On January 9, 2011, in a referendum provided for by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the people of southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly to secede from the north. The new nation of South Sudan attained its official independence on July 9 of that year. Unfortunately, violence in both countries has continued. In particular, the two countries’ militaries have clashed over disputed border regions, and fighting between the Sudanese government and rebel groups in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile has displaced thousands of civilians and caused a major humanitarian crisis. Although representatives of the two governments resumed negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2012, little progress has been made thus far.
In light of ongoing threats to civilian security, South Sudanese musician and former child soldier Emmanuel Jal is organizing events around the world to mark the anniversary of his country’s independence with a simple but unambiguous message: "We Choose Peace.”
Together with We Want Peace 2012, United to End Genocide, Amnesty International, the Enough Project, Girifna, The South Sudanese Community, Darfur People’s Association of New York, and other diaspora community groups, STAND will respond to Emmanuel’s call by co-sponsoring a rally in Washington, DC on July 8. Members of the Sudanese and South Sudanese diaspora communities, and our own anti-genocide advocates, will come together in solidarity with those victimized by the violence. Along with participants in rallies in other cities around the world, we will show that the people of both Sudans want peace, not war. We will demand an end to all fighting in the region, as well as the lifting of all restrictions on humanitarian aid agencies’ access to conflict-affected areas.
If you are in DC in July 8, join us at Lafayette Park at 4 p.m. Can’t make it in person? Join us virtually! Simply go to www.wechoosepeace.org and follow the instructions to upload a picture of yourself holding a sign saying, “I choose peace in Sudan and South Sudan.” Thousands of people throughout the world will be doing the same between now and July 8, sending a powerful message to our governments that we, their constituents, expect them to do everything in their power to facilitate a peaceful solution to the crisis in Sudan.
In addition, over the next two weeks, watch this space for a series of posts discussing various aspects of the current civilian protection situation in Sudan and South Sudan in greater detail. In the next post, we’ll cover the ongoing anti-government protests in Khartoum, and the government’s violent response. Subsequent posts will focus on the latest news from Darfur, the clashes in the border states, perspectives from two Duke University students who recently returned from South Sudan, and a follow-up report from the event in DC. Feel free to send any questions or suggested topics for posts to Mac Hamilton, our new Education Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.