In this week’s issue: Senator John Kerry travels to Darfur, leaders call for the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, and former Congo rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda faces trial in Rwanda
Featured: Massachusetts Congressman Michael Capuano urges us not to forget about Southern Sudan in a guest post on the ENOUGH Project’s blog.
Senator John Kerry visited Sudan this week to assess the situation in Darfur. He has declared that the ICC charges, though they have complicated matters, will not stop US attempts to aid in bringing peace to the region. He emphasized the urgency of the situation, promising to do what is possible to assist UNAMID and push for the restoration of aid.
While Kerry announced that the government of Sudan has expressed some willingness to restore aid, this does not mean that the expelled NGOs will be allowed to return. Sen. Kerry also insisted that the rebels in Darfur need to be open to peace talks. Kerry’s visit seems to indicate a slight thawing of relations between Washington Khartoum, a shift which was was even hailed by Bashir.
On Wednesday, the Sudanese government sentenced 9 members of the rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to death after being found guilty in a 2006 attack on Khartoum in which a newspaper editor was murdered. After the hanging executions, a group of protesters burned shops and cars in Khartoum in a show of defiance towards the verdict.
The Government of Sudan has also barred opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi from traveling. Turabi planned a trip to France for medical reasons, which have not been disclosed. Turabi has repeatedly been in jail or under house arrest since losing in a power struggle with Bashir.
The French aid worker, Claire Dubois, who was kidnapped in Darfur two weeks ago, is reported to be sick. Stephanie Joidon, the kidnapped Canadian worker, says that Dubois has not received medical attention and is not getting better. In other humanitarian news, Oxfam-GB is appealing the Government of Sudan in the case of their expulsion from Darfur.
We’ve all been hearing a lot about Darfur recently, but we never hear as much about South Sudan. Check out these two articles about the influence the South has on the whole of Sudan: "Let’s Not Forget About the South" and “There’s More to Sudan than Darfur”.
Public surveillance has increased drastically since the "Saffron Revolution" of 2007. Citizens report that now more than ever they are afraid to speak against the government because of the amount of their fellow citizens who are informants for the junta.
In a personal meeting with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Shein, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called on the Burmese junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has re-issued his call to the military junta in Burma to release Aung San Suu Kyi. The statement came after ten female US Senators wrote a letter to Ban urging him not to neglect the political prisoners of Burma
Democratic Republic of Congo
FDLR rebels attacked a village this week in the eastern DRC, allegedly killing eight people in the fires they set to over 250 houses. Due to the FDLR’s frequent attacks against civilians, Congo and Rwanda launched a five-week joint offensive against this rebel group in January. The FDLR’s presence in this region of the Congo has been seen as a major factor in the region’s instability since the Rwandan genocide 15 years ago.
The trial of CNDP ex-general Laurent Nkunda, who was captured by Rwandan authorities earlier this year, began on Friday in Gisenyi, Rwanda, near the Congolese border. Nkunda was pursued by the Rwanda-Congo joint mission in January, and is now suing Rwanda for wrongful arrest. This case calls to question various legal issues because the matter spans across national borders. Nkunda’s extradition to the Congo is still up in the air, where he is wanted for massacres, rapes, and the recruitment of child soldiers.
Former parliamentary speaker Vital Kamerhe, who was forced to resign last month because of his opposition to the entry of Rwandan troops into the Congo, organized a meeting with fellow lawmakers and political leaders to talk about forming a new political movement. However, even before Kamerhe arrived at the site, the Congolese police broke up the gathering.