Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Juba must make Oil Concessions with Khartoum to get Abyei out of the Quagmire

 Martin Garang Aher

It is imperative that southern Sudan will overwhelmingly vote for secession in January 2011 referendum as predicted by many keen observers of the Sudanese conflict.  This vote is particularly loathsome to NCP and the entire northern Sudanese population- the economically oppressed, the politically disenfranchised groups and the Muslim/Islamic theocratic leadership.  This makes 2010 and 2011 the years of determination of nationhood and survivability. Only one area has become a silver bullet which would, nonetheless, bring about lasting peace in the country, but a threshold for doom to the entire nation. This area is Abyei. Abyei had become the footstool where decision makers rest their feet while debating the future of the country particularly on wrong and deceitful terms.

The justifiable token for not accepting all the deliberations on Abyei by the NCP Government is not that Abyei holds any significance in the people that live in it. The matter in holding on to Abyei at this crucial time is a matter of survival. It is not true to suggest that the transhumance Messeriya herders who seasonally maraud while grazing and watering their livestock in Abyei will be permanently deprived of the use of the promised resources by southerners - grazing land and water. No supportive historical evidence is present today which can pinpoint any occasions when the Messeriya had unduly been denied grazing and temporary sojourning by the Ngok Dinka of Abyei.

There is something deeper that is being demanded in a manner particularly so incognito by the Sudanese government and the ruling party, the NCP. Many writers and analysts have highlighted this several times and have come to the conclusion that Sudan’s precious commodity in southern Sudan is oil. About 80% of the Sudan revenue is known to come from oil, and much of this lies in southern Sudan, a region presently threatening to go away as an independent sovereignty. What will happen to Northern Sudan economy should southern Sudan leave with all the oil? What are the guarantees that southerners will in the near future decide to reunite with northerners to form a much-desired united New Sudan? And what is the point of holding on to Abyei when all the Sudanese citizens in the north know that the Nine Ngok Dinka are indeed Dinka People and therefore Southerners?

Somebody doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to discern the demand of the Sudanese government that has been hidden behind the status of Abyei. But this demand can be asked politely and southerners would consider a brotherly option for it. Clamoring and displaying of higgledy-piggledy demeanours will not solve it. If anything, manners as such can destroy the country. Abyei has always been a Southern territory and its administrative sway in the twentieth century does not make it a Northern area of jurisdiction. The point is clear to all Sudanese. It is therefore incumbent upon the two parties, the SPLM and NCP to do something about the heavy anchor in Abyei's matter. Something has to be done before unconditional return to war. No further tricks or clandestine hypotheses of togetherness will normalize this stalemate but oil. Juba must agree to share oil with Khartoum even if it means a long-term basis allocation. After all, Sudan has always been one country. This gesture will be honourable to all Sudanese.

This is hard to fathom, but it is evident that before the end of the year and without a concrete breakthrough, Sudan will go to war based on the premise of protecting the right of Messeriya  nomads and on salvaging the land of the Ngok Dinka and the oil fields.  Should this happens both NCP and SPLM will carry the burden of the blame. The variance of the war to be waged by either side cannot be conclusively attributed to one party, but the probability that NCP will wheedle the Baggara/Messeriya to jump start the war is one. This affirms the normative argument put forward by NCP that Messeriya, who are the majority in the area and native to nearby Muglad, are to be considered inhabitants of Abyei and therefore, have inalienable right to vote in the deciding referendum for Abyei. Professor Mading Deng disputed the concocted right of the Messeriya to vote in Abyei's referendum on the United Nation TV a few days ago in a response to Sudanese ambassador in USA. The ambassador reiterated his government’s call to allow the Messeriya herders to vote. Mading quipped and said, “There is no need for a referendum in Abyei then if the Messeriya are allowed to vote. Messeriya  are the majority in the area and giving them the option on the future of Abyei automatically means they will want to keep Abyei under Northern administration.” He went on to say that what is needed the most is the capacity to build the trust between the Messeriya and Ngok Dinka. Some harmonious platform that will allow them to remain a better natural coexistence with each other as well as to coexist as peaceful neighbors irrespective of the future of Abyei.

So where is the logic with which Khartoum is forcing the Messeriya  to take up such a radical position on Abyei? Messeriya were part of the peace delegation five years ago. They knew that CPA granted Ngok Dinka a suffrage in a referendum to decide their future. Their main complaints were their animals and how they would survive if Abyei went to South Sudan administratively. This complaint was addressed adequately in the CPA.  Existing cordial relationships between the two communities were held in high regards during peace negotiations. The undeniable right to graze and water animals on the part of the Messeriya was part of the agreements. What then makes Messeriya think that the CPA was wrong and the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling was also a bluff? The answer could be found in oil.

To break the deadlock on Abyei, freeze war, inculcate a mutual understanding among the Sudanese citizenry and solicit a mutually assured development between the two sides of the Sudan, the South should, by virtue and wisdom, allow the North to share oil with her.  This natural bounty is the last thing that keeps the Sudans together.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

General Arabisation Quandary in South Sudan Could also be a Pan Africa Problem.

By Martin Garang Aher

Northern Sudan had experienced tumultuous time in its history and is now grappling with the most austere political test it had never dreamt of - the break of the nation into two possible independent countries. This sincere and difficult development will come about as an achieved status quo resulting from political gerrymandering by many governments in the Sudan. The Sudanese government had often adopted covert policies to neglect people within their country and devised extreme measures of mistreatment to silence them. This pressure of injustice and maladministration had been applied to the people for approximately half a century. 

When injustices outdo their limits, the masses always act on their own accord to demand justice for themselves. South Sudan was the first point of explosion as the pressure to demand justice and freedom mounted on the civil populace in Sudan. South Sudan has now alerted the Arab world that Islamaisation through slavery, sheer neglect of the people and conquest (through employment of divisive measures) has been halted. Throughout the entire Sudanese unity, much of what the people of South Sudan have offered to their united country (since independence from Anglo - Egyptian condominium) was a brotherly coexistence in a free and prosperous country. The first Sudanese civil war that ended in 1972 proved that citizens of South Sudan only demanded unity and togetherness - the rights of the citizenry to all Sudanese people - in the country through meaningful and compromising understanding. Southern Autonomy within a united Sudan was the vehicle through which this could be achieved.

But, Islamists in Sudan gave impression and erratic belief that infidels or non-believers can never lead them, or even share equal Rights with them in a democratic country. It is a woe of a belief which should be generalized to assume that no world government under a non-Muslim is desired by the people of Islamic Faith. Summary application of such a thought in Sudan had not been helpful. It falls short of respect for human dignity and becomes a weapon for not doing right to the people being governed. This fallacy of Divine call for mistreatment will make Sudan oppressive regimes that had ruled the country for decades carry the blame for any eventuality in Sudan. The unity of the country so desired today had been availed as an option for a period of time, but no one saw the repercussions of turning it down. This is why it is painful today to think or hear about south Sudan seceding from the country.

Many successive governments in Sudan, starting from the government of the Prime Minister Ismail al Azari to Omar el Bashir did little to heed the 'Call of Rights' by the oppressed in the country. Sudanese People’s expeditious attempts to keep the nation in harmony via equal treatment and value of the people had been recurrently downplayed. This will of togetherness by southerners has been demonstrated in many peace talks and also through violent arm struggle but to no compromise.

The latest test in which the people of south Sudan love to be in an autonomous state within the united Sudan was accorded to Khartoum in a Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005. Five years have passed since Sudan ushered in the peace but Khartoum is still arrogantly leaning on the traditional belief that it will ensnare the Southerners to vote for unity even though laxity in the implementation of the peace agreement remains a cardinal mischief characterizing its drag on the peace provisions and penultimate demands.

 The ultimate demand of CPA is where the citizens of South Sudan and the adjacent marginalized areas, and who are partners in the peace process that was signed in 2005, are allowed to exercise their democratic rights to choose the Sudan they would like to join. That is, a choice between New Sudan and Old Sudan. National Congress Party has again routinely thwarted this CPA protocol with a view to derailing the peace and tranquillity that had settled into the minds of the people. At the border, NCP is amassing troops; a troubling and a masterminding sign to drive the country back into war anew.

 The question they should ask themselves is whether war with the south will begin in Yei this time or at the border, and whether aerial bombardment of the cities in south Sudan will be exclusive to southern cities and not northern cities this time around? Any war in Sudan in 2011 will be a war that will be very close to everyone’s children. And this should be marked very clearly.

Recently, Egyptian and Libyan Arab brotherhood had been revealed when they all expressed support for a Sudanese unity and pressured Khartoum to do whatever is probable to keep the country united. Gadaffi accentuated Support for one entity of Sudan stressing fears that the whole of Africa will break up. This was an irresponsible statement from African Union leader. Human Life is important and preserving its sanctity is a noble and moral calling than dismantling territorial boundaries. Sinking mountains and drain out rivers do not mark African borders.   Borders can be reshaped but people cannot be procreated once they are lost. The same imaginary phenomenon of borders is right and abounds throughout the rest of the world.  Asia has never ceased to carry its name and will of power after peaceful secessions of India and Pakistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and Indonesia and East Timor.

If Sudan is keen about territorial boundaries, why is it not talking about The Elemi Triangle with the republic of Kenya and Ethiopia? This is a productive area with unknown reserves of mineral endowments. The other case is the Hala’ib Triangle taken over in a broad day light by Egypt. It has been annexed with all the Sudanese citizens residing in it. Recent population census and democratic elections in the Sudan following the CPA were not carried out in Hala’ib and Elemi Triangles. Is there any reason why the government is soft on foreign aggression and annexation but tough on its citizens' demands for rights?

Sudan should not dwell on the factor of unity for no apparent reasons. It has the moral and state duty to protect the Messeria and the Baggara from endangering themselves through future hostile clash with the southern army by dissuading them not to think of Abyei as their area of jurisdiction. If Messeryia vote wherever they graze their animals, then why don’t they vote in Aweil and Warrap states?

 Baggara are the last tools in the NCP human arsenals. They will not escape the wrath of Riverine Arabs who always discard people after they have served their purpose and continue to pinch them should argumentation ensues. Darfur war is a clear and an unmistakable Sudanese government heedlessness and disrespect for the people who made it possible to keep southerners at bay for twenty years in the war of a new Sudan. Darfuis formed the bulk of government militias that tormented South Sudan during the lengthy period of war. Today all weapons of the Sudan Armed Forces are stored in Nyala ready to be used against the Furs.

Baggara must learn to know the government they serve well. They must read into the history of Sudanese tactics of starting with the furthest enemy. The Anya Nya war between Khartoum and south Sudan was almost exclusively fought by the Nuba people who were the government’s favorite source of manpower. The war with SPLA/M saw the government targeted the Nuba people harshly while favoring the Fur and the Baggara as the favorite source of manpower against the southerners. Today, Furs are the enemies and Baggara are the immediate darlings. The question is who is next? And what about the united Sudan portrayed as a peaceful matrimony? It may not be a realistic union but an ideal type.

Unions are not always permanent. And this includes the integrity of a country as a united legal entity. In Africa, the then East African Community (comprising of Kenya, Uganda and a united Zanzibar and Tanganyika) which saw the early African renaissance in trade broke up and abandoned many services that were ran jointly by one regional body such as East African Airline and East African Customs and trade. But the same body has been revived after a fairly negotiated settlement in the spirit of a new and mutually benefiting trade bloc.

Ethiopia is another country where dissidence had been the order of relations between the government of Emperor Haile selassie, President menghistu haile Mariam and Eritrean TPLF (Tigray Peoples Libration Front) and OLF (Oromo Liberation Front). Since the 1993 secession of Eritrea, no any of the other warring groups in Ethiopia had demanded an analogous request as Eritrea.

Africa in general has never disintegrated because of Eritrean freedom. Eritreans were justified and this is the similar condition in which marginalized Southern Sudanese and others are held in at present. The Arab world should not be disheartened by what is going to transpire in Sudan following January 9, 2011. It is an experiment that has gone berserk and people are left without any preference but to opt for destiny and life over terrorization and enslavement. And they are geared up to sacrifice everything to get it. 

The recent strong wording from president Obama is quite encouraging to Sudan and Africa in general. The Arabs are the same the world over, bullies, enslaving pundits, terrorists and pretentious killers. Not all Arabs are bad but all Muslims are terrorists to every nation including America. If America stands and watch what is going on in Sudan, they will be surprised by the reemergence of another terrorist wing in Sudan. The results are always felt in New York and other American cities. America must dismantle the Sudanese airpower if it wants to avoid civilian casualties in the events of war between the south and the north following the referendum and popular consultations.  

The continent of Africa must also be vigilant for Arabization is trickling down south faster and menacingly than ever. It is a south Sudanese problem now, but it will be an all Africa problem in future. If Sudanese militias (Zaghawa) could bring down a government in Chad and Ange-Felix Patasse of Central Africa, which country can be safe in Africa? The government in Khartoum is a terrorizing lump to all Africa and the black Africa in Particular. Uganda is the only African country that understands this fully well. The rest of Africa must wake up to the realities of Islamic black side.

Africa should embrace stern measures in dealing with dreadfulness in food, diseases and political oppression. This requires reformation in the AU charter that prevents meddling in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations. With this charter unchanged, Africa will continue to wallow in the mess of wars and neocolonialism economic ideologies. Africa must not be left to free thinkers like Nelson Mandela. Africa of Nelson Mandela is tantamount to Africa of Kwame Nkurumah of Ghana in 1960s and Gadhaffi of Libya in this century. Some of the ideologies by these strong men are somehow impractical.

This is the Africa where states of affairs are allowed to chart their own courses without political pressure applied to oppressing regimes. It is ridiculous and inhumane to watch people die while playing a messianic mission. Even the Messiah gave up his own life for the oppressed. In this regards, it is everyone’s hope that Thabo Mbeki will play a fair-haired game in the Sudanese deceptive politics while wearing a white shirt. He must remain unstained throughout this mission and must not try to act Gandhi and Mandela in due course. Sudanese politics is full of lies and tough stance on any negotiations is necessary.

What we have in Sudan is no different from apartheid in South Africa in the twentieth century. That was the reason why pan Africans, both at home and in the Diasporas, garnered for support and faced the apartheid government unblinkingly. South Africans recently harvested the result of Pan African Movement when they hosted the first world cup in Africa. They knew that without empathies and actions of other African brothers, all would be different. 

Massive threats and propaganda have become the norm in the Sudanese media of late. If the intentions were to force southerners to vote for unity, then the question that remains indelible in the minds of the voters in southern Sudan would be the nature of the credibility in a forced unity rather than by choice and what would happen should someone vote for unity amid threats and curses. Of course Sudanese government traditional threats and killings will not abate even if Sudanese in the south vote for a united Sudan. So, why die in unity and not in separation? Southerners must be left alone.

It is possible the government in Khartoum is squandering referendum and popular consultations time on Abyei. NCP must not waste time on Abyei for Abyei is the ultimate curse for them. If they choose to go to war because of this oil rich state, then they have to know that southern Sudanese know nothing else other than war and they are ready to turn around and fight for self defense.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Struggling to find a safe place to fit

 Published by ABC, Australia, 25 May, 2010.

Martin Garang Aher
The recent killing of Asamah Majur Manyang, in the Perth suburb of Stirling, has left the Sudanese-Australian community filled with fear and foreboding. Majur was killed last week while walking home with his friends. He was 21 years old.Majur and his family came to Australia from Egypt in late 2007. Santino Manyang, Majur's father, said he thought he had found a place of solace and healing for his family after escaping the brutality of Omar Bashir's Islamic regime in Khartoum, Sudan.

"My mind is spinning with confusion right now, looks like we are destined for troubles befalling us," he said.
Major Manyang was buried last week. His family was desperately trying to raise funds (A$7,000) for his burial and funeral. "My son is not yet buried, and I don't have the money for his burial," he said, sobbing.
Although the circumstances of his death are still subject to investigation, Majur's death has brought home to the entire Sudanese Community in Australia how death is equated with guilt - at least when it comes to the death of a Sudanese.

Many people in the community are now fearful, if not traumatised, by the chain of events leading to the deaths of Sudanese youth in Australia.
Just a few days after Majur's death Savir Tutu, a child of less than three years old, was run over and killed by two cars in Beachboro. He was walking home with his brother. The first offender hit, then ran. The second driver, who did stop, said he did not see the child. The child was wearing dark clothes. He fell short of saying the child was dark and couldn't be seen clearly.
What is it about suburban streets that make them so lethal to Sudanese-Australians? And how does it come about that an action involving the death of a Sudanese is often blamed on the victim?
The truth is that many youth of Sudanese background prefer walking to avoid being unnecessarily stopped by police. They see it as harassment.

We Sudanese migrants and refugees arrived in this country thinking we would enjoy new lives in a free land. Now our belief that all would be fine is beginning to prove elusive. There is no acceptance that there exists an ethnic tension surrounding our presence that requires a resolution; instead, the police and the media are keen to suppress the reality of this ethnic tension.

We have been portrayed by the media, politicians and others as a troubled group. Criminologists in this society will agree that there is a high level of unsubstantiated stigma attached to Sudanese and their youth. As in the work of the anthropologist Cesare Lombroso, criminal types are marked by prejudicial characteristics based on their body features.In the case of the Sudanese, they are described as: African, dark-skinned, tall, always in groups, and so on.But are we really criminals or rescued in need of re-rescuing?
Sudanese-Australians don't rob people or banks, break into public facilities, engage in burglary or vandalism, molest children or deface public amenities with graffiti.

Many of us study but never find jobs. The 520 hours of English language training is certainly not sufficient to enable anyone get a job. The conditions and measures necessary for blending in have been overlooked by the government and sceptics alike and the frustration of doing little is turned into a blame game in which Sudanese are told they have difficulty integrating.

Many bloggers, such as Andrew Bolt, echo this and write with bitterness. They write that Sudanese are troubled from a troubled country, therefore criminals. But are they generally troubled? Is there cure for a troubled person or is consistent targeting such as persistent and annoying checks on the road the ultimate solution?Yes, bloggers maybe right. Sudan is a troubled country. Those who came here were troubled. If a policeman stops you in the streets of Khartoum it means you start counting every tick of your watch as a countdown to the moment of your death. Memories still run wild of course. That is why we want to leave the road and walk. But walking has its downsides. What should we do?

These bloggers seemed to have adopted the sentiments expressed by Kevin Andrews, the former immigration minister, when he asserted after the killing of yet another young Sudanese that some groups don't seem to be settling and adjusting into the Australian way of life.
The Sudanese community failed to comprehend the logic of the comment.
Liep Gony was murdered in the most gruesome way on Wednesday 26, 2007. But all that came from the minister was the blame for not integrating. Labeling all Sudanese in Australia as criminals is puzzling and to our community, it is inappropriate and traumatising. Criminals kill; they don't get killed every time. To move around in groups is not a sign of criminality. What makes social groupings seem inherently criminal?

These bloggers are ill-informed. They say Sudanese are troubled people from a troubled country and therefore, require a thorough screening. What sort of screening? Do they mean Sudanese immigrants shoudl not associate altogether?

They want the immigration to screen us properly before allowing anyone into the country yet what they don't know is that Australia's system of offshore screening is already rigorous. Even we migrant refugees know that it is not easy to get through it. The bloggers are oblivious to these facts.

Sudanese-Australians believe that Australia is home for them. Many Australians accepted us as such, but we will reserve the right to respond to comments made by the people wallowing in the miasma of hate.
Let it be known that we are doing our best. All we say is, Australia, give us a go!

Martin Garang Aher is studying for a masters degree in
Communication and Cultural studies at Curtin University.