sudan news record

Monday, April 18, 2005

Singer Agnes Chan visits Darfur

17 April 2005

Channel News Asia - Singapore : Singer Agnes Chan said she had witnessed first-hand the hardships faced by displaced persons in Sudan's war-torn Darfur following a three-day tour of the region.
"The trip was very emotional to me," said Chan, a major celebrity in Japan, who visited the region in her capacity as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). "All people spoke from their hearts," she told reporters, referring to some of the estimated 2.4 million people displaced by over two years of conflict between government forces and ethnic minority rebels in the region. Chan said they told her about the appalling conditions under which they live and "the hardships and difficulties they are facing in getting such basic needs as water and primary health care." The singer also mentioned an encounter with a mother at the Abu Shouk camp near el-Fashir, the capital of North Darfur state, whom Chan asked what she wanted. You know what I want? "I want education for my children and I want food and security and I want to go back home," the woman replied. The UN said as many as 180,000 people may have died over the past two years in Darfur, mostly from disease and malnutrition, but a recent British parliamentary report put the figure at around 300,000. Chan said the purpose of her visit was to try to help "raise the awareness of the Japanese people about the tragic situation in Darfur and thus raise the funds needed by UNICEF for the purpose." - AFP

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mr. Bush, Take a Look at MTV

Published: April 17, 2005
When Turkey was massacring Armenians in 1915, the administration of Woodrow Wilson determinedly looked the other way. The U.S. ambassador in Constantinople sent furious cables to Washington, pleading for action against what he called "race murder," but the White House shrugged.
It was, after all, a messy situation, and there was no easy way to stop the killing. The U.S. was desperate to stay out of World War I and reluctant to poison relations with Turkey.
A generation later, American officials said they were too busy fighting a war to worry about Nazi death camps. In May 1943, the U.S. government rejected suggestions that it bomb Auschwitz, saying that aircraft weren't available.
In the 1970's, the U.S. didn't try to stop the Cambodian genocide. It was a murky situation in a hostile country, and there was no perfect solution. The U.S. was also negotiating the establishment of relations with China, the major backer of the Khmer Rouge, and didn't want to upset that process.
Much the same happened in Bosnia and Rwanda. As Samantha Power chronicles in her superb book, "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," the pattern was repeated over and over: a slaughter unfolded in a distant part of the world, but we had other priorities and it was always simplest for the American government to look away.
Now President Bush is writing a new chapter in that history.
Sudan's army and janjaweed militias have spent the last couple of years rampaging in the Darfur region, killing boys and men, gang-raping and then mutilating women, throwing bodies in wells to poison the water and heaving children onto bonfires. Just over a week ago, 350 assailants launched what the U.N. called a "savage" attack on the village of Khor Abeche, "killing, burning and destroying everything in their paths." Once again, there's no good solution. So we've looked away as 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur, with another 10,000 dying every month.
Since I'm of Armenian origin, I've been invited to participate in various 90th-anniversary memorials of the Armenian genocide. But we Armenian-Americans are completely missing the lesson of that genocide if we devote our energies to honoring the dead, instead of trying to save those being killed in Darfur.
Meanwhile, President Bush seems paralyzed in the face of the slaughter. He has done a fine job of providing humanitarian relief, but he has refused to confront Sudan forcefully or raise the issue himself before the world. Incredibly, Mr. Bush managed to get through recent meetings with Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair and the entire NATO leadership without any public mention of Darfur.
There's no perfect solution, but there are steps we can take. Mr. Bush could impose a no-fly zone, provide logistical support to a larger African or U.N. force, send Condoleezza Rice to Darfur to show that it's a priority, consult with Egypt and other allies - and above all speak out forcefully.
One lesson of history is that moral force counts. Sudan has curtailed the rapes and murders whenever international attention increased.
Mr. Bush hasn't even taken a position on the Darfur Accountability Act and other bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Jon Corzine and Sam Brownback to put pressure on Sudan. Does Mr. Bush really want to preserve his neutrality on genocide?
Indeed, MTV is raising the issue more openly and powerfully than our White House. (Its mtvU channel is also covering Darfur more aggressively than most TV networks.) It should be a national embarrassment that MTV is more outspoken about genocide than our president.
If the Bush administration has been quiet on Darfur, other countries have been even more passive. Europe, aside from Britain, has been blind. Islamic Relief, the aid group, has done a wonderful job in Darfur, but in general the world's Muslims should be mortified that they haven't helped the Muslim victims in Darfur nearly as much as American Jews have. And China, while screaming about Japanese atrocities 70 years ago, is underwriting Sudan's atrocities in 2005.
On each of my three visits to Darfur, the dispossessed victims showed me immense kindness, guiding me to safe places and offering me water when I was hot and exhausted. They had lost their homes and often their children, and they seemed to have nothing - yet in their compassion to me they showed that they had retained their humanity. So it appalls me that we who have everything can't muster the simple humanity to try to save their lives.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Videocon looks at oil fields in Sudan

Videocon looks at oil fields in Sudan
Sify - India
Saturday, 16 April , 2005, 11:01
Videocon Industries Ltd will spend Rs 800 crore in overseas exploration and production activities over the next two years, said sources. Videocon was in talks to invest in oil fields in Sudan, and was also considering Ukraine -- both rich in energy resources. The company will also spend around Rs 1200 crore in exploration and production in India and after it raises Rs 2000 crore in global depositary receipts, a fund-raising due to be promoted next month. Videocon signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Khartoum province in Sudan last month for investing and developing oil projects there.
The company planned to take a stake of up to 76 per cent in an offshore Sudanese field located in the Red Sea, which it will explore along with a consortium of global partners. The company will visit Ukraine next week to explore its investment potential and it might consider investing in Russia and other countries in the Middle East and Africa. Videocon, which has been in the energy industry for 12 years, plans to step up investment, given the demand for oil. Dhoot estimates Indian oil demand will grow 12 per cent this year. The company plans to bid for 20 blocks offered by the government under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).
The Videocon group, which also makes TVs and home appliances, already owns 25 per cent of the Raava oil field, located in the Krishna-Godavari basin off India's eastern shore, which produces 50,000 barrels of oil a day that is sold to Indian oil companies. Energy-hungry India, which imports 70 per cent of its oil and barely produces the gas it consumes, has been encouraging companies to chase up energy ventures. State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd, India's largest oil producer, is already active in Sudan with equity stakes in some projects

Saturday, April 09, 2005

UN Rights Expert Accuses Sudan of War Crimes in Darfur - Baden-Baden,Germany
Apr 9, 2005 Geneva
A United Nations human rights expert is calling on the international community to step up its pressure on the Sudanese government to stop, what he calls, the systematic rape of women and other abuses against civilian victims of the war in Darfur. The expert has submitted his report to the UN Human Rights Commission which is holding its annual session in Geneva.The Independent Expert, Emmanuel Akwei Addo, calls the Sudanese government's response to the insurrection in Darfur ruthless and disproportionate. He accuses the government and its proxy fighters, the Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed, of waging a systematic campaign against the unarmed civilian population.He says this has resulted in an estimated 300,000 civilian deaths, in a million people becoming homeless and more than 200,000 others fleeing to neighboring Chad in search of asylum."Because of its tendency to produce indiscriminate and massive destruction, counterinsurgency warfare carried on with high technology weaponry that was unleashed by the Government of Sudan on its own citizens is inherently intolerable and repulsive," he said.The independent expert says the Darfur peace process is in jeopardy. He notes the rebels walked out of talks in Abuja, Nigeria in protest against two weeks of an onslaught by the Sudanese government. He says the situation in Darfur seems to be deteriorating sharply.Mr. Addo says there are strong indications that war crimes have been committed in Darfur. These include murder, torture, rape and intentional attacks against civilians and civilian objects."I consider also that crimes against humanity have been committed in Darfur. They include forcible displacement and rape committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population. There are strong indications of these crimes having been committed in Darfur by the Janjaweed," he said.Mr. Addo says the perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice. He notes Sudan for the first time has arrested military and security officials accused of rape, killing and burning villages in Darfur. He says a government committee reportedly has arrested 15 people in Darfur for human rights abuses and intends to send them to the International Criminal Court. He calls this a step in the right direction.Sudan's response to the report has been generally conciliatory. A Sudanese Representative says his government will work closely with the U.N. Commission and with its partners in the comprehensive peace agreement. He says his government will work to protect and promote human rights in the entire country.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Eastern Sudan rebels prepare for war with show of force

Saturday April 2nd, 2005 10:11.
Sudan Tribune - Sudan
NEAR TELKOK, Sudan, April 2 (AFP) -- A bewitching Arabic tune wafts through tents scattered around the desert plain here in rebel-held eastern Sudan when the mood shifts suddenly with the arrival of the fighters.

Supporters of rebels from Sudan's Eastern Front parade during a conference held by the Front north of Kassala town, near the Eritrean border on Friday April 1, 2005. The rebels denounced marginalization of their region by Khartoum and say they are ready to resume fighting.(AFP) .
Three battered lorries and dozens of dirty pick-up trucks career across the sand and dirt, their screeching brakes failing to drown out the noisy cheers of the hundreds of poorly clad but well-armed rebel soldiers they carry.
Waving AK-47 assault rifles, the fighters, many with fuzzy Afros and many appearing quite young, vow to fight for their cause: ending what they say is the marginalization of eastern Sudan at the hands of Khartoum.
"These are only a small sample of our army," smiles Salah Barqueen, a leader of the Beja Congress, one of two groups that recently formed the Eastern Front to fight for people's rights in Sudan's eastern Red Sea and Kassala states.
Like their counterparts in more the well-publicized conflict in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region, the ethnic minority Eastern Front complain they are being ignored by the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum.
"Our region lacks hospitals, schools, water, transport systems, everything," says the front's newly-elected president, Musa Mohamed Ahmed.
"If the government is ready to solve the problem peacefully, we are also ready," he told AFP here at a rebel base north of Kassala near the Eritrean border where the Eastern Front gathered this week to plot strategy.
"If they are not, we are also ready," said Ahmed, who clad in a dark-green combat uniform seems to be readying himself to command troops.
The Beja Congress and their colleagues in the Eastern Front, the Free Lions, are both descendents of Arab immigrants to Sudan: the Beja centuries ago and Rashaidas in the 19th century.
Angered by what they say is a radically unequal distribution of Sudan's wealth from natural resources like oil, the Eastern Front rebels took up arms against Khartoum like those in Darfur and southern Sudan before them.
But with international attention focused squarely on Darfur and this year's landmark peace deal between Khartoum and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army, the Eastern Front has languished in relative obscurity.
In late January, though, their cause made headlines when at least 14 and as many as 36 Beja Congress supporters were killed by Sudanese security forces breaking up a demonstration in the eastern city of Port Sudan.
In the aftermath of the violence, Khartoum pledged to hold talks with the rebels but that offer has been met with widespread skepticism here where the front's leaders were considering their next steps.
"I don't think the government is genuine when it mentions peace talks," Ahmed says, echoing earlier rebel demands those responsible for the Port Sudan violence must be tried by an international court if discussions are to be held.
Without justice, the front leadership says there will be no talks and no peace for Khartoum and maintains that its firepower will be enough to defend itself from the government army and proxy militia.
And top officials and fighters are steeling themselves for conflict wider that the sporadic clashes that have been the norm in recent years.
"Without force we won't be able to recover our rights," says new rebel army recruit Suleiman Saleh.
Saleh, who appears older than his stated age of 15, was one of dozens of new recruits the Eastern Front congress was partly called to drum up.
Children younger than 10 who volunteered were rejected for their age but their enthusiasm was energetically cheered by a crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 people who gathered in the cool desert twilight to witness an initiation ceremony.
Every so often, a lone voice would call out a victory cry which the assembled crowd would roar back several times.
After dusk fell and numerous officials delivered their speeches, a concert was held and in front of a large stage, old men with swords and young AK-47 toting rebels danced late into the night, singing that victory was at hand.

Football Sudan style

By Nyambura Wambugu BBC Sport
A Sudanese schoolboy dons a David Beckham shirt ready for a match
Every Sunday afternoon at around 4 o'clock the village of Narus in southern Sudan becomes gripped with football fever.
But unlike most of the rest of Africa the excitement does not surround a local league game or even an English premiership match on the TV.
Instead the villagers are gather at the local football field to watch a match between Comboni school and St Bakita school.
The Sunday clash has become a ritual and a must-see event for both the young and the old.
In this part of the world, there is no electricity, radio or any form of modern technology to keep the locals busy.
So the Sunday football match is the only form of entertainment and emotional release for locals.
The boys take to the dusty field to wild cheers, the players do not have matching kits instead they wear various jerseys from different clubs and countries from around the world.
And even the ball, that at first glance seems like a normal football, is not quite what it seems and is homemade from a balloon wrapped in surgical bandage.

The Sudanese villagers have to use a homemade ball
Despite the improvised ball, the hot, dry and dusty conditions for the next 90 minutes the bare-foot boys show case their talent, skills and energy.
When the final whistle blows each week the winners go away to bask in a week of glory while the losers are left with one option: to wait until next Sunday.
But what motivates the boys?
"I watched the World Cup while I was at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya in 2002 and I liked the game very much," says 17 year old Simon Rachu.
"When I came back to the Sudan, I came to school and found boys who were also in the camp and we all talked of football and a teacher helped us start a team."
For these boys football is their only diversion from the everyday realities of living in a civil war.
19-year-old Surach Mohammed tells me of his dreams of playing outside Sudan and even maybe at the World Cup.
He has such dreams despite never having seen another football match apart from the weekly game he takes part in.
With the 21 year old Sudanese conflict seemingly coming to an end the boys have high hopes that sports will soon take root in a country where it has taken the back seat in recent years.