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July 2011 - Posts

U.S., UN refuse to speak honestly about compelling evidence of genocide in South Kordofan

The cost of this shameful dishonesty may soon be measured in many tens of thousands of Nuba lives, and the final collapse of any international commitment to a "responsibility to protect"

Eric Reeves*

July 19, 2011

Evidence of mass graves in and around Kadugli, South Kordofan is now overwhelming; it includes definitive satellite photography of three large sites and reports by numerous independently interviewed civilians from the region. Evidence also comes from interviews conducted in June by human rights investigators of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS); these findings appear in an internal UN human rights report whose findings have previously been suppressed by UN/New York. They were leaked to me and others, originally by someone who was evidently quite unhappy with UN silence about the deeply disturbing contents of this report. Given the immensity of the atrocity crimes revealed in this extensively documented but still officially unreleased report ("UNMIS Report on the Human Rights Situation During the Violence in Southern Kordofan"), it is imperative that the UN make clear who knew what, and when.

These terrible incidents and the weak UN response in Kadugli have already been likened, rightly, to the ghastly failure of the UN at Srebrenica, where some 7,000 Bosnian men and boys were rounded up in July 1995 by Serbian army and paramilitary units under the command of (recently captured) Ratko Mladic---and executed while Dutch peacekeepers looked on helplessly. Indeed, two days after Srebrenica was overrun by Mladic’s forces, 4,000 - 5,000 Bosniak Muslims were expelled by the Dutch from their base---as Mladic had demanded (some 15,000 - 20,000 additional Bosniak Muslims had sought safety outside the Dutch base). The events of Srebrenica have occasioned much painful self-reflection by the Dutch over the past decade and a half, and a recent decision (July 5, 2011) by a court in The Netherlands ruled that the Dutch government was responsible for several of the deaths. And notably from the standpoint of international law, Major General Radislav Krstic was convicted of the crime of genocide for his role in the Srebrenica massacre. His conviction by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was upheld by an Appeals Chamber review of "Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstic," Case No. IT-98-33-T. This lengthy and superbly argued Appeals Chamber review is a seminal document in international legal interpretation of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and has particular relevance for the situations in South Kordofan and Darfur.

Given the extremely strong evidence of genocide in South Kordofan, and the Khartoum regime’s long history of genocidal assaults on marginalized populations in Sudan, the process of assessing awareness of and response to the UNMIS human rights report needs to begin immediately---for the UN, the US and the Europeans, and the African Union.

In particular, we need to know about the credibility of the skepticism expressed by U.S. special envoy Princeton Lyman and UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos; we need a clear account of what Ban Ki-moon’s secretariat knew and how it responded to reports that made clear atrocities were being committed in Kadugli and elsewhere in South Kordofan from the very beginning of the conflict that Khartoum instigated on June 5. And we also need to know what was seen by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, particularly its Under-secretary Alain Le Roy. And finally, we need to know what U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew when she made her recent remarks about Sudan. We need to know what all these various international actors and parties knew---and when they knew it.

The task is challenging. For example, on June 28, in an interview on the PBS NewsHour, Lyman was asked, "Would you say atrocities are occurring by the North Sudanese forces against civilians there?" Lyman’s evasive and disingenuous answer speaks volumes about his character as a diplomat and the larger U.S. response to events in North Sudan:

"We certainly have reports of that. Because we don’t have a presence there, we haven’t been able to investigate it fully. There are certainly reports of targeted killings. There are some reports from the other side also. What we’ve asked for is a full investigation."

And to the follow-up question ("By whom [should the investigation be conducted]?") Lyman responded:

"Well, by the UN would be the best. The UN presence has not been sufficient to get out and stop this or to investigate it."

Lyman certainly knew when he offered this answer that there would be no UN investigation beyond what was being completed by the human rights personnel attached to UNMIS, which had already been confined to its base and ordered out of South Kordofan by Khartoum the day following the independence of South Sudan on July 9. Saying "the UN presence has not been sufficient to get out and stop this or to investigate it" is merely to state the obvious, not to offer any meaningful reply about how the U.S. will actually respond to the now conspicuous human catastrophe in South Kordofan. I’ll return to the question of whether an international investigation of allegations of genocide could be conducted, with or without UN sanction; but we must bear in mind that any Security Council resolution authorizing such a thorough and unfettered UN investigation will be vetoed by China, which would regard such a precedent with horror, as well as deeply threatening to its relationship with Khartoum.

But the first question is whether or not Lyman knew what UNMIS human rights personnel knew. Was the special envoy to Sudan, representing the President of the United States, unaware of what was being compiled and then assembled at the very end of June in the 20-page UNMIS report? Was he not concerned enough by these extant "reports" to request U.S. satellite surveillance of the Kadugli area? It was precisely such surveillance by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) that revealed three large mass gravesites on July 14, graves dug between June 17, when the earth on this spot was untouched, and July 4, when SSP revealed three conspicuous, capacious, and nearly identical plots of significantly turned earth. Dug in the midst of heavy military activity and following a vast number of summary executions, these mass gravesites have only one plausible explanation. Certainly if the Obama administration is skeptical it may investigate further: the U.S. has much greater satellite capacity than is available to SSP and faces no restrictions on degree of resolution (as SSP does by virtue of U.S. law).

Importantly, nearly all the eyewitness accounts in the UNMIS human rights report have been fully corroborated by subsequent accounts: from news organizations (several from the Nuba Mountains), from Nuba sources, from the Satellite Sentinel Project. (I offered an overview and synthesis of this evidence on July 14). How could Lyman so blithely profess agnosticism about these extremely alarming accounts, especially given Khartoum’s history of genocidal counterinsurgency? SSP reports the presence of irregularly shaped white bags heaped together near the mass gravesites, consistently corresponding to human dimensions. Why hasn’t Lyman requested high-resolution satellite confirmation of what these white bags are? Several eyewitnesses, independently of each other, have confirmed that they are being used for the many corpses that litter Kadugli.

What of the more than 7,000 Nuba people who were forcibly removed from UN protective custody at US headquarters in Kadugli on June 20, and who remain unaccounted for? The UNMIS report confirms what an earlier UNMIS internal situation report (sit rep) had detailed of actions by Khartoum’s Military Intelligence and security services: impersonating Red Crescent personnel, these brutal men compelled the removal of Nuba civilians from the UN protective perimeter (this was reported by Associated Press on June 23). The UNMIS human rights report declares that its authors had "verifieDrinks [the allegation of forcible removal] through multiple interviews of IDPs within the UNMIS Protective Perimeter" (§53). We presently have no knowledge whatsoever of the location of these people. The UNMIS human rights report declares that by 5pm on June 20, "approximately 75 percent of the 11,000 IDPs in the vicinity of the Protective Perimeter had vacated the areas... At the time of this report, there are no IDPs in the UNMIS Protective Perimeter..." (§54). Why aren’t these UN reports sufficient to compel Lyman to ask for U.S. satellite surveillance? Can there be any reasonable doubt about the accuracy of either UN account? Is Lyman not worried that there are potentially thousands of Nuba in the large mass graves identified by SSP?

Perhaps Lyman has a plausible alternative explanation for why, between June 17 and July 4---during heavy military operations---Khartoum’s forces would be moving earth at three side-by-side and parallel sites, of nearly identical dimensions (five meters by twenty-five meters), and of a size large enough to hold many thousands of bodies, depending on the depth of the excavation. But in the absence of such an explanation, and in light of an apparent unwillingness to request U.S. satellite confirmation of what is occurring at this site, he and other Obama administration officials appear inert before the strongest evidence to date of massive ethnically targeted human destruction.

The same questions must be asked of Valerie Amos, head of UN humanitarian operations. On July 15 Amos declared in a prepared statement: "We do not know whether there is any truth to the grave allegations of extra-judicial killings, mass graves and other grave violations in South Kordofan."

"We do not know whether there is any truth to the grave allegations...”? This is preposterous skepticism, and betrays a highly defensive attitude in the face of evidence that makes all too clear that Amos has not made any serious effort to come to terms with the evidence of mass graves and the various atrocity crimes reported by the UN itself. For the UN human rights report, again focusing on the early days of military action when UNMIS still had some mobility, is a savage indictment---one that Amos certainly would not want to acknowledge having known of while saying nothing. Certainly the introduction to the report is quite unambiguous about what the UN had witnessed in the several weeks prior to the compiling of the report:

"Monitoring has also revealed that the Sudan Armed Forces, paramilitary forces and Government security apparatus have engaged in violent and unlawful acts against UNMIS, in violation of International Conventions and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) including: verified incidents of shelling in close proximity to UN property, resulting in damage; summary execution of a UN national staff member; assaults on physical integrity of UN staff; arbitrary arrest and detention of UN Staff and associated human rights violations including ill treatment amounting to torture; harassment, intimidation, and obstruction of freedom of movement; and intrusion on UN premises including the UNMIS Protective Perimeter established to protect civilians internally displaced as a result of the conflict. The international community must hold the Government of Sudan accountable for this conduct and insist that those responsible be arrested and brought to justice."

The ethnic targeting of Nuba is made explicit in the UNMIS human rights report as well:

"Interviews with witnesses and victims reveal that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and security forces have a list of Nubans wanted for being sympathetic to the SPLM/A, which supports the allegation that people in Southern Kordofan were targeted based on ethnicity. Witnesses also mentioned that persons of Nuban descent and ’other dark skinned people’ were being targeted by SAF and Arab militias." (§49)

And those contemplating a possible future UN presence in South Kordofan, including a human rights investigating team, should bear in mind just how UNMIS was treated:

"Throughout the conflict in Southern Kordofan, the SAF, Popular Defence Forces, and the Central Reserve Police Forces have treated UNMIS with gross contempt and a total disregard of its status as a UN body with the privileges and immunities set forth and contained in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Government of Sudan, as well as international conventions on the status of the UN, its staff, and assets, to which Sudan is a signatory. In addition to the killing of one UNMIS independent contractor, the SAF and PDF have intimidated UNMIS staff and subjected them to degrading and inhuman treatment, which has left as many as 45 staff held up in forced imprisonment in the UNMIS Kadugli Team Site, physically debilitated and psychologically traumatized." (§44)

Examples of this gross mistreatment of a UN-authorized force are many:

"On 7 June, an UNMIS truck was stopped at a checkpoint near the UNMIS Sector IV compound. Three of the ten IDPs who had been assisting UNMIS personnel with loading supplies for IDPs were pulled out of the truck and beaten up by SAF personnel. An UNMIS staff member who attempted to intervene was threatened at gunpoint by one of the soldiers who asked him ’do you want to stay or leave.’ The UN personnel drove off with the seven remaining IDPs. The fate of the three IDPs remains unknown." (§61)

"On 16 June, four UNMIS military observers on patrol were detained, interrogated, and subjected to cruel and degrading treatment for two hours. They were intercepted by SAF personnel near the SAF 14th Division Headquarters while en route to Kadugli town to verify reports of mass graves. The military observers were taken to the SAF-JIU 5th Division Headquarters where they were subjected to lengthy interrogation regarding the purpose of their monitoring mission, searched and forced to remove their shirts. A SAF Captain instructed the UNMOs to line up and be killed. He removed the safety of his AK-47, and just as he was about to point the weapon towards the UNMOs, a SAF Major entered the room and ordered him not to shoot [emphasis added]. Immediately following the intervention the officer with the gun shouted ’UNMIS leave Southern Kordofan, if not we will kill you if you come back here.’ The team was released and told not to return back to Kadugli town." (§62)

"On the evening of 22 June, SAF surrounded the UNMIS Team site compound in Kadugli with three heavy artillery gun-mounted vehicles pointed at the compound from three points, including the front gate. This occurred following the arrest and interrogation of six UNMIS national staff early in the day by SAF military intelligence at the Kadugli airport. These developments have left UN national staff, especially those of Nuban descent, in a state of fear, some psychologically traumatized." (§65)

There are other powerful observations made by the UN human rights report:

"With the reinforcement of SAF, Central Reserve Police and militia elements, the security situation deteriorated on 7 June, with indiscriminate shelling of Kadugli town apparently targeting densely civilian-inhabited areas. This led to the secondary displacement of thousands of IDPs who had taken refuge in churches and hospitals to the UNMIS compound where they were sheltered in an area adjacent to the compound that was set up specifically to receive IDPs and provide them security and humanitarian assistance (Protective Perimeter). The SAF took control of the Kadugli airport, including UN assets located at the airport, and closed all civilian air traffic. UNMIS Human Rights received confirmation that SAF, together with militia elements of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF), a paramilitary force established in 1989 to assist SAF in ’defending the nation,’ began going from house to house subjecting residents to identity checks." (§9)

"Eyewitnesses reported to UNMIS Human Rights looting of civilian homes, UN agencies/offices, and humanitarian warehouses, and destruction of property by PDF elements as they fought alongside the SAF. Meanwhile UN Security began the relocation of staff from UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes and INGOs to the UNMIS compound. By the evening Kadugli town, including hospitals, was emptied, as SAF checkpoints were established throughout the town." (§10)

These "checkpoints" have figured prominently in the accounts of many Nuba over the past six weeks; their clear purpose is to capture or execute all Nuba, claiming that they have "Southern sympathies." The looting and destruction of humanitarian warehouses has been repeatedly confirmed: these actions have as their goal the ending of humanitarian assistance to the Nuba Mountains, which are the ultimate focus of this growing campaign of genocide.

It is important to stress that the international response to the concluding recommendation of this human rights report will define any history of the present moment, particularly given the failure in Darfur to give meaning to the doctrine of a "responsibility to protect," a "responsibility" that obtains even when there are claims of national sovereignty:

"The attacks on UNMIS, its staff and assets are so egregious that condemnation is insufficient [emphasis added]. The conduct of the SAF, the PDF, the Central Reserve Police Force, and the Government Police, singularly and collectively, has frustrated and weakened the capacity of the UNMIS to implement in Southern Kordofan a mandate given to it by the UN Security Council. The conduct has also resulted in loss of life and injury of UN staff. The international community must hold the Government of Sudan accountable for its conduct and insist that it arrests and bring to justice those responsible." [emphasis added] (§74)

So, is Amos even remotely credible when she declares, "We do not know whether there is any truth to the grave allegations"? This thoroughly implausible skepticism confronts us again with the question: who within the UN system knew what and when? Is it conceivable that with such serious allegations building over more than three weeks they would not have made their way back to the UN in New York? To the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR)? To Ban Ki-moon’s Secretariat? Obviously the findings were far too sensitive to be released from within Sudan, even in Khartoum, where the UNMIS human rights team is based. This would have immediately imperiled the presence of remaining, if highly constrained UNMIS personnel in South Kordofan. But there was nothing from the UN in New York---not from UNHCHR, not from anyone in the Secretariat, not from the weak and uninspired Haile Menkerios, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative for Sudan…no one said anything. Amos’s silence has been particularly galling, as Julie Flint reports in The Observer today, "causing fury among hard-pressed colleagues on the ground, who have been crying out for much stronger support from the security council, [as Amos] appeared to cast doubt on their reporting" (July 17, 2011).

History is quickly being obscured by those complicit in this cover-up, so let’s recall first what was known earlier in June, and look further at the specific findings of the UNMIS human rights report. On June 17 (one month ago), I published in the Washington Post a number of very specific accounts that had come to me and many others in the two weeks following the start of military activities (June 5). I prefaced these accounts by invoking my February 2004 warning in the Post concerning Darfur, which concluded with a prediction that was borne out with a terrible completeness:

"A credible peace forum [for Darfur] must be rapidly created. Immediate plans for humanitarian intervention should begin. The alternative is to allow tens of thousands of civilians to die in the weeks and months ahead in what will be continuing genocidal destruction."

Reports from the ground in South Kordofan were already numerous and in many respects just as compelling as early reports from Darfur: I referred to "disturbing accounts [that] have emerged of the African people of the Nuba being rounded up in house searches and road checkpoints, and subjected to indiscriminate aerial bombardment," and concluded by arguing that "all signs point to a new genocide." I noted out that such genocidal ambition by Khartoum was in fact not without precedent in the Nuba Mountains; in January 1992 a fatwah was issued in Khartoum, declaring---

"jihad against the peoples of the Nuba (who practice a range of religions, including Islam). Because the Nuba Mountains are not geographically contiguous with South Sudan (with which the area is militarily, politically and culturally allied), its people were largely left to fend for themselves. [The] regime imposed a total blockade of humanitarian assistance from the south. Many starving Nuba were forced into ’peace camps,’ where receiving food was conditional upon conversion to Islam. Some who refused were tortured or mutilated. Khartoum’s decade-long campaign killed and displaced hundreds of thousands."

I also reported the extensive use of aerial military aircraft against civilian and humanitarian targets, a tactic that has a very long history under this regime---in Darfur, South Sudan, the Nuba Mountains throughout the 1990s, and currently in South Kordofan. It was also clear, I insisted, that humanitarian access was extremely limited by Khartoum’s restrictions, its commandeering of the Kadugli air field, and by its relentless bombing of the Kauda airstrip in the Nuba Mountains. And I also noted that "on June 8 [the UNMIS] base was raided by Khartoum’s military intelligence, and the United Nations was effectively disabled."

This was clear more than four weeks ago. Despite Khartoum’s best efforts we have known what was going on, and so has the UN, though it has chosen not to speak out. This is beyond disgrace; and to the argument that silence about large-scale atrocity crimes was justified in New York as a means of keeping a UN presence in South Kordofan, with extremely limited reporting ability soon after hostilities began, I can only shake my head in disgust at such ghastly expedience.

Here it seems appropriate to recall that the initial UN investigation of Khartoum’s military seizure of Abyei (May 20-21) found that these actions were "tantamount to ethnic cleansing"; Ban Ki-moon and his office subsequently ensured that this phrase was excised from the final, public version of the report. This was a morally and intellectually corrupt effort to placate Khartoum, a signature feature of U.S. policy as well, even as it is likely that no decision has done more to produce the present catastrophic situation. I concluded my Post essay by noting that the UN Security Council "demanded" on June 3 that Khartoum immediately withdraw its forces from Abyei:

"The regime scoffed of course---as it has at previous council ’demands,’ including those bearing on Darfur. This is bad news for the people of Abyei and for the prospects of a just and peaceful separation of Sudan’s north and south, which is scheduled for July 9. For the Nuba people, such fecklessness spells catastrophe. Too often with Sudan, empty demands and threats signal to the regime that the world is not serious about halting atrocities. Either the international community gets serious about preventing further violence in Abyei and the adjacent region of South Kordofan, or we will again see [as I argued in February 2004 about Darfur] ’tens of thousands of civilians .?.?. die in the weeks and months ahead in what will be continuing genocidal destruction.’"

A month later, I would change not a word of this. And the UNMIS human rights report bears me out, underscoring as it does that the bombing campaign began in the opening days of the current military and civilian destruction campaign, and has continued throughout:

"On 6 June, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) commenced aerial bombardments and intensified ground assaults on civilian populated areas in Um Dorein and Talodi localities. Many civilians fled the towns taking up refuge in the Nuba Mountains. Civilians wounded by the bombardments flocked to hospitals in Kadugli. Civilian movement was curtailed further east in Heiban and Kauda localities, as SAF and SPLA roadblocks from the north and south prevented residents from leaving the town. In Kadugli town, residents in the largely SPLM-inhabited Kalimo area were warned by both the SAF and the SPLA to evacuate the area. In the late afternoon, SAF heavily bombarded the west of town in Al Messanie which continued until the early morning of the 7 June. Residents in the Kalimo neighborhood reported that the SAF was indiscriminately shelling homes where it suspected SPLA elements were hiding. There were also reports that the SAF was conducting house to house searches and systematically burning houses of suspected SPLM/A supporters." (§8)

In a section devoted to "Aerial bombardments" the UNMIS human rights report makes clear just how constant, destructive, and terrifying this bombing has been:

"Since the eruption of the conflict, the SAF has carried out daily aerial bombardments into the Nuba Mountains and in several towns and villages populated by Nubans [emphasis added]. The consequences of these bombardments on the Nuban people and in particular civilians, including women and children, are devastating. They have resulted in significant loss of life, destruction of properties, and massive displacement [emphasis added]. UNMIS Human Rights has received photographs of mangled and mutilated bodies of civilians, some cut into halves, including women and children." (§39)

"Starting from 5 June, the SAF has conducted daily aerial bombardments in Kadugli, Kauda, Dilling, Talodi, Um Dorein and other parts of the State populated by Nubans including Heiban, Kauda, Julud, Kudu and Kurchi. These bombardments often start from early evening at about 18:00 and last until daybreak. The bombardments have also targeted civilian facilities such as airstrips. On 14 June UNMIS personnel from the Kauda Team Site reported that the SAF launched air strikes on the airstrip and areas close to the UNMIS compound causing damage to structures inside the Team Site. The bombing rendered the airstrip unusable and impeded humanitarian organizations from re-supplying their stocks from Kadugli town or relocating/rotating staff in these areas."

"On 25 June, SAF air-strike dropped two bombs on Julud airstrip, just 350 meters from a school, and three kilometers from UNMIS Julud Team Site. As of 27 June, according to UNMO reports from Kadugli and other Team Sites, the SAF was intensifying aerial bombardments in Southern Kordofan. On SPLA positions. Following the SAF aerial bombardment of Shivi village, in Dilling locality on 8 June, UNMIS Julud Team Site reported two civilians were killed, one male and one female. Bombs have also been dropped very close to UNMIS Team Sites. On 19 June, UNMIS Kauda Team Site confirmed that seven bombs dropped in Kauda hitting areas south and northwest of the Team Site." (§40)

Are Lyman and Amos and other senior UN officials claiming that they did not know of these reports from the ground in Kadugli and Kauda? Are they saying they didn’t credit them? Or are they saying that they did not think them important enough to publicize, given Khartoum’s anger over such truths being told?

The UNMIS human rights report provides not only compelling eyewitness accounts of mass graves and continuous aerial bombardment of civilians, but establishes that many other war crimes and atrocities have been committed:

"On 22 June, an UNMIS independent contractor reported witnessing SAF elements fill a mass grave in Al Gardut Locality in Tillo with dead bodies. She reported that SAF elements transported the bodies to the site, dumped them in the grave and using a bulldozer to cover the grave. " (emphasis added; SSP also reports the use of heavy earth-moving equipment) (§34)

"An UNMIS staff member who was detained by SAF at their military facility in Umbattah Locality reported during his detention, that he saw over an estimated 150 dead bodies of persons of Nuban descent scattered on the grounds of the military compound . Some of the bodies appeared to have bullet wounds and he reported a large quantity of blood on the ground. He reported a SAF soldier told them that they had all been shot dead." (emphasis added) (§28)

"On 8 June, an UNMIS independent contractor (IC) was pulled out of a vehicle by SAF in front of the UNMIS Kadugli Sector IV Compound in the presence of several witnesses, while UN peacekeepers could not intervene. He was taken around the corner of the compound and gunshots were heard. Later he was discovered dead by UNMIS personnel and IDPs. Several sources confirmed that the victim was an active SPLM member." (§29)

"Through house to house searches and targeted actions at checkpoints and at the Kadugli Airport, the SAF is believed to have engaged in arbitrary arrests and detentions of persons affiliated with churches or suspected of being supporters and affiliates of the SPLM/A. Thus far most of those arrested are Nubans. On 7 June a Catholic priest reported that SAF and PDF militia were engaged in house-to-house searches mainly in the Banjadid Locality west of Kadugli town causing civilians to panic...." (§43)

Several passages speak to the existence of earlier mass graves, dug even before the three very large sites discovered by SSP (which were dug sometime between June 17 and July 4):

"On 10 June, UNMIS Human Rights interviewed residents from Murta village, outside of Kadugli Town, who stated that they saw fresh mass graves located in a valley southeast of the Murta bus station near the Kadugli police training centre." (§35)

"[Two men interviewed by UNMIS] reported that, following their release from SAF custody, they saw fresh mass graves between the SAF 14th Division Headquarters and Kadugli Market. On 16 June, UN military observers, while on their way between the SAF 14th Division Headquarters and Kadugli Market in an attempt to verify the existence of these mass graves, were arrested, stripped of their clothes, and believed that they were about to be executed when a senior SAF officer intervened." (§36)

Again, these mass graves are in addition to those dug after June 17, as reported by SSP.

And there are many other sources for reports of mass slaughter and assaults on humanitarian operations and workers. Flint in The Observer (UK) (July 17, 2011) notes:

"National staff of international aid organizations have also come under attack. UNMIS cites the case of a young Nuba woman arrested and accused of supporting the SPLM. UNMIS human rights officers saw bruises and scars on her body consistent with her claim to have been beaten with fists, sticks, rubber hoses and electric wires. Underscoring the need for the ’independent and comprehensive investigation’ UNMIS recommends, the Observer has been told---by a hitherto impeccable source not connected to the SPLM/A---that 410 captured SPLM sympathizers were ordered executed on 10 June by Major-General Ahmad Khamis, one of four senior army officers sent to South Kordofan from Khartoum at the start of the war...."

"Khamis was one of the main implementers of a government jihad in the early 1990s that brought the Nuba people to the brink of destruction.... [In 1995] Khamis, then head of military intelligence, was repeatedly named as being responsible for torture and executions---including by his own hand."

The Independent (UK) reports from the Nuba Mountains (July 8) "shocking evidence that international peacekeeping mission [in South Kordofan] did nothing to stop ethnic cleansing":

"When fighting erupted in the South Kordofan state capital of Kadugli in early June, tens of thousands of terrified civilians flocked to a ’safe haven’ directly outside the gates of the UN Missions in Sudan (UNMIS) base. Hawa Mando, a school teacher, reached the camp for internally displaced people on 5 June with her family after fighting in the town forced her to flee her home. She witnessed government agents and irregular troops---notorious from atrocities in Darfur---known as the Popular Defence Force entering the camp hunting for people on a list of government critics."

"’They had lists of people they were looking for,’ said the mother of seven. ’Local spies would point people out and they would shoot them.’ She continued: ’In front of my eyes I saw six people shot dead. They just dragged the bodies away by their feet like slaughtered sheep. People were crying and screaming and the UN soldiers just stood and watched in their watchtowers.’"

Some of the atrocities bespeak complicity on the part of UNMIS in Kadugli, a unit dominated by the Egyptians (the UN human rights investigators were based in Khartoum):

"Eyewitnesses described to The Independent how they saw peacekeepers standing by while unarmed civilians were shot dead outside the gates of a UN base before being dragged away ’like slaughtered sheep.’ They also said that local leaders have been handed over to government forces after seeking shelter with UN officials."

(For a highly informed and devastating account of the despicable Egyptian performance in South Kordofan, see Julie Flint’s "Probe UN Neglect in South Kordofan," The Daily Star [Lebanon], July 5, 2011)

Aerial bombardment of civilians, obstruction of humanitarian assistance

Khartoum continues its virtually daily bombings attacks in the Nuba Mountains and elsewhere in South Kordofan, relentlessly targeting Nuba civilians (this is especially true of Antonov "bombers," retrofitted Russian cargo planes that have no militarily useful bombing accuracy). The regime also continues to bomb in northern Unity State (Republic of South Sudan), an extremely provocative military action. Confirmed bombing attacks occurred on June 9, June 10, June 11 (two attacks), June 13, and July 2. Bombing has also occurred in the Southern states of Northern and Western Bahr el-Ghazal and Warrab. And in Darfur such attacks are as relentless as they have been for more than eight years.

The consequences of these bombing attacks, especially the shrapnel-loaded barrel bombs dropped by Antonovs, have recently been chronicled---yet again (see my report and data spreadsheet chronicling aerial attacks on civilians from 1999 - May 2011). The Independent reports from the Nuba Mountains:

"When boys and girls started arriving at his hospital with missing arms and feet, they were the first casualties of war Dr Tom Catena had seen. ’The injuries are horrifying,’ said the mission doctor who comes from upstate New York, ’a girl with her feet blown off, another with her abdomen sliced open.’ The victims pouring in from the villages in Sudan’s Nuba mountains were being bombed by their own government, he discovered. Grass thatch villages were being turned to charnel houses as an air force dropped bombs from the back of ageing cargo planes."

"The government in Khartoum insists it is targeting armed rebels but the Antonovs it is using are non-military aircraft and are randomly destructive. ’The worst injuries are from the Antonovs,’ said Dr Catena. ’This is my first experience of war and you don’t understand the human toll until you see it. These people are being destroyed for nothing.’ The only qualified doctor in an area with hundreds of thousands people, the mission hospital has about 400 patients. The doctor who arrived recently from mission work in Kenya said he was nervous at first about speaking out as hospitals were targets. ’Why hold back?’ he asked. ’We should show what’s happening, this is the reality.’" (emphasis added)

"Yussef Abdullahi Kuwa reached the hospital in the north of the Kauda Valley on Sunday. The 15-year-old was playing when the bomb hit. He was unable to take cover fast enough and now half his face is missing where hot metal sliced through it. He cannot speak. ’My boy has done nothing to this government, ’ said his father, who took three days to get him to a doctor. ’We are powerless.’ Children with stumps where their hands or feet should be wander around in the hospital. Sixteen-year-old Jakumo lost his left arm after helping his sister with the washing. The children had been told to lie flat when they heard planes but Jakumo forgot. ’I tried to hide behind a tree instead,’ he said. ’But it hit me.’" ("Children With Horrific Wounds Pay Price of Sudan’s Bloody War," [dateline: Nuba Mountains], July 13)

An equally grim follow-up piece was filed by Howden of The Independent on July 15:

"Thousands of people are sheltering in the clefts and caves of the granite slopes of the Nuba Mountains, where Sudan’s government claims it is fighting a counter-insurgency campaign against armed rebels. Iqbal al-Nur perches on a wooden cot with a baby pressed to her *** in the shadow of an immense stone. ’We took what we could carry and came here to escape the planes,’ she says, pointing to the sky where bombers have been launching an aerial assault across the mountains. ’As long as the bombing continues, we will stay.’"

"Ms Nur, who has four children, fled with the rest of her village to the safety of the mountains. She gave birth to Ambu, who is now one week old, under a rock soon after arriving. A friend who had a child three days later had to be taken hundreds of kilometers away to the nearest doctor after the infant fell ill. ’I am scared Ambu is going to get sick here with the rain and wind,’ says Ms Nur, who admits she is also frightened of snakes. ’I hate it here but we have no way out.’"

"The towns and villages beneath the mountains are deserted. In Tonguli, a thatched roof is splayed on the cratered floor where it was thrown by the blast. A nearby hut has been reduced to a pile of blackened bricks. Others had their walls shredded by shrapnel. One man here was killed when a bomb ripped through his home as he slept last week. The long civil war’s end, which brought independence last week for South Sudan, has meant little in the Nuba Mountains...."

"But in the Tonguli mountains, Hussein al-Amin, the chief of a nearby village, reacts with rage at what was said: ’We have no roads, no schools, no hospitals; this government gave us nothing. Now they bomb us and they keep bombing us even as we run away from our homes.’ He says that refugees from the bombing campaign have come from all over the northern Nuba Mountains and more are arriving every day. Residents from two towns and at least seven villages are living among the rocks. He is concerned about disease and asks if people outside Sudan can ’stop the bombing.’" (emphasis added)

"Like many of the displaced people, Moussa Zeber Ismail comes from the nearest big town, Dalami. The town has witnessed some of the worst fighting since clashes broke out in South Kordofan last month when government forces launched a campaign against Nuban rebels. The town initially fell to the rebels but has since been retaken by forces loyal to Khartoum. ’Everything has been destroyed, you can’t find a school, a shop, a house, anything,’ Ismail, who is a farmer, says. ’They sent Antonovs [bombers] during the day while the fighting was going on. They just threw bombs everywhere, hitting everything, everyone.’ The 54-year-old fled into the bush after seeing a friend sliced in half by shrapnel. ’We hid for 18 days in the bush and then walked here. Up to now, I still don’t know who has been killed and where everyone is,’ he says."

On July 12 Associated Press reported that "the United Nations says staff in Sudan have reported heavy aerial bombardment in South Kordofan State in recent days." What has gone insufficiently remarked is that these attacks serve as a powerful recruiting tool for the SPLM/A North, which has already more than held its own against SAF forces in ground combat, and this augurs a long war. Agence France-Presse reports from the Nuba Mountains (July 17):

"But despite the army’s relentless bombing campaign over the past six weeks, the insurgency shows no sign of weakening, with the SPLA claiming to control much of the ethnically divided state and the new recruits swelling its ranks. Some are young, but many are older, like Abdullah, a middle-aged travel agent from Kadugli who volunteered after fleeing the heavy fighting in the state capital last month, along with 10 friends, four of whom were killed along the way."

"’I lost so many in Kadugli. First, one of us was gunned down by a Dushka (anti-aircraft machine gun). Then, when we were carrying him, two more were killed by an aerial bomb. Another was killed on the way here,’ he says. Others tell similar stories. Aut Maliga was a farmer in the Nuba town of Kurchi, southeast of Kadugli, where five bombs were dropped on a market on 26 June. ’I joined the SPLA because I lost so many friends in the bombing, my best friends,’ he says. Numerous local sources have confirmed that the air strikes on Kurchi destroyed the market and killed at least 16 civilians, including eight women and children. Another 32 people were hospitalized."

The extent and sustained nature of the bombing campaign, like so many of the actions reported here, bespeak significant advance planning: it is simply not possible to conclude that what is occurring is anything but a well-organized campaign that has as its animating ambition the destruction of the Nuba people and all support for the SPLM/A, North and South. The fact of such advance planning has critical implications in assessing the legal character of these atrocity crimes.

South Kordofan "De-coupled"?

What, then, are we to make of the tepid and wholly ineffective response by the Obama administration to what all evidence suggests is genocide in South Kordofan? Have senior officials silently decided that in continuing negotiations with Khartoum, Abyei and the Nuba Mountains will be "de-coupled,” as Darfur was "de-coupled" last November in the putative interest of securing peace for South Sudan? Of course there is a deeply false premise implicit in such thinking, to say nothing of its moral obscenity. As most informed observers realize, the broader center-periphery conflicts that are so variously ramified throughout Sudan have too often provided Khartoum with diplomatic leverage: narrow international focus on one problem (whether South Sudan, Darfur, or again South Sudan) gives a green light to Khartoum for abusing and assaulting the marginalized areas not the focus of negotiations. This is the diplomatic complement to the regime’s well-tested policies of dividing and weakening politically (and ultimately militarily) opposition to its tyranny. Abyei and South Kordofan are fully intelligible only if this dynamic is borne in mind.

But if such "de-coupling" has indeed been decided on, we are not likely to hear it explicitly acknowledged publicly, as a senior administration official did last November in speaking about Darfur. And so far, one must concede this earlier "de-coupling" has been managed deftly, so much so that it has gone unnoticed by even many presumably informed commentators. The New York Times, for example, recently concluded its editorial on the new Republic of South Sudan by declaring:

"The Obama administration, correctly, is not taking Sudan off its terrorism list and normalizing relations until Khartoum fulfills the peace deal and ends the conflict in Darfur."

But this is simply inaccurate. Last November a senior administration official explicitly and publicly "de-coupled" the genocide in Darfur (Obama’s ongoing characterization) and the issue of Khartoum’s longstanding place on the US State Department list of terrorism-sponsoring nations. This official (identified in the State Department transcript only as "Senior Administration Official Two") declared:

"One [of two new elements in U.S. Sudan policy] was to indicate that the U.S. was prepared to accelerate the removal of Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list if the Government of Sudan did two things. One is to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and two, to live up to all of the legal conditions required under law for Sudan to be taken off the state sponsors list. By doing this, we would also be decoupling the state sponsor of terrorism from Darfur and from the Darfur issue." [emphasis added]

The New York Times missed this and ended up by making a key claim that is simply wrong, an error that I pointed out to the Times but which they chose not to acknowledge, either by printing my (or another) letter or offering a correction to its readers. To be sure, the Times has a long tradition of weak editorials on Sudan, with a strong penchant for dodging difficult questions. But this is outright error, and reflects how badly too much of American journalism has followed Sudan’s complexities and the details of U.S. policy.

More broadly, the Obama administration seems not to appreciate the scale of ongoing human suffering and ongoing destruction in Darfur, much of it directly consequent upon Khartoum’s construal of just what was meant by the Obama administration decision to "de-couple" Darfur and its people. This occurred even as the agony of Darfuris continues relentlessly. (Those interested in understanding just how terrible conditions are for civilians, especially the more than 2 million displaced civilians in camps, can do no better than to read the daily accounts that come from Radio Dabanga. A substantial compendium of recent reports from Radio Dabanga can be found here).

Given the pronounced tendency to expediency that has been evident for more than two years in the Sudan policy of the Obama administration, particularly on the part of former special envoy Scott Gration, it seems more than reasonable to ask whether in celebrating the independence of South Sudan, and engaging only narrowly on outstanding issues between North and South, Obama officials have done and said all they intend to, at least with a seriousness that could change attitudes in Khartoum. Abyei is already lost to the South; even with temporary deployment of an Ethiopian brigade (notably, and unusually, without a human rights mandate), Khartoum retains de facto military control of the region, and there are no prospects for more than 120,000 Dinka Ngok to return to their homeland. Khartoum has already threatened war if South Sudan does anything to reclaim Abyei, or even the self-determination referendum guaranteed by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, now an agreement the Obama administration is prepared to see selectively implemented.

South Kordofan stands on the precipice, and there seems little to prevent its tipping over. And looming as the next crisis point in Sudan is Blue Nile, also in North Sudan, where war, if it comes, simply won’t be contained. It is not clear that anyone in the Obama administration is thinking seriously about the acute threat posed by recent military developments in this remote region, even as SPLM member and governor of Blue Nile Malik Agar has warned that war becomes increasingly likely as fighting in South Kordofan continues.

The UN in South Kordofan

The first recommendation of the UNMIS human rights report is the only one that matters: if it is not followed, the others will be meaningless, given Khartoum’s insistence that UNMIS remove all personnel from the North, including South Kordofan (remaining personnel have, UN officials in New York have declared, no continuing mandate---even to protect civilians killed before their very eyes):

"[The authors of this UN human rights report recommend] that the UN Security Council mandates the establishment of a commission of inquiry or other appropriate investigative authority, including the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the violence in Southern Kordofan and violations of human rights and humanitarian laws and to identify the perpetrators or those who bear the greatest responsibility, with the view to bringing them to justice." (§75.1)

This recommendation that a "commission of inquiry" be established will receive broad international support, largely because it does not have a chance of being authorized by the Security Council, given the certainty of a Chinese veto. Indeed, we should recall Beijing’s recent comment on North Sudan’s place in the world. Reuters reports (July 13):

"The world should recognize the efforts made by Sudan in bringing peace to its southern region, now an independent state, and normalize relations with Khartoum, state media on Thursday quoted a senior Chinese diplomat as saying." (dateline: Beijing)

This does not sound like a warm-up for authorizing a non-consensual human rights investigation, even if the issue is accelerating genocide, with indisputable evidence of large mass graves capable of holding many thousands of bodies, and a great many thousands of Nuba unaccounted for.

But instead of focusing on the enormously challenging task of how to obtain on-the-ground confirmation of what has been so substantially and variously reported by many authoritative sources, UN officials and other international actors indulge in rhetorical posturing with no real entailments:

"Ban Ki-moon [while in Khartoum] urged the Sudanese Government to put place mechanisms to ensure that humanitarian operations can continue in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and added that UN personnel need unfettered access." (UN News Center, July 15, 2011)

More to the point would have been an urging that Khartoum halt its war on humanitarian operations---in Darfur and South Kordofan. The notion that the regime conducting this terrible war of attrition will "put in place mechanisms to ensure humanitarian operations can continue" is simply a means to avoid speaking about the real nature of the crisis. In fact, the regime has recently threatened to expel all humanitarian workers and operations, from both South Kordofan and Darfur:

"Angeln official in Khartoum’s ruling party, Gudbi-Al Mahadi, has accused aid agencies of giving logistical support to the rebels, the pro-government Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) reports. He warned the agencies that they risked ’legal penalties’ and expulsion, SMC said." (BBC News Africa, July 13)

"North Sudan’s secretary for the political sector threatened Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) operating in Kordofan and Darfur with penalties or expulsion on Monday. Gudbi-Al Mahadi of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is reported by the pro-Khartoum Sudanese Media Centre as threatening NGOs with ’legal penalties’ and ’halting of activities’ as some were ’found providing logistical support to insurgents.’ No evidence was provided to support the allegations against the NGOs. But officials from the ruling party said they do not want a repeat in South Kordofan of the large humanitarian presence and the creation of camps for the displaced civilians, as has happened in Darfur." ("Khartoum threatens NGOs in South Kordofan and Darfur with expulsion," Sudan Tribune, July 11)

The Observer also reports today on a second confidential UN human rights report, which I have not seen but which seems to comport with the one more widely leaked. It speaks specifically to the issue of Khartoum’s obstruction of relief aid:

"A second report details how ’active obstruction by state authorities (in South Kordofan) has completely undermined the ability of the peacekeeping force, UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), to fulfill the most basic requirements of its mandate’ in the Nuba region. The report says the humanitarian assistance and protection provided by UNMIS have become ’inconsequential’ as it prepares to leave Sudan, at Khartoum’s insistence, by 31 July." (July 16, 2011)

Given the terrible precedent of Khartoum’s expulsion of thirteen of the world’s most distinguished humanitarian organizations in March 2009, it would be foolish not to see the strong possibility of linkage between international action on South Kordofan and the fate of the vast humanitarian operation in Darfur on which more than 3 million people depend. Khartoum is in effect threatening relief efforts in Darfur if the regime is pressed too hard on South Kordofan; the regime counts on the international community accepting such a quid pro quo, as it has on so many other occasions.

Members of the Security Council are equally facile and irrelevant, "call[ing] on the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s northern sector to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities" in South Kordofan (emphasis added). No mention is made in this "call" of the fact that al-Bashir and his security cabal have withdrawn from the "framework agreement" they signed in Addis Ababa on June 28, in which a cessation of hostilities agreement was indeed the primary agenda item:

"Al-Bashir’s decision yesterday [July 6] to quit negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to end clashes in the north’s only oil producing state, Southern Kordofan, dashed chances of a quick cease-fire. The fighting in Southern Kordofan, which borders Southern Sudan, started when Sudanese troops tried to disarm members of the Nuba ethnic group who fought alongside the southern army during the civil war, according to Southern Sudan’s ruling party. Al-Bashir and his governor in Southern Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun, are wanted by the International Criminal Court over allegations they were involved in war crimes in Darfur."

"Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir quit talks in Ethiopia to end clashes in the northern oil- producing state of Southern Kordofan, two days before South Sudan becomes independent. ’There will be no more negotiations outside Sudan,’ Al- Bashir told a rally today in White Nile state in a speech televised live on the state Sudan TV station." (Bloomberg News, July 7)

"Bashir warned the north would hold no more foreign talks on solving internal conflicts such as violence in the northern border state of South Kordofan where the army is fighting armed groups allied to the south. Leaders of north and south had agreed on Monday in Ethiopia to continue talks on a series of issues both sides need yet to solve such as ending tensions in South Kordofan. ’After the betrayal in South Kordofan [the SPLM/North] come and want to hold talks.... But we will not hold any talks in Addis Ababa or elsewhere with those who take up arms,’ he said. North Sudan would not sign any more international agreements after it wrapped up a peace accord later this month with a small group in the western region of Darfur...." (emphasis added; Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], July 7, 2011)

Does anyone at the UN understand the meaning of the word "intransigence"? This seems an important question since it is Khartoum’s signature negotiating posture. No one seems willing to speak the truth about why there is nothing happening in Addis, even as nothing is gained by pretending the regime is anything but what is has repeatedly demonstrated itself to be.

A last chance for the "responsibility to protect"

UNMIS has been terribly ineffective over the past six and a half years, as has UNAMID in Darfur since it officially took up is mandate on January 1, 2008. At a cost of more than $2 billion per year, the international community has had a right to expect a great deal more from these two operations and from the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The humanitarian side of the UN in Sudan is just as bad in its leadership, especially Valerie Amos and the head of UN humanitarian operations in Sudan, Georg Charpentier. Both have contributed significantly to the invisibility of Darfur’s ongoing agony. But ultimately the real power to act effectively, or not, lies with the UN Security Council, and herein lies the obvious rub. The U.S. and other member states know that any resolution authorizing an intrusive or nonconsensual human rights investigation will be vetoed by China. The question, then, is what can be done in the face of such an obviously broken mechanism for responding to international crises, including incipient genocide?

First, the U.S. that must decide---with as much help as possible from the Europeans, the Canadians, from Latin American countries, and from any African allies that can be found---that is will bring a resolution authorizing a robust and urgent UN human rights investigation, and thus compel China to veto it (something Beijing much prefers to threaten than actually exercise, for self-serving reasons). And then the resolution should be brought again, modified as necessary to secure a second Security Council debate (Germany is President of the Security Council this month, and we should assume the Germans will strongly support efforts to investigate widespread and compelling evidence of genocide). China will be forced to veto this second resolution, bringing an important clarity to the diplomatic and political situation.

The utter futility of Security Council action would then be the backdrop for a nonconsensual investigation of atrocity crimes in South Kordofan, one without UN auspices. If genocide or crimes against humanity are found, as they quickly will be, the entire world will again face the same question that was before it in April 1994, when Roméo Dallaire made his well-known plea for 5,000 men to give the UN enough leverage to end the Rwandan genocide. But we are not looking at 100 days of slaughter; rather, the real concern must be for how to stop Khartoum’s grim extermination by starvation and denial of humanitarian access to the Nuba Mountains, coupled with aerial bombing that is destroying the current agricultural cycle. The killing of Nuba in Kadugli is winding down: people are already dead or have fled to the countryside or to the South.

What will it take to stop this current genocide? What protection can be provided to those now ethnically targeted on a vast scale? There are no simple military answers, though there are some; but since there is no political will in any event, it would seem simply posing the question takes us as far as we can go. U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has already explicitly and preemptively taken any U.S. military response off the table.

Those nations and organizations that have in the past supported the idea of a "responsibility to protect" endangered civilians, unprotected or attacked by their own government, must decide whether this much-touted ideal really means something, and if so, what it entails in circumstances like those presently threatening the Nuba people in South Kordofan. Darfur is a recent and defining example of the failure of the "responsibility to protect": the conflict and genocidal destruction began well before the UN World Summit Outcome Document was issued in September 2005---and continues 6 years after all member states of the UN declared that they were…

"...prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case by case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law." (UN World Summit "outcome document" on "the responsibility to protect," Paragraph 139)

Darfur would seem to have sounded the death knell for any meaningful commitment to the "responsibility to protect," but South Kordofan offers one last opportunity. Real hope, however, seems entirely unwarranted.

*Eric Reeves has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for more than a decade. He is author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide.

The Independence of South Sudan is long overdue

by Steve Paterno

July 18, 2011 — The evolution of South Sudan as an entity that constitutes a nation state, just like any of the African countries, has its roots in colonization of Africa during European Scramble for Africa in late 19th century. Contrary to the myth of a United Sudan, a disastrous experiment, which actually failed to survive, South Sudan evolution into a nation state contrast that of the Northern Sudan. Perhaps the only thing the South and North Sudan has in common throughout the history is that the two are explicably linked by the Nile River. Otherwise, the South and North of Sudan are regions of different entities.

When the British and Egyptian jointly colonized Sudan, with all the good judgment, they immediately determined that the South and North of Sudan must be administered separately, given the fact that in all practical sense, the two regions are different from one another. The Anglo-Egyptian rulers instituted a colony of South Sudan to be governed under a Closed Districts Ordinance, where Northern Sudanese access into Southern Sudan is strictly restricted. Lines were clearly drawn on the sand and even on the mud to mark the boundaries and the distinctions.

The good British administrators at the time had good reasons for drawing those boundaries as they have been proven with time to be like prophets. Among those British officials, was a prominent administrator in Sudan, K.D.D. Henderson who warned his government that those Northerners are either “raiders or traders” in South Sudan. He went on to explain the horrific role of the Northern Sudanese and he said, “when not slave raiding they were poaching elephants or hunting giraffe or lifting cattle. When they condescended to do a little trading, they usually swindled the unsophisticated Nilote or paid him with counterfeit coins. As for the professional trader, the Jellaba, he in baronial eyes was an equally undesirable immigrant, battering on the villages, selling rubbishy goods at a vast profit, and introducing venereal disease.”

Even though slowly maturing during the colonialism, South Sudan was recognizable as a nation state, growing on its own pace to independently join as one of the nations of the world. By 1940s, as the notion of self determination was gaining momentum throughout the British colonies, the fact of South Sudan evolving as a distinct entity was becoming very apparent. There was serious considerations and debates as to whether South Sudan would be cast together with East African countries, the North Sudan, partially with each, or it would be allowed to exist on its own accord.

A British inspector general from the Lado Enclave (the present day, Equatoria region) put it bluntly in a policy release by outlining that “little can be done for the Negro provinces whilst they are starved so as to turn over all available funds to the Arab provinces, and whilst they are subject to the laws and regulations made for the benefit of the latter…So the Negro provinces should be put in a class by themselves, under a vice-governor…and allow to work their own salvation…”

This view was actually shared by many British Civil Servants who were working in South Sudan. After the Unification of the South and North of Sudan in a policy known as Sudanization, which was put in full motion by early 1950s, one of such British Civil Servant wrote in disgust that “without protection the Southerners will not be able to develop along indigenous lines, will be overwhelmed and swamped by the North and deteriorate into servile community hewing wood and drawing water. To pretend that there are not fundamental differences between them is like covering up a crack in the tree trunk with moss. Such process, like any obscuring of the truth, is unsound.”

Such accurate assertion was later proven to be correct by Commission of Enquiry, which investigated the 1955, Torit Mutiny, when the Southerners revolted against the would-be independent Sudan. In its report, the Commission wrote in part, “since the Southern Sudanese benefited very little from Sudanization they found little or no difference between conditions now and conditions previously; and independence for them was regarded as merely change of masters. We feel that the Southern Sudanese by finding themselves holding secondary positions in the Government of their country have a genuine grievance.”

Unfortunately, that “genuine grievance” of South Sudan, though obvious, has not been acknowledged soon enough. It has taken decades of bloody wars, millions of precious lives lost, untold destructions, and displacement of millions. The resilience of South Sudanese people and their relentless struggle for freedom and justice has finally paid off. Let the entire world welcome the new country of South Sudan and its people with a huge hug, for all along the people of South Sudan have been journeying the long walk for freedom.

Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at stevepaterno@yahoo.com

Sudan and LJM rebels sign a Darfur peace agreement in Doha

July 14 , 2011 (DOHA) — The Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) signed a peace agreement in Doha to end the eight year conflict in the restive region of Darfur, as another rebel group blamed Khartoum for refusing to discuss core issues with them.

Sudan’s Presidential Adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Al-Attabani and Liberation Movement and Justice (LJM) representative Al-Tijani Al-Sissi (R) hold up the documents of a peace accord after the signing ceremony in Doha July 14, 2011 (UNAMID)

The deal comes six weeks after a conference of Darfur stakeholders who endorsed a framework document for the resolution of the armed conflict in western Sudan. The text, supported by the international community, urged the Sudanese government and the rebel groups to negotiate a peace pact based on the seven chapters definite by the mediators.

Khartoum said the peace document offers a good ground for peace and rebels can negotiate the integration of their combatants and their political participation in the central government but also into the institutions of the troubled region.

The LJM which was has been in negotiation with the government since March 2010 announced together with the latter their intention to ink an agreement but the JEM which holds parallel talks with Khartoum said compensations and a mechanism of implementation of a peace deal among others need to be reviewed or added.

The Doha Peace Agreement on Darfur was signed by presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen who is in charge of Darfur file and the LJM president Tijani El-Sissi. The signing ceremony was attended by the Emir of Qatar, Sudanese, Chadian, Eritrean and Burkina Faso presidents.

Also present were, the Ethiopian deputy prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Arab League secretary-general Nabil Elaraby, and the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Conference Ekmelddin Ihsanoglu. The head of Darfur peacekeeping operation, UNAMID, Ibrahim Gambari represented the UN chief Ban Ki-Moon and the AU’s Jean Ping.

In a speech delivered after the signature, President Omer Al-Bashir expressed his determination "to overstep the days of war and destruction". He further pledged to work with his "partners in the peace agreement" to achieve the aspirations of Darfur people for security and development.

Bashir also stressed his "commitment to follow the peace road map in Darfur and implement, item by item, what we agreed upon".

LJM leader El-Sissi said the agreement is a strong basis for peace in Darfur stressing that the LJM believes on the need for an inclusive deal and did the necessary to get the others (JEM) on board. He also underlined the efforts exerted by his movement to coordinate with them.

Sissi hailed the efforts of the State of Qatar, the African Union, United Nations and the international community emphasising: "We achieved what we had to do for the people of Darfur".

Alluding to the criticisms made by the JEM to the peace agreement they sealed with Khartoum, Sissi said "if someone else believes he can do better than what we did I assure you we will fully endorse what they do".

JEM chief negotiator Ahmed Tugud held a press conference in Doha yesterday where he criticised the government-LJM deal stressing on the need to review the amount of individual compensation, and security arrangements.

Tugud however reiterated JEM commitment to the Doha process and called for talks with the government on all the seven chapters of the framework agreement. He further said that JEM rejects partial solutions.

The mediators said they failed to convince the rebel groups to work together and form one delegation to negotiate with Khartoum. Instead they put out the framework document and said based on this text rebel groups can separately negotiate and sign a peace agreement with the government.

Ghazi Salah Al-Deen in his remarks at the ceremony repeated the position of the government that JEM has three months to join the deal. The government says JEM can only negotiate the situation of its combatants and its participations in the political institutions but refuses to open new talks with the rebel groups on the whole document saying they are not serious to achieve peace in Darfur.

LAST MOMENT HITCHES

Announced to start at 4:00 pm local time, the signing ceremony had been delayed for two hours as the LJM refused to sign the peace agreement unless the government accept to name the members of Darfur regional authority "ministers" instead of "secretary".

The government said "secretary" will allow to distinguish the members of the authority in charge of the implementation of the deal from the states ministers but the rebels refused the argument.

As the two sides camped on their positions, the Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir Al-Thani had to intervene and asked President Bashir personally to concede to the rebels’ demand.

LJM supporters who came from Darfur rallied in the streets of the Qatari capital after the signing to express their gratitude and thankfulness to the State of Qatar and its emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who sponsored the two year process and pledged to allocate two billions of dollars for Darfur development.

Mixed feelings in northern Sudan for South Sudan independence

By Ahmed Elzobier

July 13, 2011 - In the north, following the declaration of southern Sudan independence, one group appears to be happy and they are the supporters of northern Sudan’s separatist party, the Just Peace Forum. Nevertheless, most northern Sudanese are subdued and sad for various reasons. Some see the secession as a destruction of the country but they are helpless to do any thing about it. Other groups have mixed feeling of joy and sadness. Joy that southern Sudanese people have their freedom, and sadness for the great failure of Sudanese nationalism as it loses what has been an important part of its national character for hundreds of years.

The prominent Sudanese poet Mahjoub Sharif has expressed heartfelt emotions of sadness in a new poem he calls “The trees have passed”.

The trees have passed Like imaginary dreams Nice and gentle people Through shades and clouds The trees have passed

Where are you my dears? It’s a painful scene for me Where are you going? Mary I will miss you I am shedding tears Yet we are citizens by our marks In drawing we are neighbors The trees have passed

People started to realize the new reality when the Ministry of Information and the Survey Department revealed in a press conference on 4 July, that Sudan has lost, as a result of the separation, about 25% of its area, 80% of its forests, 75% of its oil and 20% of its population. Abdallah al-Sadig, Director of the Survey Department said Sudan will now have no borders with Kenya, Congo and Uganda and its borders with Ethiopia and Central African Republic will be significantly reduced.

But to rub salt into the wound he described the new map to the helpless northern Sudanese folk as a “beautiful” map. The Minister of Information Dr Kamal (and by the way this the same guy who told southern Sudanese back in October 2010 that they would not receive injections after separation) also added that the government presented an exceptional example of peaceful coexistence and integration in Africa – I am not sure, but either these two people are professional comedians pretending to be politicians, or sadistic psychopaths. The question remains, how many beautiful maps and integration strategies they will be presenting in the future?

Meanwhile, in clear violation of the Human Rights Declaration article 15, “everyone has a right to a nationality” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality”, the Council of Ministers approved, on 7 July 2011, a new Sudanese nationality bill rendering hundreds of thousand of southerners temporarily stateless. It was not clear if the bill was even discussed in parliament. This was done despite these southerners being habitually resident in the North and many having no connection with the South. Dr Amin Maki Madani, a prominent lawyer and the Director of the Human Rights Monitor Organization in Sudan, considers the government act to be unconstitutional as it violates the nationality laws of Sudan, and an immoral act resembling Nazism. Meanwhile, all government institutions have sacked their southern employees and government adverts in various newspapers are calling for private sector companies to provide a list of their southern employees. Last month the SPLM /NCP agreed to give a period of nine months for southern Sudanese in the north to adjust their status, a very vague statement having nothing to do with the AU High panel proposal. However, in reality the NCP is adamant that southern Sudanese will be treated as foreigners after 9 July. The entire government attitude is vindictive and mean, and their soft target is ordinary people from southern Sudan. This time they have really sunk very low, even by the traditional sudanese standards. It shows that northern Sudan is now infected by a serious ethno-fascism virus that might destroy the remainder of the country.

For a reality check we should consider all the factors leading to the current situation in Sudan: slavery raids and trade in the nineteen century; the close district laws during the colonial period; the 1947 Juba conference and the hasty decision on the unity of Sudan; the 1953 consideration of Sudan’s status without consulting southern Sudanese; the Torit rebellion in 1955; the promise of federation that was never fulfilled by the first post-colonial government; the war that was waged to Islamize and Arabise southern Sudan by 1958’s military regime; the unfulfilled promises of the round table conference of 1965; the Addis Ababa agreement 1972; the violation and collapse of the agreement in 1983; the reluctance to achieve peace in 1988; the rise of Islamic extremism in Sudan; the military coup in 1989 that has sealed the fate of the country and whose main objective was to stand against the peace initiative; the declaration of Jihad on southern Sudan; the proxy wars; the displacement and killing of millions of people; the indifference of the majority in the north about the war in the south; the 2005 CPA; the unfulfilled promises of the CPA, the unresolved issues of extreme poverty, inequality, disrespect of religion and cultural diversity, and lack of democracy.

Combine all these ingredients and it becomes clear why the southern Sudanese were left with no option but to abandon the sinking ship of Sudan and on 9 January 2011, to vote overwhelmingly for separation.

South Sudan: Lifting off with the flag

By John A. Akec

July 12, 2011 — On the eve of the declaration of South Sudan independence, namely on July 8th 2011, and as the nascent nation was preparing to receive its guests in its capital city, Juba; history was being made in the far away land of America. In Florida and from Kennedy’s Space Centre, the Atlantis space shuttle was being launched for the last time to mark the end of 30-year US Space Shuttle Programme. And as I watched the launch of Atlantis on the TV at home, and as the clock counted down to the launch, my mind wondered off to reflect on our nation that was to about be borne the following day. I found many inspiring analogies and connections between the launch of the space shuttle, Atlantis, and the birth of the 193rd United Nation member, the Republic of South Sudan. This article is about sharing these thoughts with my readers. There are a few differences, though, that will be pointed out.

A space shuttle is a complex cutting-edge technology that has been championed and excelled by the United States’ main space agency, the National Aeronautic Space Agency (NASA), since its launch in April 1981. In fact, the Programme conception dates back as far as the historic Apollo Moon Landing in 1969. The Space Shuttle fleet is comprised of 6 vehicles (technically referred in NSAS’ speak as orbiters), namely Discovery, Endeavour, Challenger, Atlantis, Columbia, and Enterprise. In the 30-year history of America’s Space Shuttle Programme, the shuttles carried out 135 missions, flew over 870 million Kilometers, took some 335 astronauts into space at cost of US$ 209 billion, created hundreds of thousands of jobs across America; delivered communications satellites, scientific investigation equipment, and deep space probe telescopes into Earth’s orbit; created advanced engineering technologies with many spin offs and applications that have greatly benefited mankind and saved lives; improved air travel safety; and deepened our understanding of the universe. Beside financial cost above, 14 precious astronaut lives were lost in 30 years. More lives could have been lost had it not been due to the ingenuity of NASA scientists and fine engineers, backed up by generous financial resources from the nation and the unwavering political commitment from the very top of the US Administration.

NASA is ending the Space Shuttle Programme to find alternative means of sending equipment and astronauts into space. And so this will be the last for Atlantis before retiring to space science museum. Like all other shuttles, Atlantis shuttle and its boosters contain some 2.5 million moving parts and hundreds of scientists and engineers sitting in front of giant control panels that monitor and display shuttle vital variables at every moment of its flight. Each moving part of the shuttle is wired up to computer system that ensures every component is functioning before final launch command is issued. And when that happens, it is "all system go!" It takes months and weeks of rehearsal by astronauts, preparation, and meticulous planning by all concerned because much is at stake. Here, failure is not an option.

So is it with launching of our new independent state of South Sudan. The new state must be made to work. Although some failure is expected and, indeed inevitable, it but must be minimized. Like space shuttle programme that was inspired by President Kennedy vision to land first man on the moon, the Republic of South Sudan is the realization of a vision by the Patriarchs of South Sudan struggle. It was achieved at cost of 2 million of lives and unaccounted for amount of wealth and property. It took half century of struggle, engaged hundreds of thousands of citizens and various global actors at different levels and capacities, demanded commitment and perseverance to get to the point where South Sudan finds itself at the moment (free as bird, unshackled by will of man save its own!), a new nation fully ready to serve its citizens!

So like Atlantis, the raising of South Sudan’s flag was the equivalent of countdown to launch. Hence in theory, it should have been ’all system go!’ And if we are honest, we need to admit that it was not that simple for the birth of the Republic of South Sudan to just pick and go. This is because of various reasons, some of which are excusable to varying degree. While we can trust mechanical and electronic artifacts that make up the 2.5 million parts in shuttle and boosters to deliver at the touch of a button, we could not say the same thing exactly about human resources which make up for moving parts in the government of the world’s newest country. Humans, by their very nature can forget, can be incompetent, may lack experience, or do not always obey order in a way mechanical elements of the shuttle would do. Here ’ready to go’ means the nation is fully ready to deliver services the citizens need on day to day basis such as keeping security, having electricity to light homes, availability of running water, installation of radar to watch our borders and skies, payment of workers’ wages on time etc.

In South Sudan’s ’launch’, there might have been too many teething problems to contend with. For example, by coincidence or by design, many flights from Khartoum to the Southern cities were grounded on technical grounds at the time when demand was the highest. As a result, the fair of air tickets between Khartoum and Southern cities doubled or tripled in last few months in the run up to Independence Day. What went wrong? We may ask. Whose business to protect its citizens from mass exploitation or deliberate economic persecution wherever they are in the world?

Next, the central government of Sudan issued an order to treat Southern banks as foreign banks, therefore demanding the existence of a correspondence bank in order to allow money transfer between Northern and South Sudan and the Republic of Southern Sudan, a measure that will cause untold hardship to over a million South Sudanese citizens in the North. If the Republic of South Sudan is not yet to offer unimpeded banking services on the next day of independence, then it is going to be easier to send money from Khartoum to London than to Juba. Are we ready for this or do we have long answers?

Also, when the North prevented fuel transportation from North to the South, the fuel prices rocketed in the South. Could we have foreseen this coming our way? Luckily, today we read in the newspapers that South Sudan is going to launch its own currency beginning from 18th July 2011. Hats off for that one, Mr. Deng Athorbe, Malok Aleng and your staff! This will counter recent measures in Khartoum that would treat transfers from South Sudan as from a foreign bank despite the initial plan to use Sudanese pounds for the next 6 months in the South. It would have meant buying the Sudanese pound twice – at the origin and at the destination. A double lost for citizens of the South.

While using the Atlantis analogy in the birth of our nation would be like comparing apples and oranges, we should make no mistake about the fact that many well tested engineering principles that have been successfully applied to design of tanks, oil refineries, and space shuttles in a way that ensures their smooth launch and operation, can also be applied to great effect to design a functioning government department, national economy, army logistic system, computer network, city transportation system, or even the whole government apparatus of a country so that things function smoothly and seamlessly in the shortest time possible. It is worth mentioning that a number of World Bank pundits have recently predicted that is going to take 20 years for South Sudan to have a functioning government. However, this author believes that by applying methods and tools of systems engineering, we can shrink this time to mere 3 or 4 years.

Systems engineering approach that was developed by the military during World War II and later perfected by space and manufacturing industry in US and Europe, emphasizes the necessity of taking a total view of design of organizations and hardware systems. Namely the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In other words, it is not about optimizing the output from sub-systems, but rather that of maximizing the whole system performance.

Thus the flag is up. The issues at stake are complex. Are we ready to go as a total system? If the answer is no, my question is why not? Instead of resting on the dire predictions of World Bank experts or importing civil servants from East Africa to fix our systemic problems, we can do well by first putting our in-house skills to good use. In Academics and Researchers Forum for Development, a think-tank and an advocacy group, we are more than ready to tackle such national challenges head on. Not with emotions but with skills and professionalism. So have a go, and give us a call.

The author is vice chancellor of University of Northern Bahr El Ghazal in South Sudan, and chairperson of Academics and Researchers Forum for Development, a think-tank and advocacy group formed by the South Sudanese academics and researchers. The writer edits a blog: www.JohnAkecSouthSudan.blogs.... To get in touch, write to: jaakec@unbeg.edu.sd.

The meaning of Independence Day for the South Sudanese People!

By Luk Kuth Dak

"Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

July 12, 2011 — Not even in my wildest dreams have I ever thought that this day will eventually emerge. After all, it took a little over five decades of vicious oppression and countless innocent lives lost in the process for the Sun to ultimately shine in the skies of South Sudan, announcing that a new day has indeed arrived

On July 9, 2011, the world’s newest nation named the Republic of South Sudan (ROSS) was born. A nation of God given rights. A nation of patriots, who because of their bravery , honor and sacrifices, there will live a free people on that soil.

Like any baby, ROSS will be vulnerable and fragile. Indeed, any mother will tell you, the hardest part of delivering a baby is not the pain, but what awaits the newborn. Obviously, any women can deliver a baby, but not every woman can raise a child to become a good member of the human society. In another word, the toughest part is the upbringing of that child, especially if the mother is a single one.

By the same token, ROSS is just another baby who if not taken care of from an early age, it can be added to the list of the so-called “ street- children” or ends up being behind bars for the rest of his/her life. The question: Is that what we really want our precious ( baby) to be like?

I don’t think so.

With our independence comes a great deal of responsibility; a task that will require hard work and perseverance that we all have to shoulder, if we don’t want to see an example of Somalia staring us in the face. I strongly suggest that after the celebrations are over, we ought to take some time out to think positively and critically about the future of the country we have just inherited. A better place to start from is to take a closer look at some of the failed states and the successful ones all across the globe. In so doing, we would not only learn not to repeat what let to the failure of some of the states, but we could also emulate the successful ones such as the United States and Ghana, to mention just a few.

Too often, as we struggle to move forward as people and a one nation, we seem to highlight our differences, those things that set us apart, and we forget to focus on our commonalities, the things that bring us together. I’m a firmed believer that God Almighty created us looking almost alike for a reason. On a personal note, those who do not know my Nuer heritage think that am from the Dinka or and the Anyuak tribes, respectively. I have no problem about that. After all, I have a daughter who is a half Nuer and a half Dinka. At 9 years old, Mirry, has never asked me what her tribe is, but when she does, I will gladly tell her that it’s the Nuer, and that’s it. What I will not tell her, however, is that the Nuer are better than any other tribes in South Sudan!!

We have to do better, and better we must. There are hundreds of millions of people across the globe who have been inspired by our independence. We cannot let them down. We cannot let our children down, by leaving them behind with a failed state.

Yet, as challenging as the events may be around us today, I truly believe we will overcome them if we continue to be solidly united as we have demonstrated during these past few days of our independence. We cannot turn back the clock. We must move forward. But, as we do so, we must always remember those who paved the way for us with their precious blood and soul. Those are the real heroes of this historical moment.

I wish you all a blessed Independence Day.

God bless the Republic of South Sudan.

The author is a former anchorman at Juba Radio, and he can be reached via e-mail at: lukedak@hotmail.com.

South Sudan Paradox: Joyful independence, sorry leadership!

By James Okuk

July 10, 2011 — As the people of South Sudan andtheir friends celebrate with joy the long-awaited independence of their belovedMotherland, yet they are also seriously troubled by lack of good leadership inthe new country. The old Sudan has gone, the new South Sudan is born but thevalues of liberty, justice and prosperity are still to be practically seen soonin both the former biggest country in Africa (Sudan) and in the newest declaredstate in Africa with a guaranteed lucky given United Nations membership withina shorter time in mid July 2011.

With the good news of thedeclaration of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan kicking off on 9thJuly 2011, yet bad news of bad leadership from the SPLM and its military wing (theSPLA) remains the greatest concern locally, nationally, regionally andinternationally. The SPLM/A regime is not feeling ashamed at all to behave likethe NCP/NIF regime in the past even worst in South Sudan. History of regimecreation with absolute powers for intimidations that used to dominate the oldSudan seems to be repeating itself in South Sudan since 1956.

For Example, the first President ofthe Republic has demanded absolute powers from the lawmakers in the form ofSouth Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA), and these powers were given to him inmidst of threats and intimidations of the opposing views. What a shame andwrong start for the new Republic of South Sudan! We know that some countrieswere tremendously built by leaders with absolute powers, but will the firstPresident of South Sudan who is now given absolute powers do the same? If hecouldn’t do his best with the little power and wealth put under his custody inthe last six years what will change his abilities this time to effect a u-turnat the last days of his lifespan in power? Only God knows?

Another example of the bad eve ofthe independent South Sudan is the case of Leader of the Opposition in the SSLAHon. Mr. Onyoti Adigo who just lost his strong tooth on 7th July2011 as a result of torture from the SPLA Military Intelligence (MIs) watchdogsin Juba. The SPLA MIs beat and torturedhim, his bodyguards and other SPLM-DC at their new Secretariat Headquarters inJuba. The reason given for this evil act is that the Hon. Onyoti and otherSPLM-DCers did not request permission from the SPLM and the GoSS to celebrate theindependence of South Sudan and distribute posters in Juba to expresscongratulations for the big occasion made by Southerners in unity.

But does any Southerner need toobtain a permission to express the joy and congratulations for the independenceof the Motherland? And is it civilized at all to beat up a Member of Parliament(MP) endowed with constitutional immunities, especially at the eve ofindependence where all foreign dignitaries and international journalist areassembling for the rare occasion in the world? Absolutely not, and this showshow South Sudan is overwhelmed by the de facto sorry leadership of theso-called liberation fighters who turned out to have been fighting for selfish reward and not for a justcause of the people.

No wonder, the U.S. President BarackObama and other genuine democratic world leaders are justified to declineresponding positively to the GoSS and SPLM’s invitation for independencecelebrations. Right now a lot of questions are ringing in the minds of manySoutherners and those concerned about the common good of South Sudan: Why didSPLM/A fight against marginalization in order to practice marginalization byshift of guards? Why did SPLM/A fight for liberty in order to practiceoppression? Why did SPLM/A struggled against injustice in order to deny justicein South Sudan? Why did SPLM/A accepted to negotiate and reach a ComprehensivePeace Agreement (CPA) in order to create conflicts inter and intra SouthSudanese communities and/or the neighboring communities? Why, Why, Why and listof the pessimistic concerns and paradoxes continues.

Yes, the independence of SouthSudan is the best but does it deserve bad leadership? Does it make sense for aleader of the new country to say fromtime to time that he does not know that many communities and individuals inSouth Sudan are being subjected to all kinds of ill-treatment by the verySPLA/M commanders and comrades? Why is the SPLM/A top leader unable to lead anddiscipline his juniors who are executing very harmful acts against the good ofSouth Sudanese and the credibility of his leadership itself? What kind of aleader doesn’t know how to lead his people on the right path withoutdiscrimination?

For sure, and with shameful actsbeing executed in South Sudan, so many repeated failures to bring good news tothe new country will push some communities, groups or individuals to chooseliving in diaspora and exile or in the best rebellion bushes of South Sudanuntil genuine change is effected. But of course this shall increase the levelof bad news in the new country like what happened in the eve and dawn of thedeclaration of the independence of the old Sudan in 1950s.

The South Sudan President and thefew people benefiting from his leadership will attempt to crash those trying tooppose his leadership but with no success as he would wish. Also the SouthSudan rebels and the opposition leaders shall try to work hard to see to itthat the new President takes good care of values of good leadership or else hemust go to his home or to the grave. But in the course of this conflict overthe use of power, the people of South Sudan shall be the very one who shallbear the greatest consequence of the conflict from above. God have mercy on thepoor people of South Sudan since their leaders are failing to protect them fromharms!!!

Notwithstanding, the sufferingpeople of South Sudan will remain as unshakeable force for change and wise useof power. Their voice will remain the voice of God and whoever does not fearthem (be it the government of the day or the rebel or the opposition) shouldnot pretend to fear God. God shall hear their prayers in the form of the SouthSudan National Anthem.

Building a new country is not ajoke. Having absolute powers for leadership comes with greatestresponsibilities too. It is not about hiring and firing subjects at will only;it is far more demanding than this short-look.

Long Lived the Independence SouthSudan but Short-lived whoever will try to mislead the freedom to a wrong directionof non-prosperity, injustices and dictatorship.

Congratulations and Viva to theRepublic of South Sudan. I love this historic Day that I am witnessing in mylife as an opportunity missed by many other Southerners, including the top CPAhero, Dr. John Garang de Mabior.

Dr.James Okuk is a PhD holder from the University of Nairobi. He can be reached atokukjimy@hotmail.com.

A New Nation is Born

By Ban Ki-moon

July 9, 2011 — This Saturday, July 9, the Republic of South Sudan will join the community of nations. Foreign dignitaries will converge on its capital, Juba, to watch the new country raise its flag and inaugurate a first president, Salva Kiir Mayardit.

For the more than eight million citizens of South Sudan, it will be a momentous and emotional day. In January, they voted in an historic referendum to separate from the rest of Sudan. That they did so peacefully is a credit to both the North and South Sudanese leadership. Yet nationhood has come at steep cost: a staggering number of lives lost and people displaced in a 21-year civil war that ended only in 2005. When the assembled presidents and prime ministers board their official planes to return home, the challenges that remain will be daunting indeed.

On the day of its birth, South Sudan will rank near the bottom of all recognized human development indices. The statistics are truly humbling. It has the world’s highest maternal mortality rate. Estimates of illiteracy among the female population exceed 80 percent. More than half of its people must feed, clothe and shelter themselves on less than a dollar a day. Critical issues of poverty, insecurity and lack of infrastructure must all be addressed by a relatively new government with little experience and only embryonic institutions.

I came to appreciate the sheer scale of these challenges, for myself, when I first visited South Sudan in 2007 – an area of 620,000 square kilometers with less than 100 kilometers of paved road. Within this larger context, the risk of increased violence, harm to civilian populations and further humanitarian suffering is very real.

At the same time, South Sudan has remarkable potential. With substantial oil reserves, huge amounts of arable land and the Nile flowing through its centre, South Sudan could grow into a prosperous, self-sustaining nation capable of providing security, services and employment for its population.

Alone, South Sudan cannot meet these challenges nor realize its potential. Doing so will require partnership — a full (and on-going) engagement with the international community and, most especially, South Sudan’s neighbours.

First and foremost, the new leaders of South Sudan should reach out to their counter-parts in Khartoum. Strong, peaceful relations with the North are essential. A priority for both countries is agreement on their common border, sustainable relations to ensure both states can benefit from the oil revenues in the region, and cross-border arrangements to continue their strong historical, economic and cultural ties. Recent instability in Southern Kordofan and Abyei have strained North-South relations and heightened political rhetoric. Now is the time for both the North and the South to think of the long-term benefits of working together, not short-term political gains at the other’s expense.

South Sudan must also reach out to its other neighbours. Across the globe — and in Africa, especially — the trend is towards regional partnerships. South Sudan will be strengthened by becoming an active participant in the regional organizations of East Africa and developing durable trade and political ties throughout the continent.

Finally, South Sudan must reach out to its own people. It must find strength in diversity and build institutions that represent the full constellation of its broad geographic and ethnic communities. The basics of any modern, democratic state must be guaranteed: free expression, full political rights, inclusive institutions that extend benefits to citizens of rural areas as well as regions affected by conflict.

In the 21st-century, the international community has increasingly come to recognize the responsibilities of governments to their citizens, including the protection of political space and democratic rights. The popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have shown what can happen when governments are inattentive to the needs of their people.

The United Nations is committed to assisting the government of South Sudan meet its many responsibilities. That is why I have proposed a new United Nations mission in South Sudan: to help build the institutions that the country needs to stand on its own. In doing so, let us remember that the United Nations is only one part of a broader set of partnerships that the government should develop — with the North, with its neighbours in the region and beyond and, most importantly, with its own people.

On July 9, I will join other leaders in Juba to mark the birth of South Sudan. The last thing a new nation needs is a celebration as it springs into existence, only to then be forgotten until the next crisis. Our purpose is to do more than celebrate this milestone. It is to highlight the international obligation to stand by the people of South Sudan as they seek to build a stable, strong and ultimately prosperous nation.

The writer is Secretary-General of the United Nations

Is the Republic of South Sudan a failled (pre) nation?

By Andrew Akon Akech

July 7, 2011 — Independent we will not. On face of it, voices are on record that the CPA’s delivered autonomous south Sudan is loosing credibility in good governance. Like others, we equally admit to the existence of difficulties. Indeed the world has problems. It’s the duty of ( wo)men to devise adapted solutions.

In this jungle of problems fraught pharmacy, we have no elixir, not even a majestral preparation. The present “concoction” is the best we assume could serve tackle our current short-comings. But the Argus-eyed local and international circles read the picture differently. It is then a question of a discriminate yard-stick. Gauged against the chronological scale of human achievements and experiences, a toddler aspiring nation of South Sudan is put, unjustly on equal footings with nations counting behind millennia of trials and errors which have brought them so far to the present show case of equality management and universally accredited know how.

The south was to have an alibi. Emerging from a near sixty- year old contester of difficult co-existence with a perfidious northern “compatriot”, she cant transform over night into an arbitrator of ethnically diverse society(Her Achilles’ heel),impromptu constituted redundant civil service, destabilization oriented NCPs incitation of disgruntled southerners, un regulated influx of “friendly” foreigners (infringe on sovereignty ) and management of thorny issues posed prior to the 9th Jan 2011 popular consultation and which have now become the hanging issues.

The World certainly will have a new- born baby state. What’s uncertain is its behavior in the’ new’ world’s order. Clouds at the horizon are thick and charged. And there a silver lining around those clouds:

Juba has become a known spot on Africa’s geopolitical map. International dignitaries who courageously came in 2005 to pay the last homage to their peer, Dr John Garang, found it a desolate place only comparable to an extra terrestrial planet. Six years on the tally, Juba is taking on an aspect of a modern metropolitan. Its major circulation arteries are on tarmac, a comfort our late leader lamented didn’t exist since creation .The town became a Mecca for Sudanese in search of a political pilgrimage. In September 2009 a sustained consultation of political parties kept shuttling between Juba and Khartoum until an umbrella of Juba parties was constituted. But being driven by conflicting ulterior motives, the forum was simply a consensus on the consensual.

An extrinsically (northern) engineered insecurity becomes for us a non avenue. South Sudan is as secure as it has never been before. Foci of insecurity articulated around abbaction and incitation to contesters of all shades, simply become a manageable ‘hiccup’. Which secure nation counts a zero level of insecurity?

Despite the alarming reports of high mortality rates among vulnerable groups, South Sudan has an efficient net-work of essential drug distribution to all her ten states. Health professionals are struggling with available means to change things. We have yet no firm information on the repercussions of these efforts on the declared scourages.Timid indicators orient towards a balance tipping in the direction of a positive change, but at a price of a challenge: to integrate their health system into a tripod of cost/effective preventive and curative medical practice, community based comprehensive and efficient health education and a nationally patronized health control mechanisms; all cast into a framework of viable, solid social security protective umbrella.

Illiteracy is a blemish on the flesh of our society. Reliable data on its rate and prevalence are lacking. The post war ministry of education is seen by the public to have commendable strides towards its eradication. Centers of primary education are mush-rooming albeit in big towns, search for quality is another effort. Indeed, quality education in colonial and immediate post colonial Sudan was amongst the best in Africa in a culturally diverse society as ours. However northern Sudanese pan-Arabists educators thought arabizing the system would be the best way for the Arab expansion bridge into the depth of sub Saharan Africa. It might have worked for them, but the consequences for us are disastrous. The ministry of Education is working hard to reverse the tide by adopting a new convenient curriculum. What’s regrettable is our elites’ resort to seek quality education in the neighborhood’s court yard. We might have educated southerners, but in the end, definitely acculturalised ones.

Rural South Sudan is mired in a dependency syndrome as a means of survival. In the hours of distress a philanthropic world mobilized ambulances to come to her rescue, by providing life-line support. The actors were the NGOs and their Arial droppings, a disaster in disguise. Efforts are now operational to change mentalities by providing civic education aimed at encouraging people to return to work culture and self reliance rather than entirely depending on ephemeral god send good Samaritans.

On the contrary a dry season rural Republic of South Sudan is thirsty despite “its” Nile and uncountable tributaries. The paradox of too much water and too much thirst needs an objective scrutiny in this semi- equatorial part of Africa where we have a unique catch man, the Sudd, the second largest world’s lung after that of the Amazon. Preserve or exploit it with the attendant risks to the environment and its echo- system is a dilemma.

In this globalised world, our capital (Juba) voluntarily accepts the role of a globalised village. On its roll call, most Nations would respond present except, maybe, Latin America. The signal is strong: while we are a myriad of ethnically “exclusive” communities, we are involved in playing the role of implicated actors in a racially homogenized rainbow in the world’s community of Nations.

The thick clouds are entrenched around the CPA’s original ambiguities. The CPA is only comprehensive in its inclusion of the six protocols. Contentious issues that threatened to torpedo the boat of negotiations were put to “later on”. This has, unfortunately, brought us to an amputated mechanism where we clearly saw what was wrong without the necessary mobility to advance towards a solution, except by acrobacy. Legacy of avoidance of these thorny issues confronted us early on in the course of CPA application. When faced with power sharing of sovereign / service ministries, the NCP partner arrogantly arrogated to herself the sovereign ministries of Defense, Interior, Energy and Finance. Fearing to nib our cherished baby (CPA) in the bud and with advice from friends we conceded and willingly accepted the service ministries of Cabinet Affairs, Higher Education and Foreign Affairs. Still later on, frustrated by the NCP’s blockage of electoral protocols (April 2009, Referendum) and easing of restrictive regulations on civil liberties, the SPLM in December 2007 retaliated by declaring a self imposed “lock- out” from the government of National unity until a change of heart brought them back in April 2008. With the advent of referendum a foot-dragging NCP partner suddenly became aware of the non attractiveness of unity. In a desperate attempt, she conceded the Energy Ministry only after having been eviscerated of almost all of its contents in addition to the creation of a still-born commission of making unity attractive.

After this milestone referendum, how does the Republic of South Sudan (ROSS) behave with the North and itself? ROSS has two norths: “southern” Northerners and its geographical North. Southern Northerners are people to whom we must pay a double allegiance: moral and pragmatic. Morally, during the struggle our visions converged on a secular Sudan of equal rights and duties as a ladder of social ascension. They had the courage to cross the “yellow line” drawn by their original society to come and fight alongside the “infidels”. Terms of the CPA application were achieved with their unfailing support. They consequently become an integral part of us with our respect to the cultural differences, unless they decide otherwise. A choice we must respect. This brings us to the next obligation; pragmatism.

Encouraging them to practice as SPLM Northern sector in a hostile NCP environment will expose them as fifth columnists. Moreover, pulling the strings of unity while the gin of separation has come out of the jar and is slowly permeating every square inch of the one million square mile surface area of the former united Sudan would for them be an exercise in mechanical disadvantage. The South’s geographical north is a huddle. It is at the same time the internationally forced facilitator of the CPA’s protocols and the mastermind behind the hanging issues. It would be wrong for the protagonists to play the scorched earth policy as a leverage to contain the adversary. We must be prepared to the idea that certain hanging issues can’t be resolved in a limited time frame but could “hang” as long as possible if we stick to the principle of dialogue as the least evil means of achieving a solution/ compromise, for it is what could prevent us from getting entangled in a protracted war of attrition. Skirmishes at the Northern limitrophe areas are destabilizing and a psychological trauma to the victim populations. Lack of a tit- for- tat response, however, is not a sign of weakness but can be a litmus test on how resistance to provocation can be-refusing to be goaded into an action whose consequences could be excessively destructive to both sides. But where are we from one another? The answer could be the gist of what can shape our harmony in a successful nation-state. The south born out of struggle and toil is not necessarily the south that is or simply can be. It needs other dimensions to make it inclusive, an indispensable, and a key element to our success. An appraisal of the pre referendum interim period cannot be banal but evidently indispensable. The objective isn’t undressing James to cloth Paul but find out in all sincerity whether all went “well” or there were errors that could be avoided in the future. In 2005 a triumphant SPLM/A marching to Juba found itself in a disparate situation: a sitting wealth (dividends on oil revenues) and a cruelly absent infrastructure. Rare in history does an “under dog” stumble on a mountain of wealth but common-place in that this abundance may inevitably lead to misplaced priorities. Moreover, the liberator, in good faith, came promising a lot to the too much expectant librated; a discrepancy that failed to fit into available time frame of the CPA’s application. The vision of towns going to the rural areas has yet to materialize; towns are still in towns, more elusive is where the capital of ROSS will definitely sit.

Federalism is an idea that would put all at ease, the governor and the governed. The present version in which the players are constitutional post holders poses the important question of its long term sustainability in terms of cost/effectiveness as the plethora of the posts imposes an unbearable drain on our nascent economy. The precedent years were those of “fat cows”. We should now be prepared to go in for more years of “lean cows”. I n our opinion, constitutional post holders should be limited to the Federal Government (former GOSS), the Federal and State legislative Assemblies as well as the state Governors, as these are elected institutions State ministers, Commissioners and Secretary Generals by virtue of being appointees should remain heads of theirs Dept, but affiliated to respective federal mother units and under the supervision of the Governor.

Generosity and leisure time should be repatriated from government offices to our homes where they naturally belong. Most government offices are stuffed with giant screens where the holder spends most time watching not only news but other diversities. There are sometimes embarrassing situations where you want to talk to your host only to discover that his attention is hay jacked by what is happening on the screen. Did we ever imagine how much money are we paying for these technological gadgets, with constant change of materials depending on the taste of the occupant?

Aberrance is the exaggerated generosity in our public offices. Whenever one enters an office, one is served a cold drink and water .The episode is repetitive depending on the number of errands or courtesy calls a visitor has each day. Worst is that some ‘guests’ leave behind almost halve of what has been offered. Suppose a bottle of water and a can of cold drink each cost one Sudanese pound, how much per day does our public treasury spend on this surge of absurd official generosity across our ten states?

The nascent ROSS is under the lime-lights of scrutinizing local/international communities as to what she might mean to its people in particular and to the World at large, in terms of existing standardized norms of good governance and performances. A perfect nation doesn’t exist. It’s neither our intention to be one. We simply want to be a successful Nation in the community of nations while expecting to be given attenuated cir cumstances.The people of South Sudan with its different components and epochs took under sixty years of harsh and strenuous struggle to attain its objective-separation, a difficult dream that has come to its realization ‘too soon’. ROSS is now inheriting precarious peace time nationhood: a society under the yoke of tribal animosities, deases, illiteracy, thirst, hunger, concerns over installation and maintenance of an efficient governance in a harmonized federal system, preservation of a virgin eco-system and may be, difficulties in expressing her identity in a globalized world. While the context might not necessarily fit us we will try to fit into it.

Dr.Andrew Akon is a lecturer in University of Juba, he can be reached at ak.andrew@yahoo.com

Cold blooded mass murder in the Nuba Mountains

By Samuel Totten

July 3, 2011 — Over the past four weeks, Government of Sudan (GoS) troops and allied militia have carried out a vicious and murderous attack on the people of the Nuba Mountains in the Sudanese state of South Kordafan. This is the very same government that perpetrated genocide in Darfur and continues to carry out devastating attacks on the region. Tellingly, Sudan’s president, Omer Al-Bashir, is already wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for the atrocities perpetrated in Darfur.

MIGs and Antonov bombers have created havoc in the Nuba Mountains; farms, tukuls, and churches have been burned to the ground; close to 100,000 people have been forced from their villages out into the wilderness and up into barren mountains; and untold numbers have been killed.

In Kadugli, the capital of South Kordafan, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have gone door to door in search of suspected members and supporters of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and executed them on the spot. GoS troops have also planted land mines throughout the area. In Dilling, GoS soldiers carried out their own search for members and supporters of the SPLM and upon locating them slit their throats.

While there are UN troops (United Nations Mission in Sudan or UNMIS) in the Nuba Mountains they have largely served no purpose. If truth be told, they are actually exacerbating the situation. First, they do little more than largely observe the violence and certainly nothing to attempt to halt it. Second, two sources inside the Nuba Mountains, both of whom must remain unnamed, reported that Egyptian soldiers with UNMIS were seen raping local women in Kadugli as the latter sought sanctuary from the surrounding violence. Third, when a massive group of civilians sought assistance at UNMIS headquarters in Kadugli they were purportedly told to leave and go to Dilling, some 120 miles away — a horrific journey on foot in the face of the ongoing attacks. Finally, there are reports that UNMIS personnel told people to head north when seeking safety, thus apparently leading them directly into the hands of the GoS troops. It is no wonder that rumors are afloat that those Egyptian soldiers with UNMIS are on the payroll of Khartoum.

Various reasons are aswirl as to why GoS troops attacked the people of the Nuba Mountains. First, some four weeks ago, Al-Bashir threatened that if the people of the region did not readily accept the newly elected Ahmed Haroun, who is wanted by the ICC on over 40 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes for the horrors perpetrated in Darfur, as their governor, they would suffer the consequences. In fact, in a speech in Kadugli, Al-Bashir stated that his soldiers would chase the Nuba people up into the mountains as they did in the 1990s, leaving them without food to starve to death once again. Second, when members of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), who, along with the vast majority of people in the Nuba Mountains, voiced their vast disappointment that Abdel Aziz, a popular and former commander of the SLPA, had been cheated out of the governorship as a result of a rigged election and also refused to take off their uniforms when ordered to do so, GoS troops attacked them. Third, many believe that the real reason behind the attack is that Al-Bashir wants to gain absolute control over South Kordafan and the border area with South Sudan in order to strengthen his hand in negotiations over Abeyi, a oil rich region straddling the border between the north and the south. Finally, there are rumors that Al-Bashir wishes to gain control of as much land as possible along the border, an area that is poorly demarcated, as he also prepares for future negotiations with the new state of South Sudan.

Al-Bashir’s propensity for killing those with whom he disagrees, who question his authority and/or policies, who challenge his dictates, whose land he desires, and/or who he looks upon with distain and wants gone is well documented. He’s done it previously in the Nuba Mountains (in the 1990s when he carried out genocidal acts and virtually starved people to death), in Darfur between 2003 and today during which over 400,000 blacks Africans perished, and he is back at it once again in the Nuba Mountains. And the world should never forget or overlook the fact that just because the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has been signed by the north and south, Al-Bashir, as president of Sudan, oversaw a large part of the north-south war that resulted in some two million deaths.

Clearly, Al-Bashir specializes in perpetrating crimes against humanity, genocidal actions, and genocide, and he does so whenever he wishes in the belief that he can do so with impunity — the ICC or any other court or tribunal be damned.

For the sake of the people of the Nuba Mountains, for the sake of civilization, for the sake of our own decency, we, and the rest of the world, must show Omar Al-Bashir that he is wrong — and that impunity does not reign.

Samuel Totten is a genocide scholar based at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He served as one of the 24 investigators with the U.S. Atrocities Documentation Project in eastern Chad. His most recent book is An Oral and Documentary History of the Darfur Genocide (Praeger Security International, 2010). He was last in the Nuba Mountains in January 2011 conducting research for a new book, Genocidal Actions Against the Nuba Mountains People: Interviews with Survivors of Mass Starvation and Other Atrocities.

What it means to liberate a country

By Zechariah Manyok Biar

July 3, 2011 — The formal announcement of the Republic of South Sudan is less than a week away from now. It is generating both the feeling of triumph and the feeling of the upcoming challenges. The upcoming challenges would need the change of our mindset if we are to overcome them and govern this country in a way that will satisfy its citizens. Misconceptions about the meaning of liberation will have to be corrected.

Those of us who participated in the arms liberation of South Sudan seem to believe that we are entitled to everything even what does not fall in our legally defined ownership. Some people use the name of liberation as a tool for silencing voices that do not support their individual interests. The question they are supposed to ask themselves is what it really means to liberate a county?

The real liberation means that people will have freedom to kick you, the liberator, out of their constitutionally defined property if they can legally prove that they own it. The real liberation means that people will have the freedom to question you when you try to force them do what they think is not appropriate to do. The real liberation means that people will have the right to determine how they want to be governed—that is, they will reject and condemn a behavior that the law defines as illegal.

Today, South Sudanese who express the above mentioned principles of freedom are seen as traitors. Some people question other citizens to clarify where they were during the liberation war. Of course, not everybody participated in the war, but that does not mean they would not know what their legal rights is. Respect for liberators is one thing and legal ownership of property and the rights to determine how one should be governed is quite another. A respect is not something that one demands; it is a voluntary choice of those who want to respect you.

The irony of intimidating people into respecting you as a liberator is this: people who cannot say no to what they do not like are not really liberated. People feel liberated when they can freely debate issues to prove their points right or wrong. People feel liberated when they can go to court and get their justice done convincingly. If a liberator silences people in the name of liberation, then he or she is telling them that they need a second liberation.

It could be true that liberators should be given special respect, but that does not mean they should coerce people who never participated in the liberation. These are the people that they liberated.

If the liberators were just entitled to anything they put their hands on, then why don’t we think today about those who lost their lives because of the liberation of this country? Do we even care how their children live? Who is the real hero between the living liberator and the dead one? Is it not the one who died for the freedom of those who are enjoying freedom while still alive?

The only way of rewarding the dead liberators, I think, is to let the living (who might not even have bothered to participate in the arms liberation) enjoy the freedom achieved through arms liberation.

In the Republic of South Sudan, personal interest must be separated from national pride because it soils it. We must follow the law and its definition of what our rights are. Being a liberator is not a right, it is a duty.

In my next article, I will take on those who mistreat others in the name of property ownership when in the real sense they are also thieves. Area belonging does not give one the right to claim everything. Those who do such things are not different from those who use liberation as a tool for achieving their selfish individual interests.

Zechariah Manyok Biar, BA. Edu., MACM, MSSW. He can be reached at manyok34@gmail.com