Today I want to highlight some important work that advocates are doing to bring attention to the situation in Southern Kordofan, Sudan. Southern Kordofan is one of the “Three Areas” that lay along the historic North/South border in Sudan. The Nuba Mountains, an ethnically and religiously diverse area and historic breadbasket of Sudan, lay entirely within the state and have been an area of key support to the SPLA during the most recent war (1983-2005). The people of Southern Kordofan have endured intense persecution at the hands of the Khartoum government and with the cessation of South Sudan, bombing, displacement and massive human rights abuses have been intensified. In addition to massive agricultural potential, Southern Kordofan is the only state in the North that has proven oil resources that are commercially viable and where there is an infrastructure. Ryan Boyette, recently gave testimony to the attacks to a US Congressional committee. The Enough Project in cooperation with the Satellite Sentinel Project and citizen journalists like Ryan Boyette give testimony to these atrocities here: http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/enough-and-citizen-journalist-brief-congress-evidence-ethnic-cleansing-sudan
Despite an ICC warrant for their arrests, both President Omar Bashir and the former Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmed Haroun, still enjoy free-movement as demonstrated recently by a trip to Malawi. In 2009, Ahmed Haroun was actually made Governor of Southern Kordofan. There is strong evidence and informed testimony as to the atrocities Bashir continues to commit, including his support to groups creating mayhem in Darfur and his support to the LRA.
I want to draw your attention to another situation that may not seem connected at first. I have received many comments about my recent, rather scathing appraisal of the Machine Gun Preaceher, Sam Childers. I stick by what I said and re-assert my appraisal that unilateral action based on religious motivations can not be supported without raising serious objections. Many people have questioned the wisdom of Obama’s decision to send US Advisors to Uganda to tackle the LRA. I have seen many comments (see comments section) comparing Uganda to Somalia on the basis that they are both places in Africa and that the US has no business getting involved. The assertion that multilateral action is not helpful and that there is no merit in the utility of the role of the US, as a nation in the international community, can play in ending these atrocities can only be examined is concerning. The wisdom in evaluating these incidents in a case by case analysis should still remain absolutely paramount. Bringing an end to the conflict in between North and southern Sudan in the form of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005) was a case where the international community did just that. Somalia, on the other hand was in a state of anarchy when the US troops went in 1992. There was little, if any, coordinated action between local government and the US mission there and very few people that actually had much experience in the politics and culture of Somalia. Uganda and South Sudan have functioning, legitimate governments in place with which US advisers cooperate. Many advocacy groups including Human Right Watch, have been calling for this move for a long time. In this regard, the fundamental difference between Sam Childers’ crusade against the LRA, and the move by the US government to send in advisers, is a case of unilateral religious conviction of the former and the multiplicity of regional support for the latter. Similarly, the case for ending Khartoum’s atrocities committed in places like Southern Kordofan and Darfur is a long-standing one and multilaterally demonstrated by the issuance of ICC warrants in both the Kony case and the Bashir case.
In sum, in terms of advocating for justice for those in Southern Kordofan, I would call for the strong measures against Omar Bashir and Ahmed Haroun to be multilaterally held to account. Primarily, I would support a renewed call for the ICC warrants to be enforced (warrants that have been multilaterally issued and supported by not only the UN but by countries who committed to such actions with the ICC at the signing of the Rome Statue ). When it comes to Sudan, as Ryan Boyette asserts, Bashir’s regime will fall, but only with a change in leadership will there be an end to the type of executive orders that result in the wholesale destruction of civilian life in the Southern Kordofan.