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Strong Human Rights Watch Report on Violence Against Civilians in Darfur

By Eric Reeves

August 22, 2012 (SSNA) -- The report issued today by Human Rights Watch offers a powerful indictment of UNAMID and the failure of human rights reporting in Darfur; it also presents a catalog of specific atrocity crimes by the "new Janjaweed": Abuses by Rapid Support Forces in Darfur since February 2014 (full texts of both appear below).

At the same time, Radio Dabanga reports today a strange and consequential claim by the head of the UN/AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas.  In the context of a conversation with the leaders of Kalma camp (very near Nyala), the largest and perhaps the most abused of all the camps in Darfur, Ibn Chambas was told that Darfuri civil society rejects the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and rejects as well the farce that is being billed as a "national dialogue" by a desperate Khartoum regime.  At the conclusion of this largely unsurprising dispatch, however, Radio Dabanga reports a truly extraordinary claim by Ibn Chambas (Radio Dabanga, "Darfur Displaced Reject Sudan's National Dialogue," 21 August 2014 | https://www.radiodabanga.org/node/78953):

"UNAMID cannot stop government forces [from] enter[ing] the camps for the displaced.”

What does this mean?  That UNAMID will watch various re-enactments of the assault on El Salam camp by regular and militia forces on August 5, 2014, which involved both regular and militia forces. Or the subsequent assaults on nearby Otash and Dereig camps?  Both are just outside Nyala, capital of South Darfur and the largest town in Darfur, with a very substantial contingent of UNAMID forces.

Perhaps Ibn Chambas means that it won't stop regular Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), but will stop militia forces?  Yet this was not the case on January 5, 2014 when Radio Dabanga reported:

On the 5th of January, a group of militiamen stormed El Salam camp in search of a vehicle they claimed was missing. They threatened to torch the camp if they would not find the vehicle.

What Does Ibn Chambas really mean by declaring that "UNAMID cannot stop government forces [from] enter[ing] the camps for the displaced”?  Does he mean that UNAMID lacks the resources or mandate to protect civilians in displaced persons camps from large-scale assaults by the armed forces allied with the regime in Khartoum, even if they are from the SAF?  Or is this finally a case of simply being unwilling to challenge the genocidal tactics of the regime?

What does your "cannot" mean, Ibn Chambas? 

Certainly the UNAMID mandate stipulates that civilian protection is in fact its primary task.  Are we to believe that the UN Security Council Resolution 1769 (31 July 2007) leaves any ambiguity concerning authority?

(a) [Under Chapter 7 authority, the UN Security Council] decides that UNAMID is authorised to take the necessary action, in the areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities in order to:

(i)  protect its personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its own personnel and humanitarian workers,

(ii)  support early and effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, prevent the disruption of its implementation and armed attacks, and protect civilians, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Sudan (July 31, 2007)

But of course there has been no "ensuring the security and freedom of movement" of UNAMID personnel and humanitarian workers.  On the contrary, Khartoum has grown steadily more restrictive in what movements it will allow UNAMID or humanitarian organizations—excluding, of course, the more than 20 major relief organizations that Khartoum has expelled from Darfur over the years.

The Darfur Peace Agreement (Abuja, May 2006) was a thoroughly dead letter even before the passage of Resolution 1769.  And most consequentially, the task of "protecting civilians" has been abandoned, touted as an achievement only by the discredited previous UNAMID leaders Rodolphe Adada and Ibrahim Gambari.  Some 2 million people have been newly displaced since UNAMID officially took up its mandate in January 2008, most by violence.  And now Ibn Chambas declares that UNAMID "cannot" protect these displaced persons, even with significant troop and police resources only a few miles away.  With such an attitude, it is not hard to see why UNAMID has such a disastrously poor record of protecting displaced persons camps from military assault.

Too often we have previously seen the consequences of such assaults, with scores of authoritative reports about direct attacks on camps for displaced persons.  These have been continuous since attacks began on camps in West Darfur and North Darfur in 2005—nine years ago.  These people are utterly defenseless; if weapons have sometimes been smuggled into the camps, they pose no threat to Khartoum's well-armed regular and militia forces.  I described (with Mia Farrow) a clash at Kalma camp in August 2008:

At 6am on the morning of August 25, [2008], Kalma camp, home to 90,000 displaced Darfuris, was surrounded by Sudanese government forces. By 7am, 60 heavily armed military vehicles had entered the camp, shooting and setting straw huts ablaze. Terrified civilians — who had previously fled their burning villages when they were attacked by this same government and its proxy killers the Janjaweed—hastily armed themselves with sticks, spears and knives. Of course, these were no match for machine guns and automatic weapons. By 9am, the worst of the brutal assault was over. The vehicles rolled out leaving scores dead and over 100 wounded. Most were women and children. (Wall Street Journal, 6 September 2008)

Does Ibn Chambas really mean that UNAMID "cannot" halt such attacks, cannot prevent Khartoum's heavily armed regular military forces from entering a displaced persons camp with deadly ambition?  And if it cannot, what conceivable purpose does the mission serve?  The present "special representative" needs to clarify or correct what has been reported by Radio Dabanga.  As it stands, his confession of impotence makes yet another mockery of the UN's declared "responsibility to protect" ("R2P"), a responsibility unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2005 and the Security Council in 2006.

Human Rights Watch

Darfur: UN Should End Silence on Rights Abuses:

Improve Reporting on Violations, Protection of Civilians
http://www.hrw.org/africa/sudan

(New York, August 22, 2014) – The United Nations Security Council should direct the African Union/United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to improve human rights monitoring and public reporting when it renews the mission’s mandate, Human Rights Watch said today. The Security Council is expected to act on the mandate during the week of August 25, 2014.

The human rights situation in Darfur, Sudan has deteriorated sharply in 2014, Human Rights Watch said. Rapid Support Forces, a Sudanese government force consisting largely of former militias, attacked scores of villages in South, Central, and North Darfur between February and April. Dozens of civilians died, tens of thousands of people fled, and there was massive destruction and looting of civilian property.

“The government attacks in Darfur since February recall the brutal government-led ‘janjaweed’ militia attacks that began in 2003,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Accurate and timely reporting by the AU/UN mission is critical for protecting vulnerable civilians. The UN Security Council needs to order the mission to ramp up its human rights monitoring and public reporting.”

The AU/UN mission, now in its sixth year, has been largely ineffectual in protecting civilians from violence, Human Rights Watch said. UNAMID has a team of about 60 human rights officers in Darfur, but the mission has all but ceased public reporting on human rights. Although it has described these attacks and other patterns of insecurity in its periodic reports to the UN secretary-general, it has not reported detailed findings, including civilian death tolls, estimates of property destruction, and alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The mission has not issued a stand-alone public human rights report in five years.

Various forces have targeted civilians during fighting between government forces and rebel groups, and between government and militia forces, and between armed community groups. The government has also intensified aerial bombings of Jebel Mara, a longtime rebel stronghold, and other locations, killing civilians and damaging property. More than 380,000 people have fled violence in Darfur since the beginning of 2014, according to UN estimates.

Government security forces have also committed human rights abuses against civilians in camps for internally displaced people, Human Rights Watch said. On August 5, security forces raided the Al Salaam camp, near Nyala, South Darfur. The raids, ostensibly to search for weapons, alcohol, and other contraband as part of the governor’s emergency response to rising criminality, were also conducted in Dereig and Ottash camps. In Al Salaam, residents told local human rights activists that the security forces beat camp residents with sticks and hoses while searching homes and stealing mobile phones, cash, and other property. Security forces arrested dozens of residents. Some were released and others convicted in special courts that lack basic due process protections. Three people remain in detention, a community leader told.

Sudanese government restrictions have seriously hampered the peacekeeping mission’s access to conflict areas. Chronic security threats to peacekeepers have also undermined its effectiveness. Attacks on the mission have killed at least 58 peacekeepers since 2008.

Despite the obstacles, UNAMID could improve its civilian protection role. Peacekeepers should increase patrols and human rights monitoring where they are present, particularly in and around camps for displaced people.

“The Sudanese government has the responsibility to maintain law and order, but its forces need to conduct operations lawfully and respect basic rights,” Bekele said. “UN/AU peacekeepers could help deter abuses during law enforcement operations through close monitoring and prevent future abuses with timely reporting, both of which are clearly within the mission’s mandate.”

The last UNAMID human rights report on Darfur, published jointly with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was issued in January 2009, about a government raid on a camp for displaced people in South Darfur that killed 33 people and injured more than 108.

In April 2014, Foreign Policy published allegations of cover-ups and misreporting of events by the AU/UN mission, based on internal documents leaked by its former spokeswoman, Aicha al Basri. She alleged that the mission’s leadership – reluctant to criticize the Sudanese government – had failed to report accurately on crimes by government forces. News of the leaks prompted the secretary-general to establish an internal investigation into the alleged cover-ups and review probes into the mission, according to a press statement in July. The investigation is due to begin in September.

The secretary-general’s investigation should recommend improvements to the mission’s reporting and its advocacy to protect human rights, Human Rights Watch said. In February, a separate AU/UN review of the mission’s effectiveness, carried out over several months, found serious deficiencies in performance, and recommended new priorities and benchmarks for the mission. However, that review did not call for improvements in reporting or for improving protection for civilians and peacekeepers.

Human Rights Watch also called on the UN Human Rights Council, which will hold a session on Sudan in September, to condemn human rights violations in Darfur and in other parts of Sudan, Human Rights Watch said. The council should reappoint a special rapporteur to specifically monitor and report on the human rights situation across the country, upgrading the current independent expert’s mandate.

Serious crimes committed in Darfur led the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation in March 2005. Charges are pending against five individuals, including Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Khartoum refuses to cooperate with the ICC and has obstructed its work.

“With the surge in Sudanese government-led attacks on civilians, credible public reporting on the situation in Darfur is more important than ever,” Bekele said. “The UN should not allow this core aspect of its work to be degraded, especially when the secretary-general has pledged to put ‘Rights up Front’ in the UN’s work.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Sudan, please visit: 
http://www.hrw.org/africa/sudan

For more information, please contact:

In New York, Jehanne Henry (English, French): +1-917-443-2724; or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow on Twitter @Jehannehenry
In New York, Daniel Bekele (English, Amharic): +1-212-216-1223; or +1-917-385-3878 (mobile); or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow on Twitter @DanielBekele
In Geneva, Philippe Dam (English, French): +41-76-413-3536; or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow on Twitter @Philippe_Dam
In Nairobi, Skye Wheeler (English): +254-705-557-017; or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow on Twitter @WheelerSkye

Abuses by Rapid Support Forces in Darfur since February 2014

From mid-February to late March, the Rapid Support Forces, consisting of former militia under the command of the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services, moved into Darfur from the Kordofan region, where they had been deployed to fight rebels in Southern Kordofan. The forces are led by former militia leader, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagolo, known as “Hemmeti.”

These forces, with other security forces and militia, carried out massive ground attacks on dozens of villages in South and North Darfur, targeting areas where they accused the population of sympathizing with rebel forces. They burned homes and shops, looted livestock, killed and robbed civilians, and forced tens of thousands of residents to flee to towns and camps for displaced people.

President Omar al-Bashir has publicly defended the Rapid Support Forces. Authorities have detained opposition leaders for criticizing security force abuses in Darfur and Kordofan. Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party, was arrested in May 17 and released after a month in detention, while Ibrahim al-Sheikh, head of the Sudan Congress Party, has been detained since June 8 on charges that could carry the death penalty and suffers from health problems.

South Darfur

Starting February 19, government forces attacked as many as 35 villages south of Nyala in South Darfur. The area had been the site of clashes with the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) prior to the attacks, but residents said the rebels had left the area. Residents from villages in Hijier and Um Gunia who had fled to Nyala told Human Rights Watch that government aircraft bombed the area, and large numbers of ground troops in land cruisers and on horses and camels entered the villages, destroyed water pumps, stole animals, and burned homes.

Witnesses said that security forces rounded up merchants and their family members and shot them dead. One 45-year-old woman from an area west of Hijier told Human Rights Watch that three armed men on camels and a motorcycle fatally shot her husband and son, and looted livestock. “When I started screaming they shot me twice in my right arm, then took the animals away,” she said.

Community leaders gave Human Rights Watch a list of 38 civilians who were killed and 10 others who were missing, though casualty figures are difficult to verify. They said militias had prevented the community from returning to bury the bodies. One woman, who was missing 3 of her 10 children when she spoke to Human Rights Watch, said that a relative had been shot and killed: “I saw his dead body with two other bodies of old men lying beside him. It is very unfortunate that up to now no one was able to pick them up.”

More than 60,000 people fled the area, mostly to Sani Dileba and to camps near Nyala, according to UN estimates.

North Darfur

In early March 2014, Rapid Support Forces moved to eastern Jebel Mara and North Darfur, leaving a trail of destruction, targeting communities they said supported rebel groups. Starting around March 15, they attacked scores of villages near El Fasher, Korma, Kutum, Um Sidir, Hashaba, Bashim, Anka, and Melit. While SLA rebels had attacked Melit a few days earlier killing 5 people, they had left the area by the time government forces arrived, residents said.

Residents told Human Rights Watch, UN staff, and local monitors that government forces entered villages in land cruisers and pickup trucks, often accompanied by militia on horseback or camels, shooting at homes, looting livestock and other goods, and assaulting and killing civilians. In some cases, government aircraft bombed the locations, especially in or near Jebel Mara.

A 39-year-old man from the village of Birka, northwest of El Fasher, said that around March 14 a large group of soldiers stopped him and accused him of being a rebel, but allowed him to proceed to El Fasher. Upon his return later that day, he learned that the soldiers had surrounded the Birka market, looted shops, beat people, and killed a man who tried to protect his daughter from being raped.

A 15-year-old girl from Dolma village, southwest of El Fasher, told local monitors she saw soldiers arrive in a vehicle on March 15 and shoot her 15-year-old friend Khadija Adam. The girl died from her wounds under a tree after everyone else had fled, she said.

A 45-year-old merchant from Gozdor, west of El Fasher, told Human Rights Watch that on March 22, large numbers of soldiers in land cruisers and pickup trucks arrived from the south, fired in the air, then started looting animals and property and set fire to houses. The soldiers killed at least two people and abducted a 17-year-old girl, the merchant said.

Residents also described attacks around Um Sidr, north of El Fasher. They said that beginning on March 16, soldiers in several hundred land cruisers mounted with doshka machine guns and other weapons, shot at people, burned houses, and looted livestock.

“The government forces came in 225 [sic] vehicles, supported by Janjaweed militia on horses and camels and burned 23 villages,” a community leader reported to local monitors. “The attack went on for three days and killed seven males. We fled to the wadis [dry riverbed] to hide. They took all our belongings and left us with nothing.”

The government forces then attacked villages to the north and west, around Hashaba and Bashim, killing and injuring dozens of people, residents said.

“It was at 10 a.m. The government forces arrived in about 180 vehicles and started burning the houses and shops in the market,” a 55-year-old woman who fled from the attack on Hashaba told Human Rights Watch. “They found one of the mentally ill men and tied his hands and threw him into the fire.”

On March 23, government forces in a convoy of hundreds of vehicles attacked Bashim, several witnesses said. “I hid behind a tree until evening, then ran toward the mountain,” recalled a 37-year-old man, who said he had buried three relatives killed in the attack. “They were killed by bullets or run over by vehicles and we buried them together.”

A 45-year-old woman who also fled the Bashim attack said that government forces killed her brother: “I sat down and tried to speak to him but he was already dead. I covered him with my scarf and ran away.” She also reported that a woman and two young girls she knew were shot dead in the attack.

The forces remained in Bashim for nearly two weeks, using the town as a base from which to attack other villages in the area, residents said.

Smaller groups of government soldiers attacked civilians in other locations, such as Anka, north of Bashim. Badly injured villagers brought to El Fasher for medical care told local monitors that soldiers drove through the Shagor Ali area shooting randomly at groups of civilians, killing at least three people instantly and seriously wounding 14 others.

The death toll from the government attacks in North Darfur is not known, but information received by Human Rights Watch indicates that at least 38 people were killed near Um Sidir, Bashim and Melit alone. Tens of thousands of people fled for safety, mostly to camps around El Fasher or UNAMID bases.

Eric Reeves' new book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012; www.CompromisingWithEvil.org; review commentary at: http://wp.me/p45rOG-15S)

Rumbek: Another Side of the Burning Home!

By Deng Mangok Ayuel

August 20, 2014 (SSNA) -- Just as the country is wavered by rebellion where individuals lost their beloved ones, bulk displacement of people, where others are almost starving in the camps, yet our people in Rumbek are still killing themselves amid crisis in South Sudan.

In Rumbek, past events are forwarded to the present. The weight of the past, the traditional ways of doing things is massive. The past tension of 20th century is forwarded to the 21th century. He who killed my uncle in the past is still remembered as an enemy when compensation and reconciliation were done. Why do we reverse the past gears? I like the way Agar people act politically, but partially hate their individualistic approaches to their local issues as Agar and clans.

The wrongs of the past should be forgiven. And if we look to the past, let’s do so for the lesson it had taught us. An act of revenge increases the problem to hopeless sense. However, there is no smoke without fire, but people should stop revenging because all of us are one. There is a need to sit down and solve our own problem.

I have been anticipating for years to see politicians from Lakes state coming forward as leaders or the sons and daughters of Lakes states to condemn the tragedies that have had been rocking Rumbek for years if some of them have never been the part of the insecurity in the state.

Many of us in South Sudan have social, political problems or grievances to be spoken but not the nature of Rumbek’s. There is solution to everything, and the people of Rumbek should say enough is enough to their own problems. I am not saying that my Agar people – who are Dinka are not good. I love them and wanted them to live peacefully. Buka ye puot e rot. Tetke aleei wiic wek yeeth, {literally translated: do not fight. Wait for an enemy to invade you!}

Former governor, Daniel Awet Akot tried his best to forge calmness but the situation increasingly intensified during the time of Chol Tong and Matur Chut. And again, those who are asking for governor Matur’s removal are yearning for the worst. Governor Matur came to stay. No surprise. Just tell them. It’s you – the ordinary people who are the problem to yourselves – nature or mentality not the governor! And if it’s the governor who is the problem, then let it be known than trouble innocent people.

During the opening ceremony of Mayardit Hospital in Rumbek, President Kiir urged the people of Rumbek to stop fighting. He also added that people are not killing themselves in Aweil or Twic in Warrap because they have lost many people during the protracted civil war in Sudan. There is no need for people – same family to kill themselves. The crowd listened to the President’s speech at Rumbek freedom square – and after a week, a paramount chief was killed in Rumbek. What is really forcing people in Rumbek to kill each other?

They state authority had sacked some paramount chiefs when Engineer Chol Tong was the governor but the same problem is still yearning. People should respect the law. As community chiefs, local leaders tried to solve the problem but invincible, I urge the youths to reconcile, live together. The civil society, youth organizations and woman groups should join hands and critically look into the problem. The research institutions should also carry out studies to pioneer the root causes of the problem for a lasting solution.

While Bishop Deng Bul is in Rumbek – urging people to obey the law and work together as one people, however, the problem lies within the people. These people should be asked to speak out their minds before featuring solutions, lest the problem shall not stop. Did they stop doing the obvious in Rumbek when President Kiir begged them to cease killing each other? Will they stop fighting when Bishop Deng leaves Rumbek?

Those who are thinking of solving anything in Rumbek are supposed to begin with the youths where the problem kept starting. When the house is on fire, neighbors see the smoke and begin coming for rescue. Many people fight fire with water, sand soil, and green leaves of trees. And if the house is burning and we began asking the owner of the house for the root cause of the fire than pour the water on the fire, then are we helping to stop the fire? Our people know how to fight the fire with water, oil and sand. However, we must decide which method is the right method to stop the fire burning the house, lest the house will be burned into ashes. In other parts of the country, youths or individuals have been politicized by politicians to act against their rival fellow politicians, is it the case in Lakes state? The Youths in the cattle camps shouldn’t be political camps cattle herders.

The social intimidating complexity by the people of Rumbek deserves brotherly actions, concrete thoughts based on grass-root consultation with local community or chiefs. The problem is from within – cohesively needs law-enforcing agencies to take proper measures against ring leaders. Moreover, people sometimes don’t obey the law when favoritism, interference are done by individuals within law-enforcing agencies, in which others may feel their cases seemed to be vulnerable and think of revenge as the last solution. All in all, Rumbek may need law-enforcing agencies’ forces from different states in the country for fairness and social neutrality.

Deng Mangok Ayuel is a South Sudanese columnist and blogger, lives in Aweil. He can be reached via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A Tribute to Ambassador Page

By: Biel Boutros Biel

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has a cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us (Albert Schweitzer)

August 20, 2014 (SSNA) -- On 18 August 2014, I happened to read a version of news story published by the Sudan Tribune online: (http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article52090), that a top United States ambassador was due to ‘leave’ South Sudan. My heart threw a beat and it was rightly so, it is Ambassador Susan Page (Amb. Page), to be leaving! As I read through the news material, my mind recalled the courageous articles and statements on South Sudan, ocassionally authored and issued by Amb. Page. I wondered aloud within, thinking the gaps, the learned Ambassador would leave behind! However, my thoughts lamely reconciled, that perhaps, the new Ambassador ‘Charles Twining’ reported to replace her, would be giant enough to share his ‘candle’ without fear or favour.

Whom should we thank?

Sometimes, as human history would have it, there are individuals who do much priceless work for others but remain uncelebrated. However, if there are few international figures that the poor and the oppressed South Sudanese should give thanks to; Amb. Page, is among those who rock it! Her love for the ‘republic of vulnerable’ and most especially the Africans, from Rwanda unto us, it would be inglorious not to thank her. Amb. Page stood with us, South Sudanese, not only at the times she was posted to Juba as the United States Ambassador to South Sudan, but also since then and through the times of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA) between South Sudan and North Sudan. At that time, she was a legal advisor to Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).Using her legal knowledge, Amb. Page was one of the brains behind the drafting of the CPA protocols. In her own words she said;

I think about how privileged I am to have witnessed the signing of the document that ended the longestrunning Civil War in Africa (http://thepolitic.org/an-interview-with-susan-d-page-u-s-ambassador-tosouth-sudan/)

For sure, the CPA gave us the right to vote for our final freedom as South Sudanese people. For some, it might be ambitious to say, that I believe the ‘Oyee’ we say on every 9th Day of July, Susan Page has a ‘page’ in it.

How far has this iron lady put South Sudan into her heart?

It can never be contested that since 6 December 2011, when she arrived in Juba, to take up her position, Amb. Page has never looked back. She stood with us; at times, she even says things that South Sudanese government might not be happy to hear. It is on record for most of us, working in human rights defence that, Amb. Page pushed much on South Sudanese government to conduct thorough investigations on who killed our colleague Isaiah Abraham. She also has oftentimes stood tall and bold when the freedom of speech and expression is abused by the agents of our government. In May 2013, while commenting on press freedom Amb. Page stated that; 

the state has the constitutional mandate to protect journalists.

I think, this was a gentle reminder on how our ‘holy lords’ in the government should have known that the protection of a free speech, is not a privilege to be accorded to the citizens at the mercy of the state but rather a right that people’s government should not abuse and instead, protects it.

Amb. Page never stopped there, seeing our country as a close political ally to her own, she was bold enough to clearly convey the concerns of the U.S. government over our messy media situation and she remarked that; the US government is very concerned about the deteriorating levels of press freedom in the country. The continued push back, intimidations and harrassment of journalists is a violation of their rights and freedoms

Rightly to say so, Amb. Page, has come to South Sudan not to monitor the abuses of human rights and rule of law per se and to report the same to Obama’s administration so that a guilotine is put on our ‘Hitlers.’ No, she believes that her presence is meant to continue moving together along the thorny road with the poor and oppressed South Sudanese in their quest for true liberty. This explains why in many ocassions, she has always made statements that raise eyebrows and leave some conscience guilty among those who entirely claim the ownership of the liberation struggles with the same song ‘holier than thou’.

Amb. Page, understands us and sincerely believes that we are not hopelessly hopeless, but a people with dignity, who are only devastated by the effects of protracted wars. In 2012, to be sure, that the ‘iron lady’ means business for us, while in interviews with the media she said; 

-----------they really had to start from scratch. We are not talking about just ordering some new furniture they didn’t have pens, papers, and stationery, let alone computers, electricity, and running water, vehicles, roads. It certainly is nation-building, but to try to encourage South Sudanese along their path to build a nation and using their resources to try to help the citizen population.

Those words said by a diplomat, show how deep she is in our shoes. Amb. Page, in the current South Sudan’s civil war, she remains hopeful and a source of our encouragement. Like United Nations former head in South Sudan, Hilder F. Johnson, Amb. Page, even at the point of uncertainity, she feels our hurt, pains and sufferings and wants us to have hope still as she said; 

Do not to lose sight of your dream of building a united and prosperous country, even in the wake of the violence that has wracked South Sudan (http://www.voanews.com/content/south-sudan-us-ambassadorsusan-page-message-unrest-diplomacy/1841001.html) 

To my mind, Amb. Page wants a peaceful South Sudan and since December 2013 when evils through our ‘votes’ befell South Sudan, yet it has been her wish that peace should return. She sometimes states things that neither please the Juba government nor the rebels but she believes South Sudanese have burning issues which could only be resolved through peaceful dialogue and she said: 

We reiterate, there can not be a solution militarily to this conflict that is first and foremost political and where demands of people need to be heard. U.S. government will continue to press for a national dialogue for South Sudan to promote democracy and the interests of all South Sudanese people.

Much as some of the things pushed by Amb. Page, didn’t succeed until the time of her leaving, issues such as apprehending and bringing to justice the suspects on the assassination Isaiah Abraham and making sense to the advocacy of the media freedom, however, it could be argued that, it has been because, the learned Ambassador’s words, have always landed unheard in the ears of ‘politically active generals.’  

Amb. Page understands South Sudanese and to many, she is a fearless lady who believes in freedom for all. Her courageous stance and hopeful statements on South Sudanese issues, to some powerful gurus, they seem ‘foreign interferences in domestic affairs’ whereas, to the oppressed and dying South Sudanese, she speaks the very issues for which our colleague Isaiah Abraham wanted South Sudan to be freed from and the same that led to the 15 December 2013 bloody start.

John F. Kennedy once remarked; we must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives

Precisely to assert, I would say, this is the time to thank Amb. Page, for truly, she believes in the fundamental freedom discourses for which men like South Sudanese leader Dr. John Garang and American civil rights icon, Martin Luther King, died for. That is why, the ‘iron lady’ has been saying things which a certain Minister of Information would say; ‘she has exceeded her mandate.’

One for home:

Ambassador Susan Page; kindly convey to President Obama that, the current shape of affairs we are in from Nimule to Renk, from Raja to Gambeila, if not completely peacefully dismantled, then South Sudan will not have a stable future any time soon. Tell Mr. President that the wounds are too big to be healed by a mere coalition government as the negotiations in Addis Ababa would suppose. Neither the Ocampo’s language nor the Chinese guns would offer solutions. Tell him, the ongoing war is not about Dinka versus Nuer but more deeply rooted, in the evils against which men like Riek Machar and Salva Kiir, spent their youthful lives fighting successive Sudanese governments. Tell him that, in order to have a peaceful, reconciled and united South Sudan once again, South Sudan needs a complete u-turn in its structure and state composition. The economic gap between the poorest of the poor and comrades who have become too rich too soon, isn’t anything to trace aside. Tell him that the common South Sudanese are looking for a governance system that won’t glorify individuals but one that will adore supremacy of the Constitution, a system that won’t care who becomes the President but that, which ensures;- that the president acts in accordance with the just laws, the one which ensures that the poor are fed from the oil money and revenues for which their sons, husbands, relatives, wives etc, died. A system which ensures that the votes are not stolen, that one which ensures that the parliament is dominated by the people’s representatives, that tthe judiciary is not for the in-laws, that the army is not for the tribal warlords. Kindly pass to him, that deep grievances, injustices, oppression, dictatorship, name them, have taken over South Sudan, that these evils are the ones controlling the country and the only solution is to have peace negotiations that asks; questions still not asked. That addresses not only why there is civil war but that goes deeper to explore how this war should have been prevented.

Thank you Ambassador Susan Page for sacrificing your worth for Africa and particularly, for standing with South Sudanese people at the times we most needed you. Truly, from CPA hitherto, you have been one of us and we only hope that you will always remain standing with the oppressed people though you might soon find yourself in the politics of the ‘Kerrys’ of this world.

For Ambassador Charles Twining, over to you sir!

The author, Biel Boutros Biel, is an Executive Director of the South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA). He fled to exile since December 2013 and is currently pursuing his Master’s of Laws Degree (LLM) at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He can be reached on: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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