SAAF supports Simon Deng

Simon Deng in front of White House May 27, 2015

Simon Deng in front of White House May 27, 2015

 

Sudan Advocacy Action Forum’s Virgil Bodeen stands with Simon Deng in front of the White House on Day 13 of Deng’s hunger strike to raise awareness of the escalating violence in South Sudan. “Mr. President, look out your window! People are fleeing, starving and dying in South Sudan. Act now, before it’s too late!”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stopping South Sudan’s downward spiral

Members of the White Army, a SouthSudanese anti-government militia, attend a rally in Nasir, South Sudan, on April 14, 2014. Agence France-Presse via Getty Images

Members of the White Army, a SouthSudanese anti-government militia, attend a rally in Nasir, South Sudan, on April 14, 2014. Agence France-Presse via Getty Images

The Post’s View (The Washington Post, 05/20/15)

THE UNITED States played a key role in the arrival of South Sudan as Africa’s 54th nation in 2011. President George W. Bush helped broker a north-south peace agreement in 2005, ending a civil war that claimed nearly 2 million lives. President Obama rallied the world to rescue that peace agreement a few years later when it was falling apart. The creation of the nation was celebrated as proof, as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it, that “peace is possible if people are willing to make hard choices and stand by them.” Susan E. Rice, the White House national security adviser, said one of her major accomplishments as United Nations ambassador was “helping midwife the birth of the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.”

But now South Sudan is spiraling into the kind of war, chaos and human suffering that Mr. Obama’s appointees — including Ms. Rice and the current U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power — have vowed never to let happen again. Reports are mounting of violence against innocent civilians and mass hunger. The United States, a beacon of hope in the past, now must exercise more leverage and commitment to save South Sudan.

The current crisis began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, of staging a coup attempt. The conflict mushroomed into a civil war. Some 1.5 million people remain displaced inside the country and 520,000 more have fled across the borders. More than 2.5 million people face food insecurity and the total is rising. War is preventing people from trading, planting crops and moving livestock. The economy is on the verge of collapse. Oxfam, with a team working to provide humanitarian aid, warns that there are “alarming rates of malnutrition and hunger.” Efforts are underway to distribute vital seeds and tools to farmers for the upcoming planting season, but they could be upended by fighting.

The Kiir-Machar conflict always had an underlying tension between South Sudan’s two major ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer. But war has intensified and fragmented ethnic conflict. There are reports of grave human rights violations. An African Union commission of inquiry has reportedly found credible evidence of atrocities. The report, not yet released, should be made public, and no effort spared to find and prosecute the perpetrators.

Peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, have failed, with the latest collapse in March. There has been talk of broadening the mediation to include other African states, China, the United States, Britain and others, but so far no real action. Mr. Obama is making a trip to Kenya this summer. Now is the time for the United States to step up to the plate with the same fervor with which it greeted South Sudan’s independence. More than just rhetoric is called for. It is time to pressure Mssrs. Kiir and Machar to lay down their arms; to impose stronger sanctions and an arms embargo; to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid; and to begin the long, difficult process of healing a young nation midwifed by the United States.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Simon Deng’s hunger strike continues

Simon Deng at White House hunger strike

Simon Deng at White House hunger strike

Please call the White House comment line: (202) 456-1111 and leave a message:

Mr. President. Look out your window. Simon Deng is calling for your help for South Sudan. Act now to stop the senseless slaughter, displacement and destruction in South Sudan by taking the lead to broker peace. Stop the flow of petro-dollars that fund conflict by putting them in escrow for justice, accountability, trauma healing, an interim government and peace. Your immediate action is needed urgently. I look forward to your response. Thank you.

Simon Deng’s Facebook page

More information on Simon Deng’s hunger strike

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Simon Deng

Simon Deng’s on a hunger strike: Amp up his voice!

Monday – Wednesday, May 18-20, 2015
Call the White House comment line: 202.456.1111.

Leave a message:
Mr. President. Look out your window. Simon Deng is calling for your help for South Sudan. Act now to stop the senseless slaughter, displacement and destruction in South Sudan by taking the lead to broker peace. Stop the flow of petro-dollars that fund conflict by putting them in escrow for justice, accountability, trauma healing, an interim government and peace. Your immediate action is needed urgently. I look forward to your response. Thank you.

Metro-D.C. Residents: Also,

Visit Simon Deng outside the White House, encourage him and pray with him that God changes the hearts of leaders and stops the conflict.

Make a sign to take with you: MR. PRESIDENT, SAVE SOUTH SUDAN.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forgiveness: a forgotten cultural quality in South Sudan?

To the South Sudanese Diaspora from the Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan (The Voice of the South Sudanese Diaspora)

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But what is this millennia-old virtue that humankind has struggled with over the centuries? And that our beloved South Sudan seems to have forgotten as brother kills brother, tribe kills tribe and nation kills nation. In the Bible, it says: For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15.

So spiritually we see that for those of the Christian faith, Forgiveness is vital to their salvation. But is that enough to erase the terrible images of many of the aggrieved in Juba, Wau, Malakal, Bentui…consumed with images of their deceased loved ones and friends killed or murdered – some mercilessly; fathers, mothers killed before their families’ eyes…Members of Parliament shot in front of their homes.

Purpose

 The purpose of this document is to appeal to the Diaspora to support peace and not war – to promote forgiveness. No military solution can bring an end to the 16-month-long war. Therefore, the current rampant violence in our country of origin must be ended quickly before it consumes all our relatives and future generations.

Forgive?

Yes, Forgive, for without the quality of forgiveness humankind would be wiped from the earth: man revenging against man; nation against nation until we are no more. Our survival as a species depends on our ability to forgive – this alongside our adaptability and formidable brain, led us to evolve to earth’s dominant species, so this intangible yet vital quality: forgiveness is key.

One of the best descriptions of the pain and significance of not forgiving comes from noted author and Pastor Joel Osteen: “You must forgive the people who hurt you so you can get out of prison. You’ll never be free until you do. Let go of those wrongs they’ve done to you. Get that bitterness out of your life. That’s the only way you’re going to truly be free. You will be amazed at what can happen in your life when you release all that poison.”

Yes, to not Forgive is like a poison, one we know well in South Sudan, having seen so much destruction and death over the last 50 years, it slowly takes over you, eating inside and tearing at your soul; however, the People of South Sudan have shown themselves – a resilient people – full of strength, reminiscent of Gandhi’s view: The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Through this strength and Forgiveness, the long marginalized people of South Sudan overcame the poisonous hatred of oppression, war and sued for peace, triumphantly becoming a nation. One would then venture to say that it is within the nature of Southerners to forgive, given the incredible journey to be a nation – but this war since December 2013 exposes another side, perhaps hidden, dormant, but a dark side that has shown all that some of the poison of the past is still within the people of South Sudan. In our view as CASS, forgiveness is desperately needed now. How can we as People of the Nile, long-standing residents of the ancient river known since biblical times, continue our existence without employing this virtue that obviously has sustained the Southern people over the eons?

Scholars have said this about forgiveness:

“Maintaining or perpetuating personal relationships is one of the clearest and most important ends of forgiveness, though not the only important one. Forgiving those who wrong us often helps us move beyond strong negative emotions which, if allowed to fester, could harm us psychologically and physically. Forgiveness benefits wrongdoers, as well, by releasing them from the blame and hard feelings often directed toward them by those they wrong, or helping them transcend the guilt or remorse they suffer from having done wrong, thereby allowing them to move forward in their lives. These ends of forgiveness may be regarded as in general enabling in the sense that they show how forgiveness sometimes helps people move beyond the wrongs they endure or cause and the sometimes debilitating effects those wrongs have on wrongdoers and victims alike.”   Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Forgiveness, 2014.

Southerners, for centuries, have long realized that to maintain relations with neighboring tribes and groups, elements of forgiveness had to be employed to ensure peaceful co-existence; thence we have our traditional methods of justice and reconciliation established over centuries of practice, which may not be fully understandable within Western or Asian perspectives of justice. The African approach has elements of accountability, atonement, community harmony and customary law.

Through reading literature on customary law of South Sudan, we find a profound expression of how the society treats serious acts of violence, as the following excerpt shows:

“Of the many differences between customary law and statutory law, particularly Western statutory law, arguably the most contentious is the issue of homicide. South Sudanese customary law considers some acts to be both a crime and a tort. Homicide falls into this category, in that the law considers there to be both criminal and civil aspects to murder. The law traditionally has allowed the relatives of the victim to decide whether they wish to seek justice through criminal proceedings or to seek damages through tort action.

“The basis for this argument lies in the Southern Sudanese peoples’ belief that the purpose of any legal action in regard to crime is to restore the social equilibrium rather than to punish the wrongdoer. ‘The principle of a life for a life rarely leads to a permanent peace.’” A Study of Customary Law in Contemporary Southern Sudan, March 2004.

If it is not clear, then, of the distinctions between Southern justice and other systems, note the codification of the principle in the New Sudan Penal Code, 2003, Section 251, which deals with murder and other crimes of homicide, contains the provision:

Provided that if the nearest relatives of the deceased opt for customary law blood compensation ‘Dia’ the court may award it in lieu of death sentence.

So atonement is part of the traditional, holistic process to address the terrible act, yet heal the pain of the family, the community of the deceased and resolve the most serious crimes in the culture. Here is a worthwhile point that highlights notable differences among even Southerners. When compensation is given to a deceased’s family who was murdered, the number of cattle that was required to pay in the Dinka society was 31, while among the Nuer society it was nearly three times as high at 80 – and among various other tribes amounts were lower. While customs differ, this is proof of the widespread importance of atonement to the Southern reconciliation process.

Now, to start the reconciliation process for serious crimes and terrible acts a few key steps are required, as outlined in Traditional Methods of Justice and Reconciliation in Sudan and its relation to International Humanitarian Law, by Rev. Peter Gai Lual, 2006. He says the following elements are part of the traditional system of reconciliation:

  • Apologies for the wrong done and acceptance of responsibility for crimes;
  • Forgiving those who committed crimes on condition they undertake not to repeat such acts in the future;
  • Paying compensation to the victims of the crimes and their close relatives;
  • Accepting national reconciliation and agreeing to govern the country through democratic means and the respect for the rule of law;
  • Carrying out certain traditional and religious rites to seal the peace accord.

To Forgive is, then, established as an essential part to our Junub (Southern) sense of being, our worldview; therefore, in this current conflict it must be employed – to save the nation. Already we find many of the above steps have been deployed in the Arusha Agreement of January 2015.

  • A public apology from SPLM (Article 2)
  • Removal of persons convicted of international crimes (Article 11)
  • Banning from any public service for anyone convicted of such crimes (12)
  • Promoting democracy, unity and development (6)
  • Ensuring international good governance/accountability (Articles 13 & 16)
  • Establishing transitional justice system (Article 15)

The traditional custom and laws appear to be alive and well here. Forgiveness is evident in the agreement – so one can understand why all factions of the SPLM supported and signed this key agreement, for it represents the collective South Sudanese – African, tradition. We at CASS hope the positive momentum continues and the warring parties commit to peace, stop this war and begin to rebuild the nation and the lives of the long-suffering People of South Sudan…but first, let all forgive.

This step is vital to advance the people of South Sudan, the nation, toward an enduring peace, communal harmony and a prosperous future for the nation.

To remind the War Leaders who have the power to bring peace, we close this appeal for forgiveness with a powerful excerpt recorded from the Upper Nile Peace Conference:

“When the women representatives read out their speech, full of wisdom, sensibility and patriotism – men of valour, courage and dignity, felt ashamed and sorry for the violence and senseless brutalities they had inflicted on their innocent women and children, the very ones our present and past generations fought for and defended for many centuries with their spears and clubs, and now with modern weapons from the onslaught of lustful foreign invaders and oppressive regimes.” South Sudan Post, June 2003.

As Alexander Pope said: To err is human, to forgive, divine.

Let us Forgive one another!

For the Diaspora to work together for peace, we in CASS call for all the peace loving members from all the 64 ethnic groups in South Sudan to:

  • Join our membership
  • To promote Forgiveness
  • Denounce the ongoing war and support peace
  • Start and support the community – community dialogues.
  • Work with Church groups and other peace based-organizations to advance the call for immediate end to the war
  • Work collectively with American and Australian Peace Advocate groups

The united Voice of Diaspora is needed to bring durable peace to South Sudan. And you/I/we are the agents for that change.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To the South Sudanese Diaspora: Which do you choose? Peace or war?

April 11, 2015.  From the Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan, “The Voice of the South Sudanese Diaspora” (CASS)

Who are/What is the South Sudanese diaspora?

South Sudanese diaspora are immigrants who escaped Sudan in search of refuge in the neighboring countries and across the globe. The reason for this mass migration was ill treatment and religious persecution of South Sudanese by the Sudan government. In the dawn of the second civil war, a significant number of South Sudanese were granted refugee status and resettled in many countries around the world.

However, with the turn of the millennium, among the South Sudanese in the diaspora and in the United States, Canada and Australia in particular, the “Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan” became the most easily identified element of the diaspora; this group has become the grown up “Lost Boys and Girls” today. As very young boys and girls, they walked from Southern Sudan across dry plains, rivers, swamps and forests fleeing the scourge of the Sudanese army to Ethiopia. Many died in the forced migration. Subsequently, they were expelled from Ethiopia, and made a similar trek across Southeastern South Sudan to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya where many were educated and selected to go to North America, Australia and other nations.

In North America and Australia the Diaspora has gone through a traumatic but transforming process.

Like other African-born immigrants, the South Sudanese diaspora has sought education. More African-born immigrants hold a college degree (44%) than Asian immigrants, native-born white Americans or native born African Americans. Many have achieved this level of education while working, raising a family, and helping to support an extended family in South Sudan. To their credit they have become proud Americans while retaining elements of their South Sudanese heritage. They have had the opportunity to benefit from the best practices of two vastly different societies.

Most of them have a Christian background and claim a strong faith. It is not uncommon for them to affiliate with one denomination in their new home, but another when they go “home”. This can be directly attributed to the British Colonial practice of sending foreign missionaries to areas based on their denomination.

At the same time, they are not a homogeneous group and reflect many of the characteristics of the population from which they originated. As reported by the Democratic Progress Institute, “Diaspora members have the resources, skills, and contacts to alter the course of events in their homelands. While these resources may be used to perpetuate conflict, they could just as easily be redirected to support peace and reconstruction.”

South Sudanese Diaspora Contribution to rebuilding their Country

South Sudanese Diaspora feels compelled to be involved in the political, social, and development needs of those who remain in their native Country. Typically they are, understandably, most interested in the state, county and village from which they came. Thus we see the installation of wells, schools and hospitals funded through diaspora efforts in very specific locations. That loyalty and established connections, if used collectively to denounce today’s civil war, increases the chance that the voice of Diaspora could be what is needed to make South Sudan’s warring parties choose peace and establish rule of law that will protect all the citizens regardless of their ethnicity.
However, within some of the diaspora we see a reflection of the tribal hatred, bitterness, resentment, that many in South Sudan feel. Because of the ready availability of communication methods, especially within the social media and in editorials, we see the propagation of hatred which supports the continuation of war rather than a peace-directed compromise beneficial to all the people.

On the Other Hand

Diaspora members have a unique perspective and have much to offer the mediation process. They have a viewpoint informed both by their understanding of their homeland and the benefit of higher education and exposure to multiple societies and concepts. Therefore, the Diaspora must not only to realize that it has influence but also a moral responsibility to support peace in their country

While they may not have the “seat at the table”, that so many desire, they have the ability to influence the parties in preliminary negotiations and through consistent, constructive contact. Additionally, they may offer their services to those who directly facilitate the negotiations by sharing their perspective. Lastly they can help to influence the population at home in constructive ways.

Advocates from other nations and cultures, no matter the level of passion and study, cannot develop the understanding of the people that the South Sudanese themselves have. Such advocates can be much more effective when they work closely with South Sudanese with similar goals.

In much the same way, the diaspora, though not involved directly in the negotiations, can add value and understanding to those who moderate and facilitate the direct negotiations. It has the ability and resources to strongly influence the outcome of this unfortunate, ongoing war. The Diaspora can become a united force for Peace and Progress by offering the mediation process deep understanding and knowledge and internationally obtained contacts while using their skills and perspective seeking the best for all the South Sudanese people

Choice: To Support War or Peace?

The purpose of this document is to appeal to the Diaspora to support peace and not war. No military solution can bring an end to the 15 months-long war. All the revenge killing and retaking of towns by the government and rebel forces is only deepening and exacerbating the existing level of tribal loathing among our innocent population. Therefore, the current rampant violence in our country of origin must be ended quickly before it consumes all our relatives and country’s men and women.

For the Diaspora to work together for peace, we in CASS call for all the peace loving members from all the 64 ethnic groups in South Sudan to:
• Join our membership
• Denounce the ongoing war and support peace
• Start or support the community –community dialogues.
• Work with Church groups and other peace based-organizations to advance the call for immediate end to the war
• Work collectively with American and Australian Peace Advocate groups
The voice of Diaspora is needed to bring durable peace to South Sudan. And you/I/we are the agents for that change to happen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“It is a time for the Church to act”

South Sudan Church Leaders’ message – Juba, 26 March 2015

We. the leaders of the Church of South Sudan. have met under the auspices of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) in Juba on 18th and 26th March 2015 to reflect on the tragic situation of conflict in our nation and the recent collapse of the IGAD peace talks. We meet as the Church of God in South Sudan. and we speak with divine authority.

We appreciate all those who have tried to bring peace to our nation. including IGAD, AU, UN, the Troika and other regional and international actors. We are deeply saddened by the ongoing conflict and suffering, and by the failure of all the parties to the conflict, the mediators, and the regional and international community to bring an end to the evil of war. While we welcome outside assistance, we believe that ultimately it is the responsibility of the people of South Sudan to resolve their own problems.

We are heartened by the Message from HE Hailemariam Dessalegn, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly, to the People of South Sudan on 6th March 2015. We wish to reflect on some of his points.

1.  Form a transitional government of national unity

We urge the parties to honour the February 2015 agreement and to form a transitional government of national unity as soon as possible.

2.  Table a reasonable and comprehensive solution to end the crisis in South Sudan

We believe that many of the leaders involved in the conflict genuinely can’t see how to make peace; they can’t see a way out of the pit they have fallen into. If the parties are unable to reach agreement by themselves, then they must be persuaded to accept a solution which neutral parties and friends of South Sudan, and more especially the ordinary citizens of South Sudan. consider to be “reasonable”.

3.  End the war now… Peace is needed, and is needed now

We, the Church leaders, have consistently stated that there is no moral justification and no excuse to continue fighting and killing. In the 1955-1972 and 1983-2005 wars we were fighting for our liberation; what are we fighting for now? It is unacceptable to negotiate about posts, positions and percentages, about systems of governance, about wealthsharing and other such matters, while people are killing and being killed. The fighting must stop, immediately, and only then can these political matters be discussed in a meaningful way. The parties have already signed a number of Cessation of Hostilities agreements and ignored them; we insist that they be honoured without further delay.

4.  Make the compromises that have so far eluded the Parties

Compromises are difficult when there is a complete lack of trust between the parties, and when each is promoting its own interests. The Church is trusted by the people of South Sudan and has no interests except those of the people, for peace and justice. We ourselves will create a forum to help the parties to build trust and to discover where compromises can be made.

5.  Convince those that remain intransigent

The Church is politically neutral in this conflict. However the Church cannot be neutral about injustice and killing. We will identify those who are intransigent and attempt to persuade them to mend their ways.

6.  Ensure that the voices of the silent majority of South Sudanese prevail

The Church has a long record of empowering “the silent majority of South Sudanese”. We pledge to continue to bring the voice of the voiceless to the warring parties, the regional powers and the international community. We are ready to undertake international advocacy as we did so successfully during the previous conflicts and in the run-up to the referendum.

7.  Refuse to support those who militate for war, destruction and killing

The leaders are not in the front line. The killing is being done by others. We call upon the people of South Sudan to refuse to fight in this senseless conflict. We pledge ourselves to inform the grassroots communities what is really going on, as we believe many of their leaders are misleading them, encouraging them with stories of ethnic conflict and revenge rather than urging them to reconcile and bring peace. We call upon the parties to allow the IGAD mediators to go to the grassroots to brief the people on developments in the peace talks, as we believe many of our communities on the ground are not aware, and again are being misled by their leaders.

8.  Do not lose hope

As Christians, we always have hope. When times are dark we remember that Christ suffered and died but then rose from the dead. Christ remains with us, and the Holy Spirit gives us strength and endurance. The people of South Sudan have experienced many decades of conflict, but we are confident that, with God’s help, we will overcome the evil in our midst and will move forward in peace and justice.

In addition, we urge the parties to honour the agreement on the re-unification of SPLM which they signed in Arusha recently. We believe the Arusha process has the potential to complement the IGAD peace process.

This is a defining moment in the life of our Church and our nation. It is a time for the Church to act. As we write, our South Sudan Council of Churches is being renewed in order to meet the challenges. It will strengthen its oversight of and support for the Faith-Based Organisations group in Addis Ababa and for the Church-led Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation. We will seek to meet the leaders of the different parties, the IGAD mediators, regional leaders, regional and international church bodies, and the international community, to impress on them the urgency of stopping the killing. We will make it clear to all concerned that the current attitude of the negotiating parties is unacceptable, and we will do whatever we can to help them to break the deadlock.

We call upon all South Sudanese, but particularly the political and military leaders and those carrying arms, not to pursue selfish interests, but those of others {cf Philippians 2:4}. Put the interests of the nation above your own.

May God bless you all.

Signed in Juba on this date 26th of March 2015

Rt. Revd. Peter Gai Lual, Chairman, South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC)

Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, Catholic Archdiocese of Juba

Archbishop Dr. Daniel Deng Bul, Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan

Bishop Dr. Arkangelo Wani Lemi, African Inland Church

Bishop Dr. Isaiah Majok Dau, Sudan Pentecostal Church

Rt. Revd. James Par Tap, South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church

Revd. James Koung Ninrew, Presbyterian Church of South Sudan-Juba

Mr. Abraham Kwai Chengkou, Acting General Secretary, South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Voice of the diaspora goes to Washington, DC

CASS representatives Kwaje Lasu, Joseph Agolory, Mayom Achuk and Bill Andress were very well received during a two-day visit to the U.S. capital. They met with a co-chair of the Congressional Caucus; Ambassador Donald E. Booth and former Ambassador Susan D. Page and their staff; the head and staff of the Africa section of the U.S. Institute for Peace; the head and staff of the Sudan and South Sudan section of the U. S. Agency for International Development; and church leaders of various denominations. CASS was able to make all its intended points and estimated the visit an unqualified success.

All with whom they met were well informed, agreed with them regarding the need, urgency and current opportunity available, and impressed the CASS representatives with their desire to help.  They also let CASS know that they worked within limitations and asked for CASS’s help in unifying a South Sudanese/Diaspora voice on behalf of peace.

Positive outcry needed. CASS was informed by the leaders they met that there will be no peace for South Sudan until there is a consistent, positive outcry from the people and the Church on behalf of peace. Without such an outcry, the parties to the conflict will see no reason to change the path they are on. Thus, CASS was requested to help in two areas in particular: (1) uniting the diaspora for peace, since the diaspora seems to be a net contributor to the conflict; and (2) uniting the people and Church of South Sudan into one powerful voice in prayer for peace.  Progress in these areas, all agreed, can initiate a change the mindset among the conflict parties.

Recommendations. Based on the Washington, DC meetings, CASS recommends:

~ Continuing to work on bringing together the diaspora 

~ Continuing to work on getting support for a major diaspora gathering

~ Publishing articles and papers encouraging the people of South Sudan and the diaspora to demand a change of conflict leadership to pave the way toward cessation of fighting

~ Developing a compelling vision statement for a post-conflict South Sudan

~ Following up with U.S. churches on increasing their advocacy efforts on behalf of peace and a vibrant post-conflict South Sudan

~ Maintaining a positive relationship with the Special Envoy’s office, the Sudan/South Sudan USAID desk and the USIP.

March 12, 2015 meetings. The first meeting was with a faith-based group representing the Presbyterian Church (USA), World Relief, the Mennonite Central Committee, and the United Church of Christ. CASS’s goal with this group was to encourage more forceful advocacy by them with the President, as had happened earlier with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 and the 2011 referendum. Future meetings on this topic are a possibility.

The second meeting was with USAID, including the staff of the Faith Based Initiatives Office and the entire Sudan/South Sudan desk at the agency. CASS requested that the agency focus totally on the humanitarian aspects of their work until the overwhelming needs had been met. CASS further asked that education and transportation be top priorities. Though they agreed about the priorities, they noted that transportation was a very expensive undertaking.

State Department meeting (March 13). The first of the day’s three meetings was at the Department of State with Donald E. Booth, Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan; Susan D. Page, former Ambassador to South Sudan and currently Booth’s principal deputy; Lucy Tamlin, Andy Burnett and others from the team; as well as Mark Kodi, who seeks to join CASS. All understood and agreed with CASS’s assessment regarding need, urgency and current opportunity with respect to peace in a post-conflict South Sudan.

The Special Envoy sought to enlist CASS’s support in creating a demand for peace and made the following suggestions:

~ Help develop a vision for the future among the South Sudanese people

~ Help transform the diaspora into a force for peace

~ Provide a voice supporting a more active role for the United States and the Troika

~ Educate the people of South Sudan that any impending economic ruin would be due to the war consuming the entirety of the government’s assets rather than actions taken by the U.S. or other countries; inform the people  that the United States and other countries provide over $1 billion in humanitarian aid per year in the absence of any such assistance to the people by the government of South Sudan.

While CASS’s points were well made concerning the need for the U.S. and Troika to take a larger role in settling the conflict, it became clear to everyone that this would not happen absent widespread support from the South Sudanese people and American people.

 U.S. Institute for Peace meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to garner support for a major diaspora gathering; however, the request fell on skeptical ears, though the possibility was not entirely ruled out. ISIP, among other things, is focused on (1) getting information from IGAD to the people; (2) diaspora matters; and (3) gender issues. 

Meeting with U.S. Representative Barbara Lee. Representative Lee is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus. CASS requested her support for scheduling hearings on the U.S.’s role regarding the situation in South Sudan. She agreed to discuss possible hearings with her counterparts in Congress.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No to child marriage

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sudan researcher Eric Reeves cyber-attacked

By means of a nasty cyberattack, Eric Reeves’ three Sudan-related websites became unusable to all who visited his Facebook page on February 21, 2014. He believes the Khartoum (Sudan) regime is responsible. Many Facebook visitors subsequently going to his Sudan sites immediately found innumerable and highly aggressive “pop-up” ads. Nothing could be accessed, by Reeves or by his Facebook “friends,” mainly Sudanese from both Sudan and South Sudan. They had received as a “message” pornographic videography (purportedly including Reeves) containing potent malware; the message was also sent to his family members. Other visitors experienced various difficulties and anomalies in later accessing their own Facebook page; other consequences may as yet be undiscovered.

Read more: http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/i-have-been-silenced/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment