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

News to SAAF from sources on the ground in Sudan

• The humanitarian situation in Darfur is getting worse. The WFP (World Food Program) can’t reach the needy in IDP camps nor those who are stranded in the valleys and mountains due to the latest attacks by Government of Sudan (GoS) armed forces and GoS militias, called Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the successors to the infamous Janjaweed.

• The GoS continues fresh aerial bombings in East Jebel Marra, Central Darfur while blocking aid and access by international NGOs.

• The SPLA-N has defeated RSF in Deluka locality, near Kadugli, in the latest clashes in Nuba Mountains.

• Terrorism grows in Africa, supported by the GoS and Qatar, the major suppliers to terrorist groups in North and West Africa including Boko Haram, now spreading from Nigeria into Cameroon and Chad.

• The GoS and Qatar also are sending new arms shipments to Libya’s ISIL.

• The apparent sanctions easing by the U.S. is viewed suspiciously by many Sudanese in the opposition.

• Do you remember that two GoS representatives who were recently in Washington, D.C.? One came for the National Prayer Breakfast and the other for consultations with some of our government officials. Both are architects of persecution and genocide in Sudan.

“Black Lives Matter,” but it seems the U.S. government has higher priorities than saving Black African lives!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Office of Public Witness Director visits South Sudan

02/03/15 – The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director for Public Witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has returned from ten days in South Sudan. Before leaving Juba, Nelson spoke with officials at the United States Embassy and appealed for their intervention in returning two South Sudanese pastors, Rev. Yat Michael and Rev. Peter Yen, who had been arrested in Khartoum without warrant or charge. Nelson appealed for the pastors to be returned to their families, congregations, and communities.

“I went to South Sudan on a missionary experience and ended on a mission of mercy,” said Nelson. “It is important that we prevent the intimidation and possible loss of life among Church leaders and others who are expressing the gospel’s call for love in a militarized and war-torn part of the world.”

The U.S. Embassy in South Sudan was not aware of arrest and promised to investigate the matter with the U.S. Embassy in Sudan.

 While in South Sudan, Nelson investigated ways the Office of Public Witness can enhance efforts for more effective justice advocacy by engaging partner churches and organizations, mission co-workers and other personnel. Human Rights Watch estimates that since the South Sudan leadership crisis ignited December 15, 2013, up to 10,000 have died, one million have been displaced and 400,000 have fled to neighboring countries.

http://www.pcusa.org/news/2015/2/3/office-public-witness-director-meets-united-states/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Sudan leaders reach partial deal

Displaced in South Sudan

South Sudan’s warring leaders have reached a new agreement aimed at ending the country’s civil war. After watching ceasefire after ceasefire fail, regional leaders are warning of tougher sanctions this time around.

Following four days of tough negotiations, the east African bloc IGAD confirmed early Monday morning that progress had been made toward ending South Sudan’s 13-month civil war.

IGAD’s chief mediator, Seyoum Mesfin, said that the two leaders of the warring factions – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former deputy-turned rebel leader Riek Machar – had signed a new ceasefire.

“Complete cessation of hostilities in South Sudan is expected as of [Monday morning]“, Mesfin told reporters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Kiir and Machar had also reached a partial power-sharing agreement, the details of which were not immediately made public.

The opponents are to resume talks on February 20, which “would be final and that would lead them into concluding a comprehensive agreement to end the crisis in South Sudan,” Mesfin added.

Fighting broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, after Kiir accused his then-deputy Machar of attempting a coup. Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting, which has been interrupted several times by brief ceasefires.

In light of the two sides’ inability to uphold previous promises to halt fighting, Mesfin said that South Sudan would face “tough measures” with the help of the United Nations Security Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council if Kiir and Mechar failed again.

kms/gsw (AP, AFP, Reuters)  http://allafrica.com/stories/201502020204.html

Photo credit: Jessica Hatcher/IRIN

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FGM criminal conviction in Cairo

By Merna Thomas

CAIRO (01/26/2015) — An appeals court, on Monday, handed down what officials said was Egypt’s first criminal conviction for the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), sentencing a doctor to more than two years of hard labor for committing manslaughter while performing the procedure on a 13-year-old girl.

FGM was outlawed in Egypt in 2008, but remains widespread and widely accepted. More than 90 percent of Egyptian females between the ages of 15 and 49 have been subjected to the procedure, according to UNICEF.

The victim, Suhair el-Batea, a girl from a small village in the Nile Delta, died after being subjected to the procedure in June 2013.

At a trial last year, her doctor, Raslan Fadl, told a lower court that he had only treated her for warts and that she had died of an allergic reaction.

Her father, whom prosecutors accuse of ordering the procedure, declined to press charges and backed up the physician’s account. Last November, the lower court acquitted the doctor.

On Monday, however, an appeals court overturned that ruling. The court sentenced Dr. Fadl to two years in prison for manslaughter and three months for committing FGM. Ms. Batea’s father was given a suspended sentence of three months.

Vivian Fouad, an official of the state-run National Population Council, said in an interview that her organization and others had persuaded prosecutors to appeal the acquittal because of the apparent collusion between the doctor and the family, both of whom sought to settle the case.

Ms. Fouad said her organization had trained more than 300 prosecutors to “understand the scientific, medical, historical and cultural context” of the practice, stressing that it constitutes an act of violence against women and has no basis in religion or Islam.

[This article edited for space]

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To bring peace in South Sudan

This letter, written by the Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan (CASS) and signed by 38 groups and 51 individuals, was delivered to the White House. The letter urges President Barack Obama to ask former President George W. Bush to meet with South Sudan’s leaders immediately to discuss a way forward:

January 20, 2015

Dear Mr. President:

We the undersigned South Sudanese, South Sudanese Americans, and friends of South Sudan write regarding a matter of extreme urgency.

As the second year of conflict in South Sudan begins, we note that the current IGAD-sponsored efforts to bring peace have been ineffective, thus we greatly fear an escalation and an expansion of violence as all sides are well armed and demonstrate a commitment to a military rather than a political solution despite their talk of peace.

The United States has a special relationship with South Sudan.  Americans have welcomed Lost Boys and Girls, refugees, and asylum seekers into their homes and lives.  Many have become citizens of our nation.  For decades, U.S. tax dollars have provided desperately needed humanitarian aid to war affected populations in Sudan and now South Sudan.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the war between Sudan and the SPLM/A exists, in large part, because the United States decided to partner with Norway and Britain to revive failing peace talks – a decision that was backed by the U.S. public, Congress, and in particular, the Congressional Black Caucus and Evangelical Christians.  And, it was former President George W. Bush who was the first American president to engage personally with the late Dr. John Garang, the former Chairman of the SPLM/A, in order to achieve peace.

Because of this long history together and because of the ongoing support your Administration has provided in upholding South Sudan’s right to self-determination and the countless resources that the US has invested in building the capacity of the leaders and citizens of this brand new country, we believe the United States has tremendous and perhaps even untapped influence over South Sudan’s decision makers.  For example, we believe, given his special historical role, that former President Bush could help accelerate a peace process that would ultimately save the precious lives of our family and friends.

Additionally, achieving peace in South Sudan, an important ally, would be consistent with your efforts to prevent the collapse of the country and the resulting spread of radical Islam into central Africa.

We, therefore, respectfully urge you to ask former President George W. Bush to meet with South Sudan’s leaders immediately to discuss a way forward. Thank you for considering our perhaps unusual request given the politics of the day; however, we believe that peace in South Sudan and peace on earth require a commitment by all leaders to prioritize humanity before politics.

Sincerely,

Gideon Abraham, Denver, CO USA

Rev. Amos Ademola Aderonmu, Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria

African Soul, American Heart, Debra Dawson, President, Fargo, ND USA

Hamid Eltgani Ali, Cairo, Egypt

American Friends of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, Richard Parkins, Executive Director, Washington, DC USA

Gwendolyn Andress, Lexington, SC USA

Bill Andress, Lexington, SC USA

Anyuak Recovery Trust (ART), Noah Omot Omot, Peace Mobilizer, Pochalla, GPAA, South Sudan

Jacob Thon Atem, Gainesville, FL USA

David and Marion Atkins, Columbia, SC USA

Dr. Charles Bakheit, Muscat, Oman

Mary Jean Baxley, Columbia, SC USA

John Becker, Redwood City, CA USA

Mary Anne Bennett, Brainerd, MN USA

Rev. Debbie Blane, Louisville, KY USA

Stephen Braaksma, Madison, WI USA

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

Rev. Sylvia Carlson, Greensburg, PA USA

Robert Cely, Columbia, SC USA

Abraham Chol Chan, Jacksonville, FL USA

Church Alliance for a New Sudan, Faith J.H. McDonnell, Director, Washington, DC USA

Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan, Khor Gai, Co-Founder of CASS, Omaha, NE USA

Rev. Helen Harrison Coker, Lexington, SC USA

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, Edmund Yakani, Executive Director, Juba, Central Equatoria, South Sudan

The Baroness Cox, House of Lords, Westminster, London, UK

Darfur Action Group of South Carolina, Richard Sribnick, MD, Chairman, Columbia, SC USA

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

Darfur Interfaith Network, Martha Boshnick, Co-Chair, Washington, DC USA

Darfur People’s Association of New York, Mohamed Haroun Ebead, President, Brooklyn, NY USA

Elizabeth Davis, Ridgeway, SC USA

David Dawson, New Wilmington, PA USA

Dialogue on South Sudan and Eyes on Sudan, Reuben Garang, Winnipeg, MB CA

Jackie Diguiseppe, Johnstown, PA USA

Equatoria South Sudanese Comm. Assoc. USA, Kwaje Lasu, President, Winston-Salem, NC USA

LeAnna Gates, Canton, GA USA

Global Partnership for Peace in South Sudan, Sarah Rial, President, Beverly, MA USA

Miriam C. Gwin, New Castle, PA USA

Investors Against Genocide, Eric Cohen, Chairperson, Boston, MA USA

Jewish World Watch, Natalie Blake and Vaughan Meyer, Co-Chairs of  Advocacy Committee, Peter Marcus, Chair of Policy Task Force, Encino, CA USA

Jews Against Genocide, Eileen Weiss, Co-Founder, New York City, NY USA

Joining Our Voices, Slater Armstrong, Founder/Director, Baton Rouge, LA USA

Jonglei Peace Initiative North America, Paul Manyok, Chairman, Nashville, TN USA

Hagazi and Carolyn Kebede, Culpeper, VA USA

Collins Kepa, Ottawa, ON CA

James Kimble, MD, Birmingham, AL USA

Charnet Koch, Johnstown, PA USA

Deng Bol Kuir, Johannesburg, South Africa

Rev. James Duol Kwek, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Wudu Lado, Toronto, ON CA

Amute Francis Lobalu, Human Rights Officer, South Sudan Human Rights Commission, Juba, Central Equatoria, South Sudan

Rev. Barbara and Paul Lucia, Douglassville, PA USA

Massachusetts Coalition for Darfur, William Rosenfeld, Director, Boston MA USA

Ernest McCutcheon, Columbia, SC USA

Rev. Heidi McGinniss, Denver, CO USA

John Metcalfe, Murrysville, PA USA

Newlonsburg Presbyterian Church, Susan Keaney, Chair of Outreach Ministry, Murrysville, PA USA

Rev. Karen Newsome, Columbia, SC USA

New York Coalition for Sudan, Neiki Ullah, Communications Director, New York City, NY USA

Nuba Christian Family Mission, George Tuto, Founder/President, Denver, CO USA

Othow Okoti Onger, Pochalla, Jonglei, South Sudan

Operation Broken Silence, Mark Hackett, Executive Director, Memphis, TN USA

Our Humanity in the Balance, Dr. J. Austin Watson, Member, Hendersonville, NC USA

Persecution Project Foundation, Brad Phillips, President and Founder, Culpeper, VA USA

Pochalla Parish Development Agency, John Philip Omot, Chairperson, Pochalla, GPAA, South Sudan

Puro Literacy Project (PULP) South Sudan, Puro Nygoni, Founder/General Manager, Pochalla, GPAA, South Sudan

Presbytery Mission Committee, Redstone Presbytery (PCUSA), Southwest, PA USA

Dr. Daniel Rickett, Roswell, GA USA

Cathy Ritter, Johnstown, PA USA

San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition, Mohamed Suleiman, President, San Francisco, CA USA

Carlene L. Schleider, Corpus Christi, TX USA

Roger Schneider, Murrysville, PA USA

Society for Threatened Peoples, Sharon Silber, US Director, New York City, NY USA

South Sudan Volunteer Initiative (SSVI), Joseph Stewart, Sr., Founder, Oslo, Norway

Southern Sudanese Community Center, Chuol Tut, Executive Director, San Diego, CA USA

Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, Dr. Eleanor Wright, Moderator, Birmingham, AL USA

Sudanese Community Association of Illinois, Peter Magai Bul, Member, Chicago, IL USA

Rev. James Tang, Columbia Heights, MN USA

Alice Tondora, Johnstown, PA USA

Steve Tondora, Johnstown, PA USA

Gabriel Tor, San Jose, CA USA

Trinity South Sudan Ministry, Dr. Mac Brown, Moderator, Lexington, SC USA

Jane Triplett, Rock Hill, SC USA

Richard A. Vandiver, Sr., Ridgeway, SC USA

Voice for Change (VFC), Lona James Eliai, South Sudan

Carol Watson, Hendersonville, NC USA

Prof. John H. Weiss, Ithaca, NY USA

Leland and Cornelia Williams, Columbia, SC USA

Roger Winter, Woodbine, MD USA

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prayer request for 38 jailed Christians

Church members pray at disputed property (Source: Morning Star News)

Please pray for 38 Christians in jail in Bahri (Khartoum North)

  • Pray for wisdom to prevail on how to handle the situation
  • Pray for the church as a whole, that they would work together to resolve this issue 
  • Pray that God would use these situations for the glory of His kingdom

Police forces entered the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Bahri November 17-18, destroying the church’s north wall. They took possession of the property, including a pastor’s home. Thirty-eight Christians have been arrested for refusing to surrender the church property to the Sudanese authorities. One court has issued a ruling that each person will be fined 100 Sudanese Pounds. The church is in a discussion about paying the fines. Wisdom is telling them that they should not pay as this will be received as an admission of guilt and the case will have no further hearing.

See: http://morningstarnews.org/2014/12/police-in-sudan-attack-worshipping-congregation-arrest-38-christians/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CASS at six months

The Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan marks its accomplishments at the half-year  milestone:

  • We have name recognition as that element of the diaspora which seeks peace
  • We collectively represent much of the South Sudanese population
  • We have established credibility with the U.S. State Department and the faith leadership at the talks in Addis.
  • We have opened communication channels to the U.S. State Dept., the faith community, IGAD principals, as well as SPLA I/O and possibly the GoSS
  • We have attracted the interest and attention of Washington leadership

The next goal is to re-energize our base through increased membership. CASS is reaching out to all of you in the diaspora community who desire peace for South Sudan. 

To express your interest in CASS membership, please contact the facilitator, Bill Andress at: billandress@ureach.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment