Views and Articles

Recent Posts

Tags

News

  • This report does not necessarily reflect the views of SudaneseOnline.Org

Community

Email Notifications

Archives

September 2010 - Posts

Sudanese woman's books deal with taboo topics

By Matthew Stolle
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

About the author

Sara Mansour was born in Madani, Sudan. Mansour and her husband, Essam Mahadi, lived in Saudi Arabia before immigrating to the United States. They have lived in Rochester since 2001.

Mansour uses a variety of TV, cable and Internet outlets to report on and write about her native Sudan.

• Mansour and her husband maintain a website called Sudaneseonline.org, a new source and chat room that encourages discussion of Sudanese and Middle Eastern issues.

• Mansour has reported on events and issues in her native Sudan as a correspondent for SCOLA TV and for Rochester public access Channel 10.

• Mansour has written three books: "The Girls of Khartoum," "The Girls of Khartoum II" and "Asylum." A fourth book, on female circumcision, is planned.

 

 Sara Mansour found a disturbing picture in her e-mail inbox recently. It was the image of a Middle Eastern man, his head resting on sand, sometime after he had been beheaded.

Mansour was unable to say who sent the picture. It could have been sent from any number of enemies. But to Mansour, the menacing message was clear: Stop your writing, your publishing, your reporting, or else.

For the last two years, the Rochester resident and Sudanese immigrant has been churning out a series of books that amount to a searing indictment of Sudanese society and culture. They deal with topics that are considered taboo in her native country and in much of the Middle East.

Two of the books, "The Girls of Khartoum" and "The Girls of Khartoum II," describe, she says, what happens to young unmarried women and girls who commit the grave offense of becoming pregnant in a repressive Islamic culture.

Delving into the unspoken

The books come across as a catalog of horrors: frightened young women who give birth to babies out of wedlock and the desperate measures they take to avoid discovery; babies abandoned in bathrooms and Dumpsters and, in some cases, she says, "eaten by dogs and ants"; and girls forced into lives of prostitution.

"I don't want to make people angry," Mansour said. "I don't like what's going on in my country."

The books have barely raised an eyebrow in the United States, mainly because they are all written in Arabic. But In her native Sudan, the response to them has been far from indifferent.

Mansour was recently interviewed by Al-Jazeera, she said. The books are printed and published in Egypt, but they have also gained circulation via the black market and the Internet.

Mansour says her own parents have been forced to flee Sudan, her brother has been beaten and she has been warned not to return to her country, lest she suffer the same fate as the man in the picture that was sent to her.

The mother of six children, Mansour likens herself as Sudanese version of Oprah. She and her husband, Essam Mahadi, maintain a website called Sudaneseonline.org that offers news and discussion of social and religious issues in her native country.

The site has nearly 3,000 registered members from across the Middle East with 400 others waiting to register. Mansour believes Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir checks out her website to see what people are saying.

"People like us who live in the United States, we have tasted freedom of speech. It's not fair for our people back there," said Essam, who works as a Web designer.

Mansour calls it the first Sudanese website of its kind, because it allows people to give voice to opinions that would be frowned upon in their country. But to register, a person must give their name and address. No one is allowed to remain anonymous. People are required to own their opinions.

"They say bad things about me in my website," she said. "This is freedom."

Mansour has also reported and covered news on Sudanese events for SCOLA, a nonprofit TV organization that offers news programming in native languages. She has also reported news for Rochester cable access on Channel 10.

Mansour uses an array of sources to stay informed on events taking place in Sudan. She watches Sudanese TV at home, scours the Internet and uses her phone to stay in contact with a network of people on the ground in Sudan.

"I have trusted people who can report for me many things," she said. "I can't say their names. (I would) put them in a dangerous situation."

Angry reaction

Archangelo Nela, a Sudanese elder in Rochester, says the picture of Sudan that Mansour paints through her books are bound to make people angry in Sudan.

Nela says he doesn't have a problem with Mansour's books. But, he points out, he is from the southern part of the country, and Mansour's books and criticisms deal almost entirely with the Muslim north.

He says many Sudanese people in Rochester who know about her books are upset with her, especially those from the northern part of Sudan. Mansour is also from the north.

Mansour admits the backlash has taken its toll. She has been, she says, the subject of slanders and a smear campaign conducted on the Internet by other Rochester Sudanese. "Fake stories," she says, have accused her of everything from planting bombs to having Ethiopian parentage.

But Mansour doesn't plan to stop writing anytime soon. She has been working on a fourth book — this one dealing with female circumcision.

"They want to push me to close my website," she said. "They want to push me to stop writing books. They want me to just wash dishes, clean house, take care of kids and keep my mouth shut."

USSP welcomes Clinton statements on "inevitable" South Sudan independence

The united South Sudan Party (USSP)

22/09/2010

US Says South Sudan independence inevitable but warns of a ticking time bomb. The United South Sudan Party (USSP) would like to make this statement in appreciation of the role and support given by the international community, and in particular the Troika, the IGGAD Countries and the United Nations towards the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in January 9th 2005, between the Sudan Government in one hand and the SPLM/A on the other. We can confirm that despite the difficulties in the implementation of the key provisions of the CPA, the people of South Sudan have maintained high discipline and determination to exercise their rights on the Self Determination as agreed upon in the agreement. USSP is committed to this process no matter what happens.

In the light of the above, we would like to single out that the statement made by the US Secretary of State Madam Hilary Clinton on 8th September 2010, that South Sudan independence is inevitable is welcome. Furthermore, we believe that it reflects the recognition of the US administration in its capacity as the world’s major power – for the efforts and pledges of the people of South Sudan for an independence sovereign state come January 9th 2011 Self Determination Referendum and for that we remain grateful.

Indeed at the moment, the South Sudan and Abyei referenda represent the only hope for peace between the South and the North, thus the USSP is aware of the fact that without the continued support of the international community, Khartoum is more than likely to abuse the truce. Khartoum given its records may choose not to respect its commitment to conduct the referendum as agreed upon in the CPA, in which case the South may be left with no option but to react in a way that may result in unwarranted consequences which may not be welcomed wholeheartedly by some members of the international community.

Should South Sudan opt for secession in the January 2011 referendum, USSP believes that the ideal approaches to the post referendum management of resources would be for the new country to have a full control over these resources and set in place a wise plan that will not lead to irresponsible over exploitation while at the same time to preserving enough resources to speed up development and recovery from the five decades’ war wounds. The notion that the people of South Sudan have to earn their freedom from the Khartoum regime by making substantial payment or concession in the form of oil is unacceptable both in principle and practice. Beside, the south has already lost more than 2 million lives in the course of its struggle for this freedom; if this is not an enough price for freedom then, USSP wonders what price again could the South ever pay in order to be a free country?

We therefore appeal to the international community, who brokered the CPA to fully support the referendum in the Southern Sudan and the Abyei Area, without any preconditions. Southern Sudan remains one of the poorest regions if not the poorest of the poor in the sub-Saharan Africa. Most of South Sudan’s oil revenues have been siphoned to the north and it is now only logical that the remaining oil in the south should be used to enable Southern Sudan to catch up with the rest of the world in as far as development and social services are concerned. It is thus pertinent to conclude here that only a developed South Sudan will be able to offer stability as an incentive to its neighbours, Northern Sudan included and the rest of the world.

While the whole world’s attentions are now focused on the New York Meeting on the Sudan to take place on September the 24th, 2010, USSP would like to make some observations that it thinks is necessary. This meeting may be one of the rarest opportunities to bring together all the stake holders to the CPA together especially in the presence of the US President Baraka Obama, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, the representatives of the EU, and the others while they listen to the two Sudanese delegations from the SPLM & the NCP. The SPLM delegation is headed by Salva Kiir Mayardit, Sudan’s first vice president, president of south Sudan and the chairman of south’s ruling party, the SPLM , on the other hand the NCP delegation is led by Sudan’s vice president none but the dominant NCP senior official Ali Osman Taha.

The composition of those who are expected to turn up for the above meeting makes it an exceptional event. However USSP would like to stress that should this summit end up in yet another list of agreements and promises that will later on only be undermined or never implemented, then there is a real danger awaiting the Sudan, and the region at large.

USSP maintains that both the referenda (South Sudan & Abyei) and the popular consultations (Nuba Mountains & Southern Blue Nile Regions), must take place on time; must be free, fair and credible; and must be seen to be so. The two CPA signatories, NCP and SPLM must be held accountable for this, but particular attention must be paid to the NCP, which has been responsible for most of the delays so far, and it no doubt continues to harbour ill-intentions.

USSP believes that the UN (and/or other appropriate international bodies) must play a leading role in technical, operational and logistical implementation of the referenda and popular consultations, and must be given freedom and responsibility to do so. While doing so, they must also pay a particular attention to the possibility of rigging the southern referendum result via the 60% turn-out condition. The registration process, the eligibility of voters and the ability of voters to cast their votes on polling day must all be closely monitored. Thus every southern Sudanese citizen who registers must be encouraged and facilitated actually to cast her/his vote.

USSP sees it of a vital importance that the New York Meeting will do well should the third parties, especially the guarantors to the CPA, - clearly declare in the most an unequivocal terms their preparedness to recognise the new south Sudan state if the referendum results in a yes to secession. They should also see to it that the negotiations on post-referendum arrangements are revitalised and speeded up, in good faith.

Last but not least USSP would like to appeal to The International Donor Community that they should speed up their support of state building in south Sudan if the referendum results in secession. However a point of a great importance is that, should south Sudan declare independence unilaterally as a last resort following NCP intransigence, the international community must be ready and fast at recognising the new state.

In conclusion USSP in its continuous faith in the US administration and all the other peace loving members of the international community remains appreciative for the current attention that south Sudan has gathered, however the job will be half done without them equally taking a much tougher approach against Khartoum in addressing the conflict in Darfur. An immediately end to the killings of innocent lives in this region of the Sudan must be reached. All the warring sides in Darfur should be brought to the negotiating table and a peaceful political settlement realised.

God bless us all.

Clement Mbugoniwia, USSP Leader

Right group urge to renew Sudan’s expert mandate
African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Darfur Bar Association, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Sudanese and International Human Rights Defenders: ‘UN Rights Council Must Not Silence Victims of Rights Violations in Sudan’

(17 September 2010, Geneva) The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council appears to be on the verge of ending the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on human rights in Sudan at its 15th Session despite the worsening human rights situation in the country. A draft resolution circulated earlier this week by the African Group failed to renew this mandate.

According to Ziad Abdel Tawab of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, “Now is not the time for the UN to look away and pretend the human rights and humanitarian crises in Sudan will somehow go away; it has a legal and moral obligation to ensure victims of human rights violations are given a voice and to work for an end to such violations.”

The 15th Human Rights Council’s review of the independent expert’s mandate comes at a crucial moment for Sudan’s future. The independent expert has a vital role in its reporting function to the Human Rights Council and in monitoring the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and recommendations made by the UN Group of Experts on Darfur.

Despite the latest report published by the independent expert in May 2010 noting progress in implementation of the CPA and recommendations of the UN Group of Experts on Darfur, the report concluded that “unresolved and serious human rights concerns overshadow the positive gains realised”. Since May, the human rights situation in Sudan has deteriorated severely, with pre-print censorship renewed from May – August 2010 and peaceful demonstrations violently suppressed.

Sudan faces a myriad of challenges at a variety of levels: the upcoming January 2011 referendum for self determination in the South and the status of the disputed Abyei territory will likely be accompanied by rights violations, and has the potential to divide the country and lead to an eruption of violence. Widespread human rights violations continue in Darfur, with attacks on villages and insecurity in IDP camps heightening in the past weeks and ongoing lack of humanitarian access. The Doha peace talks remain stalled and will soon be replaced with an internal “peace from within” strategy as declared by the government of Sudan. Civil and political rights, particularly the freedom of expression and association, remain repressed throughout the country, and there has been a dramatic tightening of space since the April 2010 elections, in which NGOs and the independent expert documented numerous cases of harassment, arrest, and detention of journalists and opposition members and their supporters.

A representative of the Darfur Bar Association said that “Wide-spread violations of human rights may lead Sudan down the path to another civil war if the situation continues to get worse. But the African Group seems more concerned with playing political games at the moment than protecting victims and ensuring the progressive realisation of security and peace for the Sudanese people.”

Throughout Sudan the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) remain endowed with broad powers of arrest and detention, and arbitrary arrest and torture are systematically practiced against Darfuris, human rights defenders, journalists, and opposition members. Members of the NISS are granted immunities through the National Security Act 2010 and other legislation amended during the interim period, and there remains no judicial oversight. A comprehensive programme of legal reform articulated in the CPA has yet to be undertaken, and while key pieces of legislation protecting civil and political rights have been reviewed, they often directly contradict the gains made by the progressive Bill of Rights in the Interim National Constitution.

Osman Hummaida of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies said, “The Human Rights Council has a critical role in ensuring an environment conducive to a peaceful and democratic referendum, and the independent expert is the only UN mechanism with a mandate on reporting on the whole of Sudan. Renewal – and strengthening – of the mandate would assert the Human Rights Council’s commitment to addressing the situation of human rights in Sudan at one of the country’s most pivotal moments. We urge the governments of the UN Human Rights Council to address the serious human rights violations present throughout Sudan by renewing the mandate of the Independent Expert.”

The Human Rights Council, and the African Group in particular, should address the failures of the Government of Sudan in addressing the lack of protection for civilians caught in areas of conflict and perpetual insecurity, particularly South Sudan and Darfur, lack of access to justice and protection for human rights, and restrictions on the freedom of expression and the existing culture of impunity.

Contacts:

African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies - Osman Hummaida (English, Arabic), osman@acjps.org

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies - Ziad Abdel Tawab (English, French, Arabic), abdeltawab@cihrs.org

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - Glenn Payot (English, French), gpayot@fidh.org

Advert of writing contest: The Ghada Award for Young Writers

The Ghada Award for Young Writers

In memory of a lost early young and writer we invite young writers of both creative and expository styles to a competition meant to encourage and foster early signs of genius in writing and to steer our gifted young writers in the right direction for the development of their interests.

Rules, Terms and Conditions

The award is offered in honour of the memory of Ghada-Siham Mujtaba Mahasi (14th Nov.1994 – 24th April.2010)

The Ghada award offers prizes that include electronic gadgets, monetary and symbolic gifts for the best writer and the two runners-up.

10 works (3 winners + 7 runners-up) will be published in a booklet to be marketed for maintaining continuous awards for young writers and the publication of their works.

Entry Rules:

1. Articles can be in English or Arabic Language.

2. Contestants should be girls and boys of 12 to 18 years old – unrestricted level of Education.

3. Free choice of topic relevant to personal experiences, current affairs, or social phenomena in Sudanese people lives, or a story or poem.

4. Articles should be between 750 -1000 words in length.

5. Articles should be either written in black ball point, clear handwriting or typed, on one face side of A4 paper.

6. Articles should be written, edited, and handed in by the contestant him/herself.

7. Participants should include the following along with their work:

• Written consent of the joint guardian of the copyright in a booklet referred to above, without prejudice to the rights of the author or literary rights in the future publication of his/her text.

• A sentence of not more than 25 words describing the topic.

• A copy of Birth certificate.

• A contact number or e-mail address.

8. Deadline: We will be receiving articles until 21st of October 2010.

9. All materials must be submitted:

• Sent electronically to the following email: theghadaaward@gmail.com

• Submitted in person as hard copies at the following collection centres:

Holm English School (Alma’ Mora – Khartoum) Kibieda International Schools (Alamarat – Khartoum) King Fahd Private School (Kober – Bahri, Alhigra or Alwadi Street – Omdurman)

* Collection Boxes will be placed at the Reception Office of the schools mentioned above*

10. The Selection Committees are composed of a President and three other members who are specialised linguists. The English Language Contest Selection Committee is headed by Uztaza Asha Musa AlSaid, and the Arabic Language Contest Selection Committee is headed by Dr. Huda Mahmoud Abubakr.

11. Some of the contestants will be called for an interview to verify authenticity of his/her topic.

12. Any signs of plagiarism will disqualify the contestant.

13. The Committee will be looking for the following:

• Ideas, their relevance and coherence

• Style of presentation

• Language used: fluency and accuracy

14. The results of the contest will be announced on 14th November 2010.

For more information please contact: (+249) 910458045 or (+249) 918710638 Or send an email to theghadaaward@gmail.com

The Ghada Award Organising Committee

About Our Heroine

Ghada Mujtaba Mahasi, daughter of Siham Taha Almujamar and Mujtaba Mahasi, was born in Khartoum on the 14th November 1994; the eldest child and only daughter with 2 younger brothers. She started School in the United Arab Emirates at three years and a half. Although the purpose of this early enrolment was to help her as an immigrant child to find friends, play and have fun, Ghada’s end of the year results showed her capacity to be promoted to the next grade.

When Ghada was eleven, her parents insisted she sit for the Sudanese Elementary School Certificate. Reluctantly Ghada agreed and prepared for the exams in two months time. She scored 245, satisfying everyone but not herself; she thought she could have done better. From the time she joined Holm English School, i.e., for about 5 years, Ghada had always been top of her class. Then she dropped to the second and sometimes third and when blamed for losing her place, she said, “I want to live my life, and being top of the class is not one of my major goals and I am satisfied with being an A and A* student; I want to read books, watch TV, hang out with my friends and have fun.”

Ghada was a loving child, jolly teenager, and a most creative writer. She always confirmed her motto of “I want to live my time and not miss anything”. Ambition without greed! All through school, she had been a leading social, academic, and cultural contributor to all sorts of events and activities. She would accept criticism and was always ready to admit and correct her mistakes.

Reading was so much her passion that she would stay up until very late at night with a book she just could not leave. The last book she was reading was Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. She kept a private collection of written works, all in English.

She was due to sit for her IGCSE university entrance exam in June 2010. Before the exams, she attended Hems School Graduation Party with her parents and friends and their families after which students continued the party at a friend’s house.

Ghada, to everybody’s shock, died at the party still wearing her school graduation dress.

May Allah accept her and may her soul rest in eternal peace – Amen

Love quotes by Ghada Mujtaba:

“Love is amazing in the many ways that it is terrible” “Love is a dilemma but figuring it out is simple” “The more you love the more you are to be loved” “To hate is easier than to love. But love leaves a much deeper cut on those who hate you” “The more people you love, the bigger your heart becomes; only to contain the much pain brought around by love” “When hated, love back, because hatred is the higher stage of love” “When you feel some one hates you be sure that they love you but it’s too deep in their hearts to surface” “Love is the only way its pain is endurable so love and love as much as you are hated, or in pain”

Open letter to President Kiir from Ruweng/Panaruu Community on marginalization

To: Salva Kiir Mayardit, President (South Sudan), 1st Vice President (The Republic of the Sudan), Chairman (SPLM), and C-in-C (SPLA) Date: September 12, 2010

Cc: • Dr. Riek Machar, Vice President (South Sudan) and Deputy Chairman (SPLM): • Pagan Amum Okiech, Secretary General (SPLM) and Minister of Peace and CPA Implementation (South Sudan) • Lt. Gen. James Hoth Mai, Chief of General Staff, Peoples’ Army (SPLA) • Lt. Gen. Pieng Deng Kwol, Deputy Chief of General Staff, Logistics (SPLA) • Dr. Majak Agoot, Vice Chairman, Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services • Maj. Gen. Mayik Jaw, Major General, Peoples’ Army (SPLA) • Maj. Gen. Mayik Michar, Major General, Peoples’ Army (SPLA) • Gov. Taban Deang Gai, Governor (Western Upper Nile State) • Col. Mabek Lang M. Bilkwei, Commissioner, Ruweng County. • Mr. Benjamin Majak Dau, Member of the National Liberation Council • All Ruweng County Members of National, Regional and State Assemblies • All Officers, men and women of Ruweng County in uniforms • Chief Malwal Minyiel Ayuel, Paramount Chief, Ruweng County • Chief Jaw Jiel, Paramount Chief, Ruweng County • All the Youths, Ruweng County • All Citizens, Ruweng County

Subject: Systemic Marginalization of Ruweng People: A Note to the President

Dear Mr. President,

Introduction: Compelled by an unreserved love for our community; driven by an inexorable patriotism for our beloved country; alarmed by the deteriorating situation in Ruweng County and the “fierce urgency of now, not later;” We, the undersigned and concerned citizens of Ruweng County/Panaruu, would like, first of all, to share with you the wisdom of the greatest American Civil Rights Movement leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that “history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamour of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people”. With those few remarks, we would like to acknowledge upfront that we are pitifully aware of the magnitude and complexity of issues or problems that come to your desk daily. However, with both political and social situation deteriorating uncontrollably in Ruweng County, we urgently appeal that you would use your presidential powers to immediately and wholeheartedly avert this unfolding crisis in Ruweng County once and for all. Our community has been befallen by numerous tragedies before, but we would like to state in no uncertain terms that, as a community sitting at the bleeding edge of South-North border, we have suffered immeasurable loss and untold sufferings during the struggle for FREEDOM, JUSTICE, PEACE and LIBERTY, and EQUALITY for all and, therefore with the signing of the CPA, the hopes and aspirations, of those whose beloved sons and daughters had fallen in the Struggle, were once again rejuvenated and restored by an ardent belief they are “free at last” as they would be governed finally by a government which puts their needs and wellbeing above the temptation of self-serving. While it is our moral and social obligations and duty as citizens to make things happen, we on the other hand, believe that national, state, and county government should create a secure and conducive environment in which all citizens are accorded equal degree of respect and treatment. As much as this slogan may sound like a common sense universally, it does not mean that is it common everywhere, as Unity State, and Ruweng County particularly, is a place where Ruweng County Commissioner, Col. Mabek Lang Miading, ‘asks for the heads’ of those who talk about fairness and equality for all in Pariang. Exceedingly mindful of the daunting tasks and looming challenges during these six years of the CPA interim period, people of Ruweng County have remained resolute and unremittingly committed to the very cause for which South Sudan and other marginalized areas have lost more than 2 million lives. Mr. President, it is with heavy hearts and hopelessness that we note the fact that the interests of Panaruu community have largely been ignored for far too long, and it is a gut wrenching fact that our people have been made objects rather than subjects of our common Struggle for the pursuit of JUSTICE and EQUALITY. Therefore, as expounded in our first letter to you on May 29, 2010, we would like to remind you once again and call your attention to but not restricted to the following areas of grievances:

1) The Right of equal Citizenship and the sad Existence of Internal Marginalization in Unity State:

Although, it is a value-laden concept in terms of both its legal and philosophical understanding, the right of equal citizenship and protection as a common principle, is plainly and unequivocally enshrined in the Interim Constitution of South Sudan, under the Bill of Rights, and we quote it as follows: Every person has the right to liberty and security of person; no person shall be Subjected to arrest, detention, deprivation or restriction of his or her liberty except for specified reasons and in accordance with procedures prescribed by law (Chapter II, Part One).

As stipulated above, it is self-revealing that an individual should be accorded full and equal rights pertaining to his or her legal status as a citizen of South Sudan, implying that citizens ought to fully participate in shaping the destiny of their future and that of their community and the nation at large. In this regard, we assume that Unity State is charged with the responsibility of building institutions that are inclusive; that promote personal and economic development but more importantly, should consolidate their day-to-day political harmony with others so as to encourage political stability and economic prosperity by empowering the citizens through universal suffrage and enfranchisement. This basic understanding, of the tenet of South Sudan Interim Constitution, has however been ignored and recklessly disregarded by both the Unity State and Ruweng County Administrations to an extent that those who civilly oppose this dysfunctional and abysmal failure of leadership, are thrown behind bars without any due process in the court of law, especially in Ruweng County where South Sudan interim Constitution has been thrown into the dustbin! As typical of a despotic style of leadership, Ruweng County commissioner, Col. Mabek Lang Miading trashes and ignores the principle of “the right to liberty and security of person” as assured under the law of the land because he was not appointed through popular consultation with the approval of Pariang citizens, but rather handpicked by Gov. Taban Deng Gai on the ground of being a “yes” person to the Unity State governor.

In the backdrop of the above important statements, we would like to emphasize that one of the leading fundamental tenets of political citizenship is the right to vote or having the citizen’s views considered in the democratic process in the sense that the most important civil liberty there is, is the right to vote. Where legal instruments are silent on the mode of voting or where there is no direct method of choosing leaders such as through direct elections, it is still imperative that one’s voice ought to be heard at some point, particularly when the law vests power in some entity that is not directly at the disposal of the citizens. This is not to make a statement of moral alchemy or political sophistry. It is, rather, a universal truth that holds true across all social institutions, societies and nations. To claim otherwise would be an understatement of its imperative significance.

The citizens of Ruweng County, unlike other citizens across South Sudan, have been deliberately deprived of these inalienable rights of FREEDOM, JUSTICE and EQUALITY. We are expected to sheepishly comply with and be led by whoever is handpicked by some; super external entity in Bentiu but not by the ones we choose to lead us. These patterns, of disenfranchisement, have leisurely continued unabated, notwithstanding the fact that we have persistently voiced our concerns regarding our desire for, for instance, a new and different commissioner. Such concerns have frequently been brushed aside or dismissed as cranks both by the state and South Sudan’s authorities, including your esteemed office. As it is often the case, the inevitable consequence in failing to listen to citizens’ genuine grievances, unquestionably, often leads to blatant marginalisation and alienation.

The magnitude of the internal marginalisation of Panaruu people is utterly shocking. Even something as simple as consultation with the community has become difficult an exercise , despite the existence of the political convention that the governor of a state can only appoint the commissioner after wide ranging consultations with, and approval of the community. In fact, Article 175 (1) and (2) of the Interim Constitution of South Sudan clearly provides that state legislatures, “shall provide for the role of traditional government authority as an institution at local government level on matters affecting communities....” This is not to suggest that the states ought to leave the position of the commissioner to the traditional authorities but rather that the state has a duty to consult with the concerned community as part of constitutional arrangement that banks on decentralisation of decision making. Where a governor (especially a governor who harbours ill-intentions towards a given community as in this case) is given unfettered and unchecked authority such as arbitrary handpicking of a candidate of their choice and scornfully ignores the community’s wishes and approval, the voice of the community is trampled upon. In such circumstances, there is monopoly of power, and consequently, the governor only chooses the one who follows their whims rather than the one qualified for the job, since there are no checks and balances in the system in such an environment. In effect, this situation has always meant that the commissioner is only answerable or accountable only to the governor who is responsible for their appointment and not to their people. In short, the commissioner only caters for the interests of whoever appoints them so as to be subsequently re-appointed in the future. The situation of Ruweng and Biemnom counties (being the only Dinka counties) which constitute about 22% of the state population only exacerbates the matters in respect of their minority status. Our community has been severely subjected to extreme dehumanising treatment and discrimination.

Despite the fact that more than 70% of the oil produced in the state is found in Ruweng County, we remained not only the poorest but a staggeringly marginalised county. For instance, many scholarships; development projects and training opportunities have been and are still being provided by the state government, yet no such benefits flow to Ruweng County. For instance there are about 40 scholarships granted to state students who have been sent to study in Malaysia, China, and many other Asian countries, but not even a single one of them has been given to Ruweng County. All this benefits have been flowing in fact to non-Dinka areas. The same can be said about national, regional and state ministerial positions; directorates; committees; jobs; only to mention but a few. There is no question therefore that we are now victims of internal colonialism since our community is being deliberately marginalised or excluded completely from the benefits of the struggle for which Panaruu has disproportionately contributed. A state that wilfully marginalises a section of its own population, however minute that section may be, only broods explosive political and social consequences that inevitably ensue, much to the detriment of development, prosperity and national harmony. 2) Lack of Political Legitimacy, Respect for Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law Political Legitimacy Mr. President,

It is important to emphasize once again that what is happening in Western Upper Nile State in general and Ruweng County in particular, defies the essential principles of political legitimacy and quite shockingly, the tenets of constitutional values. It is indeed a stark affront to the conventional understanding of the rule of law. Not only is the state run as a one man’s show but it is also fair to assert that there is no functional government but kleptocracy in Western Upper Nile and Ruweng County. Only one person and his cahoots are running the show of governing the state. His personal interests and whims are what matter in the day today running of the state. He is the treasurer, the finance minister, the resource manager, and economic planner among others. In other words, he is the supreme authority who dictates how to spend the content of the public purse. Helplessly and hopelessly, everyone else is nothing but a mere a spectator. All those who question his policies are declared persona non grata. Today, there are Ruweng citizens who are not even allowed to visit their relatives in Pariang because they have been permanently, and unconstitutionally, denied such inalienable rights. Only those who do not question the state’s shady and shoddy deals are the best people according to the merit-determining criteria. Quite frankly, the current state administration is based on Patrimonialism which, involves an extreme form of personalised version of totalitarianism and dictatorship. In our case, the state is run on the basis of one person’s own discretion rather than on the rule of law and constitutionalism. Citizens’ petitions are basically ignored. Apathy and indifference are the norms. The current state’s bureaucracy is an extension of the Governor’s household rule. He delegates powers, at his free will, to his sycophants and is bent on silencing those who may pose a threat to his insatiable desire to hang onto power with hooks and crooks. All the current officials in his government owe their appointments to his goodwill and generosity, a benevolent deity, the Alpha and Omega, who is the spring and fountain of life. He dispenses justice as he wishes. He is justice himself. Anybody who obtains justice does so as a result of individual petitions to him and of his discretionary clemency and generosity. In short, discretion has completely substituted legal rule, constitutionalism and the rule of law.

This is why commissioners are ranked such that those who are ready to rubber stamp clandestine; ghost projects or approve personal arrogation of funds, often receive the best recommendations while those who protect the interests of their people are relegated to the bottom of ranking. It is on this ground that the commissioner of Ruweng County has been erroneously deemed the best commissioner because he fulfills the criteria of a dream-team of the governor by suppressing the interests and complaints of his people with the sheer use of brute force using the state apparatus and security police as the case was in the recent Alilang incident just a few weeks ago. He has also allowed the state governor to grab the Ruweng land by allowing him to build his mansion on it, encourage the Jikany to relocate there and allow him to name it a Payam of Guit County despite the fact that it is located in the heart of Ruweng territory.

What has been happening in Ruweng County is actually a gross violation of human rights of the Ruweng citizens. Both the county and state authorities treat people as objects or rather as means to an end, not an end in themselves. That is why the community, in our early petition had asked your office to relieve the commissioner of his duties and with any replacement. It should be noted that this Commissioner has been in this office since 1994. This surely begs the question in respect of whether he is the only most capable and qualified individual to hold that office, when he does not even own a primary school leaving certificate. The people of Ruweng County for instance, in the April elections were forced to vote for candidates against whom they would have voted if elections were free and fair. Quite strangely, voting even continued to go on for three days after the polling process was officially declared over. Consequently, our people feel utterly disenfranchised at the expense of one person’s interest other than the greatest good for the community. This is the root cause for dissent as shown in our previous petitions or press release.

Under normal circumstances, dissent will be impossible when people are contended and feel that their interests are accommodated in the day today running of their activities. This being not the case in Western Upper Nile, there is little room for doubt that the communities of Western Upper Nile in general and Ruweng County in particular feel that the exercise of the incumbent state and county authorities lack political legitimacy, since they were not elected in the first place. Where subjects are not considered as worthy of attention and their interests tramped upon, they feel no sense of efficacy. Any authority thereof is illegitimate and may breed discontent, havoc and lawlessness.

The significance of the theory of social contract is based on the ‘general will’ of the public to consent to the decisions that affect their day today lives. Where there is no public consensus, there is no consent to the rule of the Leviathan. Our community cannot therefore continue to be treated as a peripheral entity and denied the benefits of the struggle for which thousands of our heroes have laid down their dear lives. We deserve a fair and just hearing.

CONSTITUTIONALISM:

Western Upper Nile State and Ruweng County, as aforementioned, have turned out to be the sample spots where the exercise of authority is vested in specific individuals as the sole nuclei of decision making, contrary to the conventional understanding that constitutional power should involve multiple or concurrent constitutional orders where power is dispersed across several; different, yet complementary centres of decision-making, albeit, with varying degrees of authority distributed across the society as prescribed by law. Constitutional democracy implies that the use of constitution, as the supreme law of the land, should regulate and limit the powers of the government actors and to secure the efficacy of such limitations in implementing decisions and that the legitimacy of any government be established by requiring that governmental powers be not exercised arbitrarily. This simply means that, every single action of a government actor should be accounted for.

Ruweng County, satirically dubbed by some of its citizens as “Pariang Republic” because of its propensity to operate outside the prescription of the law as enshrined in the federal and regional constitutions, is a territory that operates on its own none-codified constitution. The Ruweng Leviathan, the Commissioner, is the sole authority to make and will power. He has powers to despatch the police to arrest, beat and torture any individuals of his own choosing, normally by falsely accusing them of acting for NCP, or aligning with any other scapegoats of the day such as the so-called “renegades” (nothing could be further from the truth). He can also summon chiefs, lash them for failing to obey his unjust orders and fines people up to $1 000, contrary to the provisions in the Constitution that only the courts, the only neutral arbiters, can fine individuals and only up to a maximum of $250. Hence, $1,000, the prevailing legal penalty in Pariang, is four times as much.

THE RULE OF LAW

The principle of the rule of law implies that private citizens as well as public officials and government actors be held equally accountable under, before, in front of and in the eyes of the laws through clearly formulated and transparent processes. It also means that public agencies should be responsive to the needs of their citizens and that public information be made available to the general public as necessary, and finally, the freedom of expression and association be promoted for the good of all, not for the few privileged groups. In other words, it is the rule of law, not the rule of men that must be the supreme good.

In our previous petition or press release, we stated abundantly clear that the county authorities frequently carry out very egregious acts against innocent people without being held accountable; they receive project or ghost project money and keep it to themselves because there does not exist any transparent system in which the leaders are held accountable through auditing. The county authorities are the police, the judge and politicians and get involve in horrendous acts against innocent citizens with such an unimaginable boost of impunity. As we speak, a young man who was tied to a tree on one voting morning in April, from 6am to 6pm; simply for voting for another candidate, is still railing in the hospital with life-threatening injuries in Khartoum.

Everything is just pathetic. For instance, contrary to the right of association, citizens who congregate together during their free time are accused of conspiring against the government even when they are having fun or talking about important issues that affect their private lives. Even partying is an illegal activity in a community that fought vigorously and sacrificed so much for individual liberty and autonomy. Mr. President, we believe that it is not in the interest of your administration that such ruthlessness be allowed to reign. If there was time when your immediate intervention was urgently necessary, it is now, Sir. An immediate action is needed now to alleviate the sufferings of our people at the time when every community is, and is supposed to be, reaping the benefits of the Struggle.

SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE RUWENG COUNTY:

Self-determination involves the right of a people to determine their economic, social, political and cultural destiny by virtue of their distinctiveness as a group. They can decide to align with others or remain autonomous as a unit.

During the condominium rule, Panaruu was part of Bhar el Ghazel but it was, together with Abyei, Twic and Alor, transferred to Kordofan in 1905, only to be transferred back, along with Twic and Alor, to the South in 1931 and placed under the administration of Western Upper Nile where it now still belongs. Yet we believe that the colonial administration had made a gross mistake, as evidenced by the harshness of history of disharmony that the community has experienced, as well as the existence of irreconcilable cultural differences, with the ‘dominant group’ in the region who have found it their perpetual habits and a holy mission to engage in political marginalisation of the Ruweng people. The colonial administration would have done us a lot of good if they had returned us to Bhar el Ghazel instead. This would have been in accordance with the principles underlying the process of states formation.

There is no reason to go into details except briefly stating the fact that the art of states formation, nation building and development requires that communities which are culturally less heterogeneous, linguistically linked and/or peacefully coalesce with one another have a reasonable chance of creating cohesive structures for their common good. This is very important for economic, social and political progress.

It is on this basis that we argue that the Pachong Framework of 1999, in which Panaruu, Jok (Abyei), Twic, and Alor were put together was, and still is, a commendable framework that should be given more attention than it did receive in that meeting of and by members of the National Liberation Council. It was a good step in the right direction.

3) Invasion, Land Grabbing and Confiscation of the Ruweng Territory

It a hard fact now that parts of the Ruweng County lie in wrong hands and no more elaboration is necessary. In any event, such territories have been actually or potentially lost because the SPLM/A has marginalised our community. One of such self-explanatory examples, as stated above, happened when Gov.Taban, without consultation with the Ruweng county community, secretly commandeered our legal rights and signed an illegal pact with the Enemy to annex Ruweng territories to Southern Kordofan. He did so with much impunity even when it is clear that such an act, in a free and democratic society, constitutes sedition. It is obvious that had this section of the state been part of Nuer territory or a home to any of the most senior SPLM/A leaders, Taban, a renowned ethnic extremist, would have never under taken such a move without any consultation with your government or with the community. When the matter was raised to you, you scornfully responded that it was up to the community to take up arms and fight for it against the north.

Mr. President, such a blatant statement was not only divisive, but signalled the fact that our community is insignificant to your leadership and that their interests are not your interests. Whether that is the style of your leadership or whether you had a bad day is not part of our enquiry. What is important is that you have simply placed a wall between our community and your leadership as well as the rest of the country. The South cannot afford any more to lose its territorial integrity when it is capable by any means, to retain what is rightfully hers without submitting to the NIF’s rhetoric, boosted by the supplies of Russian, Chinese and Iranian missiles.

Another element of the Ruweng invasion is the fact that the governor has already confiscated some parts of the southern section of the Ruweng County. Gov. Taban has forcefully occupied Wan Danluel (located at the northern part of River Bhar el Ghazel, at the southern part of Ruweng County) built his mansion there, encouraged his jikany Nuer and militias to erect buildings on it and named it a Payam of his native Guit County, and called the town Manga. There he has stationed his own militia, made up of Jikany militants, and paid by the SPLA, ostensible as an SPLA unit, but intentionally to safeguard it from its rightful owners, the Panaruu. When the issue was raised, the Nuer community dared the Ruweng community to take it back by force if they so wished. It is not in dispute that it was Taban who instructed his Jikany brothers to take such a stark position and to say or do what they did though he had faked a trip such that if there was a fight as it could possibly have happened, he would appear clean and innocent. Indeed it almost led to a bloody confrontation but our community was guided by the Dinka philosophy of “kan kooc” which specifies that one should not take recourse to violence when an alternative solution could be more viable. It was for this reason that our paramount chief, Malwal Minyiel Ayuel, raised this matter with you in a meeting, Mr. President, when you visited the state but your reply was that, the most important border problem was the one with the north, not internal one.

Mr. President, we believe strongly that the government is and ought to be a multi-tasking entity and should not rank priorities, especially when budget is not significantly at issue. All that was necessary in this regard was the word of mouth but you felt that it would be a waste of your words and time to make a declaratory statement on this burning issue. Yet, postponing such pressing and contentious issues does not only perpetuate injustices but also encourages internal schisms. ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’, so said the late American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., 47 years ago.

As we speak, Governor Taban and his ‘accomplices’ in Western Upper Nile, operate on a wrong map, in which the much of the Dinka areas have been annexed to Nuer counties. It is a map that has been drawn by force despite objection by the Ruweng people since it clearly violates official boundaries.

Mr. Taban has sought for a long time to marginalise our community and has in fact succeeded time and again. He does it through divide and rule policy or making sure that those who stand up for the right of the community are never ever given a chance to do so. For instant, Justices Theji Aduot and Appolis Tiop de Monyluak, in their capacities as legal counsellors, were accused of spoiling the community by speaking up against injustices when they were working in the state. For mere suspicion or for fact, Mr. Taban, with the collaboration of the former Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development managed to transfer these young lawyers away from the site of their community so that he, the governor, could continue to play his tricks with no one insight but only his accomplices.

We also take issues with the SPLM and GOSS leaderships. In one of your famous statement (in your letter to Hon. Benjamin Mijak and other Panaruu MPs, 2008) which deeply portrayed your attitude towards the community, you stated that it was upto the Panaruu community to take up arms if they wanted to fight for the border issue. Mr. President, even the most ardent cynics, who are often ready to dismiss community complaints as cranks, will agree that your attitude towards our community was an open textbook here. Nevertheless, we continue to believe that such a statement was only a lip-synching utterance and that it was not the official position of your government to isolate our community. It is however, now plain that the fact that it was even spoken, in the first place, is symbolic of your government’s lack of concern. We agree that we are victims of apathy and indifference of the GOSS towards the Ruweng citizens.

But it should not catch anyone by surprise that this community is capable of thwarting anyone that threatens its survival, for it is capable of defending its territorial integrity at all costs. We in fact, for centuries, have done so. We have done so against slave traders between 16th-20th centuries, and did so against Murahaleen (1983-2002) as well as defended it against those who thought they could exterminate us out of Dinkaphobia. We therefore still have the capability to do so, however powerful an invading force may be. For indeed when it becomes an issue of struggle for sheer survival, then even seeking assistance from the devil, as Italian’s Mazzini once succinctly put it, is justified. In an Ottomanian saying expressing the same sentiment, it has been said that clinging to a serpent in order to save oneself from drowning, should not evoke blames.

Thus far, we do not want to go down in history as a people who denied our people of South Sudan their right to self-determination. This is why it is imperative for us to continue to present our grievances through dialogue and amicable forums. But if your leadership continues to push us to the brink Sir, so be it. At the moment however, we are appealing for your intervention, to resolve this border issue before the situation goes out of control. It is a matter of pressing urgency.

The presence of Jikany County deep inside the Ruweng territory is a grim and constant reminder of bitter memories arising from Dr. Riek’s systemic and deliberate discrimination against Panaruu while he was the Zonal Commander of Western Upper Nile, beginning in 1986. Dr. Riek’s zonal policies were biased against Panaruu people. One such typical example relates to the outbreak of the kala-azar disease in Western Nile in 1987. At that time, Riek Machar deliberately began to implement his systemic discrimination when he decided to locate the three Kala-azar clinics only in Nuer land: one at Bielbar, another at Duar and yet another at Leer, to treat Nuer nationals, all made with the intention of depriving the Ruweng people with such a badly needed medical rescue. Ruweng County is located in the northern part of Western Upper Nile on the northern part of River Bhar el Ghazel. Yet as far as Ruweng County is from Western Upper Nile, it was still inevitable that sick people be carried by shoulders all the way to Nuer land. And since kala-azar is a contagious disease, everyone who helped carry a kala-azar patient ended up being sick himself and indeed inevitably died of it. Riek did not provide even alternative mobile clinic services to the Ruweng community in spite of his awareness of the gravity of the situation. To add more oil to the flame, patients from Panaruu were admitted in a separate ward, usually never treated or looked after like their Nuer counterparts. In contrast to the Nuer patients, more than 90% of them, despite the existence of life-saving medicines, died in the hospital. At the later days, most of the patients who managed to reach those clinics ended up being slaughtered at their hospital beds when Riek declared his infamous Nasir Coup against Chairman Garang. Now, as part of Western Upper Nile, we are once again under the control of our erstwhile enemies who wanted and continue to want to exterminate us. Surely, nothing could be more painful than being under the control of dumb cousin who has decided to be your perennial enemy!

4) How the SPLM/A Has Historically Marginalised and Humiliated the Ruweng Community.

Mr. President,

We would like to make it unequivocally clear that Panaruu people have neither bitter feelings nor vendetta against the SPLM or SPLA. However, as a matter of history, stating that the SPLM/A has hitherto marginalised and humiliated the Ruweng community is, in our opinion, another understatement on our part, since we are a community that has degradingly suffered untold mistreatment in the hands of the SPLM/A, our disproportionate contributions in the liberation notwithstanding. One typical example of such an unfair disregard of the Ruweng interests occurred in 2008. Briefly put, it concerns the border dispute that was miserably botched by the SPLM/A; and the state governor, Mr. Taban Deng Gai. That is, when the border issue became a major stumbling block, in the implementation of the CPA, for example, in northern Bhar el Ghazel, a military force of our gallant Peoples’ Army was despatched. And among those who paid the ultimate price, 15 brave Ruweng youths, that is about 30% of all the SPLA soldiers who heroically paid the ultimate sacrifices to defend the South’s border on the Aweil side, were heroes born and bred in Ruweng County. They laid down their lives because they deeply believed that every inch of Southern Sudan’s soil is worthy bleeding and dying for. Yet, when a similar incident occurred on the Ruweng side of the Southern border, the SPLM and Governor Taban Deng Gai signed a clandestine agreement that saw Roorlou (Karsana) and Gongyak (Bamboo Area) given away to the North. Not even a single SPLA leader made an attempt for confrontation to defend the Southern border on the Ruweng side. Mr. Taban did not only violate the constitution by overstepping his constitutional limits but indeed disregarded the feelings of the Ruweng community by acting without attempting even a tinge of consultation with the community. His behaviour was a typical depiction of wanton and reckless disregard of constitutional arrangements that bar him from unilaterally acting without consultations with the relevant authorities. Border issues are never a state responsibility, they are federal’s. Yet he did and remains at large. Notwithstanding his uninformed; bold and perhaps self-deprecating conspiracy, he juicily got away with it, of course with the backing of the SPLM/A leadership. This act, certainly, constituted a major betrayal: an unacceptable failure to fulfill the promise of the liberation for which our Pariang brothers have disproportionately paid in life and limb.

Mr. President,

Such a blatant betrayal, against the people of Pan-Ruweng (Pan-Ruu in short), is not new. For instance, at the inception of the Movement, Mr. Wilson Kur Chol joined the SPLM/A with the rank of major and was indeed senior to almost all the SPLM/A founding leaders. This was a significant humiliation for the Ruweng community even when their son, Mr. Thon Deng Buol-buol was the first man to fall by paying the ultimate price, on the eve of the Revolution in Bor Town, on May 16, 1983. Needless to mention, Commander Wislon Kur Chol was killed in cold blood. But Wilson’s demise was not the first tell-tale sign of our community’s betrayal by own brothers in the South. Mr. Peter Wien Monyjuet and Mr. Giel Kur Akook also died in mysterious sets of stories. The latter was conspired against, and subsequently poisoned by some his colleagues, yet we were told a different story altogether. Mr. Wilson Kur was a gallant soldier, a fighter, a liberator and a strong minded military leader who strongly believed in the justness of the cause of our common struggle. This fact was made manifest when he was given a dramatic chance to escape from prison (along with those of Kerubino, Majier, Arok etc) but he refused to run away like his fellow inmates, proving, once and for all, that he was innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. His triumphant return to the Movement was the envy of many who, as a result, jealously got rid of him in, yet again, mysterious circumstances.

As if that was to be the end, a similar degrading treatment has been repeated with Hon. Benjamin Mijak Dau who has been not only demoted but utterly humiliated and is now fighting for his survival. In this regard, Mr. President, you have simply allowed interpersonal grudges to creep into the way of national harmony by discarding our only senior leader in the Movement, sadly, by demoting him from being a senior member to being a nobody and without replacing him with anyone from the community. Hon. Benjamin Majak’s demotion is not just a personal humiliation to him. It is also a humiliation to the entire Panaruu Community. Yet Mr. President, if you were serious about this community’s representation, Benjamin could have been substituted with someone else from the community, assuming that he has proven unreliable, which is not the case anyway. Simply put, you do not believe that this community deserves any substantive representation.

Mr. President,

It is self-evident that this community has made magnificent contributions in the ongoing Struggle and pursuit of liberty, justice, dignity and equality for all citizens of our country, not just of South Sudan. Some of the famous SPLA battalions from Panaruu include but not limited to Bilpam, elephant, Adiit, Agreb, Cobra, Gol and Lazim (which you heroically commanded), Jongo divisions and many more others. These men fought without looking back and 99.99% of their bones now lie forgotten in our soil and in unmarked graves in South Sudan today, but it is a right cause and sacrifice we are proud of.

What is more, even when the entire South was engulfed by flames defection and senseless coup (after the infamous 1992 Nasir Coup) and the whole Upper Nile was thrown into confusion, Panaruu remained steadfast to the noble cause of the Struggle. Ruweng County, like Bhar el Ghazel then, continued to provide conscripts and mobile forces to replenish the SPLA with fresh blood, the only county in the entire Upper Nile to do so at the time. Yet when it is time for sharing the national cake for which we have significantly made immense sacrifices, you simply decide to push our community to the periphery! What a betrayal!

We are not even asking for schools or hospitals or management positions in or from your government. You have categorically made it clear that we are not part of your government. But here, we are simply asking that we should be given the right to choose our county leaders or that our land be left intact. Is it too much, to ask you to give us the right to choose our own leaders or the right to retain our own land? We hope that after receiving this note, you should be able to understand the staggering magnitude of this situation and that you will be able to reverse these damaging patterns of discrimination and humiliation, both at the state and national levels.

CONCLUSIONS

For woe, rather than for weal, the interests of the Ruweng people in Western Upper Nile seem to have been sacrificed by those who play political gimmicks at the expense of a community that does not surely deserve any of the inhumane treatment it has been receiving under the regional, state and county administrations. These political gimmicks have actually or potentially led to gross rise of untold forms of injustices. Yet the community’s genuine complaints, with substantive proofs of short term and long term consequences, domination, as well as marginalisation, including the right to vote and choose the community’s political leaders, have continued to be dismissed as cranks.

Indeed depriving the people of Panaruu of economic, political and social equality has become a sacred crusade for which some people or groups are ready to do anything, using any means, including gerrymandering, to achieve it. The Ruweng people are victims of their own image: the image of resilience despite the staggering odds related to their location at the bleeding edge of the South-North border, the image of remaining steadfast to the pursuit of justice, equality and dignified existence as the main threads of our common Struggle. We are also victims of our own image in the sense that we have refused to submit to witch hunting and believe that our destiny lies with and in the SPLM/A. These characteristics and others are what have set us apart from the rest, and clearly explains why our county has often remained committed to the objective of the SPLM/A. It is this image that has become the source of envy against our community. They want to destroy what we have built, yet we cannot accept to burry our heads in the sand when our rights are grossly violated in a broad day light. This is why we have written to you, Mr. President, this very petition.

We are also asking the SPLM and GOSS leaderships to bring this bout of sufferings to an end. Enough is enough! The Ruweng people want to be free and happy like any other community in the South. No oppressed people can claim to be truly free unless they can also free themselves from internal shackles of unfair political domination and economic marginalisation. It is a travesty of justice and logic, especially for a people who have steadfastly subscribed to the ideals of national liberation, to be treated with this much scorns and disdain.

Now that we have peace, it rests upon our shoulders as citizens to look far behind our backyards and foster respectful and peaceful relations among communities again, more than before; a relationship whose foundation is based on collective dream and common destiny and promising vision of providing life and hope again to our people who have suffered untold sufferings throughout the civil war. But, to ensure a successful march towards a better future in Ruweng County, we call upon you once more, Mr. President to relieve Col. Miabek Lang Miadeng as commissioner, and appoint a new and fresher face who will restore, dignity, justice, and equality for all, because the current Commissioner is a man who has ganged up with his community’s bad wishers and sacrifices his community’s interests, by doing anything to purchase power from his external power conferring-and-benevolent authority. He gets everything by a touch of dishonesty.

To close our note to you, we would like, Mr. President, to leave you with the following YouTube video links (which only give a sample of the staggering sufferings endured by the Panaruu community for more than 20 years), one in which Dr. Garang spoke about the sufferings of the Ruweng County. They are only a tip of the iceberg.

 

Signed by: 1. Ayuel Dau Deng Agieu. 2. Lwal Baguoot Kiir 3. James Monyluak Mijok Thon 4. John Kuol Makuach 5. Ngor Kur Mayol 6. Abok Kiir Dau 7. Mijak Dongwei Koch 8. Kur Chopbany Kur 9. James Adiok Mayik 10. Guor Miabok Michar 11. Philip Tolewut Michar 12. Palath Miaker Diar 13. Simon Chol Mialith Kiir 14. Santino Miagak Dau Kuol 15. James Koch Yool 16. Gabriel Monyluak Miakol 17. James Achuil Kuol 18. James Ahoor Miabil 19. Wien Miarial 20. Wuor Deng Lueth 21. Francis Monyjiek Mijak Kiir 22. Charles Chol Tiop Miyom 23. James Monyluk Miabek 24. James Lubo Mijak 25. Dau Dengyom 26. Stephen Mijok Dongwei Akiir 27. Peter Miarial Miabek 28. Moses Miyen Mialou 29. Andrew Miyen Miaker 30. Chok Choch Kur 31. James Chol Achut Kur 32. Miaker Pieng Jau

German Foreign Minister extends greetings on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr

I wish all our Muslim fellow citizens in Germany, and indeed all our Muslim friends and their families across the world, a happy Eid ul-Fitr!

Today our thoughts are also with those who in these past weeks and months have been struck by disasters and who are unable to celebrate at home with their families.

I pay tribute to all those committed to fostering mutual respect and understanding among religions and cultures. You are building a world in which everyone treats each other with respect and trust and act as important bridges between our cultures. We want to continue to nurture and expand our partnership.

Happy holidays to you all!

Guido Westerwelle

Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

U.S. trying to prevent Sudan conflict

The Obama administration, which came to office promising stronger leadership on Sudan, is now scrambling to salvage a 2005 U.S.-backed peace accord and prevent Africa's largest nation from sliding back into civil war.

The Washington Post

The Obama administration, which came to office promising stronger leadership on Sudan, is now scrambling to salvage a 2005 U.S.-backed peace accord and prevent Africa's largest nation from sliding back into civil war.

In recent weeks, the administration has doubled its diplomatic presence in South Sudan and dispatched a respected former ambassador to help with negotiations on an independence referendum for the region, which is scheduled for January.

President Obama and his advisers are also mulling over incentives to persuade Sudan's leadership to cooperate with the referendum, officials say.

Former officials and activist groups say the Obama administration's efforts over the past year have been hobbled by infighting and a lack of high-level attention.

"President Obama's approach to Sudan may well lead to his being the one who 'lost' Sudan and the opportunities for peace" in the 2005 accord, said Roger Winter, who helped negotiate the deal that ended Sudan's 21-year civil war.

The peace agreement provided for religious and political autonomy for the Christian and animist south until the referendum. Polls indicate that the mostly black south will vote to secede from the largely Arab Muslim north, its antagonist in the civil war.

But the Sudanese government, dominated by northerners, has not reached agreement with the south on such issues as demarcating the border and figuring out how to divide revenue from the country's oil fields, located mainly in the south. Election preparations are behind schedule.

A delay in the referendum — and a separate one to determine who controls the oil-rich border town of Abyei — could reignite the civil war. Such a conflict might dwarf the one that has left at least 300,000 people dead in Sudan's western Darfur area, analysts say.

After months of internal debate, the Obama administration unveiled a policy last October that would reward or punish Sudan's government based on whether it met benchmarks regarding Darfur, the north-south agreement and counterterrorism.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, favors a harder line on the Sudanese government, while Obama's special envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, has argued for more incentives, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

Senior administration officials say they have been working behind the scenes to build international consensus vital to the peace accord's success.

For example, Vice President Joseph Biden discussed the Sudan situation with African leaders, including South Sudan President Salva Kiir, in a visit to the continent in June. Biden got a commitment from Egypt, Sudan's northern neighbor, to support the referendum, according to senior administration officials — an important breakthrough.

Obama attended a June meeting between national-security adviser James Jones and former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki, a key player in implementing the referendum results, officials say. Obama also has raised the Sudan issue with foreign leaders, including President Hu Jintao of China, which is a major investor in the African country, officials say.

Nonetheless, U.S. officials say they don't have many ways to further penalize Sudan's government. "It's important to recognize how heavily sanctioned Sudan is right now," said a senior U.S. official.

Among the incentives the U.S. government could offer are upgrading relations and removing Sudan from the list of terrorism supporters.

Some officials are concerned about easing pressure on Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, at a time when Darfur is still plagued by violence and the peace process there has stalled. .

Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges for the atrocities in Darfur.

The U.S. State Department announced last week that a former ambassador, Princeton Lyman, had been dispatched to Sudan with a team to help negotiate the remaining sticking points.

South Sudan Referendum: First things first

By Lam Akol

September 4, 2010 — Sudan is passing through the most critical stage of its modern history and is set to undergo the hardest trial ever. In less than twenty weeks, its will would be tested: either to remain united or its southern part secedes in accordance with the procedures of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). I do not intend here to discuss the pros and cons of each of the two options because it is premature to speak about that as long as we have not carefully set the political stage for it, that is, if as I believe, the target audience here is the people of South Sudan. This call is addressed to both supporters of unity and those of separation which could be likened to the call for the supporters of two teams playing a final football match that must not end in a draw. The coaches of the two teams are keen on seeing that the stadium or the playing field is leveled in such a way as not to be in favour of one of the two teams; and that it is also spacious enough to take in the supporters of the two teams besides the majority of neutral spectators whose passion is only for nice play. The players and fans of each team, notwithstanding their ardent enthusiasm to win the match, are careful not to make mistakes that might result in the cancellation of the match which they worked hard to win. The supporters of the two camps of unity and separation are equally requested to insist on creating the conducive environment for a free, fair and transparent referendum. However, I see a different environment prevailing at present. In the absence of this conducive environment, the legality of the result of the referendum would be contested, and this in turn would drag the country into a bottomless abyss whose depth only God knows. We implore God to spare Sudan home-grown calamities; suffice the afflictions nurtured n us by others.

This article tackles the concept of the right of self-determination and the reasons which made Southerners to opt for it. How it fits into Sudanese politics, how is this right expressed in the CPA, and how the governance during the transitional period contributed to the realization of the objectives of the CPA in this respect. Finally, I suggest the requirements for making the exercise of the right of self-determination a free, fair and transparent process in order to ensure recognition for its result, whatever it might be. I would begin by quoting two veteran Southern politicians who played a great role in Sudanese politics, separated by a span of almost half a century. The first quotation is from a speech made by Rev Fr Saturnino Lohure before the second parliament in Khartoum in 1958, and the second was made by Dr. John Garang. Father Satrinino said:

“The South has no intention of separating from the North, for had that been the case nothing on earth would have prevented the demand for separation. The South will at any moment separate from the North if and when the North so decides, directly or indirectly, through political, social and economic subjugation of the South.”

Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, 2nd Parliament, Khartoum, 1958.

This statement was made by Fr Saturnino when he, along with his colleagues, was calling for federalism. Of course, some people accused him of being a separatist. This speech was in response to the accusation. As for Dr. John Garang, whose commitment to the unity of Sudan is not in doubt among northern politicians, he said:

“I and those who joined me in the bush and fought for more than twenty years, have brought to you CPA in a golden plate. Our mission is accomplished. It is now your turn, especially those who did not have a chance to experience bush life. When time comes to vote at referendum, it is your golden choice to determine your fate. Would you like to be second class citizens in your own country?, it is absolutely your choice”.

Dr John Garang de Mabior, Rumbek, Southern Sudan, May 15, 2005.

These two oft-quoted statements reflect the extent to which impression and reality are confused when dealing with the cause of South Sudan, a matter which complicates understanding the root causes of the problem, hence rendering prescribing realistic solutions difficult to attain.

BACKGROUND TO SOUTHERNERS’ DEMAND FOR SELF-DETERMINATION

The demand by Southerners for the right of self-determination could be attributed to two reasons. The first is the colonial policies towards South Sudan and the second relates to the practices of the Sudanese central governments towards South Sudan. It is known that the administration in South Sudan during the colonial era had passed through three stages. The stage of government stabilization (1899-1920) in which colonial administration depended on tribal chiefs in what was known as native administration. The second stage was the separate administration of South Sudan in the 1920s until the Second World War. Following the Second World War, the colonial power changed policy in favour of the unification of the two parts of the country. This policy started with the meetings of 1946, followed by the Juba conference in 1947. Each of these three stages had its contribution in shaping the perceptions held by Southern citizens in regard to their rights. Under national governments, certain developments and practices strained relations between the South and the North. This period can be sub-divided into a number of stages as follows:

(a) The stage of non-representation of South Sudan (1953-1955), whether in the political or administrative spheres, or civil service, including Sudanization period.

(b) The stage of centralized rule from 1955 up to 1964.

(c) The stage of recognition of the Southern Question (1964-1965). The government of Sir Al-khatim Al-khalifa which came to power after the October Revolution, was the first government to recognize that South Sudan had a cause, when it issued a statement that contained recognition of the problem. The statement indicated that the problem was political with causes that ought to be tackled in order to arrive at the required peaceful political solution. Before that, previous governments used to describe the problem as merely masterminded by colonial administration. The October government followed words by action by holding the Round Table Conference for the resolution of the Southern problem in Khartoum in March 1965. However, the traditional parties aborted this national endeavour.

(d) The stage of repression of Southern intellectuals and Southern cultures (1958-1964, 1965-1969). This stage spans two periods: the period during Abboud’s regime and the period that followed the elections of 1965. Deep bitter feelings prevailed during this stage, particularly during the period 1965-1969 as the government adopted extreme repressive measures including massacres in Juba and Wau (July 1965) and in other parts of South Sudan in which Southern intellectuals and Southern cultures were targeted. These practices impacted adversely on relations between the South and the North. During Abboud’s dictatorship, the regime insisted on imposing Arabic and Islam in South Sudan in the mistaken belief that the unity of the country could only be achieved within one culture and one religion. That was the period during which it was circulated that Southerners were targeting Arabism and Islam. It is known that when the war erupted, it was neither a religious nor a racial war. However, these practices had made people claim that Southerners were fighting against Arabism and Islam. The call for the separation of South Sudan gained momentum during this stage.

(e) Recognition of the problem for the second time (9 June 1969, 1971-1972). This stage was ushered in by the Declaration of the 9th June 1969, less than one month after May military coup. The Declaration was shrouded with ambiguity as it contained a clause which linked the solution of the problem of South Sudan to the emergence of a democratic cadre in the South that would converge with its Northern counterpart. The Communists in the Revolutionary Command Council construed the phrase “democratic cadre” as denoting the Communists. This question was only settled after the demise of the military coup of Hashim Al-atta in 1971. Then serious talks began between the Anyanya and the government culminating in the Addis Ababa Accord in February 1972.

(f) The stage of regional autonomy for South Sudan (1972-1983). It was the first time Southerners had ruled themselves by themselves. It also showed that South Sudan is not less diverse than the whole country. During self-rule, the notion that Southerners constitute a homogeneous bloc, as was the case during the war, came under challenge. During the war, it was taken for granted that Southerners constituted one bloc, being ethnically and culturally different from the North. However, when they attained power for 11 years, some Southerners started to complain about injustices meted out by their own brethren.

(g) The stage of the abrogation of the Addis Ababa Accord and the second war (1983-1985, 1985-1989, 1989-2005). During the first part of this stage, Southern frustration and loss of trust between the South and the North had reached its climax. The events that took place nurtured the feeling of injustice and in the process gave birth to the demands of Southerners to get their rights that would guarantee them a better future, politically, economically and socially. What were these Southern demands?

EVOLUTION OF SOUTHERNERS’ DEMANDS

Southerners started with simple demands limited to the civil service. Firstly, they asked for equal wages between the South and the North as Southerners received less wages than Northerners for the same jobs. That was during colonialism, especially in the 1940s and the early 1950s. They asked for a fair share in civil service during the Sudanization stage in 1955. When 800 jobs were Sudanized, Southerners asked for 40 jobs but they were given only 6 jobs. The common characteristic of these demands was that they were confined to civil service though in the 1950s, they were coupled with some political demands. Then came the demand for participation at the political level. This started with the talk about provision of guarantees that would ensure South Sudan would not be put at a disadvantage by the unity of the two parts of the country because education was hardly available in South Sudan. In the 1950s, Southern politicians came to call for the implementation of federation as the best solution to the problems of government. However, the call was met with fierce opposition by the successive national governments as they equated federation with separation.

The first time the idea of self-determination was put forth was in late 1964, after the October Revolution, by the Southern Front, as the Anyanya came to call for separation since 1963 whereas other Southerners, like Santino Deng and Phelmon Majok, had been calling for centralized unity. The Southern Front believed that the only democratic way to reconcile all these views was through the exercise of self-determination so that the people of South Sudan could choose the system they deemed appropriate for themselves. The Southern Front expressed its demand for self-determination at the Round Table Conference in 1965 but it was totally rejected by the Northern parties who were acting as one bloc in that conference.

The period of autonomous rule (1972-1983) was the zenith of the Southerners commitment to the unity of the country, and it can be termed as the golden era of unity. It was the first time that the Southerners became associated with unity and were involved in its defence. This underscores the organic relationship between participation in government and defending that government. Southerners at that time were the most vocal in defending unity. They glorified unity at every public occasion to the extent that oilfields, banks and squares were named unity. Even leaders of the Anyanya maintained that Nimeiri was the best president they had ever got and that he was God-given. They were the same persons who before Addis Ababa Accord, stated publicly that “the best Arab is the dead one”. The Sudanese opposition at that time (the National Front) was active against the ruling regime. However, despite all this, it did not hold a different view with regards to unity. Therefore, we can say that both the government and the opposition were congruent on the unity of Sudan.

From the aforementioned, we conclude that Southerners were calling for just representation which grew from equality of wages, through to guarantees up to federation. The designation of war as being against Arabism and Islam was a mere reaction and not an original position as explained above by Father Satrinino with regard to separation. The demand for the right of self-determination by Southerners emerged at a later stage in the 1960s as an inevitable result of the harsh policies of the central government at that time vis-à-vis the Southern demands.

A CRACK IN SOUTHERN UNITY

The period of self-rule in South Sudan had proved wrong the theory that the Southern problem was against the Arabs and that Southerners represent a cohesive bloc united by one culture and one political orientation. It was proved wrong during that period by the demand of the Equatorians in 1982 for the expulsion from Equatoria of non-Equatorian Southerners, a process known as Kokra in the Bari language. Eventually, non-Equatorian Southerners were forced to relocate and some of them died en route due to adverse climatic conditions. However, the Arabs were not expelled, so the Arabs had become closer to the Kokorists than the other Southerners from the regions of Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile. Therefore, portraying the problem as only between the North and the South is grossly inaccurate as there are differences among Southerners themselves. So, within the framework of the referendum, we should tackle the relations between the South and the North as well as the relations among Southerners.

The rationale of the agreement is the ending of the war and that any of the two options (unity or separation) will result in the sustainability of peace. It follows that if we revert to war, this means that the purpose of the agreement is defeated. Therefore, the concern should not be only about the conduct of the referendum as if the separation of South Sudan or unity oof Sudan were the end of the problem. The question which deserves our profound thinking is whether our choice would achieve the required peace, be it South-South peace or South-North peace. Regrettably enough, the same mistakes which led to Kokra in 1982, are being replicated by the present government of South Sudan led by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). It will be remembered that the advocates of Kokra were speaking about the hegemony of a certain tribe over power in the South. Their leader, Joseph Lagu, published a booklet containing tables showing the number of ministers and directors-general at the ministries from that tribe compared to the other tribes of South Sudan. He came to the conclusion that the said tribe exercised hegemony and marginalized the other tribes. Such a booklet can now be written much more easily and more clearly than that of the Kokra in 1982. Therefore, when we speak of self-determination for South Sudan, it is important to know it is a destination of the people and the unity of Southerners must be guaranteed in this respect.

The lesson to be learnt from the experience of self-rule is that Southerners must sit down to discuss their affairs and agree on the future of South Sudan regardless of the outcome of the referendum, as banking on the theory of common foreign enemy is no longer useful. This theory, though effective in whipping up emotions for ephemeral support, it cannot withstand the test of reality. Separation, if it is the option, is not meant to get rid of the North, it is rather to get rid of wrong practices which the experience of government in the South has proved can be made by Northerners and Southerners alike. During the last five years, the North has not intervened in the South, despite recurrent accusations that the north is the source of every problem happening in the South. However, the reality is different. Is the North responsible for the rampant corruption in the South? The government of South Sudan received huge funds, but is lack of services in the South a Northern conspiracy? Is denial of democracy in the South a Northern making? We should be more realistic and objective in dealing with our problems and avoid seeking scapegoats for our failures. Countries are not built by running away from reality, but rather by confronting it. There are the experiences of other nations we can draw lessons from. In May 1947, the Indian Subcontinent (Pakistan and India) was on the threshold of independence. Pakistan separated from India on the grounds that it was an Islamic country different from the Hindu India. However, religious homogeneity did not prevent the separation of Eastern Pakistan in 1971 in the aftermath of a fierce war to become the present Bangladesh. The same applies to Somalia which does not have any sort of diversity. Somalis hail from one tribe, with one religion and one language. Despite this homogeneity, Somalia has not known stability since the overthrow of Siad Barri’s regime in early 1990s. From all that, it is evident that Southerners should develop their own roadmap for their future an avoid being driven by dictates from overseas. The roadmap is to address the reality in South Sudan, not the imaginations of “the friends”.

SELF-DETERMINATION AND THE SPLM

Self-determination is the democratic means for conclusively settling the issue of unity and separation once and for all. In other words, the right of self-determination could not be exercised in the absence of democracy.

At its inception in 1983, the SPLM declared that it was a unionist movement as stated in its manifesto. This unionist trend received tremendous support in the North which did not expect a Southern movement to demand unity with it. However, the SPLM did not make any effort to enhance this unionist trend on the ground. It has not carried out intensive political work among the fighters to change the separatist conceptions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) whose elements were drawn from farmers and pastoralists. The main focus was on military work. Moreover, the political struggle was subjected to the military wing and ever since the latter has exercised hegemony over the former. It was the first time that the military guided political thought, unlike the case in all known revolutionary movements.

At that time, the leadership and the army were talking different languages as the majority was supporting separation while the leadership was calling for unity. The SPLA was expressing its separatist tendencies in songs and over Radio SPLA. By the end of the 1980s, it was crystal clear that separatist tendency gained the upper hand but the leadership of the SPLM turned a deaf ear to this. The only leadership body, the Political-Military High Command, had not held a single meeting its formation. For instance, since we (Dr. Riak Machar, James Wani, Daniel Awet, Yousif Kuwa, and I) were appointed to it on 1st July 1986 up to the split in 1991, the Political-Military High Command had never held a meeting. The Southerners in the SPLA were saying that they could not liberate the whole Sudan and could not also offer their children to liberate the North as was the case in the wars in Kurmuk, Geisan and other areas. Moreover, since Northerners had not joined the SPLM/SPLA, they concluded that the Northerners did not approve of the SPLM and its unity enterprise. Such talk was going on within the ranks of the SPLA, which we were hearing as their field commanders. At that time, the number of Northerners from the core North who joined the SPLM was not more than the fingers of two hands. The sizeable number of Northerners came from areas neighbouring the South, like the Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile, and this was no real representation of the North. The SPLM did not discuss such issues in order to take decisions because the only institution responsible for that was rendered idle as mentioned above. This was the real cause of the split that took place at Nasir in 1991. We meant to give opportunity to all the members of the SPLM/SPLA to express their views on those crucial issues. Therefore, we believed that the only way to accommodate the unionist and separatist views was through the exercise of the right to self-determination for South Sudan. It is the democratic mechanism which enables people to choose the appropriate system for themselves. Due to the absence of democracy inside the SPLM, the split had to happen then. This is the background for the demand by the SPLM for the right of self-determination.

It is known that the prime mover of any liberation war is the desire to achieve democracy and install a government that is responsive to the interests of the people. The American Revolution against the British in the 18th century was not caused by diversities between the Americans and the Britons. On the contrary, the revolution was waged by people from the Eastern Coast, known as New England, i.e., a version of England proper. They were ethnically the same as the English as both hailed from the Anglo-Saxons. The revolution was waged against Britain because the Americans did not want a remote government that was not responsive to their desires. So, the problem was not about ethnicity or nationalism as the American nationalism emerged later. In the same manner Southerners felt that Khartoum governments were remote from them and not responsive to their demands, so they took up arms against them. The right of self-determination was a desire of the Southern people which the successive governments in Khartoum did not respond to. The right of self-determination, it must be emphasized, could only be exercised under democracy. Two objectives lie at the core of the demands for the right of self-determination. The first is the search for self-expression and self-awareness while the second is the creation of a government that represents the various communities that constitute the population of the country and respond to their demands.

When historical factors or deliberate government policy weakens other communities while allowing only its supporters to organize themselves, as was the case in the post World War 1 Nazi Germany, the foundations of democracy would be weakened. Social diversity is a sociological factor that is fundamental for democratic rule. Accordingly, the government in the South should be representative of all communities in the South in order to be acceptable to all. I believe that the same questions of diversity raised between the North and the South would also be raised with the same force if the South separates because separation would not do away with diversity.

THE SUDANESE CONSENSUS ON SELF-DETERMINATION

The first agreement on self-determination between the government and the SPLM was made in January 1992 in Frankfurt, Germany. It was between the SPLM-Nasir and the Salvation government. Then recognition of self-determination by others followed. The two factions of the SPLM agreed on it in Abuja in 1993. This resulted in division between William Nyuon and Dr. John Garang over this issue as the former agreed to self-determination while the latter favoured unity. In 1994, Umma Party and SPLM-Torit signed the Chukudum agreement which included recognition of self-determination. In 1995, the Asmara Declaration also incorporated self-determination as all parties under the banner of the National Democratic Alliance adopted this right. Thus all the Sudanese political forces agree on self-determination for South Sudan and no party can deny recognition of self determination. Therefore, it has become an acquired right for South Sudan and no body can deny the South exercising this right, no matter whichever party is in power if they honour agreements.

SELF-DETERMINATION IN THE CPA

The right of self-determination is not a mere date, when due, people go to vote and everything will be over. Those who called for the right of self-determination did so with a vision that the people would have to be made fully aware of the meaning of self-determination and the consequences of each of the two options so that they make an informed choice. We must explain to the people these two options: why unity option and why separation option. When the CPA dealt with the right of self-determination, it mentioned specific things which must be realized before referendum. First, the self-determination in the CPA was an attempt to break the deadlock over the issue of separation of religion from the state or the relation between religion and the state. So the CPA stipulated that Northerners shall have the right to apply Islamic Sharia in the North provided that Southerners shall have the right to self-determination. Therefore, the call for a secular state as the only condition for the realization of unity implies a call for re-negotiating the agreement as the two parties had already agreed that the North applies Sharia while the South applies laws that are derived from the people’s consensus and customs including religious beliefs. The CPA has never provided for secularism, the word “secular” is not mentioned in the whole agreement. Second, the agreement was designed for the SPLM to rule the South single-handedly to give it full opportunity to put in practice its ideas to prepare the ground for either equitable unity with the North or separation on a solid foundation. Third, the two parties agreed to work together to achieve the unity of the country and to make it attractive to Southerners. There are certain procedures stipulated by the agreement to realize this which will be mentioned later.

What is unique to the CPA compared to similar agreements in the world is that agreement on self-determination was made without having a party standing for the other option, which is separation. However, the agreement does not deny others the right to advocate for separation. Any party, group or individual, other than the SPLM and the National Congress Party, has full right under the CPA to work for any of the two options.

TWO PROJECTS ABANDONED IN MACHAKOS

Based on the aforementioned, the project of the SPLM to build the ‘New Sudan’ was abandoned in Machakos as secularism represents the core of the concept of ‘New Sudan’. In Machakos Protocol, the SPLM sacrificed the ‘New Sudan’ and chose self-determination. The SPLM agreed that the North which accounts for two thirds of the country be governed by Sharia and this means that two thirds of the country are outside the umbrella of secularism. It is clear that the ‘New Sudan’ project was abandoned. Somebody may argue that this was only a temporary abandonment. Such an argument is not true because the unity option of the referendum is actually accepting the sustainability of the CPA. This agreement can only be amended by the approval of the two parties before the approval of three quarters of the National Legislature. In other words, if we are to introduce secularism, the agreement has to be amended which in turn requires the approval of the NCP, which is out of question. Similarly, the ‘civilizational project’ was also abandoned in Machakos as it sought to apply Sharia all over the country and then extend it beyond Sudan. If the Sharia were to be applied in South Sudan, the agreement must be amended and this requires the approval of the SPLM, a very distant dream even to the most indulgent optimist.

THE GROUND IS NOT SET FOR THE REFERENDUM

The present environment is not conducive for the conduct of the referendum as the transitional period is drawing to a close while the Government of Southern Sudan and the Government of National Unity have not fulfilled the requirements necessary for the exercise of self-determination. Article 7-1 of the Power Sharing Protocol of the CPA sets out that the two parties agreed to initiate national reconciliation and healing process throughout the country as part of the peace building process to be led by the GoNU. Up to now, after five years since the CPA was signed, people have not seen the two partners together enlightening them about the agreement in such a way as to realize the hopes of the people and make unity attractive. On the contrary, the opposite took place. The SPLM succeeded in mobilizing the people in South Sudan against the NCP by portraying it as an enemy rather than a partner to the extent that any one in the South who speaks of the NCP as a partner is branded as a traitor. This runs counter to the stipulations of the CPA. Another matter ignored by the two partners was stipulated in sub-section 3-12-2 of the Power Sharing Protocol of the CPA, that is, the two partners undertake to ensure that their members and institutions under their control abide by and implement the provisions of the agreement. How many members of the NCP and the SPLM are committed to the agreement and its implementation? Thus, the two partners have not behaved as partners as provided for by the agreement and also have not done any joint work to make unity attractive. The opposite took place: polarization.

The SPLM which has ruled the South for five years has not come up with tangible achievements that would suggest the realization of its ideas of ‘New Sudan’. If it was in possession of a project and political programme, that was a golden opportunity to implement them. However, that has not happened and South Sudan has hardly seen a worthy achievement by the SPLM, despite the flow of huge funds to GoSS. The share from oil revenue alone amounted to more than $ 10 billion, besides the share of the South in the national budget allocations in addition to the assistance provided by sisterly and friendly countries and peace funds. Actually, the South has hardly witnessed development. It has instead reeled under rampant corruption, insecurity and incessant intervention in the affairs of the State governments. For instance, 90% of the general budget is expended in Juba while the rest of the South’s ten states receive only 10%. On the political side, there is lack of a democratic environment for political parties to exercise their political activities. As for security, insecurity prevails and during the last elections, the rigging of the elections by the SPLM was exposed. The SPLM, by force of arms, rigged the elections and imposed a certain reality, a matter which has brought adverse results including the mutiny of a number of SPLA commanders who are currently fighting GoSS in protest against election rigging. All these factors render the ground not conducive for a free and fair referendum.

THE DOUBLE-SPEAK OF THE SPLM

It is indisputable that both partners to the CPA made mistakes and failures regarding the implementation of the CPA. However, what draws attention is the fact that the SPLM insists on blaming its partner for all the setbacks. Throwing blame on the NCP was not accidental but a well considered SPLM strategy from the outset of the implementation of the agreement. In less than a month since the GoNU took the oath of office, the SPLM started accusing the NCP of not implementing the agreement! Hereunder is an example of this.

On 25th September, 2005, we took the oath of office as new ministers in the GoNU. In October, the Bar Association elections were conducted. In preparation for this election, the then head of SPLM’s Northern Sector, Abdelaziz Adam Alhilu, recommended to the leadership that the SPLM should ally with the opposition, “Democratic list”, in those elections. Alhilu said the SPLM could not ally with the NCP for two reasons. The first was that the NCP had not implemented the agreement and the second was that the NCP was a political outcast. A heated discussion arose in the meeting. The most important point raised in that meeting was that the CPA states that the Bar Association nominates two of its members to the High Judicial Council and that it was impertinent that the opposition fills the two seats in such a sensitive body. Another point was that the SPLM was a partner of the NCP in the implementation of the agreement. Therefore, it would be natural for it to ally with the NCP. Moreover, if it were to be accepted that the SPLM should not side with the NCP, why not run in the elections of the Bar Association alone? How can the SPLM ally with the opposition while it was in the government? Ultimately, the meeting resolved that the SPLM allies itself with the NCP on the grounds that it was a partner of the SPLM to the CPA. The question here is: how did the Northern Sector official come to the conclusion that the NCP had not implemented the agreement in less than a month since the government took office?

Days passed by and there was a shift in position of the leadership; those who called for cooperation with the NCP to ensure the smooth implementation of the agreement were branded of being separatists lacking concern for the cause of freedoms in the North and solely focused on maintaining good relations with the NCP to secure smooth separation. The duplicity of the SPLM by putting one foot in the opposition and the other in the government had become the norm. It was no secret that the SPLM ignored the national role it could have played in the North. Its ministers in the GoNU, except for one or two, were not active and little heard of, and the First Vice President of the Republic, the second most senior person in the state, abandoned the duties of this office and marooned himself in South Sudan. The participation of the SPLM in the GoNU was mainly to give it opportunity to prove itself as a national party. That was a golden opportunity for the SPLM to play a national role that could have enhanced its call for the unity of the country. This shift in position was not to serve the interests of the SPLM, let alone the interests of the people. It was to serve the interests of others who were bent on regime change. However, when they failed to achieve that through the opposition alliance in the elections, they shifted to plan (B) whose actual implementation has started immediately after the general elections. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the very people who were unrivaled in their enthusiasm for advocating unity are now equally fervent in their call for separation of South Sudan! They talk about separation and come up with justifications for the change of heart. They find a lending hand in this hypocrisy from some Northerners.

It is mindboggling to hear people, particularly Northern parties, claim that the uncompromising position of the NCP motivated the SPLM to opt for separation. First, if the position of the SPLM on unity was a matter of principle, then it should not be affected by the position of the NCP or others. Second, these Northern parties which now find excuse for the separatist position of the SPLM forget or feign forgetting that they mainly allied with the SPLM to topple the NCP. Then how can the SPLM change its principled position in reaction to the tactics of the NCP which was from the outset its opponent if not its enemy? Third, unity of Sudan was the only issue that had brought the SPLM and the Northern parties together to forge an alliance. So, if the SPLM had turned separatist, there ceases to be a common ground between these former allies. Fourth, did the SPLM think that by signing the CPA, the NCP would concede the dismantling of the Salvation regime to make unity attractive? It seems that the hostility towards the NCP has made some people oblivious to the ABC of politics. The SPLM should bear its share of blame for not making unity attractive during the interim period. Most importantly, the SPLM owes it to the people of South Sudan to explain to them how it claims to lead the separatist camp now whereas it been bragging and boasting that its first bullets were shot at the Southern separatists before fighting the enemy in Khartoum.

We now move to the much trumpeted warning that the option of unity is tantamount to Southerners accepting to become second class citizens. The quotation from Dr John Garang reproduced above makes reference to this point. In reply to that, it must be noted that the unity option enshrined in the CPA, affirms acceptance of the sustainability of the arrangements set out by the agreement concerning the system of rule in the South and at the national level. This has been provided for in the national constitution and the constitution of Southern Sudan. In other words, the South retains at its present semi-autonomous status and will simultaneously have a sizeable share in the national government which now stands at 30%. Therefore, the talk that Southerners, by choosing unity, are opting to be second class citizens, implies that by having accepted the CPA from the outset, the Southerners have settled to be second class citizens, as the country had been run during the last five years in accordance with it.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

There are certain issues which must be settled ahead of the referendum. The issues of freedoms, security situation and creation of Southern consensus concerning the future of the South must all be settled ahead of the referendum. Article (7) of the South Sudan Referendum Act 2010 provides for the requirements of a conducive environment for the conduct of the referendum. Article (7) includes seven items in this regard. All this is to safeguard the freedom for the people of South Sudan to express their opinions regarding the two options. The various levels of government should work to bring about a conducive environment including the security situation and the provision of freedom of expression for all the people as well as freedom of assembly and movement. Added to this is the involvement of IGAD countries, its partners, organizations of civil society and registered political parties in addition to registration of voters and raising their awareness and ensuring their right to vote in a secret ballot without intimidation. All this could hardly be seen on the ground. Therefore, unless these circumstances are redressed, conducting the referendum at this time would be a violation of the agreement itself. The agreement stipulates that the choice shall be made consciously and the non-availability of the right circumstances for the conduct of the referendum will open the door wide for challenging the result, whether by Northerners or Southerners or even by others. The referendum must be conducted to the satisfaction of all so that the result could be acceptable to all. There is no sense in conducting a referendum whose result will be questionable or disputed. It is known that the ultimate goal of the agreement is to realize sustainable peace, therefore, if the agreement ends up in a situation that may ignite war once more, we would have compromised the goal of the agreement. The target of the debate on unity and separation is the Southern citizen, therefore, we must approach him/her, dialogue with him/her in order to persuade him/her. But how can we approach the citizen when he/her does not enjoy the freedom of choice. Moreover, there is absence of a democratic climate which allows people to advocate for the choice they believe in. From the experience of the last elections, citizens are aware that the SPLM would do what it likes. Since it had rigged the elections with impunity, it can likewise rig the referendum. Unless these adverse circumstances are reversed, the great efforts exerted by all political forces for a free debate will absolutely futile. Therefore, it is necessary that all efforts be streamlined to produce a conducive environment for the referendum. This is the sole guarantee for a free, fair and transparent referendum that will meet the acceptance of the people. All should look for the right procedures that will bring about the conducive atmosphere necessary for the conduct of the referendum. If there is good faith, the remaining time would be enough for preparing the ground for the referendum hence enabling the people to freely express their opinion without coercion or intimidation. The present circumstances do not meet the requirement of a free, fair and transparent referendum that would be to the satisfaction of all. Within the drive for producing the conducive atmosphere for a free, fair and independent referendum in South Sudan, the following three issues must be addressed:

1- provision of freedoms and democratic action

As mentioned previously, the right of self-determination cannot be exercised in the absence of democracy. Since democracy is non-existent in South Sudan, freedoms should be provided and political forces be allowed to participate in the referendum under a healthy democratic environment. The SPLM is not expected to do this on its own initiative, so it should be pressured into doing it by all political forces and the civil society.

2- provision of security

The security situation in South Sudan is unstable for various reasons, most importantly, tribes are fighting each other, the SPLA is fighting against the civil population in some areas and more seriously, some SPLA commanders rebelled against their army after the elections and they are now fighting GoSS. This security problem must be addressed.

3- The South – South dialogue

The South is for all Southerners and should not be the private domain of one party. Accordingly, all people have their concerns about its future. Under the current circumstances, all those concerned with the interests of Southerners are worried over the absence of consultation regarding issues of concern, top among which is how to approach the referendum with unity of purpose. Therefore, it is crucial to hold the South-South dialogue ahead of the referendum in order to reach agreement on the post-referendum future of the South irrespective of whether the choice is unity or separation. This dialogue should involve all Southern parties, organizations of civil society and public figures. A number of crucial issues must be agreed upon particularly if the choice is separation. These issues include transforming the present regional constitution into a national one, ensuring that the South will not be used to destabilize its neighbours including the North, not allowing any foreign military base to be established in South Sudan, a code of honour for provision of freedoms and democracy, neutrality and professionalism of the civil service, etc. South – South dialogue would be the safety valve which would slam the door in the face of people with hidden agendas concerning the referendum and the future of South Sudan.

Conclusion

The fundamental issue currently is that under the present adverse circumstances in South Sudan, there would be no way for a free, fair and transparent referendum. Therefore it would be in the interest of the advocates of unity and separation alike to unify their ranks and join efforts to impose the favourable climate for the dissemination of their ideas about unity or separation so that they reach the Southern citizen, the voter in this referendum. It is also in the interest of both camps to ensure a free, fair and transparent referendum in order to make its result acceptable to all, hence, obtain recognition of the international community. This entails that the pre- referendum arrangements must be discussed in order to reach consensus about them and thereby ensure equal opportunity for the two camps of unity and separation. If the two parties to the agreement possess enough political will, the required favourable circumstances for the referendum can be created within two months. The South – South dialogue is crucial to the referendum on par with the provision of security, freedoms and democratic environment in South Sudan. As there are differences between the North and the South, there are also differences within the South itself. Therefore, if separation occurs, the situation of Southern differences must be dealt with prudently.

Sudan: Defining the North-South Border – International Crisis Group

The January 2011 referendum on self-determination could result in Sudan’s partition, and the country’s North-South border may ultimately become the world’s newest international boundary. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war called for the border between the North and the semi-autonomous South to be demarcated within six months. Five years later, the task remains incomplete. The sooner the parties break the border deadlock the better, though the process need not necessarily be completed prior to the referendum as Khartoum has argued previously. Furthermore, a solution to the border is about not only drawing a line, but also defining the nature and management of that border and the future relations of communities on both sides. A “soft” boundary is ideal, one backed by a framework for cross-border arrangements and, if necessary, safeguarded by a joint monitoring mechanism. Progress toward both demarcating and defining the border will prevent it from becoming a source of renewed conflict in the post-CPA era.

The undefined boundary has hindered CPA implementation, fuelled mistrust between its signatories and, most recently, contributed to heightened anxiety and insecurity along the border. The governments in Khartoum and Juba alike rely heavily on oil revenues that derive primarily from the border lands. The concentration of resources there has amplified the political and economic dimensions of an already contentious task. Both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have exhibited an aggressive military posture in some border areas. And many of the country’s trans-boundary populations – some of whom represent significant political constituencies – fear possible secession of the South could result in a hardening of the boundary and a threat to their livelihood.

This important issue has for far too long been tied up in the Technical Border Committee (TBC), the body mandated to demarcate the border as it stood at Independence Day in 1956. The committee’s extensive deliberations – as well as a poisoned atmosphere – have led to an impasse. Solid information regarding the process, the work of those tasked to undertake it and the disputed areas has been scarce, leading to considerable confusion and speculation among political elites, border communities and international partners. While the committee has agreed on most of the border, five specific areas are disputed on technical grounds; and others remain contested in the public arena. Any prolonged review of maps and records is unlikely to yield agreement on the disputed areas, underscoring that this is no longer a technical issue, but a political one, and should be treated as such.

The two parties that signed the CPA – the long ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – began critical negotiations on post-referendum arrangements in July 2010. Border demarcation is not an agenda item, but the issues of border management and cross-border relations will undoubtedly arise and be affected by several others that are, including citizenship, national resources, economic cooperation, grazing rights and security. Progress on these fronts may lessen the potential impact of where exactly the boundary is drawn in the end.

The type of border and its exact location could well become bargaining chips in a grander set of trade-offs that will define the negotiations on post-referendum arrangements. And, while not everyone will be satisfied in the end, stability along the border will depend in part on the extent to which local actors feel they have had some role in defining border management and trans-border relations. Border communities are among those most directly affected by the current atmosphere of post-referendum uncertainty; examination of the disputed areas illustrates that the border can mean very different things to political elites than it does to the communities who live on it.

It is essential to feed into the post-referendum negotiations the promising work county and state actors, as well as international partners, are doing to lay the foundation for future cross-border relations. The NCP and SPLM, in concert with the UN and international partners, should:

•Recognise that resolution of the outstanding border disputes is no longer a technical issue, but a political one. As such, the national presidency – possibly through the recently established joint committee headed by Pagan Amum (SPLM) and Salah Gosh (NCP) – should assume full responsibility for achieving a solution. It should also decide on an agency to implement the demarcation, agree to UN participation in that process, and act upon renewed commitments to resume demarcation in the undisputed areas.

•Establish a sensitisation and feedback mechanism to allow border communities to contribute advice and ideas directly to negotiations on cross-border arrangements. Such a mechanism should also communicate to border communities the goals of those arrangements, namely that a vote for separation should not mean the boundary will become a barrier, and that movement, trade, grazing rights and the interests of host communities will be protected. The “Tamazuj” forum – aimed at cooperation and integration among border state communities – is an appropriate framework for such a channel.

•Design one or more complementary border-monitoring mechanisms to support a soft and stable boundary, ensure the rights and responsibilities of border populations, and possibly monitor population movements and new security arrangements. This may include a monitoring and observation role for the UN and/or an alternative with a light footprint, high mobility and a focus on building local relationships, funded by international partners and employing lessons learned from previous models that have been used in Sudan.

The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.

Darfur Humanitarian Update: August 31, 2010

Amidst a rapidly deteriorating security and political climate, and at the height of the rainy season and “hunger gap,” Darfur’s people face severe challenges to survival, both in camps and rural areas. Recent events at Kalma camp portend increased violence directed against Internally Displaced Persons throughout Darfur, and Khartoum’s new “peace from within” plan ominously recalls similar plans during the genocide in the Nuba Mountains (1992-99). The UN refuses to provide substantial data and reports on humanitarian conditions in Darfur, continuing a trend of over a year. For its part, the US is “de-emphasizing” the Darfur crisis and shifting its focus to the southern self-determination referendum.

By Eric Reeves

August 31, 2010— Detailed analyses of humanitarian conditions in Darfur and eastern Chad from earlier this summer remain all too telling in their depiction of human suffering and deprivation:

http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article2... (June 18, 2010)

http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article2... (July 4, 2010)

Sections of the present analysis:

•Political Context

•Khartoum’s proposed “New Strategy” for Darfur

•US support for the “New Strategy”

•Implementing the “New Strategy”

•The catastrophe at Kalma

•A climate of intimidation for humanitarians

•Humanitarian conditions:

Angel health/medical needs

Beer water

Coffee sanitation

Drinks malnutrition

•An increasingly grim future for Darfuris

•Addendum: Rwanda’s threat to withdraw from UNAMID

We are presently at the very height of the rainy season (historically August is the rainiest month in Darfur, and September the second rainiest month). The “hunger gap” began unusually early this year following the poor harvests of 2009-2010, and fall harvest is still many weeks away. The success of this harvest is deeply dependent on the rains as well as security at the time of harvest. Right now, the food and other humanitarian needs in many camps are acute. Deaths from malnutrition alone are likely in the thousands. But these needs have been forced into a grim political and diplomatic context, one essential to any broader understanding of humanitarian shortfalls, rising malnutrition, and the longer-term threats to human survival and welfare throughout Darfur. The recent violence at Kalma camp and the ensuing international responses are particularly revealing of this larger context.

POLITICAL CONTEXT

The events at Kalma and other politically radicalized camps are at once cause and pretext for Khartoum’s pushing of plans that have been long in the making; these plans call for a “New Strategy” for Darfur, one that entails a “domestication” of the peace process (http://www.smallarmssurveysudan.org... ). While continuing to give lip service to the peace forum in Doha (Qatar), the regime has clearly decided upon a very different approach in bringing “peace” to Darfur. Ghazi Salahuddin, who currently holds the Darfur portfolio for Darfur, told Arab diplomats on August 9 that “while the government would work to reach a negotiated settlement, it was not a priority” (Small Arms Survey, Geneva, August update, http://www.smallarmssurveysudan.org... ).

The decision to relocate residents of Kalma camp—announced by the Governor of South Darfur, Abdel Hamid Musa Kasha, also on August 9—has “deepened concern that ’domestication’ will proceed in parallel with a range of coercive measures, including continued military action against the armed opposition movements in Darfur and attempts to dismantle the camps that house more than 2.5 million displaced” (SAS August update). There has been no significant resistance by the international community to Khartoum’s initiative; indeed, recent reports suggest that the African Union and Thabo Mbeki, UNAMID, US President Obama’s Special Envoy Scott Gration, and others have acquiesced—frustrated by the lack of progress in Doha and unwilling to confront a regime with the power to collapse the southern self-determination referendum (January 2011). Khartoum’s patience and refusal to negotiate in good faith have allowed the regime to prevail, and the consequences will be disastrous for Darfur.

The rebel movements, including the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM, the only group still engaged in Doha), have all warned of the extremely dangerous implications of this new policy. The LJM has said “‘domestication’ will serve only to silence opposition and weaken the negotiating position of the victims of the war.” Civil society representatives, “whose participation in the Doha process was portrayed as a big step forward on the road to peace, have fiercely opposed it” (SAS August update). JEM has denounced “domestication” as a “rerun of the ‘peace from within’ strategy attempted in the Nuba Mountains after the jihad of the early 1990s failed to defeat the insurgency there” (SAS August update). This “peace from within” strategy resulted in concentration camps, brutal treatment of camp residents, forced conversion to Islam in order to receive food, appropriation of land from native Nubans, and widespread starvation. Initially supported by some development personnel in Khartoum, the strategy amounted to genocide.

A telling action on the part of Khartoum’s negotiators in Doha is reflected in the peremptory rejection of the Heidelberg Document, and the evident contempt for real civil society engagement in the peace process. Khartoum’s actions were the focus of an earlier Small Arms Survey update on the peace process (June 22, 2010):

“Government negotiators in Doha turn[ed] away delegates of the Heidelberg Committee—Darfur academics, activists, and civil society organizations brought together in 2008 by the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, in tandem with the Peace Institute of Khartoum University. The delegates had travelled to Doha, at the invitation of the [UN/African Union-sponsored peace] mediation, to present proposals for peace drawn up in nearly three years of discussions. The proposals, strongly supported by the LJM, include reuniting the three states of Darfur as one administrative territory, creating ways to allow IDPs to return to their homes and be compensated?both individually and collectively?and expelling settlers from neighbouring countries. The government spokesman in Doha, Omer Adam Rahman, claims the Heidelberg group is biased towards the armed movements. The LJM warns that rejection of the Heidelberg proposals will mean a return to war.”

Khartoum is not interested in negotiating peace in Darfur, and certainly has no intention of engaging meaningfully with Darfuri civil society (http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary... ). Khartoum’s bad faith has been obscured by the hopelessly fractious and irresponsible negotiating tactics of the larger rebel groups, but there can be little doubt that Khartoum would have been as intransigent and disingenuous on key issues as it was in the Abuja negotiations that produced the disastrous 2006 “Darfur Peace Agreement.”

Now, however, with no resistance from the international community, Khartoum has begun to implement its new strategy. As The Sudan Tribune reported on August 27, 2010:

“Chairman of AU Panel on Sudan, Thabo Mbeki, Joint Special Representative (JSR) of the AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Ibrahim Gambari, US Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration met Thursday with Presidential Adviser, Ghazi Salah Eddin Attabani to discuss government’s new strategy to end Darfur conflict through development and resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). ‘We strongly support this strategy to resolve the conflict in Darfur,’ said Mbeki in statements to reporters following the meeting.”

U.S. SUPPORT FOR “NEW STRATEGY”

Acquiescing in, indeed “strongly supporting” a “strategy” so transparently threatening to vulnerable Darfuris is consistent with US policy, which has recently been determined by Obama’s disastrously incompetent envoy Scott Gration, who is reported to be pushing heavily to be named ambassador to Kenya. Obama himself has sought to stay above the debate within his administration over Sudan policy, but given his close relationship with Gration and his acceptance of his policies, the President ultimately bears great responsibility for what unfolds in Sudan in the coming months. We catch a glimpse of the Obama administration in action in the wake of a “contentious principals-level meeting at the White House [in the first week of August], in which Gration clashed openly with US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice over the direction of Sudan policy”:

“At the meeting, Rice was said to be ‘furious’ when Gration proposed a plan that makes the January referendum a priority, deemphasizes the ongoing crisis in Darfur, and is devoid of any additional pressures on the government in Khartoum. According to multiple sources briefed on the meeting, Gration’s plan was endorsed by almost all the other participants, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and will now go to the president for his approval.” (Foreign Policy on-line, August 13, 2010, at http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/p... )

This US “de-emphasis” on Darfur policy is a signal to Khartoum to accelerate its “New Strategy” for the region, and the policy implications of the US shift should be clearly understood by all. The regime’s buzzword in the document (“Darfur: Towards New Strategy to Achieve Comprehensive Peace, Security and Development”) is “development,” which occurs again and again. The clear expectation is that the international community will support this shift in emphasis from humanitarian relief: “The government expects UNAMID and other partners to play decisive role in this anticipated shifting from relief to development.” And while it is certainly the case that Darfur has remained almost totally undeveloped during the twenty-one years of National Islamic Front/National Congress party rule—indeed for virtually all the 20th century—the regime’s idea of what constitutes “development” requires substantial glossing. What this word really signifies, in the multiple contexts in which it appears, is unmistakable: “It is a top priority for the government to re-direct the humanitarian efforts towards rehabilitation and shifting from depending on the relief to development and self-reliance.” Translation: international humanitarian organizations must leave, Darfuris must return to their villages and become “self-reliant,” and the regime will take on all security responsibilities, leaving only a short-term role for UNAMID. “Rehabilitation” and “development” are also the pretext for Khartoum’s dismantling of IDP camps, with Kalma first on the hit-list.

IMPLEMENTING THE “NEW STRATEGY”

Indeed, while acknowledging in one breath that the humanitarian “crisis” in Darfur could deepen, the regime declares that it is “important to continue efforts and direct the humanitarian activity towards resettlement of war-affected persons.” Such “resettlement” is the complement to “development” and means the return of all IDPs to their villages or to new camps, which in nearly all cases have yet to be constructed. Such resettlement will inevitably be forcefully or violently implemented, as Kalma clearly reveals.

There some 90,000 IDPs were confronted with violence from within and without that worked to disperse tens of thousands. Using a conservative UN World Food Program (WFP) registration figure of 82,000, the retiring UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian affairs, John Holmes, very recently estimated that “some 15,000 [Kalma residents] seemed to have fled to Nyala town and another 10,000 to surrounding areas, including nearby Bileil camp.” According to Holmes, in his August 23 briefing of the UN Security Council on the events, both Kalma and Bileil were denied all humanitarian access from August 2 through August 18, with the exception of one brief assessment and delivery mission on August 16 (with characteristic mendacity, Khartoum repeatedly and shamelessly denied such denial of access). Access appears to remain open for the moment, but this may prove short-lived—merely an expedient concession given Security Council attention to the matter.

As context for his remarks on Kalma, Holmes notes that, “the humanitarian situation in Darfur has been steadily deteriorating again this year….” He also notes that “access restrictions, in the form of denial in practice of permission for humanitarian actors to travel, still prevail in Eastern Jebel Marra,” where more than 100,000 civilians have been denied all humanitarian relief since February; he might have added that many other places in need are or have been denied access by Khartoum.

[For a recent comprehensive overview of issues of humanitarian access, the blockade of Kalma, and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law throughout Darfur and Sudan as a whole, see “Sudan Human Rights Monitor, June – July 2010,” from the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, at http://www.acjps.org/home.html ]

Holmes notes the expulsion of key leadership staff from the (intergovernmental) International Organization for Migration (IOM)—an act that compromises the effort to distribute non-food items (NFI—tents, tarpaulins, jerry cans, soap, mosquito nets, medicine). IOM took over the NFI “common pipeline” for humanitarian organizations in Darfur after another humanitarian organization, CARE/US, was expelled in March 2009—along with twelve other large international humanitarian organizations representing roughly half the aid capacity in Darfur. IOM would also be one of the key organizations, along with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), undertaking supervision of voluntary returns by displaced persons. But two members of the scrupulously neutral ICRC were also recently expelled from West Darfur, as were the regional heads of the UN High Commission for Refugees and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (the latter for circulating a petition on world hunger). A worker for Danish Church Aid in South Darfur was expelled on August 31, 2010, reportedly charged with urging a newly released aid worker to disclose her mistreatment at the hands of her kidnappers (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS... ).

On the subject of returns, Holmes made several ominous observations:

“[It is] vital that displaced populations are not threatened with violence or otherwise forcibly moved.”

“[The tense situation in Kalma] was further aggravated when local authorities denied NGOs and UN agencies access to the camp for 15 day after August 1, amid suggestions that they want to get rid of the camp altogether.”

“[T]he situation remains tense and fragile, and there is still government talk of moving the IDPs out of Kalma and dismantling the camp.”

This is not mere talk: it is part of Khartoum’s new strategy of “accelerating” the return of IDPs. Since 2004 the regime has been eager to return people to their lands and villages, with or without security. Although declaring that the returns will be “voluntary” and “sustainable,” there is no evidence that it has any scruples on the matter of how civilians are removed from the camps in the absence of international observation. Again, the IOM and the ICRC—two organizations recently targeted by expulsions of senior officials on the ground—provide the most substantial resources in Darfur for overseeing returns and ensuring that all comply with international humanitarian law.

THE CRISIS IN KALMA CAMP

“Government talk” of “moving the IDPs out of Kalma and dismantling the camp” is precisely what is being threatened implicitly in the “New Strategy,” if one reads with any care. And Abdel Hamid Musa Kasha, governor of South Darfur, has been the regime’s brutally frank spokesperson on the issue (Kalma and Beleil are very close to Nyala, the capital of South Darfur). Two days after Holmes briefed the Security Council, a press release by the Khartoum regime (from its embassy in Washington, DC) declared:

“The governor of south Darfur state, Abdulhamid Musa Kasha, has said that the government is determined to bring Kalma IDP camp under control as from Tuesday [August 24, 2010]. Speaking after talks with UNAMID, Kasha said the government will consider the camp a hostile military base if the government forces faced any resistance within the camp.” (August 25, 2010, at http://www.sudanembassy.org/index.p... )

The message to UNAMID is clear: control Kalma completely, and turn that control over to our police, armed forces, and Military Intelligence, or you will be viewed as obstructing security. Indeed, on the same day as the Washington, DC press release, Sudan Vision—the regime’s regular propaganda outlet, but often used to send signals to Western capitals and the UN—went further in expressing Khartoum’s outright hostility to UNAMID:

“South Darfur Governor Dr. Abdul Hamid Musa Kasha accused UNAMID as attempting to escalate Kalma IDPs camp incidents and [of] discouraging the IDPs to implement the steps the government is going to take in the state in dealing with the issue. Kasha during his meeting with UNAMID personnel working in South Darfur State that the government has information about weapons entering the camp; [in addition,] one of the UNAMID elements is discouraging the IDPs not to respond to the government call for transferring the camp into safer area.”

“Kasha declared that the South Darfur government will be permanent in the camp to bring about control and protect the innocent IDPs, affirming that they will not allow for the incidents of Kalma IDPs camp to repeat themselves. He affirmed that he, in his capacity as governor, will make regular visits to the camp.” (Sudan Vision, August 25, 2010; official translation lightly edited for clarity—ER)

The Khartoum police and military forces have never been able to enter Kalma camp, and Governor Kasha is clearly threatening UNAMID as a way to end this state of affairs. His threat comes in the immediate wake of USG Holmes’ insistence that it is “vital that displaced populations are not threatened with violence.” But any entrance by armed elements of the regime will precipitate precisely such violence, as was the case when in August 2008 Khartoum’s forces attempted a breach of Kalma and killed at least 32 civilians, and wounded many more, before retreating. On August 17, 2010 the Human Rights and Advocacy Network for Democracy (HAND) reported on a “military build-up and mobilization of government security forces around the major IDP camps,” as well as heavy arming of certain elements within the camps (http://www.hand-sudan.org/index.php... ).

[HAND is a highly informed Darfuri advocacy consortium established in February 2010, self-described as “a network of grassroots organizations, managed by and for Darfuris and operating in Darfur proper.” With many contacts on the ground in Darfur, HAND has reported a much greater flight from Kalma than USG Holmes, and uses a much higher total for the camp population (as does Reuters newswire): 100,000 IDPs. HAND also offers the most informed and perspicuous account of the political violence in both Kalma and Hamidiya camps, at http://www.hand-sudan.org/index.php... ]

The stakes are extremely high here, not only for the displaced persons in Kalma, but for the integrity of UNAMID’s mission. Earlier in August, President al-Bashir went so far as to threaten openly the expulsion of UNAMID, along with humanitarian organizations:

“‘Any aid group or UN or AU agency, even UNAMID—their mandate is to support government authorities, [al-Bashir] told a gathering of Darfur leaders in Khartoum Saturday [August 7, 2010]. ‘I tell my brothers the governors of Darfur that anyone who exceeds these boundaries or their mandate can be expelled the same day.’”

"‘No one has the right to prevent the government from doing its job to protect civilians,’ he said. ‘The (Darfur) camps are Sudanese territory under Sudanese authority and there is no authority in this world which can stop the government from ... prosecuting criminals who break the law.’” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], August 7, 2010)

There can be no doubt that Governor Kasha is acting under explicit instructions from Khartoum, and that his pronouncements are not simply officially sanctioned but reflections of regime policy. This will be decisive in any disposition of the case of six IPD leaders from Kalma camp who have sought sanctuary with the UNAMID policing center at Kalma. Khartoum demands that these IDPs, associated with the Abdel Wahid el-Nur rebel faction (SLA/AW), be turned over to its security forces (backers of SLA/AW oppose participation in the Doha peace process and appear to be primarily responsible for the violence at Kalma and camps near Zalingei, West Darfur, including Hamidiya camp). So far, UNAMID has resisted and taken its lead from UN headquarters in New York, which has demanded that Khartoum “[bring the six IDPs] to trial in accordance with international standards of justice,” and with “fairness and due process of law” (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.ph... ). But Ibrahim Gambari, the UN/African Union Joint Special Representative to UNAMID, is an unprincipled and expedient diplomat who specializes in accommodating tyrannical regimes (see my analysis of Gambari’s career, and his actions at Kalma— http://www.dissentmagazine.org/atw.... ).

Given Khartoum’s insistence in the matter, it seems only a matter of time before some justification is contrived to release the six to what will surely be extrajudicial treatment, including torture, imprisonment without charge, and perhaps execution.

Moreover, Gambari has put himself squarely in support of the regime’s threatening new emphasis on “development,” even going so far as to move UNAMID away from its key civilian protection mandate (recently underscored by the UN Security Council) in support of such “development” efforts. In response to Khartoum’s new “Strategy for Darfur,” Gambari express his “satisfaction”:

“The [Joint Special Representative] also emphasized UNAMID’s commitment to support early recovery and development in the region. ‘UNAMID will be supporting recovery programs in close consultation and coordination with the UN Country Team,’ Professor Gambari remarked.” (UNAMID press release [el-Fasher], August 26, 2010)

Again, UN Security Council Resolution 1935 (July 30, 2010), extending the mandate for UNAMID, stressed the importance of “giving priority in decisions about the use of available capacity and resources to Angel the protection of civilians across Darfur, and Beer ensuring safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access, the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and humanitarian activities.”

Not only is UNAMID incapable of fulfilling these fundamental obligations, there is real danger that any pursuit of “development” projects will be perceived not as a legitimate role for the peacekeeping force but as an extension of regime plans in Darfur:

“Reuters quoted unnamed Western diplomats [July 30, 2010] at the world body as saying that the force should put those goals ahead of reconstruction projects or a direct role in attempts to negotiate a political settlement, which they said UNAMID had been straying into and which Sudan’s government favoured. Many observers, aid groups, and rebels have stepped up their criticism of UNAMID saying it is not performing efficiently to fulfill its mandate which some have called as ‘weak.’”

“Aid group Oxfam agreed with the Security Council that UNAMID should focus on security and stay out of reconstruction. ‘Mixing the work of blue helmets (peacekeepers) with aid groups will confuse Darfuris,’ El Fateh Osman, Oxfam’s country director in Sudan, said in a statement.” (Sudan Tribune, July 31, 2010)

Other aid organizations have expressed deep concerns about the wisdom of mixing peacekeeping and development work, blurring the lines between military and humanitarian roles, and in the process making aid workers ever more vulnerable to assault, particularly given the high level of Darfuri animosity towards UNAMID.

And yet JSR Gambari continues to do precisely the regime’s bidding. Indeed, concerning the six IPD representative currently in UNAMID custody, the Khartoum daily al-Sahafa reported on August 12, 2010 that, “Gambari reassured the Sudanese officials during a meeting with the deputy governor of South Darfur state Abdel Karim Moussa, saying the hand over of the six IDPs delegates is only a matter of time and urged them to complete the requested procedures in order to achieve the process to the satisfaction of all parties” (The Sudan Tribune, August 12, 2010).

This is a ghastly reprise of Gambari’s performance in Burma in dealing with the brutal military junta (see http://www.tnr.com/article/world/gu... ).

A CLIMATE OF INTIMIDATION FOR HUMANITARIANS AND UNAMID

Too few are willing to state publicly the implications of Khartoum’s policies, longstanding or as part of the “New Strategy.” Human Rights Watch is a notable exception in its July 19, 2010 report, “New Deaths, Others Abuses Underscore Need for Better Access, Improved Security”:

“‘While international attention has focused on the Sudanese elections and the referendum on Southern Sudan, Darfur remains in shambles,’ said Rona Peligal, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. ‘The new fighting and rights abuses across Darfur show clearly that the war is far from over and that the UN needs to do more to protect civilians.’” (http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/07/... )?

To those convinced by Khartoum’s propaganda or shallow analyses that the war is over, Human Rights Watch declares:

“Government soldiers and allied militias targeted civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law, during clashes with rebel groups in the Jebel Mun and Jebel Mara areas of Darfur, which continued through June in some locations. Witnesses and victims of attacks reported to Human Rights Watch that government forces killed and raped civilians, destroyed homes, and bombed water supplies, forcing the displacement of thousands of civilians. The attacks included government aerial bombing in and around Jebel Mun in late April and early May. Accounts from witnesses suggest the bombs were directed at places near water where civilians gathered. In one incident on April 29, bombs reportedly killed nine civilians in Girgigirgi, a village 15 kilometers east of Jebel Mun.” [ ]

“‘Hundreds of civilians are dying, and peacekeepers in many cases aren’t even able to reach the populations at risk,’ Peligal said. ‘The Sudanese government needs to end attacks on civilians and take immediate steps to improve the peacekeepers’ access to affected areas. The peacekeepers should make access to these areas a top priority.’”

But access is precisely what Khartoum is denying, both to humanitarians and UNAMID. It does so by intimidation, threats, bureaucratic obstruction, contrived “security issues,” and a range of other means. The denial of humanitarian access is particularly consequential, especially for the populous eastern Jebel Marra, but many other areas as well. It is also increasingly consequential for the civilians caught up in deadly violence between Arab tribal groups. There have been numerous reports of fighting in recent months, particularly between Rizeigat and Misseriya elements in both West Darfur and South Darfur, particularly in the Kass area. In a grim irony, much of the fighting is over land abandoned earlier in the genocide by targeted African ethnic groups. Moreover, the typically camel-herding (aballa) Rizeigat are the Arab tribal group from which Khartoum drew most heavily in recruiting the Janjaweed militias.

[For a brief but excellent discussion of the issue of ethnic identity in Darfur, by true experts on the subject, see Sean O’Fahey and Jerome Tubiana, “Darfur: Historical and Contemporary Aspects,” pages 5 – 7, www.smi.uib.no/darfur/A%20DA... ]

Not only is Khartoum denying both aid organizations and UNAMID access to critical locations, it is expressing an increasingly hostile attitude towards both peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. On July 31, 2010 Khartoum announced that it would monitor all travel by UNAMID and humiliate UNAMID personnel by searching all their bags at airports in Darfur:

“Senior information ministry official Rabie Abdelati accused UNAMID on Saturday [July 31, 2010] of failing to halt the violence in the camps and harbouring instigators of the fighting, and said the force must in future inform the government of all travel plans. ‘UNAMID has not done its job at all—there was shooting, burning, people died and all they did was watch,’ Abdelati told Reuters.”

“He was in South Darfur this week when the fighting between refugee groups broke out. ‘The governor of South Darfur told UNAMID they should either do their job (in Kalma refugee camp) or get out and let the government take over,’ he said. UNAMID staff will have their bags searched at the airport and they will have to inform the government before moving on roads even within South Darfur’s capital Nyala, he said.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], July 31, 2010)

For many months UNAMID personnel have been abused, arrested, and confronted with bureaucratic obstructionism, often resulting in the delay of travel visas and timely deployment of soldiers and equipment. Intimidation is pervasive and can take deadly form. The most recent report from the UN Secretary-General (July 14, 2010) indicates that “during the current mandate period of July 2009 to July 2010, UNAMID peacekeepers were attacked on 28 occasions, leaving 10 dead and 26 injured.” At least 27 peacekeepers have been killed since UNAMID assumed it role officially on January 1, 2008. Responsibility for these assaults is often difficult to determine, but on a number of occasions the attackers have been identified as Khartoum-allied militia forces and even regular Sudan Armed Forces (http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article2... ). On July 16, 2010 UMAMID was fired upon by regular Sudan Armed Forces, an attack explained by Khartoum as the result of a “misunderstanding.” A number of UNAMID personnel have also been abducted. So far, Khartoum has convicted none of the very few who have been apprehended in connection with any of these actions against a UN-authorized peace support operation.

The abuse, intimidation, threatening, and obstruction of humanitarian organizations is even worse than that confronting UNAMID (I detail Khartoum’s actions and their effect in curtailing humanitarian relief efforts at http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article2... ). In the wake of Khartoum’s March 2009 expulsion of thirteen of the world’s finest international relief organizations (on absurd charges of espionage), this further attenuation of humanitarian reach is proving disastrous, even as Darfur becomes increasingly invisible. As a well-placed UN official declared last spring of humanitarian capacity, access, and reporting:

“Overall, the quality of aid provision dropped precipitously [following the expulsions]; this is unquestionable. The drop in regular presence (and therefore some measure of security) and monitoring and evaluation have had serious implications for the most vulnerable and […] the wider community, as levels of assistance would necessarily be held static due to an inability to ensure effective coverage. Not seen, not heard, not helped, therefore not recorded.” (email received June 1, 2010)

Over the past three months, as we have moved deeper into the rainy season and hunger gap, such shortcomings are all the more telling—and reporting, “recording,” of humanitarian shortfalls and their human consequences is also deteriorating. For one of the most consequential effects of the March 2009 expulsions has been the silencing of those humanitarian organizations that remain in Darfur. Data and reports no longer appear, or appear only sporadically and incompletely; the UN’s “Darfur Humanitarian Profiles” no longer appear at all; and such reports as do appear are not timely. UN agencies, which should be more open in revealing the conditions of Darfuri IDPs and distressed rural populations, are generally silent. The last UN World Food Program report on food security in Darfur was February 5, 2010 (the “UN Sudan Information Gateway” website is scandalously out of date—e.g., the most recent entry under “Health” is June 12, 2008 (http://www.unsudanig.org/sector/ind... ).

The same absence of observation and investigation that Human Rights Watch reports for security and human rights issues in Darfur affects reporting by aid workers and organizations, as well as UN agencies:

“The [humanitarian] expulsions, combined with access restrictions, have created an information vacuum about the security and human rights situation in Darfur. Although Human Rights Watch has documented attacks that occurred months ago, the UN has yet to report publicly about them.”

The same “information vacuum” exists for humanitarian conditions.

HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS IN DARFUR, LATE AUGUST 2010

The lack of humanitarian access can be only partially quantified. In his most recent report to the UN Security Council on UNAMID (July 14, 2010), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that “over 250,000 intended beneficiaries were not reached [in May 2010] owing to insecurity,” much of this insecurity of course contrived by Khartoum. But even this huge number understates significantly the number of civilian populations whose needs are considerable but who have remained unassessed for lack of access (again, a key issue in Eastern Jebel Marra and Jebel Mun).

•Health

We are not wholly without information, though there is very little contextualizing and not nearly enough discussion of the implications of various data. The UN World Health Organization recently reported data from a number of surveys, and these included the disease Incidence Rate (IR) per 10,000 of population (though WHO fails to distinguish between children under five and the rest of the population; see http://search.who.int/search?ie=utf... ). The three most serious causes of morbidity were Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI), Bloody Diarrhea (BD), and Clinical Malaria (MAL), through Week 27 of 2010. The figures for South and West Darfur are especially alarming for Week 27: the IR for ARI is 23.8 (it was 11.8 in Week 24). In West Darfur the IR for ARI is 27.3. Bloody Diarrhea appears to be steadily increasing in West Darfur, with a Week 27 incidence rate of 8.5 (the same figure as for Clinical Malaria). There are many fluctuations, particularly in North Darfur, but the general pattern is one of increased morbidity from the three most threatening diseases in Darfur.

Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) is one of the world’s leading killers of children under five. Worldwide, two million children die from ARI every year (some estimates are much higher), and ARI may account for as much as one-quarter of all under-five mortality (http://www.harpnet.org/focus/ari.html ). We also know that ARI is made much more deadly among malnourished children, which is why the current high IR is extremely worrying. Many of these children will die if the malnutrition rates are as high as predicted months ago by WFP and more recently by the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS Net, at http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWFiles... ). Secondary infection also increases mortality rates for ARI. There is much to be concerned about, but no reliable data on global mortality or mortality rates are currently available from the UN or International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs).

Much of what we know about the health concerns in Darfur takes the form of anecdotal accounts by Darfuri diaspora news reports, especially Radio Dabanga and the Human Rights and Advocacy Network for Democracy (HAND). But we do know a good deal about Kalma, a crisis that forced the UN to be explicit about health concerns, including water-borne diseases and mosquito-borne malaria—concerns that we know exist in other inaccessible or underserved camps and rural areas:

“According to Samuel Hendricks, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Darfur, NGOs running clinics in Kalma reported that drugs available are sufficient to cover needs for the next 4 to 6 weeks. ‘The last food distribution would have been at the beginning of July. Blanket feeding for children under five was scheduled to start at the beginning of August, and general food distribution this week, but it has all been prevented by lack of access to the settlement,’ Hendricks told IRIN.”

“One NGO which had received an additional shipment of Plumpy’nut [a critical therapeutic feeding supplement for very young children] had not been able to deliver it to the camp because of lack of access, but nutritional supplies are reported to be sufficient for six weeks. When 11 [sic] NGOs were expelled from Darfur in March 2009, Kalma residents went for three months without any food distribution. Only five NGOs remained in Kalma until the latest ban.” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [IRIN] [dateline: Nairobi], August 12, 2010)

Radio Dabanga, an increasingly important source of news reports from Darfur, emphasized the threat of malaria:

“The risk of a malaria outbreak is high. Today the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) stated that ‘heavy rains, stagnant water, and the lack of shelters and mosquito nets have added to growing concerns of a likely outbreak of infectious diseases, especially malaria’ in Kalma.” (August 12, 2010)

Elsewhere in Darfur, Radio Dabanga reports:

[1] “There are shortages of medical supplies reported in a local hospital in Gereida and in other administrative units of South Darfur. The hospital faces an acute shortage of staff assistants, lacks a refrigerator for blood stocks, and lacks rooms for women and children. The departments for ultrasound radiology serve a population of 300 thousand people, the local medical director acknowledged. Speaking from Gereida, Dr. Hafez Nur Al Din said that there is a severe shortage of wards, particularly for women and children. He said that there is no ambulance, pointing out that many patients arrive at the hospital by animals (donkeys and horses).” (July 13, 2010)

[2] “Stocks of life-saving drugs and emergency supplies have run out at El Fasher Hospital in North Darfur. This development has increased the suffering of patients, a source told Radio Dabanga from the town, explaining that the hospital did not receive the expected delivery of special medical supplies or life-saving medicines.” (July 7, 2010)

[3] The relationship between malnutrition and disease is captured in the following dispatch:

“Humanitarian officials discovered hundreds of cases of malnutrition among children of Kalma Camp in southern Darfur. They are monitoring 600 cases of malnutrition among the internally displaced people (IDPs) who inhabit the camp, a camp leader said on Friday, citing a survey conducted by ActionAid, one of the aid organizations working at the camp. A sheikh from the camp told Radio Dabanga that major shortages of food have led to outbreaks of disease. He predicted a higher incidence of malnutrition if organizations do not intervene to solve the food crisis in Kalma.”

“In another development, people in Kereinek Camp in the state of West Darfur suffer from an outbreak of diarrhea, as well as an acute crisis in access to water. One of the displaced persons at Kereinek Camp told Radio Dabanga that the IDP camp suffers most from the water shortage and diarrhea outbreak. He said that they form long lines to wait for water and he appealed to aid organizations to provide water for the displaced and send teams to address the medical cause of the diarrhea outbreak.” (July 8, 2010)

[4] “Typhoid broke out in Rahid El Barda, South Darfur. According to Dr. Al Sadig Muhammad Ali, medical director of the locality, the outbreak has an estimated incidence of about 60%. He appealed to citizens in Rahid El Barda to wash their hands with soap three times after each meal and not to defecate in the open. He also called upon all workers in the restaurants to have a medical examination.” (August 27, 2010)

Mental illness is very rarely discussed, even as the effects of more than six years of genocidal conflict have left civilians suffering from a wide range of severe mental disorders, particularly the tens of thousands of girls and women who have been victims of rape. In a carefully researched May 2009 report, Physicians for Human Rights chronicled in soul-destroying detail some of the devastation among Darfuri refugee girls and women in eastern Chad:

“Researchers asked women to rate their physical and mental health status in Darfur and now in Chad on a 1-5 scale with 1 being ‘very good’ and 5 being ‘poor.’ Women reported a marked deterioration in their physical health status since leaving Darfur, with an average ranking of 3.99 for health in Chad versus 2.06 for Darfur.” (http://darfuriwomen.phrblog.org/now... )

“The study indicated a marked deterioration in self-reported mental health, where the average score in Chad was 4.90. ‘I am sad every day (since leaving Darfur). I feel not well in my skin,’ explained one respondent. [ ] Women who experienced rape (confirmed or highly probable) were three times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than were women who did not report sexual violence.” (page 5)

Mental illness and particularly the trauma associated with rape and sexual violence are now a completely taboo subject among international humanitarians working in Darfur itself. It remains for Darfuris to report, however unsystematically, on these terrible realities:

“Sixty-seven (67) people in Abu Nabag refugee camp in eastern Chad suffer from mental disorders because of their suffering from the war in Darfur, according to an activist in the camp. There are also cases of diseases of the eye, heart, paralysis and sudden death. The source said that the incidences of the mentioned diseases are increasing and there is no treatment. She called for donations of the necessary treatment and pharmaceuticals.” (Radio Dabanga, August 23, 2010)

•Clean Water:

We have remarkably little data or reporting on the water supplies in Darfur, and its quality. Ban Ki-moon noted in his July 14 report on UNAMID only that:

"The scarcity of water in Darfur is growing, with reports of a significant number of wells drying up. The quality of service delivery has decreased owing to [Khartoum’s] expulsion in March 2009 of organizing specializing in water, sanitation, and hygiene [WASH].”

But the problems are much larger than Ban admits here (see my lengthy analysis of the water crisis in Darfur at http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article2... ). Certainly going back as far as January of this year we had clear warning signs, and indeed earlier in the form of detailed analyses by INGOs. But Khartoum’s actions have prevented a timely response to issues that have been squarely before us for many months:

“Refugees in parts of Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region are desperately short of food and water due to a lack of rain, and problems have been exacerbated in at least one area by Khartoum’s expulsion of aid groups, officials said on Thursday [January 28, 2010]. UN officers told Reuters the remote western region only received ‘a fraction’ of the rainfall of previous years and aid groups were planning to step up efforts to reach millions of people displaced by seven years of conflict.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], January 28, 2010)

In turn, the implications of water shortages for food and conflict must also be highlighted:

“‘Due to low levels of rainfall last year, state authorities and the humanitarian community expect significant food shortages in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps in 2010, increasing the possibility of further conflict,’ read a statement from Darfur’s joint UN/African Union UNAMID peacekeepers. […] UNAMID said a joint assessment mission with UN agencies had found worrying signs of shortages around the North Darfur settlements of Dar El Salaam and Shangil Tobay and their surrounding displacement camps. ‘IDPs in both regions were found to be in desperate need of food and water,’ it said.”

“Another UN official, who asked not to be named, said the aid group Oxfam [Great Britain] had provided water services in Shangil Tobay before it was expelled last year. ‘That gap has not been properly filled,’ said the official.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], January 28, 2010)

[For the most comprehensive assessments of Darfur’s water crisis, see the October 2007 study by Tearfund, “Darfur: Water Supply in a Vulnerable Environment” and the October 2008 report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP), “Darfur: The Case for Drought Preparedness,” which builds on the Tearfund study (at postconflict.unep.ch/publications/darfur_drought.pdf )]

In the absence of anything approximating the defunct UN “Darfur Humanitarian Profiles,” we simply don’t know enough to characterize the overall water situation in Darfur, even as it is a critical resource in this arid region. The only generalization we may be sure of is that offered by Ban Ki-moon: "The scarcity of water in Darfur is growing, with reports of a significant number of wells drying up.”

•Sanitation

The rainy season poses severe problems for preserving sanitary and hygienic conditions. Not only are the floods from heavy rains at times massively destructive, they contaminate water supplies, increase the likelihood of malaria and water-borne diseases, and require more substantial shelter. Medair (Switzerland), for example, recently reported that Sisi camp in West Darfur had experienced severe flooding in late July:

“the Medair clinic [at Sisi] had collapsed and that many houses had been damaged. The camp is home to 10,500 IDPs (internally displaced persons) who have fled from their original villages due to the ongoing conflict in West Darfur.” [ ]

“Landing in Sisi, the Medair team discovered that 98 houses in the camp had been badly damaged, and 11 more had been completely washed away.” [ ]

“In addition, the flooding damaged a total of 55 latrines.” (Medair press release, August 26, 2010)

Sisi was fortunate to be a relatively small camp, and to have Medair assistance in rebuilding, repairing the latrines, and restocking the clinic. Many camps and populations are not nearly so fortunate. Latrines in heavy use, damaged by seasonal torrents of rain, and lacking effective maintenance can become deadly magnets for disease.

Even large urban areas are vulnerable:

“A number of houses collapsed and neighborhoods were affected by flooding south of El Fasher. Torrential rains and strong winds also caused direct damage to a number of mosques, schools, health facilities and main streets.” (Radio Dabanga, August 23, 2010)

But the more typical scenario is one we have seen recently at Zam Zam IDP camp, on the outskirts of el-Fasher:

“Heavy rainfall has affected more than 700 families in Zam Zam IDP camp, located on the outskirts of El Fasher, North Darfur. Many households have lost property and food stocks to the flooding, and collapsed latrines pose significant health risks. A UN interagency team is currently planning a mission to reach those in most urgent need.” (Radio Dabanga, August 9, 2010)

Again, many camps and population concentrations have no UN access because of Khartoum’s obstruction. Many are in the position of begging for assistance:

“The residents of Seraf Umra in North Darfur appealed to humanitarian organizations and philanthropists to provide assistance to them after their homes were destroyed by floods and rain, leaving them in the open without shelter. One resident said that the rains and flash floods destroyed their homes and they were resettled by local authorities to another area in Seraf Umra. He added that their situation is very difficult and they urgently need assistance from aid organizations that provide tents, food and treatment to affected populations. The witness was speaking with Radio Dabanga.” (Radio Dabanga, July 28, 2010)

No more recent information about Seraf Umra is available. Radio Dabanga is our only source for much of what is occurring this rainy season:

“In the North Darfur state capital, El Fasher, there is a proliferation of flies and insects after torrential rains left pools of stagnant, polluted water in the city. There are now more cases of diarrhea, especially among children, said a source at the hospital in El Fasher. He said on Friday [July 16, 2010] that the hospital received dozens of sick children during the past two days.”

“The rains washed away more than 125 houses in Zalingei camp [West Darfur] for displaced people. The rains also swept away boxes full of supplies at camps Abu Shouk and As Salaam camps outside El Fasher. In camps in South Darfur the rain caused disruptions at hospitals and schools. At Kalma camp, Gereida and a number of neighborhoods around Nyala there was damage to homes and parts of the camps washed away. IDPs at a number of camps called on concerned authorities to immediately intervene to improve the humanitarian situation in the camps, warning of catastrophe.” (July 19, 2010)

“IDPs of camp Attash [South Darfur] accused the government of negligence towards them since the onset of the rainy season. They said that the rains have worsened the rising commodity prices. The displaced also said to Radio Dabanga in the camp that UNHCR had not distributed mosquito nets to the displaced this year. A source described the situation in the camp as bad and said that food rations provided by the UN have shrunk to less than half.” (August 29, 2010)

Conditions in Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad are no better:

“In eastern Chad, the rain on Thursday [July 14, 2010] destroyed more than 200 houses at Camp Djebel for Sudanese refugees. One refugee from the camp said that the rains destroyed food and people are forced to flee to higher ground. The refugee appealed to aid organizations to accelerate the provision of sheeting and improve drainage of stagnant water, otherwise there will be an outbreak of diseases.”

“Heavy rains that lasted for two days last week demolished tens of homes at Camp Abu Nabag for Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad. The damage left scores living in the open and cut off roads leading to the camp. The refugees appealed to aid organizations to move quickly to rescue tens of victims in the camp. They said on Radio Dabanga that disease and epidemics began to spread inside the camp.” (August 30, 2010)

•Malnutrition

We continue to lack timely, global data for malnutrition in Darfur, even as a UN spokesman for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) promised during an August 12, 2010 news stakeout that:

“A limited amount of malnutrition data for Darfur has been verified, which will be available in the next 1-2 days. Remaining data is still in the process of verification and will be released once verification is complete.”

These data have not been released, certainly don’t appear on the UN World Food Program website, and turn up in no obvious humanitarian website related to Darfur. Where are these data? Where are the reports that should accompany and interpret the data for the broader humanitarian community? What is entailed in the “process of verification”? What role does Khartoum play in the timing and promulgation of malnutrition data, a subject on which they are known to have proved acutely sensitive in the past, resulting in the delay of critical, time-sensitive information? OCHA won’t say, precisely for fear of offending the regime.

What we do know is that there are far too many accounts of the sort again reported by Radio Dabanga:??“Displaced persons of camp Um Tajouk in the state of West Darfur said that the United Nations’ World Food Programme is shirking from keeping its word about responding to disasters facing the displaced persons. They said that the food at the camp is running out and said they were expecting to receive shelters, this being the onset of the rainy season, but the WFP did not do anything. They said that this is especially a pressing need for those who fled recently from their homes due to violence between the Misseriya and Rizeigat tribes.” (July 13, 2010)

From this anecdotal account it may be useful to return to the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS Net) and its estimates for the third quarter of the year in Darfur (July through September): all of North Darfur and parts of South Darfur and West Darfur are predicted to be “highly food insecure”; other areas in Darfur will be “moderately food insecure” (http://www.fews.net/pages/country.a... ). Here we should bear in mind that at the time of the FEWS Net prediction, there were “over five million food insecure people. Of this population, four million are located in the Darfur region….” In the absence of any indication to the contrary from data, from reports or assessments, or indeed from any source, we are obliged to accept that “food security conditions in Northern Sudan are likely to deteriorate during July to September, the peak lean season….”

So what do these general terms mean? “Moderately food insecure”? “Highly food insecure”? The FEWS Net analysis is explicit in its terminology:

“Moderately food insecure”: “levels of acute malnutrition are above those of a healthy population. Dietary quality is poorer than usual. Levels of acute malnutrition are stable, at or below typical seasonal average—or—in the absence of historical data, GAM<10% — CMR ‹ 0.5 U5MR ‹ =1.” [I.e., the Global Acute Malnutrition rate is under 10 percent; the Crude Mortality Rate is less than 0.5 deaths per day per population of 10,000, and under 1.0 deaths per day for children under five years]

The conditions described here are threatening and point the way to a situation in which people may become “highly food insecure”—again the predicted condition now for all of North Darfur and large sections of South and West Darfur:??“Highly food insecure”: “the prevalence of acute malnutrition is increasing unseasonably—or—is above the typical seasonal average—or—in the absence of historical data GAM is >10%, CMR 0.5 – 1 [and] increasing; U5MR 1 – 2.” [I.e., the Global Acute Malnutrition rate is above 10 percent, the Crude Mortality Rate is 0.5 to 1.0 deaths per day (Darfur’s “normal” CMR is, according to UNICEF, 0.3), and the Crude Mortality Rate for children under five years is 1.0 – 2.0]

[Notably, UNICEF’s “Nutrition: Summary Issue No. 23” (covering October 2009 – January 2010, at http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf... ) found that Global Acute Malnutrition rates for six out seven surveys released during this period reported GAM above 15 percent, generally regarded as the threshold for a “humanitarian emergency.” Alarmingly, this was true regardless of whether the data collection occurred during or after the hunger gap. Otash camp in South Darfur reported a GAM of almost 20 percent.]

If half Darfur’s food-insecure population of 4 million is indeed living in conditions that are “highly food insecure,” and if we assume a very approximate mid-point for the Crude Mortality Rate for both adults and children under five of 1.0—and thus 0.7 in excess of normal CMR—then mortality from malnutrition is 140 persons per day.

If these assumptions are correct, approximately 140 people in Darfur are dying every day from malnutrition (and this excludes excess mortality from the populations that are “moderately food insecure”). Thousands have died and many more thousands will die.

What other data do we have on food insecurity and malnutrition? There is substantial evidence of significant inflation in food prices, which can have devastating effects. As FEWS Net warned in a June 16, 2010 brief, “The combination of conflict, drought, high food prices and poor seasonal production was likely to affect food security through September in parts of the volatile region” (UN IRIN [dateline: Nairobi, June 18, 2010]. FEWS Net more specifically noted that “high cereal prices (sorghum/millet) in the north and south [of Sudan] are likely to increasing during April – September 2010. Livestock to cereal terms of trade in the north and south will deteriorate during the lean season [“hunger gap”] due to high cereal prices.” Access to wild foods and the deployment of traditional coping skills are also severely hampered at this time, both by the rains and extremely high levels of insecurity (insecurity also limits seasonal livestock migration as well as access to what cultivation has been managed this planting season).

On top of these trends, the August 20, 2010 USAID “fact sheet” on Sudan notes that,

“The rapid expansion of emergency food aid provision to meet increased requirements in Southern Sudan has decreased resources in other regions of the country, including Darfur. WFP plans to reduce the food aid ration for IDPs in Darfur from 72 to 50 percent of the standard ration of approximately 2,100 calories per day during the July to September lean season—when prices peak and households deplete food stocks—potentially reducing food availability and increasing food prices.”

WFP’s severe reduction of food rations for Darfuri IDPs, to one half the UN’s kilocalorie minimum, has received very little attention, even as it directly threatens many communities and will certainly add significantly to food price inflation. Given the poor harvests of 2009-2010, there is very little that can halt such inflation, and ultimately widespread food shortages.

Certainly the consequences are already being felt. Radio Dabanga reported from el-Fasher, capital of North Darfur, on August 4, 2010:

“Citizens lined up in long lines yesterday in the city of El Fasher in order to get loafs of bread after most of the bakeries shut down as a result of the high price of flour. One of the residents of El Fasher, Mohammed Abdullah, commented that El Fasher traders have hoarded flour, which led to rising prices and the shut-down of most ovens, besides which a convoy of supplies has not reached the state of late, he told Radio Dabanga.”

Several weeks earlier Radio Dabanga had reported from Abu Shouk camp near el-Fasher that,

“People in Abu Shouk camp near El Fasher are suffering from deteriorated conditions after heavy seasonal rains hit the area. They complained of poor sanitary conditions, with severe shortages in food supplies. Delivery of food assistance has been interrupted for three months by the humanitarian organizations, a displaced resident of Abu Shouk camp told Radio Dabanga in an interview aired this morning.” (July13, 2010)

A more global assessment was reported by Radio Dabanga on July 5, 2010:

“A survey conducted by the University of Nyala in selected areas of South Darfur State has found high prices of commodities and food, especially for the displaced and vulnerable. The citizens of Kass Locality were affected by rising prices because of the conflicts in the neighboring areas, which caused most of the inhabitants to flee from the agriculturally productive areas to the outskirts of towns, leaving behind their agricultural and trade activities.”

The prices of beef, lamb, grains (especially millet and white corn), potatoes, onions, and tomatoes have all risen steadily and significantly. This puts increasing pressure on meager household budgets that are already overwhelmingly committed to food purchases. Camp leaders, sheiks and omdas, are inevitably seeking additional food registrations and ration cards, which can serve as an important source of currency. But there is good reason to believe that the complaints from the camps near el-Geneina, capital of West Darfur, speak to real need:

“The internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the camps around El Geneina in West Darfur complained of lack of food provided to them by humanitarian organizations. One of the elders of Ardamata displaced camp said that the share of maize provided to them was reduced from 9 kilograms per individual per month to seven kilograms. The sheikh of another camp, El Hujaj, also complained of a shortage.” (Radio Dabanga, July 8, 2010)

Most recently, Radio Dabanga reported from Abu Shouk camp:

“The refugees in camps in Darfur complained of deteriorating security, health and living conditions in the camps. Zakaria Al Jibril, an activist in Khamsa Degaig Camp near Zalingei said the displaced suffer from lack of food due to the reduction of rations from the World Food Programme. He added that the suffering of displaced persons has increased in the rainy season with the outbreak of diseases and the absence of humanitarian organizations and the spread of flies. At one of the larger camps near El Fasher, Abu Shouk, the displaced have been suffering from a scarcity of food aid, according to resident Fatima Adam Yagoub.” (August 27, 2010)

Reduced humanitarian access and capacity comes on top of continuing waves of newly displaced persons—over 500,000 since UNAMID officially took up its mandate in January 2008. Many tens of thousands have been displaced this year, from the areas around Kass, Mukjar, Eastern Jebel Marra, Nyala, and elsewhere. Attacks on and abductions of aid workers, particularly international workers, are increasing.

AN INCREASINGLY GRIM FUTURE FOR DARFURIS

USG Holmes weakly declared last week that,

“The level of restrictions imposed on humanitarian operations, and of harassment, threats and violence directed at humanitarian personnel, is once again becoming unacceptable. All this renders the civilians we are trying to help even more vulnerable." (Statement of August 23, 2010)

“Once again”? When in the years since 2004 have security and operating conditions for humanitarians ever been “acceptable”? This disingenuousness should be recognized for what it is: a denial of past realities and a current accommodation of Khartoum’s deliberate, ongoing harassment, obstruction, sabotage, and restriction of humanitarian aid, as well as its violent war of attrition against aid workers and peace support personnel. The regime has never abided by the agreements it has signed or committed to, either with humanitarians or with UNAMID. The February 2008 “status of forces agreement” between Khartoum and UNAMID has proved utterly meaningless, and violations have typically been accepted in silence by UN and African Union personnel.

The regime that exports huge quantities of agricultural products for profit (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/w... ), even as the World Food Program reports that a third of all Sudanese children are seriously underweight and malnutrition plagues all the marginalized areas in Sudan, insists in its “New Strategy for Darfur” that it be allowed to assume responsibility for humanitarian and security operations in the region. History has already shown with cruel clarity how Khartoum conceives of “security” for Darfur. As for humanitarian assistance—“[our goal is to] restructure of humanitarian operation in order to shift the focus from relief to development at the long run”—this is little more than a cover for the expulsion of international aid organizations.

For all the reticence of humanitarians and UN political leaders—and despite the shameful silence of those in the West, in Africa, and in the Muslim and Arab worlds—the truth of Darfur’s agony is all too conspicuous. That it remains so largely unspoken is at once testament to the power and evil the rules in Khartoum, and to the selfish and pusillanimous character of the international “community.”

Addendum:

UNAMID currently faces an extraordinary threat in the form of Rwanda’s reaction to a UN investigation and explosive report on the actions of Rwandan military forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The report in its present form argues that these forces may be guilty of genocide, as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Rwandan government has responded strenuously, apparently only recently learning of the report’s existence. Philip Gourevitch, writing in The New Yorker (August 30, 2010) has obtained a copy of an August 3, 2010 letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. The letter concludes:

“We reiterate here what we have already told the High Commissioner; namely that attempts to take action on this report—either through its release or leaks to the media—will force us to withdraw from Rwanda’s various commitments to the United Nations, especially in the area of peacekeeping.”

In his article (“Rwanda Pushes Back Against Genocide Charges”), Gourevitch draws on an interview with Foreign Minister Mushikiwabo:

“[The Rwandan] army today is the chief contributor of troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur—and last month, after Rwanda received the draft report, Kagame met with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, in Madrid, and told him that if the report came out, Rwanda would withdraw from all of its commitments to the UN, starting with Darfur. ‘I was in the meeting,’ Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, told me in Kigali a few weeks ago. Mushikiwabo followed up with Ban by letter, elaborating her government’s complaint and reiterating its threat.”

“In our conversation, she insisted that Rwanda wasn’t bluffing. She described the draft report as a disgrace, methodologically and politically, and she told me, ‘If it is endorsed by the UN and it’s ever published, we used very, very strong words—if the UN releases it as a UN report, the moment it’s released, the next day all our troops are coming home. Not just Darfur, all the five countries where we have police’—she mentioned Haiti, Liberia, and South Sudan—‘everybody’s coming home.’” (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blo... )

Associated Press reports from Kigali on August 31, 2010:

“Rwanda Defence Force spokesman Lt. Col. Jill Rutaremara said Tuesday that the country has finalized a contingency withdrawal plan from Darfur and Southern Sudan if the UN publishes its ‘outrageous and damaging report.’”

UNAMID could not possibly survive the withdrawal of Rwanda troops and personnel, particularly given their high level of training and modern equipment. UNAMID faces—in the very near term—a moment of critical truth. There is good reason to believe Rwanda is not bluffing, and that the trip-wire specified (“either through [the report’s] release or leaks to the media”) has already been crossed.