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/

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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

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SSWEN sends team to Rwanda for leadership training

 

SSWEN Staff and women leaders from across the three regions of South Sudan are traveling for an exchange visit to Rwanda.This will serve to bring together diverse organizations working in the fields of human rights and gender to build upon collective experience, through capacity building, and knowledge sharing from Rwanda. The project will aim to develop strong partnerships with the various governance structures; will spread advocacy trainings and materials, engage in capacity building of women leaders and representatives from 10 states, along with engagement and partnership with media to create awareness.#fundsfromUNDEF

 

SSWEN staff and the South Sudan women leaders that traveled to Rwanda for the exchange visit met with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, they also met with the Commissioner of Gender Monitoring Office, the Director of National Women Council of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwanda police Anti-GBV and Child Protection Directorate.

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“One Big Step Together”

Listen to three minutes and eight seconds of hope! Dance to lyrics of peace and reconciliation! Believe in one tribe: South Sudan. Artist is Chol Matuekz Ajing. Follow the link to video: http://youtu.be/hp4K2g2uk20

Song writers, photographers and others are spreading the message of reconciliation and unity in South Sudan. South Sudanese around the world are invited to compose a song as a message for peace, paint a picture of a united South Sudan, share a poem or a short story. Upload your songs, photos, videos, poetry and short stories here: http://mytribeissouthsudan.org

 

 

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The women of “A Step Together”

During October, 24 women leaders among a group of 76 participants from all ten states and the Abyei Area are receiving training that addresses the core causes of the current political conflict. The participants will be equipped with the skills for each to train a further 50 persons in their states. All 500-plus will travel to communities across South Sudan to document community narratives and needs, as well as local reconciliation initiatives.

“We are 60% of this nation. We must have a strong voice in our future, and mobilize the women in our communities so that we (men and women) are all working towards true reconciliation,” said Mary Nginzo, State Chairperson for Western Equatoria.

“We must have as many women as possible within our process. They are in the frontline of our suffering, and therefore should be at the frontline in reconciliation,” said Rev. Dr. Bernard Suwa, Secretary General of the Committee for National Healing, Peace, and Reconciliation (CNHPR). The independent committee was formed 18 months ago and is conducting this three-year, people-to-people process as a prelude to the development of a people-driven National Reconciliation Agenda.

For more information: http://www.reconciliationsouthsudan.org

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NGOs’ response to UN meeting on South Sudan

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Where are the women?

Women work. Women speak out. Women plan. All the while the African women take care of their families and pray for a voice for themselves, for lives free of famine, sickness and violence. Women are organizing for better policy and effective action.

Tumekutana

The upcoming Tumekutana gathering of women leaders from 22 African nations takes place in Accra, Ghana October 25-31, 2014. Tumekutana is Swahili for “We have come together.” The invitation is open to the women of African partner churches, but are regional women leaders who are to discern regional solutions for the most excruciating needs of African children able to afford the cost of the conference? Few have the $400 registration fee. Contributions toward the average total cost of $1,750 per woman are gratefully accepted by the organizers. Please pray for and consider contributing to Tumekutana. Contact Christi Boyd: christi.boyd@pcusa.org

Women and Genocide in the 21st Century: The Case for Darfur

Darfur Women Action Group, in partnership with Genocide Watch, presents the 3rd annual “Women and Genocide in the 21st Century – A National Action Symposium” in Washington, D.C.

For the past six years, the Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) has worked with its allies to bring awareness to the magnitude of the genocide in Darfur, and particularly, its impact on women. On October 25-26, DWAG, hundreds of anti-genocide activists, women’s rights advocates, artists, celebrities, survivors, experts, and concerned leaders will come together in Washington, D.C. to build strategies for sustainable change for Sudanese people. Standard Fee (8/31): Students: $20, 
 Non-Students: $60, hurry up for early bird rate.   *Financial aid is available for the first 200 students, volunteers and those in the Sudanese diaspora. Contact: info@darfurwomenaction.org

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South Sudan food crisis: Surviving on water lilies

It is early morning in Reke village, a settlement of about 3,000 people displaced by fighting between government and rebel forces in the oil-rich Unity state. There were heavy rains overnight and the village, about 650km (400 miles) northwest of the capital Juba, is only accessible with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. With the rainy season, many roads have been cut off and food is hard to come by.

In Reke, people depend on food aid from the World Food Programme (WFP), but they say deliveries are rare. Getting that help to remote villages is anything but easy. The people in Reke are now surviving on water lilies from a nearby river. They collect the seeds, grind them and mix them with water, and then cook them for a meal.

More than 1.5 million people have been displaced by the clashes and the UN has warned that South Sudan is on the verge of a famine. The UN says at least 4 million people are facing starvation after farmers missed the planting season. Experts have warned that South Sudan will most probably face a severe famine by the end of the year or early next year. The children’s agency Unicef has warned that up to 50,000 children could die of malnutrition by the end of the year if they do not receive help.

(Emmanuel Igunza, BBC September 8, 2014) For full article, follow link: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29113819

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Ambassador Susan D. Page’s Farewell

Susan D. Page was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan October 11, 2011. In August she returned to the U.S. State Department, but it wasn’t easy as is clear below in her farewell address to the South Sudanese people.

This week, after nearly three years in Juba, I will return to my family and to the U.S. State Department, our equivalent of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As I depart, I would like to offer a few memories and reflections, as well as some thoughts going forward.

Although I was not born here, South Sudan feels like a home to me, because its people have been a part of my life for more than a decade. I first joined the IGAD-led peace process twelve years ago and watched proudly as His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit signed the Machakos Protocol in July of 2002. In 2003, I took my first trip to the land that would become South Sudan and have travelled throughout this beautiful country and to all ten states many times thereafter. I jumped over my first bull in Panyagor; tasted the sweetest mango of my life in Yambio; and observed the strong desire for peace in Malualkon. I still become emotional when I remember January 9, 2005 – the day the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/SPLA signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. I too swelled with pride when the people of South Sudan voted their country into existence in 2011. And, because my country also fought long and hard for its independence, I have always felt it is a special honor and privilege to be the United States’ first ambassador to the world’s newest country.

As sweet as these memories are, thinking about them also brings tears to my eyes, for the country that you voted to create in 2011 is now divided and suffering badly. As I return to the United States, I will tell President Obama what I will tell you here today: this conflict did not come from God or nature – it is man-made. If famine comes in the months that follow, it too will be man-made. Therefore, the path to peace will also come from people – not only from the leaders in the conflict, but from chiefs, elders, religious leaders, women, and you, the ordinary citizens of South Sudan. And so, instead of saying farewell, let me say a word to each of you about what has happened over the last eight months and what can happen in the months and years ahead.

To the leaders on both sides of the conflict: I beg you to take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself what you can do to stop the suffering of your people. The present crisis began long before December 15, 2013, and you must all work together to stop it – now. Already, more than 1.5 million people have been pushed from their homes, and hunger and disease threaten to kill many more. The United States stood by you as you worked together to create South Sudan. Now, in a horrible twist of fate, you are both working to destroy the country you created. The United States is trying to help you negotiate a sustainable peace under the auspices of IGAD. Blaming each other is not a strategy. Honest dialogue and compromise are the hallmarks of true leadership and the path to long term peace for South Sudan.

Chiefs, elders, women, and members of the religious community: you also have a critical role in helping to bring peace back to South Sudan. You are the guarantors of honesty in your communities and the protectors of your people. You know what it means to be selfless and to put others’ needs before your own. Now you must convince the rest of the population to do the same. During the civil war Nuer and Dinka and so many other ethnic communities fought side-by-side to create this country. Now you kill each other and work to drag others into your conflict. You can help stop this. As I travel around this beautiful country, tarnished as it is by the fighting, I see still see a few slogans on t-shirts and signs along the road that say, “South Sudan is my tribe.” I know that many of you are already working towards this end, but please continue. All of you must help make that message a reality.

To South Sudan’s next generation of leaders – the youth: People talk often about what percentage of the country is from different tribes, but in fact, you, the youth, are the largest “tribe” of South Sudan. Fully 65 percent of your country’s population is under the age of 24 and almost 50 percent are under the age of 14. You know as well as I do that there will be no peace if your elders keep putting guns in the hands of children. Instead of weapons, young people should be reading books, putting thoughts on paper, and designing and constructing buildings for the future instead of destroying foundations. As the great Nigerian author Chinua Achebe wrote years ago, “Literature is my weapon.” Show your leaders your potential by speaking your truths and working together for the betterment of all. In war, everyone suffers, but it is the women and children that suffer the most. Protect your mothers, sisters, brothers, and friends by working together to make peace a reality. Family members will always fight, but your family will always be with you. The same is true for the bigger “family” of South Sudan.

Some might say that my words are naive and that, as the bible says, there is a time for war and a time for peace. But war is never the best way to bring change and solve problems – in fact, it is usually the worst way for it destroys the very things that keep the peace – families, schools, markets, and hospitals. I know something of conflict, for in my own country, African Americans were systematically oppressed until just after I was born. However, it was not violence that brought us our rights, but the non-violent protests of church groups, students, and ordinary citizens who believed in doing the right thing. The methods used and preached by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the United States were the same ones Mahatma Ghandi used in India and Nelson Mandela embraced to end apartheid in South Africa. Peaceful actions by community leaders and ordinary citizens and the courage of their convictions that all men – and women – are created equal and must be afforded equal opportunities and equal rights and obligations, were, and continue to be, the tools of change in these countries and many more around the world. The people of South Sudan have lived and died through decades of war. Now is the time for peace and justice.

In some of my farewell interviews with newspapers and radio stations, I have been asked an important question: what can South Sudan – the newest country in the world – learn from the United States, one of the oldest democracies? Here is how I have answered: the United States has thrived by creating peaceful means to resolve disputes over land, resources, and politics. This means supporting a truly free press, for the media is a megaphone for ideas that everyone must be able to use without fear of arrest or intimidation. Exchanging viewpoints – even controversial ones – is not a recipe for conflicts; it is a means to prevent them. Although imperfect in practice, the U.S. has also learned that the best path to stability and prosperity is by embracing our diversity, empowering people, and including all groups in the political and economic future of the nation. The exclusion of African Americans from the American dream led to a bloody civil war and social unrest for generations. One hundred fifty years later, the scars still remain. From these experiences we’ve learned something that too many others have forgotten: You cannot fight your way to peace.

Finally, the U. S. has also succeeded by ensuring that no one is above the law – not our politicians, our generals, not even the President. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said so eloquently, “Peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.” Adhering to the law, following the rules, and holding people accountable is not a foreign construct. Justice is the glue that holds societies together.

Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I depart, but I am not truly leaving South Sudan. In my next assignment, I will continue to work towards peace in my new position as Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan and I hope that you will show my successor here in Juba the same warm South Sudanese welcome that I received. And, even though the challenges in front of you are enormous, I remain optimistic that you – the people of South Sudan – can put your country back on the right track. Dialogue and compromise will be the key, both with the warring parties and with the international community. Together, we can end the suffering now overtaking the country, but only if we speak honestly with each other and put differences aside in pursuit of the greater good. As the great South Sudanese musician Emmanuel Kembe sings, “our boat is shaky, but we are moving forward all the same.” I pray that the people of South Sudan can all move forward together to a peaceful and united future. One people – one nation. 

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Voice of the Diaspora

SAAF inaugurates Voice of the Diaspora with this post to honor forward-looking advocacy efforts on behalf of South Sudan as a nation with equality and justice for all.

The recently organized Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan (CASS) has taken on the ambitious goal of motivating the many diaspora groups to speak as one voice on behalf of a just and lasting peace in South Sudan. 

 Civil society and the diaspora together represent the majority of South Sudanese citizens, yet they lack a place at the negotiation table in regard to ending armed conflict in South Sudan, allowing delivery of humanitarian aid, the formation of an interim government, and establishing accountability for all.  CASS strives to become a voice on behalf of the under-represented in these matters.

CASS recently made public the following white paper introducing its goals and constituencies. 

 

Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan 

July 21, 2014

 The Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan (CASS) was established in late April 2014 with the following:

Mission:  CASS seeks to establish a just and lasting peace in South Sudan. Our advocacy is directly informed by the situation on the ground and the South Sudanese people who urgently seek: justice, peace, an end to violence, and establishment of a democratic nation with equality for all.

Membership: CASS members primarily are South Sudanese now living in North America; they come from various ethnic backgrounds and work together with the interest of all the people of South Sudan at the fore rather than any specific group.  All agree to place current and historical ethnic issues behind them and work for the good of all South Sudanese.  All agree that all groups and cultures are equal in value if not in population.

CASS hopes to accomplish its mission by drawing into its membership representatives of all major diaspora groups so that the diaspora can speak with one voice as it seeks to accomplish its mission.

Strategically, CASS focuses on the most immediate issue at hand in a progression from (1) ending the armed conflict, (2) allowing humanitarian aid to reach all the people who need it, (3) establishing an interim government, (4) establishing accountability for all, (5)  followed by healing the trauma caused by the civil war, and (6)  reconciliation.  This will bring (7) lasting peace.

Currently CASS is focused on ending the armed conflict.  The current conflict in South Sudan arose out of a political difference within the SPLM between President Kiir and his former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar and their supporters.  Neither side has the ability to defeat the other side – at least at this time. Thus the conflict must be resolved through political negotiation. The two sides vary in approach but little progress is being made, and the earlier agreement to cease conflict has not been honored.

To bring the sides to serious negotiation, four major actions must occur:

External pressure: The IGAD nations, United States, and China especially have strong vested interests in peace and justice in South Sudan.  We must lobby those nations to bring pressure on the leaders through economic, financial, political, and all ways except military intervention.

Face-to-Face meeting:  A face-to-face meeting between President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar is necessary to gain true commitment to peaceful solutions to this conflict. We believe that the Church in South Sudan is best equipped to do this.

Internal pressure: South Sudan civic leadership, church leadership, and women’s leadership have strengthened considerably since 2009. We must assist them in obtaining places at the negotiating table that they may put internal pressure on the leaders of the conflict.

People pressure: South Sudanese everywhere need to contact their friends and relatives who are involved in the fighting and point out to them that this conflict will not resolve the issues that matter to them. The leaders have begun fighting for their own political futures and not for the people. This war has taken a horrible toll on the people of South Sudan and their material structures. This will only get worse. Thus we urge the frontline commanders to observe the Cessation of Hostilities and other agreements signed by their leaders in Addis as the only way to guarantee peace for them and their families.

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