and who is among those sought by the International Criminal Court. Human Rights Watch urged investigations of these commanders’ alleged participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In December 2008, the governments of the region, led by the Ugandan armed forces, with intelligence and logistical support from the United States, began a military campaign known as Operation Lightning Thunder against the LRA in northeastern Congo. A surprise aerial strike on the main LRA camp failed to neutralize the LRA leadership, which escaped. In retaliation, the LRA attacked villages and towns in northern Congo and southern Sudan, killing more than 865 civilians during the Christmas 2008 holiday season and in the weeks thereafter.

On March 15, 2009, Operation Lightning Thunder officially ended, following pressure from the Congolese government, which found it politically difficult to support a continued Ugandan army presence on Congolese territory. But a covert joint military campaign continued, with the quiet approval of the Congolese president, Joseph Kabila. Both governments publicly maintain that the LRA is no longer a serious threat in Congo and that the bulk of the rebel group has either moved to Central African Republic or has been killed or dispersed.

These public declarations might have contributed to burying information about ongoing LRA attacks, leaving many victims feeling abandoned. An 80-year-old traditional chief, whose son was killed during the Makombo massacre, told Human Rights Watch: “We have been forgotten. It’s as if we don’t exist. The government says the LRA are no longer a problem, but I know that’s not true. I beg of you, please talk to others about what has happened to us.”

While the Makombo massacre is the most deadly documented attack by the LRA since the Christmas massacres of 2008, dozens of attacks against civilians have also been carried out in other areas in recent months – near the towns of Bangadi and Ngilima in Haut Uele district, in Ango territory in Bas Uele district, as well as in the Central African Republic.

In the December 2009 attacks near Bangadi and Ngilima, LRA combatants horribly mutilated six civilians, cutting off each victim’s lips and an ear with a razor. The LRA sent the victims back to their villages with a chilling warning to others that anyone who heard or spoke about the LRA would be similarly punished.

On March 11, 2010, the US Senate unanimously passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. If it becomes law, it will require President Barack Obama’s administration to develop a regional strategy to protect civilians in central Africa from attacks by the LRA, to work to apprehend the LRA’s leadership, and to support economic recovery for northern Uganda. The bill is currently before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“The people of northeastern Congo and other LRA-affected areas have suffered for far too long,” said Van Woudenberg. “The US and other concerned governments should work with the UN and regional parties to develop and carry out a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians and apprehend abusive LRA leaders.”

As reported by Human Rights Watch

NAIROBI (AlertNet)

Written by: Frank Nyakairu

One of Africa’s fiercest rebel organisations, Uganda’s Lords Resistance Army, has denied a report that it has moved into western Sudan’s turbulent Darfur region.

A U.S.-based anti-genocide group, the Enough Project, said Ugandan rebels notorious for mutilating their victims and abducting children had found a safe haven in Darfur. But two senior members of the rebel group’s political wing in the Kenyan capital Nairobi dismissed the claims. “This is part of continued fabrications and guesswork about LRA whereabouts and we would like to dismiss this baseless report with all the contempt it deserves,” Colonel Michael Anywar, who acted as LRA military liaison, told Alertnet in Nairobi.

Led by self proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony, the LRA has fought the Ugandan government since 1987. But following the collapsed of a peace process in 2008, the rebels, who were once supported by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, have since sought safe havens in DR Congo, Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan. “It’s true that Khartoum once supported LRA but that kind of support stopped in 2002 after which we chose cut those ties,” said Justine Labeja, who said he is the head of LRA peace delegation.

Analysts say that with political tensions flaring in Sudan, the LRA is likely to strike an alliance with the Khartoum government as a regional mercenary force. The cult-like group, accused of turning boys into child soldiers and girls into sex slaves, seeks to rule Uganda according to the Bible’s Ten Commandments. At the height of Kony’s war, thousands were killed and 2 million Ugandans were forced into precarious camps that dotted northern Uganda and southern Sudan for close to two decades. Both men declined to disclose the whereabouts of LRA leader Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

CALL FOR CEASEFIRE

The rebel representatives also echoed recent calls for peace talks made by a religious leaders’ group from the four countries affected by the LRA activities. “Ugandan forces need to heed to this call for ceasefire so that this war can end once and for all,” said Labeja, who says he coordinates LRA’s external affairs. But the Ugandan army, which has been fighting the LRA in Congo, Sudan and CAR, with little success, insists on a military option. “We gave LRA the best option to talk peace but they decided to squander it,” said Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye, a spokesman for Uganda’s military.

He said military intelligence indicated the rebels had bases in CAR and southern Darfur but could not confirm any link between the LRA and its former ally, Khartoum. “They are oscillating between CAR and southern Darfur but we have no information that they are receiving any kind of help from anyone,” said Kaluyigye in a telephone interview from the Ugandan capital. Relations between Kampala and Khartoum have always been fraught as Uganda supported rebels now heading the semi-autonomous government in southern Sudan.

COULD DARFUR CRISIS WORSEN?

Darfur’s conflict surged in 2003 when the rebel groups took up arms against Sudan’s government, accusing it of leaving the mostly desert region underdeveloped. If the LRA joins the complex web of Darfur’s conflict, the scale of human suffering could increase, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) warns. “The LRA has been leaving a trail of devastation from their bases in DRC, South Sudan and CAR. If they go to Darfur, we could seen more displacement there,” said Hassan Yusuf, UNHCR’s regional spokesman based in Nairobi. According to the U.N. refugees agency, the LRA caused most of the displacement in central Africa in 2009 with hundreds of thousands uprooted.

The rebels have looted, killed civilians and abducted children from three countries, forcing many to flee their homes, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. “This is a very unpredictable outfit and it makes it very difficult to plan for humanitarian response,” said Yusuf.

via Reuters AlertNet – Ugandan rebels deny they have moved in to Sudan’s Darfur.

“Calls for ceasefire have been tried and yet the LRA have refused to sign the peace agreements. Kony must realise that now the international conmmunity is involved in this since he spread his war from Northern Uganda to surrounding countries, he will not get the “lifting” of his Warrants by the ICC. The time has come for him to be captured and tried at the hague just like Suddam hussain was tried.

Could Darfur’s crisis worsen? Yes most definately, if the LRA was to gain any support and they choose to stay in the Darfur region, this will likely cause issues, especially with the elections coming to split the nation.  The North will never want to let go of the south and the oil without a fight. This is what it comes down to; power, money and greed. Will the Khartourm give up control of such wealth and power and money? i highly doubt it, i forsee more issues ahead for those of Darfur not only by the LRA but by the political process that will soon take place. ”

Rebecca Fowler – Freeuganda

STATEMENT: Lord’s Resistance Army Finds Safe Haven in Darfur

KAMPALA, Uganda, JUBA, Sudan and WASHINGTON, March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Enough Project at the Center for American Progress today released the following statement:

The Enough Project confirms that a contingent of the deadly Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, has taken refuge in areas of south Darfur, Sudan, controlled by the Government of Sudan. The possibility of rekindled collaboration between LRA leader Joseph Kony and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir – both wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, or ICC – should alarm policymakers and demands urgent international investigation and response.

The LRA originated in northern Uganda during the late 1980s. In addition to committing widespread atrocities in Uganda, throughout the 1990s and early 2000s the LRA served as a proxy for the Sudanese government in its war with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, or SPLA, in southern Sudan. In 2005, Kony publicly stated that the Bashir government supported the LRA as a proxy force to destabilize the south, a charge that Khartoum continues to deny despite considerable evidence to the contrary.

“The Khartoum regime’s principal tool of war during its 21-year reign has been support for marauding militias such as the Janjaweed, the Murahaliin, and the Lord’s Resistance Army,” said Enough Co-founder John Prendergast. “Facing no consequences for this destructive method of governing, it is unsurprising that the regime is again providing safe haven for the LRA. Absent a cost for this, we will likely see the LRA unleashed again later this year to destabilize the referendum in southern Sudan.”

With material support from Khartoum, the LRA quickly became one of the deadliest militias in Africa, known for gruesome mutilations of civilians and abduction of children to serve as fighters and sex slaves. Following failed peace talks from 2006 to 2008, the LRA morphed into a full blown regional insurgency with fighters in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, or CAR, and southern Sudan.

In late 2009, Enough received credible information that an LRA reconnaissance team was seeking to make contact with the Sudanese army at their base in Kafia Kingi, near south Darfur‘s border with CAR. In recent months, Ugandan forces have pursued the LRA into Congo, CAR, and southern Sudan, but are restricted from crossing Sudan‘s disputed north-south border.

Now, based on months of field research and interviews with government and United Nations officials in several countries, Enough can confirm that LRA units have reached south Darfur.

“This is a very disturbing development. The move by the Government of Sudan to provide the LRA with safe haven demands a firm, rapid, and well-coordinated response from the United States and its partners in the international community,” said John Norris, Enough’s Executive Director. “A failure to bring clear and consistent pressure on President Bashir and his allies for this latest outrage will only encourage the Sudanese government to commit further abuses, with a terrible cost for civilians on the ground.”

Also today, Enough released a strategy paper by field researcher Ledio Cakaj detailing the continuing threat posed by the LRA to civilians in northeastern Congo. The report, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: LRA Attacks and Congolese Army Abuses in Northeastern Congo,” argues that much greater efforts must be made to protect civilians from a resurgent LRA and the predatory Congolese army.

Read the report at: http://www.enoughproject.org/publications/lra-army-abuses-congo

Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.

SOURCE Center for American Progress

RELATED LINKS
http://www.enoughproject.org
http://www.americanprogress.org

via STATEMENT: Lord’s Resistance Army Finds Safe Haven in Darfur — KAMPALA, Uganda, JUBA, Sudan and WASHINGTON, March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —.

Drummers from Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Snow Patrol and the Police have taken part in a “Beat for Peace” film to try to prevent bloodshed in Sudan.

The film is one of a series of events being held in 15 countries calling on world leaders to do more to avoid a return to civil war.

At least two million people died in the conflict and campaigners fear the peace deal signed five years ago is at risk.

Gordon Brown has pledged to “step up” the UK’s role in peacekeeping in Sudan.

Displaced

On Saturday, Sudanese Archbishop Daniel Deng will speak at a gathering of hundreds of activists opposite Number 10.

Mr Brown, who will meet the archbishop on Monday, said: “Sudan’s recent history has been one too often marked by violence, insecurity, and poverty for its people.

“Sudan’s leaders – with the support of the international community – must not allow this also to be the story of Sudan’s future.”

Violence flared again in 2009, with more than 2,000 people killed and 350,000 displaced in south Sudan.

Read the full report via BBC News – Pink Floyd and Radiohead drummers in Sudan peace effort.

A coalition of aid agencies working in southern Sudan has called for urgent international action to save the country’s 2005 peace agreement, which it says is threatened by “a major upsurge in violence” and tensions around two key votes to be held in the next year.

“Sudan is at a crossroads,” the 10 agencies say in a report released Thursday, “and the next 12 months could determine the future of Africa’s largest nation.”

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, which ended a 21-year civil war between north and south, is “extremely fragile” the agencies add. “The humanitarian situation, already one of the worst in the world, is deteriorating; and in the eyes of most ordinary southerners, meaningful post-war development has been absent.”

In a news release issued with the report, one of its co-authors, Oxfam policy adviser Maya Mailer, warned that if violence in the south escalated even further, the situation could become “one of the biggest emergencies in Africa in 2010.”

Paul Valentin, international director of Christian Aid, called for “sustained diplomatic engagement from the international community, including Sudan’s neighbours… A return to war is by no means inevitable, but it depends whether the world heeds the warning signs of the past year and has the political will to save the peace.”

The report notes that 2,500 people were killed and more than 350,000 displaced in southern Sudan last year. “Some communities and observers say that the intensity and nature of… ethnic clashes, in particular the indiscriminate killing of women, children and the elderly, has exceeded anything seen since the end of the conflict.”

Read the full report via allAfrica.com: Sudan: Major Upsurge in Violence Threatens Peace Deal, Say Aid Agencies.

At least 140 killed in Sudan violence: UN

At least 140 people have been killed and 90 wounded in the remote troubled Wunchuei region in southern Sudan over the past week, a senior UN official said on Thursday.

Clashes, apparently between rival tribal groups, occurred some time since the beginning of the year but reports emerged only after a UN security team visited the remote area by aircraft two days ago.

“Local sources on the ground said that at least 140 people had been killed, 90 wounded and 30,000 head of cattle had been stolen,” said Lise Grande, the UN Deputy Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in south Sudan.

Ms Grande said a military team of UN peacekeepers had left Thursday by vehicles to ascertain the exact situation on the ground.

“This is a matter of deep concern,” she said.

The dead were from the Dinka people common in the area. Local sources suggested that a rival group from the Nuer people were responsible, but the report could not be immediately confirmed.

Clashes between rival ethnic groups in south Sudan erupt frequently – often sparked by cattle rustling and disputes over natural resources, while others are retaliation for previous attacks.

However, a string of recent raids has shocked many, with an apparent sharp increase in attacks on women and children, as well as the targeting of homesteads.

In September, more than 100 people, including South Sudanese troops, were killed in weekend clashes in the Jonglei state after Nuer raided a Dinka village where the troops had a base.

More than 2,000 people have died and 250,000 have been displaced in inter-tribal violence across southern Sudan since January, according to the United Nations, which says the rate of violent deaths now surpasses that in the war-torn western region of Darfur.

The United Nations has warned that poor rains and food insecurity could spark further clashes, with tensions rising as pastoralist cattle herders move their animals into areas controlled by rival groups.

AFP

Read the full report here via At least 140 killed in Sudan violence: UN – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Who was Bok Abudema?

Abudema hails from Alero-Lamogi in Amuru district. He worked as a sugarcane cutter in Jinja during the Obote II regime.

When President Yoweri Museveni seized power in 1986, he joined the UPDA, a rebel group composed of soldiers of the former Okello regime which fought to overthrow the new Government.

He joined the LRA in 1988 after Kony was attacked by Museveni’s NRA at Bwobo railways station in Alero Sub-county, Gulu District. He was one of the few remaining LRA fighters who had joined the rebel group voluntarily.

Abudema was involved in many massacres in northern Uganda. In 1998, he took part in the killing of 11 LRA fighters who were accused of practicing witchcraft in Jebelein, the LRA camp in Southern Sudan.

In December 1999, after the passing of the Amnesty Act by the Ugandan Parliament, he executed the then number two, Otti Lagony, in their camp in Sudan on Kony’s orders.

In 2002, Abudema commanded a raid in Agoro Sub-county in Kitgum district in which several civilians and UPDF soldiers died and at least 100 people were abducted. The trading centre was looted and the military barracks burnt down.

In April 2002, he took part in a massacre of about 800 civilians at Katire village in Southern Sudan.

In 2003, he was among the senior LRA commanders who crossed into the Teso region in eastern Uganda and carried out horrific massacres and massive abductions.

On October 2, 2007, he took part in the execution of Kony’s deputy, Vincent Otti, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Abudema shouted the order ‘fire’ to the firing squad. Earlier, he had participated in arresting, torturing and humiliating Otti.

He was reportedly wounded during the December 14, 2008 air strikes on the LRA camps in eastern Congo under the joint offensive.

via Welcome To The Sunday Vision online: Uganda’s leading weekly.

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.

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) , led by Joseph Kony, operated in the north from bases in southern Sudan. The LRA committed numerous abuses and atrocities, including the abduction, rape, maiming, and killing of civilians, including children. In addition to destabilising northern Uganda from bases in Sudan, the LRA congregated in the Bunia area in eastern Congo. They linked up with the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR) and other rebel groups battling with forces from the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD)

Some accused the Sudan of supporting the LRA and Uganda of allegedly supporting the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the rebel movement that fought against the Sudanese government. Although both governments denied the accusations, they severed diplomatic relations with eachother on April 22, 1995. However, relations between the two countries improved. In 1999, Sudan and Uganda signed an agreement under which Sudan said it would stop aiding the LRA and Uganda would stop aiding the SPLA.

The LRA continued to kill, torture, maim, rape, and abduct large numbers of civilians, virtually enslaving numerous children. Although its levels of activity diminished somewhat compared with 1997, the area that the LRA targeted grew. The LRA sought to overthrow the Ugandan Government and inflicted brutal violence on the population in northern Uganda. LRA forces also targeted local government officials and employees. The LRA also targeted international humanitarian convoys and local NGO workers.

The LRA has abducted large numbers of civilians for training as guerrillas; most victims were children and young adults. The LRA abducted young girls as sex and labor slaves. Other children, mainly girls, were reported to have been sold, traded, or given as gifts by the LRA to arms dealers in Sudan. While some later escaped or were rescued, the whereabouts of many children remain unknown.

In particular, the LRA abducted numerous children and, at clandestine bases, terrorized them into virtual slavery as guards, concubines, and soldiers. In addition to being beaten, raped, and forced to march until exhausted, abducted children were forced to participate in the killing of other children who had attempted to escape. Amnesty International reported that without child abductions, the LRA would have few combatants. More than 6,000 children were abducted during 1998, although many of those abducted later escaped or were released. Most human rights NGOs place the number of abducted children still held captive by the LRA at around 3,000, although estimates vary substantially.

Civil strife in the north has led to the violation of the rights of many members of the Acholi tribe, which is largely resident in the northern districts of Gulu and Kitgum. Both government forces and the LRA rebels–who themselves largely are Acholi–committed violations. LRA fighters in particular were implicated in the killing, maiming, and kidnaping of Alcholi tribe members, although the number and severity of their attacks decreased somewhat compared with 1997.

The LRA rebels say they are fighting for the establishment of a government based on the biblical Ten Commandments. They are notorious for kidnapping children and forcing them to become rebel fighters or concubines. More than one-half-million people in Uganda’s Gulu and Kitgum districts have been displaced by the fighting and are living in temporary camps, protected by the army.

Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).