January 25, 2008

Church Alliance for a New Sudan Director Moderates Discussions on Sudan

Faith McDonnell, director of IRD’s Church Alliance for a New Sudan served as the moderator for two panel discussions held at the Hudson Institute on the current situation in Sudan.  Both Sudan symposia are available for viewing online.

In December, McDonnell moderated a panel discussion on the connection between the current genocide in the western Darfur region and the genocide of over 2 million in South Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and other marginalized areas.  “Building a Solution for All of Sudan:  Linking Darfur and the South,” was held on December 18, 2007.  It was co-sponsored by the Enough Project, the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, and the IRD.   Panelists for this discussion included Angelos Agok from South Sudan and Mohammed Yahya from Darfur, as well as three American advocates for Sudan: John Prendergast, the co-chair of the ENOUGH Project; Nina Shea, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute; and Roger Winter, former Special Representative of the Deputy Secretary of State for Sudan.


Panelists for the December 18, 2007 symposium on Sudan included (front row, l-r) Nina Shea, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute; Faith McDonnell, Director of Religious Liberty programs at the Institute on Religion and Democracy. (back row, l-r) Roger Winter, former Special Representative of the Deputy Secretary of State for Sudan; Angelos Agok from South Sudan; John Prendergast, the co-chair of the ENOUGH Project; and Mohammed Yahya from Darfur. (Photo courtesy Hudson Institute.)

The panel of distinguished experts provided a unique combination of perspectives on the relationship between the National Islamic Front regime’s agenda towards the people of Darfur and the people of South Sudan.  Each speaker warned that the stakes for peace, secular democracy, and religious freedom throughout Sudan may have no equal throughout the world today.  The situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, while the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a far deadlier war in South Sudan is at risk and in danger of eventual collapse. If the South’s peace agreement unravels, there will be no chance for peace in Darfur; and if Darfur continues to deteriorate, the likelihood increases dramatically of a return to what was—for 20 years—a far more destructive and deadly war in the South.

In her opening remarks, McDonnell said:

Today’s topic is very important. Building a solution for all of Sudan because all of Sudan, not just the South, not just Darfur, but the Nuba Mountains, Nubia, Eastern Sudan—all of the people groups that have been marginalized have been victims of the ruling clique in Khartoum.

It’s also very important because this flies in the face of what Khartoum has been doing for years—dividing and conquering, setting one people group against another people group, or, to use their own coarse phrase, “using a slave to kill a slave.”

And Khartoum has also used this strategy very effectively with the West, by keeping our attention on one area of Sudan at a time instead of keeping our attention on them.

It’s like a shell game.  Pick up the shell that is called “South Sudan” and they are under Darfur.  Pick up the shell called “Darfur” and they are under Nubia.  . . . We have to become at least as smart as Khartoum in our strategy.

So what you hear today and what we do after this meeting is critical in helping the survival of Darfur and of all Sudan.  It is critical to the survival of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the building of the New Sudan where there is peace, justice, secular democracy, and religious freedom for all Sudanese.

Sudan Symposium 2 took place on January 11, 2008, also at the Hudson Institute.  This panel discussion, entitled “Post-CPA Sudan: Ongoing Violence and Violations and the Effect on Civil Society,” was co-sponsored by IRD, the Center for Religious Freedom at Hudson Institute, and the Southern Sudanese Voice for Freedom.  This symposium featured special guest the Rt. Rev. Alapayo Manyang Kuctiel, the Bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek, Episcopal Church of Sudan.  Bishop Alapayo was hosted by IRD during his time in Washington.  The panel also included  Jimmy Mulla, the president of the Southern Sudanese Voice for Freedom;  Amin Ismail Zakaria, the general secretary of the Nuba Mountain Association; and Roger Winter, who had spoken at the first symposium.  This second symposium was televised on CSPAN.


Panelists for the January 11 symposium: (front row, l-r) Nina Shea; Faith McDonnell. (back row, l-r) The Rt. Reverend Alapayo Manyang Kuctiel, Bishop of Rumbek, Episcopal Church of Sudan; Jimmy Mulla, President, Southern Sudanese Voice for Freedom,;Amin Ismail Zakaria, Secretary General, Nuba Mountains Association; Roger Winter.

This time the discussion centered on the continuation of violence in Sudan and the continued violations of the now two-year-old Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) by the National Congress Party (formerly known as the National Islamic Front).   Panelists discussed the CPA, signed on January 9, 2005, which has tentatively brought an end to more than two decades of war between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in the south and the forces of the Sudanese government in the north.  Each speaker described how the National Congress Party in Khartoum has failed to honor some of the key provisions of the CPA, and has supported militia-based violence against Southern Sudan and the other marginalized areas such as the NubaMountains.

McDonnell introduced the panel with the following comments:

Some three and a half years before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a U.S. government plane landed in Rumbek, Southern Sudan.  This was long before Alapayo Manyang Kuctiel was a bishop.  Out of the plane stepped Senator John Danforth, President Bush’s special envoy for Sudan.  Senator Danforth asked to be directed to Rumbek’s Episcopal Church to pray before he began his mission.  He was directed to a large tree, the same tree that serves as the Diocese of Rumbek’s cathedral today.  Bishop Alapayo, who was then an archdeacon, led the service.  Senator Danforth preached.  And in the congregation was Salva Kiir, now theFirst Vice-President of Sudan and President of the Government of South Sudan.

Here, I believe, is powerful symbolism.  Key figures representing the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the United States government, and the Church of Sudan under a tree that must serve as a church because all the buildings have been destroyed by war, all together to pray for peace.

Now it is the third anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  We are here today to look at several issues surrounding the continuation of violence and the lack of fulfillment of key provisions of the CPA.  What needs to happen to save the peace agreement?  And what effect is the lack of implementation of the CPA having on civil society today?

The Church Alliance for a New Sudan hopes that these two discussions will lead to renewed interest in the welfare and wellbeing of all of the people of Sudan, and a new commitment to advocacy for the whole of Sudan by concerned citizens.


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