Voices of Diaspora

SAAF inaugurates Voices of 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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Where are the women of South Sudan?

Near the town of Bentiu, some are in the women’s camp. Their homes are burned down or otherwise destroyed. Their temporary housing is a blanket, a mosquito net, or nothing at all.

They forage for food and firewood in order for their children to subsist.

What is a woman’s risk in this rural area? Mosquito-born illness? Yes. Snake bites? Yes.

Yet, another greater risk is a human-born weapon. Women risk rape by marauding soldiers. Males, teens and adults, rape as a means to hurt and demean women. Rape splashes cultural degradation on women and the risk of exclusion by their communities. Rape also spreads disease where medical care is rare.

Read more about current conditions for women in Bentiu, South Sudan:
Rape stands out starkly in S. Sudan war known for brutality


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Prayer Initiative – July 2014

You are invited to pray for:

~ The many faithful Christian believers in Sudan, including Khartoum, and their leaders as they attempt to have normalcy amid persecution.

~ The Bible and theology students and their dedicated teachers who faithfully prepare the future of the church in Sudan and South Sudan.

~ Meriam, the Christian woman whose charges were overturned in court, but is detained by authorities from leaving Sudan. Pray she and her family will be able to leave and arrive safely in the USA.

~ The leaders of South Sudan that they may end their fighting and establish a viable transitional government.

~ The displaced Sudanese and South Sudanese seeking safety from fighting by pouring into Juba, South Sudan’s capital city, or by crossing borders into  surrounding countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda).

~ The many relief agencies and their volunteers who are attempting to supply the displaced and refugees with water, food and medical supplies.

~ The powerful countries outside of Sudan and South Sudan, and their leaders, that they may help form and support the structure of a future government.

 ~ The many different agencies addressing the trauma of tribes in conflict and reconciliation of the people of one tribe with those of another.

~ Workers and planners who are attempting to restore infrastructure destroyed in the civil war.

~ The many church-sponsored mission personnel engaged in health training, education and trauma healing and reconciliation work.

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Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, sentenced – Send appeals before June 24th

URGENT ACTION: Meriam Yehya Ibrahim 

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a 27-year-old Christian Sudanese woman was arrested for adultery because of her marriage to a Christian South Sudanese man. According to Meriam, she was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion. Sudanese law does not recognize Meriam as a Christian, but as a Muslim. She has been convicted of adultery, since Sudanese law does not recognize her marriage. She has been convicted of apostasy, since she asserted she is a Christian and not a Muslim.

Appeals for Meriam’s release are requested in Arabic, English or your own language to be send by email before June 24, 2014. 

~ Minister of Justice, Mohamed Bushara Dousa [Salutation: Your Excellency] Email: moj@moj.gov.sd

~ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Ahmed Karti [Salutation: Your Excellency] Email: ministry@mfa.gov.sd

~ Copies to Minister of Interior, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed Email: mut@isoc.sd

 ~ Copies to Embassy of Sudan, Washington, D.C. www.sudanembassy.org/index.php?option=com_breezingforms&Itemid=13

Suggested letter: 

Your Excellency:

I am writing from America to call upon you and the Government of Sudan to release Meriam Yehya Ibrahim immediately and unconditionally because she is a prisoner of conscience, convicted solely because of her religious beliefs and identity. Her child and child-to-be are U.S. citizens who are guilty of no wrong and should be turned over to their father. As you know Islamic scholars are divided on whether apostasy is a crime because the Quran states: “There shall be no compulsion in religion.” Of course some quote the Prophet (pbh) and come to different conclusions, but a mere woman should not be held accountable for that that scholarly dispute when the Quran is quite explicit. Regardless she is not and has not been Muslim.

Please show the love and mercy of God to this woman.

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Stop the violence in South Sudan!

For a faith-based advocacy action for South Sudan backing a proposal by Representative Frank Wolf (R., VA), follow the link below.

Contact President Obama and urge him to appoint former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to help negotiate a just and lasting peace in South Sudan.



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Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President:

The Sudan Advocacy Action Forum views with alarm the spiraling violence in South Sudan. Please take immediate action to help prevent a catastrophe reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide. We urge you to adopt Rep. Frank Wolf’s recommendation of appointing former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to help negotiate a lasting peace in South Sudan and, in particular, to demonstrate that the fate of South Sudan is a U.S. foreign policy priority.

Last week, Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, went to South Sudan. She met with President Salva Kiir and separately with the opposition leader Riek Machar. Based on her travels in country and meetings with U.N. personnel, she emphasizes the urgency of peace talks and more humanitarian assistance from donor countries. Navi Pillay concluded her remarks of April 30 saying, “How much worse does it have to get, before those who can bring this conflict to an end, especially President Kiir and Dr. Machar, decide to do so?” We believe it doesn’t have to get worse if the United States would step in on behalf of a negotiated peace process. We urge you to act immediately on behalf of the citizens of South Sudan.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Eleanor Wright, Moderator

To add your comments to the President go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/write-or-call


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Peace Activist Luol Deng Speaks

A Message from the ENOUGH Project: We’re excited to share this video message from Luol Deng with each of you. In it he’s speaking to South Sudanese, so any support you may be able to offer in getting the message out would be much appreciated. 

South Sudanese NBA star and peace activist Luol Deng speaks from the heart in this moving message to the youth of South Sudan on forgiveness, strength, and courage in the face of the current conflict. The message from Luol is interspersed with powerful images from his work in South Sudan using basketball to build bridges between youth from different tribal and ethnic backgrounds. He calls on South Sudanese youth to take a stand against the ethnic polarization of the conflict and to advocate for peace in their own communities.

Luol Deng’s message.


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NYC Demonstration Thursday – April 10 at 1:30 pm

Simon Deng, rights activist and former Sudanese slave, will be joined by others for a press conference and demonstration Thursday, April 10, at 1:30 pm at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, East 47th Street, near Second Avenue in New York City.

Click ACTION on the tool bar for more details.

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Hear Her Voice: 2014 SAAF Reflections

SAAF Reflections ~ By Virgil Bodeen

I thought I would reflect a bit on the Hear Her Voice conference since it was such a productive two days. The capable and passionate women from Jewish World Watch in Los Angeles who led the conference showed what strong, smart and committed leaders they are.

So much information and so many ideas were shared, a lot of optimism and pessimism, a lot of hope and discouragement. I’ll try to summarize some of the sessions and mention some conclusions. I’ll focus on Sudan and South Sudan, though the conference also dealt in depth with Congo.

Panel on Women in Conflict. Most of the voices were new to me. Lee Ann De Reus from Penn State in this panel asked how women deal with the layer of trauma that results from violence. She said they must find hope in the families and other vibrant relationships that survive. Darfuri Niemat Ahmadi told of her experience and the atrocities she’s seen and insisted that “genocide is today.”

Mukesh Kapila,  former UN official in Sudan. In his keynote address, he spoke of women who had changed his life—grandmother, teacher, Indian nuns in Rwanda, and the Darfuri woman who came to his UN office and shamed him into working harder, speaking up, and being a rebel, a “modern resistance worker.”

He gave us some guidelines: be well informed, do your research and analysis; be vigilant, not seduced or discouraged; take personal responsibility; get organized with others for more impact; remain humble and optimistic.

In the question and answer period, it was said that women’s issues are community issues and must involve men as well as women, since most of women’s problems are caused by men. Mukesh insisted that you can’t compromise on things that are wrong. You have to challenge harmful cultural practices. It’s always the women and children who suffer, he said. Also, he surmised that the days of American intervention are gone. Humility would be a good idea, he said, and the US is more effective in partnerships when other countries assert themselves and share the burden.

Princeton Lyman,  former US Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. The former ambassador reviewed Sudanese history since Bashir took power in 1989. He said the problems in Darfur that caused the eruption of genocide in 2003 remain unresolved, the fundamental issues remain unchanged, the same regime remains in power in Khartoum. He asked what to do with Bashir but had no answer.

Lyman said there will never be real progress with Bashir in power. The US is doing good humanitarian work but not making much political progress. There is no accountability in Khartoum; foreign aid mostly supports Bashir, who keeps harassing South Sudan. Bashir uses both promises of peace and justice to hold onto power. 

In South Sudan, the revolution did not result in a democratic government. There is no democratic political structure. South Sudanese must realize that accountability, justice and reconciliation are necessary for peace. And, civil society is not enough: democratic movements must be prepared to govern. What to do?

~Advocate stronger UN Security Council support for the peacekeepers.

~Press for an end to conflict in the South in the short term.

~Encourage the diaspora to get involved, press for aid to be consistently delivered for the long term. 

Other panelists said we must support independent media like Radio Dabanga in Sudan to open up society and end repression. They said it will be a long struggle with such a repressive government. There is a lack of a national identity, one said. 

Peace and Justice Panel. In this panel, recommendations for US action in Sudan and Congo, some mechanisms were cited: truth telling, forgiveness, reparations; appealing to the ICC in cases of impunity, such as Bashir, for example; lustration  for removing perpetrators; and especially, insisting on the rule of law to build long term stability. The consensus was that peace without justice won’t last long. Only some mediators and donors see Bashir as a partner for peace. For most people, prosecuting Bashir is the only way to peace.

Additional advocacy was called for in support of HR 1692, the Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act of 2013, which would be our main message to House members during our lobbying the next day.

Enough Project Co-founders, Gayle Smith and John Prendergast. The two came on as a mutual admiration society, but then got down to business.

Gayle said the problems seem much harder when you’re inside the government, trying to weave many interests together. She asked how do you highlight our interests in Africa, get a robust foreign policy and foreign aid budget, when there’s not much of a constituency out there for these things?

Talking about working for change within the government, she said it’s easy to apply pressure. But, she asked, how do you create incentives for people to do the right thing when they‘re angry and polarized? Short term, reflexive actions are likewise easier than long term policies and strategies. What do you do today to make things different 20 years from now?

Gayle brought up the Atrocities Prevention Board, the APB, which operates out of the White House and spans many agencies. The APB has elevated the issue of atrocities and genocide and has been well received as the place to go when atrocities are on the rise.

John spoke of the legacy of Rwanda: more and quicker attention to atrocities, as in the Central African Republic recently; more press coverage, getting out ahead of a looming calamity.

Gayle, on getting our government’s attention on South Sudan, said:

~Don’t be shy with criticism, yet give credit where it is due and thank people for their efforts.

~Focus on ways to heal the people’s profound and embarrassing trauma. Talk about the horrific fighting; be vocal about it; bring up the accountability and responsibility the South Sudan Government must show.

~Recommend means to give voice to the South Sudanese people’s aspirations for their country.

~The US military should move humanitarian aid and connect with other forces for security and humanitarian work as well as help develop a disciplined, professional military and work for security sector reform and assistance.

~Darfur is far from resolved. Put it in the larger picture of Sudan, the present context, but keep it alive. The issue is centralized power in Khartoum instead of the diversity of the nation. Now there is a movement by people who can come together across the country, who can advocate to the media and give them credit for covering Darfur.

US Congressmen Royce and McGovern. Congressman Ed Royce, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, said sustained engagement is essential. We must keep our focus on genocide in Darfur, Sudan and South Sudan. We must rally NGOs and the international community, the House and the Senate to get results. He said South Sudan leaders are unwilling to do what’s necessary for peace and reconciliation. The House wrote to President Kiir that future U.S. cooperation is in jeopardy if the current crisis continues. He feels that Bashir is weakening, but Sudanese activists and everyone else there must be serious about responsible, positive change in Khartoum.

Congressman James McGovern, who introduced H.R. 1692, the Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act of 2013, told us our presence on the Hill is vitally important. His bill has 108 co-sponsors now, thanks to our advocacy. He wants the US to work with democratic voices in Sudan and South Sudan to bring the horror to an end. 


March 10, 2014


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South Sudan Humanitarian Situation

South Sudan | As of 6 March 2014


~4.9 million, estimated people in need of humanitarian assistance

~3.2 million, people to be assisted by aid organizations by June 2014

~758,400, people provided with humanitarian assistance, including IDPs, violence-affected host communities and refugees from other countries sheltering in South Sudan

705,800, people internally displaced by violence since 12/15/2014.

~Aid agencies have reached 758,400 people across South Sudan with humanitarian assistance since the start of the year, including 234,000 refugees sheltering in the country.

~The number of people who have fled from South Sudan to neighbouring countries has increased to 226,000.

~An agreement was signed with the Government regarding a new site for displaced people in Juba, which will be able to host some 10,000 people and help decongest the two UN bases in the capital.

~The response to thousands of people displaced in Panyijar County in Unity State began in Ganyliel on 6 March. So far, aid agencies have responded in 59 of 129 reported sites with displaced people in South Sudan.

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