June 7, 2017
A forum, “What’s Happening in South Sudan,,” was held in the Brooklyn’s Friends Meeting House on Schermerhorn Street. The speakers examined the background of the ongoing conflict there which has created untold suffering, tens of thousands of deaths and over a million displaced people who have been forced out of their homes. The forum was sponsored by Brooklyn For Peace and co-sponsored by the United African Congress and the Give Them a Hand Foundation.
Violence is escalating in South Sudan, and famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan. As of 2016 estimates of victims of the war in South Sudan had already exceeded 100,000 and thousands more have been killed since that time. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) most recently reported 1,559,815 refugees since December 2013.
What underlies the conflict? And what is the role of the U.S. and the U.N? Speakers pointed out that the U.S. is the primary financial supporter of the government in South Sudan.
Dr. Charlotte Phillips, Chair of Brooklyn For Peace, opened the meeting. Then. Dr. Mohammed Nurhussein, Chair of the United African Congress and a Board member of Brooklyn For Peace introduced the speakers and moderated the evening’s discussion.
The evening’s first speaker was Milton Allimadi, Ugandan-born, Publisher of The Black Star News, human rights activist and Adjunct Professor at John Jay College. Allimadi gave a brief overview of the history of South Sudan which became independent from Sudan in 2011. However since that time conflict has broken out between the President Salva Kiir and the Vice-President Riek Machar. Mr. Allimadi places a large part of the responsibility on Gen. Museveni, current dictator of neighboring Uganda, who seeks regional hegemony and has sent forces and military aid in support of Salva Kiir. Uganda, he noted, is a major ally of the United States and often does its bidding in regional conflicts. Military aid to Uganda, funded by U.S. tax dollars, has been used against the civilians in South Sudan.
Mr. Allimadi has started a petition addressed to Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the U.N., asking that he not politicize the suffering of South Sudanese refugees by allowing Museveni to host a conference about the refugees without addressing his role in creating the refugee crisis. Signatures are requested. The petition is available HERE.
The second speaker was Dr. Bereket H. Selassie, the William E. Leuchtenburg Distinguished Professor of African Studies, and Professor of Law, UNC-Chapel Hill. Having played a role in writing the constitution of Eritrea when it became independent, he is also a participant in writing the constitution of South Sudan. He emphasized the importance of including women as well as all ethnic groups in the political process.
A question and answer session followed the presentation by the speakers.
Additional resources and background material:
1. Crisis in South Sudan: The World Must Intervene
by Milton Allimadi
New York Daily News, March 21, 2017
2. South Sudan: A History of Political Domination – A Case of Self-Determination
by Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon
From University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center (Nov 19, 1995)
3. Roots of Sudanese conflict are in the British colonial policies
by Savo Heleta
Sudan Tribune Jan 12, 2008
4. The wonks who sold Washington on South Sudan
by Rebecca Hamilton
Special Report (Reuters) July 11, 2012
5. The Way Forward for South Sudan: A change in IGAD’s approach and a new political leadership in South Sudan constitute the exit plan out of the conflict
by Mahmood Mamdani
Al Jazeera 06 Jan 2014
6. A Fractious Rebellion: Inside the SPLM-IO, by John Young,
especially pages 1-9: Introduction and Key Findings
HBSA Working Paper #39, Sept 2015
Human Security Baseline Assessment for Sudan and South Sudan, A Small Arms Survey Project