President Obama asked to highlight South Sudan violence

WASHINGTON (July 16, 2015)—A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators today called on President Barack Obama to use his upcoming visit to Africa to highlight the tragic ongoing violence in South Sudan. In a letter led by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), the senators underscored the need for the Administration to address the regional divisions responsible for human suffering on a horrific scale.

The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Barrasso (R-WY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

“South Sudan’s independence brought the hope that the long running and bloody conflict between the Sudanese government in the north and its population in the south would finally come to an end,” the senators wrote. “Yet, a reckless power struggle between the nation’s leaders and nefarious meddling by Sudanese President and wanted international war criminal Omar al-Bashir have inflamed old ethnic tensions, stymied South Sudan’s development potential, and ignited horrific human suffering. Your visit provides a timely moment to bring the region’s focus and American leadership forward for a resolution to the South Sudan civil war and an end to the violence in Darfur and the Nuba Mountain area.”  Full text of letter

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Prayer for South Sudan on its 4th anniversary

God of freedom and God of justice, we pray with our sisters and brothers in South Sudan as they mark four years of independence.

We rejoiced together when South Sudan became the world’s newest nation. We have shared joy and deep sorrow in the four years since.

Now, with our brothers and sisters, our hearts are heavy as the South Sudan nation faces a deep conflict that could destroy all for which they have strived. We mourn with people who have lost loved ones in this current unrest; we ache for the children and adults who have become traumatized again and again; we ask for healing for people who are injured, strength for people who are imprisoned and hiding, courage for the people who pursue peace; and we ask for grace for all the people of South Sudan that they might turn from violence and build community with one another.

Keep our church partners and mission personnel safe and be their rock as they look to you for strength and guidance.

Be with our partners: the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, the South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church, RECONCILE (Resource Centre for Civil Leadership), the South Sudan Council of Churches, and Across. Strengthen them with the power of your Holy Spirit as they witness to the strong love of Christ, advocating for peace and justice in a situation that is only hopeful because we follow a resurrected Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen.  Read more

The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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Pastors need your support

Pastor Yat Michael Ruot was arrested by Sudan’s dreaded National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Dec. 21, 2014. He was a guest preacher at Khartoum’s Bahri Evangelical Church when NISS agents arrested him for encouraging the church to be strong and endure the government’s persecution.

Pastor Peter Yen Reith was arrested after he inquired of the Sudanese authorities and expressed concern for his friend, Pastor Michael. Michael and Peter are from South Sudan. Michael is 49 years old, married and has two young children. Peter is 39 years old, married and the father of a two year-old girl.

For two months following their arrest, Michael and Peter were secretly detained and held on unknown charges. They weren’t allowed to speak with lawyers and their families didn’t know where they were – which is in violation of international human rights laws.

Four months after their arrest, they were officially charged with “undermining the constitutional system”, “waging war against the State”, and “espionage” all of which carry the death penalty – which in Sudan usually means hanging. They were also charged with “inciting organized groups”, “offending Islamic beliefs,” and “blasphemy” which call for imprisonment and whipping.

Sudanese officials are known mass murderers. Sudan’s air force bombs innocent Christian civilians in the Nuba Mountains – EVERY DAY. They’ve already been indicted by the International Criminal Court on three counts of genocide for killing hundreds of thousands, even millions of Christians.

Sudan is arguably the worst nation in the world for persecuting Christians. But when the world speaks out, Sudan listens. TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE … just like we did last year for Meriam Ibraheem. Sign the Petition

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Pastors on trial in Sudan await July 2 hearing

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Two South Sudanese pastors imprisoned for their faith in the Republic of Sudan since December 2014 and January 2015, respectively, will have the opportunity to answer a judge’s questions in a hearing on July 2.

Please continue to pray for the safety and prompt release of Rev. Peter Yen Reith and Rev. Yat Michael. Read more.

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Molly Phee confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan

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Along with Humanity United, we applaud the confirmation of career foreign service officer Molly Phee as Ambassador to South Sudan on June 24, 2015. Her confirmation comes at a crucial time for the nearly four year-old country, which has been mired in deadly conflict since December 2013.

“The United States was instrumental in the creation of South Sudan and has invested heavily in the new nation,” said David Abramowitz, Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs at Humanity United. “U.S. leadership is critical in the region, and the ambassadorship in Juba has been vacant for far too long.”

Abramowitz continued, “We are glad that Molly Phee has been confirmed. With food shortages and a humanitarian crisis underway, the U.S. Embassy in Juba is thirsting for leadership. She has challenging work ahead of her.”

Ms. Phee’s past experience in conflict zones, at the United Nations, and in Ethiopia will serve her well as she takes on her new post in Juba.

“The people of South Sudan need and deserve our support; confirming Molly Phee as ambassador was an important sign that the United States remains committed to helping them achieve a just and peaceful future,” said Abramowitz.

Humanity United has supported and led efforts to build peace in Sudan and South Sudan since 2005 and is supporting peacemaking efforts in the U.S. and the region, including South Sudanese civil society efforts to help end the fighting and provide support to groups working on protection of human rights and dignity. Source: Humanity United

 

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Ask senate leaders for vote on ambassador

Ask Senate leaders for an immediate vote on the pending ambassador to South Sudan, Mary Catherine “Molly” Phee. She was nominated last September, but must be confirmed by the Senate before taking up duties.

Phee is Chief of Staff at the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan. Previously, she served in Ethiopia, Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan.

Ask Senate leaders, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, to schedule a vote for Molly Phee immediately. Pressure from everyone is needed; voices of the diaspora will be very helpful. The more you call and email, the better!

Senator Mitch McConnell: 

E-mail: Nancy_McKinstry@mcconnell.senate.gov  Phone: (202) 224-2541

Senator Harry Reid:

E-mail: Greg_Pollock@reid.senate.gov Phone: (202) 224-3542

Then contact the Senate offices in your state where you live with the same request. 

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Act now for pastors imprisoned in Sudan

Click here to call for the release of Reverend Michael and Reverend Yen!

Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church were arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence Service (NISS) in Khartoum, Sudan on 21 December 2014 and 11 January 2015 respectively. They were charged on 1 March in Khartoum with eight offenses under the 1991 Penal Code.

They are charged with committing joint acts in execution of criminal conspiracy; undermining the constitutional system; waging war against the state; espionage against the country; disclosure and obtaining information and official documents; promoting hatred amongst or against sects; disturbance of the public peace;, and insulting religious creeds. The offences of waging war against the state and of undermining the constitutional system carry the death penalty, while the other six offences carry flogging sentences.

It is believed that the two pastors were arrested and charged due to their religious convictions. The two pastors were held incommunicado by the NISS until 2 March, when they were transferred to Kober prison and permitted their first family visits.

The two pastors went on a hunger strike for two days on 28 and 29 March objecting to their continued detention without trial and to their lack of access to lawyers. They are both now being represented pro-bono by a team of lawyers. They have been to court twice, on 19 May and 31 May. Their next court appearance is on 15 June.

Amnesty International considers Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen as prisoners of conscience, arrested, detained and charged solely because of their peaceful expression of their religious convictions.

Please write the President, the Secretary of State, and your members of Congress and urge them to:

Call on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen and drop all charges against them;

Ensure that pending their unconditional release, Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

Click here to send a message today!

**Alert courtesy of Amnesty International

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Nuba Rally at the White House on June 6

A Saturday rally at the White House protesting Sudan’s years of bombing South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur. Photos credit: Bilal Hassan Aboujih.

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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!”

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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.

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