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Ethiopia: Storm Clouds Getting Darker

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Democracy, NGOs, Refugees, Solidarity, Sudan, The Search for Peace on January 24, 2021 at 8:20 PM

By René Wadlow

In an earlier article on the armed conflict in Ethiopia “Storm Clouds Gather Over Ethiopia” I agreed with other observers of the situation that one knows when an armed conflict starts but not when it ends. There is always a real danger that violence spreads to other parts of the country and that neighboring States get involved. Now both dangers have taken form in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is a federal republic structured on the basis of 10 states or provinces. The provinces have the name of the major ethnic group within that province. However, no province is populated exclusively by one ethnic group. Through history and economic development people have moved to areas beyond their original “homeland”. However, people from a “foreign” ethnic group can be made to feel as “second class citizens”, and there may be violence used against them in times of tensions.

A neighborhood in Tigray

Thus, in the far west of Ethiopia, there is a small province called Benishangul-Gumuz, named after two ethnic groups, the Berta and the Gamuz. However, there are three other ethnic groups which also consider the area as their “homeland”. The area has good farmland and is a major producer of vegetables. Thus, Amhara farmers from the larger neighboring Amhara province have progressively settled in Benishangul-Gumuz. Tensions over land use has grown between the Amhara farmers and the dominant Gumuz. At the same time that the federal government forces were moving into the Tigray province, Gumuz militias attacked the Amhara settlers. The federal government sent in troops to restore order, but troops can not deal with the basic issues of ethnic-based tensions and disputes over land ownership which is often collective rather than individual. Thus, the tensions and violence in Tigray and Benishangul-Gumuz provinces may spread to other provinces as well.

In addition to the dangers of violence spreading to other provinces, there is a real danger that neighboring Sudan will get involved. The Ethiopian federal government’s military action within Tigray province has caused an exodus of some 50,000 persons across the frontier into Sudan. A smaller number have crossed the frontier into South Sudan.

Abdallah Hamdok

The Sudanese government in far-away Khartoum has been preoccupied with restructuring itself after the 30 years of governance by Omar al-Bashir came to an end in April 2019. However, the entry of a large number of refugees from Tigray must have pushed some in the Sudanese government to look at maps to see where all this trouble was going on. They saw that part of the trouble was near the Al-Fashaga triangle, a small area but of rich farmland largely farmed by Ethiopian farmers. However, Al-Fashaga is within the territory of Sudan, set by the British-Egyptian condominium in 1902 and 1907.

The Ethiopian settlers in Al-Fashaga had created self-protection militias without a relation to the Ethiopian central army. However, with the the current Ethiopian army near Al-Fashaga, the Sudanese government is rushing tanks and troops to the area. The acting Prime Minister of Sudan, Abdallah Hamdok, has publicly reaffirmed Sudanese ownership of the area. While it is difficult to have accurate reporting from Al-Fashaga, some nongovernmental organizations working with refugees in Sudan near the frontier have warned of possible fighting and increased tensions. There are real possibilities of the storm clouds getting darker.

Note:

An earlier article on the same subject from Prof. René Wadlow: Storm Clouds Gather Over Ethiopia.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

PRESS RELEASE – 20200909/Sudan/Human Rights

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Current Events, Democracy, Human Rights, Middle East & North Africa, Press release, Solidarity, Sudan, World Law on September 8, 2020 at 11:06 AM

PRESS RELEASE

Paris, September 9, 2020

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HALA KHALID ABUGROUN, A LAWYER

AND WOMAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER UNDER THREAT:

TIME FOR SUDAN TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES AT LAST

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In an Appeal to the authorities of the transitional government of Sudan, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) highlighted the present situation of Ms Hala Khalid Abugroun, Attorney at Law, a Woman Human Rights Defender. Attorney Abugroun is a member of the “No to Women’s Oppression” initiative which wishes to set out strong guidelines for the society in transition. Attorney Abugroun and colleagues have been harassed and threatened by members of the still powerful National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

The AWC stresses that the United Nations (UN) is the main instrument for the community of States to guide life in common, according to standards which all have accepted in agreeing to the UN Charter and according also to the provisions of world law. Among these provisions are the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 53/144 and the Resolution on Protecting Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on March 15, 2013.

The AWC understands that the Sudan is in a transition process toward a more law-based society. A historic decision has already been made to separate religion and state, ending an improper political use of private belief to repressive ends which spanned some three decades. This is the right time to make the right choices in terms of international human rights commitments too.

Therefore, the AWC urges the Sudanese Government to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Such a move would help Sudan to develop measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all persons.

There also has to be an immediate, thorough, and impartial investigation into the threats against and harassment of Attorney Hala Khalid Abugroun with a view to bringing those responsible to justice consistently with international standards.

Sudan’s Recovery Crippled by U.S. Sanctions Policy

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Human Rights, Middle East & North Africa, NGOs, Solidarity, Sudan, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations, World Law on June 15, 2020 at 8:54 PM

By René Wadlow

 

Economic recovery from decades of stagnation and misuse of resources during the 30-year dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir is critical for Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government.

Since August 2019, Sudan has been led by a Council made up of six civilians and five members of the military with a cabinet of liberal civilian administrators headed by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, a former economist with the United Nations (UN). Elections are scheduled for next year, time for civil society to organize.

Sudan

However, chronic economic problems could lead elements in the armed forces to assert further their influence even without trying to take power. Sudan faces deep economic challenges. There is a backlog of domestic needs. The consequences of the creation of a separate State of South Sudan are still not resolved. The armed conflicts in the Darfur provinces, while not as active as earlier, still exist. Real economic development in Darfur is stopped.

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) was the first nongovernmental organization to raise the Darfur conflicts in the UN Commission on Human Rights in early 2004. Since then, our Association has striven to have negotiations in good faith to resolve the issues. However, the original opposition alliances have broken down into smaller, tribal-based groups and no real negotiations have been able to be held.

A strong obstacle to Sudan’s economic development is the continued United States (U. S.) economic sanctions which impact trade and investment. The U. S. sanctions policy prevents loans from international institutions such as the World Bank. The U. S. still lists Sudan as a “State sponsor of terrorism”. Sudan in an earlier period did house violent Islamist movements which carried out attacks in other countries such as the attack on the U. S. Embassy in Kenya. However, the violent Islamist groups were not “sponsored” by the government of Sudan.

421px-Prime_Minister_Abdalla_Hamdok

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok of Sudan

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok in his address to the UN General Assembly said that these U. S. sanctions “have played havoc on our people causing them untold misery of all types and forms. We, in the transitional government call on the United States of America to take Sudan off the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.”

Such a realistic request is a necessary first step toward the creation of a stable Sudan which should be able to play a positive role in an unstable part of the world. The AWC will continue its efforts for a Sudan in which all can play a positive role.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

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