الأربعاء، 11 ديسمبر 2013

The myth of peace in Darfur

Published here

In July 2011 the Sudanese government with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), an attempt to create the appearance of achieved peace and security in the region. The government directed all its media channels towards celebrating this “achieved peace” in Darfur whilst ignoring the fact that the most powerful rebel groups had not signed up to the document. The world however, has turned its back on the continued massacres.
Although the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for the Sudanese president, Omar El Bashir, as well as a number of government officials for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity since 2003; they are yet to be prosecuted. In 2010 the Sudanese minister of justice assigned four special prosecutors to investigating these crimes; all of them resigned without explanation and having not made any progress in the investigations.
In January 2012 the Darfur conflict entered a new era with armed clashes between the Arab tribes themselves over ownership of land and resources in the north and south of Darfur. Although the government had supported the same Arab tribes in clashes with the non-Arab population, the magic faded quickly into undesired and uncontrollable conflicts. One of the residents testified, “It’s very hard now to stop the ongoing clashes, the tribes are armed, and whenever looting or killing happens they identify the perpetrator as an affiliate to a certain tribe rather than a criminal. The revenge goes beyond harming the perpetrator and extends to the families and tribe as a whole”.
Intertribal conflicts have always been part of life in Darfur; but the governments’ involvement is leading to endless devastating clashes. According to an activist, who prefers to stay anonymous, in August 2013 over 110 persons were killed in clashes between Rezeigat and Maalia tribes, hundreds of Maalia were displaced, their houses were looted and burnt while Abdel Hameed Kasha, the State Governor of Central Darfur supported Rezeigat in their war against Maalia, and he was publically accusing them of supporting rebel groups.
On July 31, 2012 and during the June/July 2012 protests in Sudan, 13 peaceful protestors were shot dead and over a hundred were injured by police and National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. The majority were minors and secondary school students. The Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), the principle instrument for the implementation of the DDPD, condemned the violent incidents but only blamed the federal government for their shortcomings in providing fuel and electricity. Two weeks later, on August 13 2012, the DRA premises were attacked by gunmen who kidnapped DRA officers and the state minister of youth affairs.
In December 2012, four students of Algazira University were found dead in a stream after having participated in a peaceful protest demanding the enforcement of the exemption of Darfuri students from public university tuition fees, as stipulated in the DDPD in 2011. Three out of the four students killed were originally from Darfur and Alsadig, one of them had waited five years until his family as well as residents of the Kalma camp were able to raise enough funds for his ticket to Khartoum and for his tuition at Algazira University. The DRA managed to send condolences to the familie: however, they failed to make any mention of the DDPD let alone provide any explanation as to why their children had been assassinated.
From 3 till 5 July 2013, the streets of Nyala witnessed violent clashes between Janjaweed, the pro-government militias, and the National Intelligence and Security Services NISS. This came after “Dakroon” - a nickname for one of the Rezeigat/Janjaweed leaders - and Abutira, a commander with border patrols, were shot dead by the NISS in the suburbs of Nyala. The violent clashes continued for three days, tens of people were killed, including two aid workers, while the exact numbers of those killed and injured from the NISS and Janjaweed remains unknown.
In Nyala market on 8 July 2013 Ahmed Salih Zakaria, a man from the Salamat tribe, shot Ali Koshaib, a Janjaweed leader and commander wanted by the ICC for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. Koshaib, protected by a bulletproof vest, only suffered an injury to his arm, but his two bodyguards were killed. Zakaria was arrested immediately but died in custody two weeks later, and pro-government newspapers claimed that he had died from a bullet injury he sustained as he was trying to kill Koshaib. Furthermore, according toHRW, Ali Koshaib was involved in the ethnic attacks against the Salamat tribe in Central Darfur, in April 2013.
On 18 September 2013, Ismael Wadi, a businessman of Zaghawa descent was shot dead in Nyala. After his funeral, mass protests erupted in the city demanding justice and condemning the state of insecurity. Again the police shot live ammunition at peaceful protestors leaving 15 dead and over 70 people severely injured. The DRA, as usual, condemned the murder of Ismael Wadi and the consequent violence, however neglecting to mention the killing of the protestors.  A resident of Nyala testified to the fact that a curfew has been imposed from 7 pm onwards since these incidents took place, and that at the beginning of November this curfew was pushed to 8pm and anyone who attempted to break it was risking his or her life. If the person was lucky they would be forced to spend the night in a public park, prosecuted in the morning and punished by paying a fine or facing imprisonment. Although South Darfur appears to be the most troubled; according to Radio Dabanga on 6 November 2013, the government is insisting on evacuating the camps around Nyala and forcing Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their villages.
The Darfur conflict is now completing its first decade; over 300,000 civilians have been killed and over 3 million people have been displaced, of which over 450,000 fled this year alone. There are hundreds of thousands of children who’ve never had a place they could call home, apart from the displacement camps. The National Congress Party’s (NCP) peace agreements, like the DDPD, will never achieve peace as long as their signatories exclude the real actors in the conflict. Peace in Sudan will never be achieved unless all the criminals are held accountable and justice is achieved for the martyrs, the displaced and for war survivors.

#Strike4Sudan - its supporters and its critics debate the way forward

Published here

Almost a month has passed since the people of Sudan began to rebel. Violence ensued which led to the death of over 210 peaceful protestors, the arbitrary arrest and detention of over 700 people and the disappearance of a number of young men and women whose families don’t know if they are still alive or killed by government militias.
By the end of September the mass protests had dwindled in size, but the youth had not given up. Now they are in the process of developing resistance groups to challenge the National Congress Party (NCP). Young female activists and students have organized several silent sit-ins in front of the military headquarters and on Nile Street in Khartoum; where they posters bearing photos of the October martyrs are on display. Families of the detainees are also arranging regular sit-ins in front of National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) premises.
In Sudan when a family loses a loved one, they mourn him/her again during the first national holiday after their passing. The massacre took place two weeks prior to Eid El Adha and activists called on everyone to celebrate the feast with the families of the martyrs. After Eid prayers in the Shambat neighborhood, the residents marched to the houses of the martyrs “Hazzaa” and then to “Babiker’s” and gave their condolences to the mothers who were overwhelmed with grief. In the Shambat and Althawra neighborhoods the walls are covered with the names of martyrs as well as anti-regime slogans.
Last week, a group of Sudanese activists and bloggers launched a five-day hunger strike for Sudan (#Strike4Sudan). The demands of the hunger strike were justice for the martyrs; the release of all political detainees and the right to freedom of expression. They call for the government to be held accountable for the killing of peaceful protestors and for all censorship to be lifted from the media and demand that journalists should not be harassed. 
Soon after the announcement of the planned hunger strike, three members of the detainees' families joined in; namely Taghreed Awooda, Sandra Kadooda, the wives of Mohayad Siddig (detained since September 22) and Amjad Farid (detained since September 30) and Kawther, the mother of Mohamed Alim (detained since September 22) whose family wasn’t allowed to visit him.
Reem Shawkat, a journalist and blogger, declared she was on hunger strike for numerous reasons. One of them is her belief that there is a general deterioration in the quality of food in Sudan, as well as increasing poverty. “When the people took to the streets to demand their rights, they were shot dead while others were arrested. Now I feel ashamed for drinking juice on the street when so many people can’t even secure a meal a day. Allowing people to starve is no different from killing them. It’s just a method of oppression and forced insecurity.”
Eyad Suliman, a pharmacist, went on strike because of the deterioration of health facilities. He says many patients die before even receiving medical care in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, not even mentioning what takes place in rural areas. He has some bitter stories to tell, “A man suffering from severe burns was transferred between six emergency rooms in different public hospitals because he couldn’t afford to buy the gauze and other medical supplies for his treatment. They weren’t available in the ER and they wouldn’t admit him without him supplying the materials. He was using a taxi to run between hospitals as an ambulance wasn’t even made available. Another case is of a female university lecturer who died in the process of negotiating a discount, in a public hospital, for her treatment. She was unaware she was pregnant and died because of a miscarriage. Her life could have been saved if she hadn’t been wasting her time knocking on the door of the hospital director."
Many activists have criticized the hunger strike as a form of resistance, and expressed their frustration on twitter about the decline in anti-regime protests. @walaasalah a Sudanese lawyer and human rights activist challenged the efficiency and the effectiveness of #Strike4Sudan by tweeting that people on this strike are not in the same place; all they were doing was announcing it on their social media networks and no real action was taking place on the ground. She argued that the strike was mainly targeting the international community rather than the Sudanese people, regarding this as a deterioration of anti-regime resistance. What is needed, she believes, is for activists to focus more on mobilizing the people. @blackboy, a Sudanese tweep, commented on the hunger strike, saying, “A regime that shoots its people would never care for people on hunger strike”.
Now most activists are trying to develop new forms of resistance; whether it is arranging a sit in, inviting people to mourn the martyrs with their respective families or joining in the five-day hunger strike. Activists criticizing the strike are searching for more radical revolutionary actions. What unites both supporters and opponents of #Strike4Sudan is the sense of responsibility for change which is the driving force for both.

الثلاثاء، 5 نوفمبر 2013

صدمة الثورة تليها ثورة الصدمة

يوم الاربعاء الفات،
افتكر انو الحتة ديك نهاية شارع الستين
الساعة 10 ونص بالليل

عايزة امجاد توصلني البيت في بحري، كنت نعسانة وأمي قلقت عشان لسة ما رجعت

هايس جات ماشة، بعدها عربية صغيرة..
تحرش وقلة أدب،
وطبعا ما أظن حأركب أول أمجاد!!
أكيد سواق الامجاد حيقول الدنيا ليل والقصص المتخلفة ديك كأنو مسافة الشارع بين الليل والنهار بتزيد،
وحيتخيل اني عشان لابسة بنطلون ما عندي خيار تاني غير الأمجاد حتى لو قال داير ضعف القروش.
غايتو أخير أتفش في أول واحد يقل أدبو، حيكون جابو لي نفسو براهو..

امجاد بيضا مكعكعة قطعت أفكاري

"سلام، ماشة بحري، أها بيكم" قنعانة طبعاً بعداك مافي حيل للنقة
"وعليكم السلام، 35 جنيه"

"آآآ ؟؟؟؟ إنت جادي؟؟ 35؟؟" اتخيل لي اني سمعتو غلط
"35؟؟ المشوار دة بعيد لكن" مااااا عوايدك ياختي غالاطة كل مرة

"هسة أقول ليك 50 تقولي لي بمشي بالمواصلات ما دايرة، اتفضلي اركبي"

ركبت وانا مندهشة ومتشككة، أول علامة انو الباب أبى يتقفل وكلو مفرتق من جوة
الله يوصلنا بالسلامة، المهم انها ما شكلها أمجاد أمنجية
لمحة سريعة في وش السواق بي المراية قبل ما أقعد، 
في بداية الاربعينات، أسمر شوية وشكلو زي حالتي شغال من الصباح

هو: "هنا.. فكوا فينا رصاص.. رصاص حي.. دايرين يقتلونا كلنا،الناس طلعو عشان جاعو.. تقتلم؟؟  تقتلم؟؟"

صوتو كان منفعل شديد،، لدرجة كواريك كدة
أأخ من السيرة دي انا لي كم يوم عندي محاولات جادة للنسيان

انا: "لا حولا.. ان شالله ما يكون مات ليك زول قريب؟؟"

هو: "لالا جات سليمة المرة دي.. لكن كانو قاصدين يقتلونا"

ما تنداحي.. يقتلونا منو.. هسة كلامو دة تعبير صادق عن المشاعر ولاجس نبض؟؟ الله يوصلني دايرة أنوم أنا 
وبكل براءة "منو القاصدين يقتلوكم ياخوي؟؟ ليه؟؟ انتو سويتو شنو؟؟"

انفعل زيادة " ما سوينا حاجة ياخي.. انتي ما سمعتي خطاب البشير، ماشفتي الغلاء دة؟؟
انا كنت قايل البشير دة زول بسيط زينا.. عارف حالنا وبيحاول يعني بس الحوالينو كعبين يجي يقول لينا الناس العندهم 5 عربات والهوت دوق.. ما عارف انو الشعب دة الكسرة بقى ما لاقيها؟؟ الزول دة قاعد في عالم تاني"

صمـــــــــت زي دقيقة كدة

هو: "بعداك اضربونا نار ليه؟؟ عشان طلعنا مظاهرة في حلتم؟؟ كلهم ساكنين قريب للشارع دة هسة بوصف ليك بيوتم كلهم،
نافع وعوض الجاز وكامل ادريس وعلي عثمان والترابي لكن كامل ادريس دة ما زيهم، زول متعلم وعندو عمارة عادية بي جاي
ديل ساكنين في قصور محصنة
يطلعو الشارع بالعربات المظللة عشان ما يشوفوا زول ولا زول يشوفم عايشين كيف
هسة دة دين؟؟ ياتو اسلام دة البخليك تجوع ناسك وتقتلم؟؟ والله لو كانت المظاهرات دي استمرت زيادة كان ضربونا بالطيارات"

"ان شالله ما يكونو قتلو ليك زول بتعرفيهو"

انا: "لا ما بعرف لي زول استشهد، لكن الفقد واحد"

انا لسة فاتحة عيوني وخشمي، ومخي شغال مسجل ما داير يفقد معلومة أو ينسى احساس،
الزول دة كان زعلان شديد، كلامو زي الشكلة، عاين لي كم مرة بالمراية
اتخيل لي انو افترض من شكلي، اني ما كوزة
وأي زول ما كوز، أكيد ضد المجزرة الحصلت

انا: "طبعاً هم ما قصدوا يقتلوا الناس عشان المظاهرة جنب بيوتم، هم قتلوا الناس الطلعو المظاهرات في كل الحتت،
انا سمعت انو في ناس كتار ماتو في بحري وامدرمان، وقتلوالناس قبل سنين في الاطراف، هسة انت ما قلت لي عرفت بيوت الناس ديل كيف؟"

هو: "القصوردي بتغبانا؟؟ وحراسات وهيلمانة؟؟ هم القروش دي جابوها من وين؟ عرباتم الخمسة من وين، ما كلو من حقنا، وقالو لينا هي لله هي لله"

"...بعدين شفتي... الدين الاسلامي دة واحد.. الا الحركة الاسلامية دي بقت زي حركات دارفور.. كل يوم عندهم فصيل منشق عندو مطالبو وبتفاوض يا مع الحكومة الكان فيها يا مع المعارضة.."

انفعال شديد
هو: ".. اصلاً البلد دي خربوها الصادق المهدي والمرغني.."

سرحـــــــــــــــــــــــة، سيرة الاتنين ديل بتجيب لي كوابيس

هو: "طبعاً القوات بتاعت نافع دربوها في ماليزيا، وروهم ييقتلو ويخربو كيف، ..."

انا: "انت عرفت كيف؟"

الناس كلها عارفة

"اها" نظرة انا ما عارفة
صحي الناس كلها عارفة، ولا الزول دة عارف براهو، يا ربي أكون أمنجي سابق؟؟ أو حالي؟؟
لالا ما أمنجي حالي دة زول مصدوم، مصدوم شديد
يعني الصدمة وعت الناس وعلمتهم قدر دة

الناس في الخرطوم أغلبهم مصدومين، من مظاهرات سبتمبر والقتل الحصل فيها
الونسة بالظاهرات، الاستشهدو والاعتقلوهم، الجابوهم في التلفزيون من الحكومة والمعارضة بقت جزء من ونسة أي زول
من نسوان الحلة، للاصحاب، للناس البيتلاقوا أول مرة.

الفيسبوك في الشهر الفات بقى ساحة معركة كبيرة، ما معركة بين المناضلين والجداد،
بين كل الناس
في بوستات لمن اقراها لمن أضاني بتصن 
افتكر ما عشان الناس بتحب المشاكل، او عندها كلام ممكن تطلع منو خلاصة مفيدة مهما كانت حدة لهجتو
لا، بس عشان الحصل كتير، وكان فوق طاقتنا التخيلية
مستوى الشكلات مع الكماسرة قل كتير على ما أعتقد، العدو بقى واضح 
صدمتنا حتخلينا نثور تاني

بالنسبة لي، بكتب عشان ما أموت بالمغسة، لحدي ما يجي وقت الشارع

الأربعاء، 16 أكتوبر 2013

Sudan: peaceful revolution a dream

On Monday September 23 a wave of spontaneous popular protests broke out in Sudan. The wave was triggered by an increase in the price of fuel and basic food items caused by a long history of impoverishment and oppression by the National Congress Party (NCP) that has ruled the country for a quarter of a century. These protests were not incited by any political organization but by citizens who are struggling to earn their daily living. It was led by high school students, youth and breadwinners in the neighbourhoods of the cities of Wad Medani, Greater Khartoum area, Port Sudan, Kassala and Ghadarif.
The Sudanese regime cracked down without mercy on peaceful protests; on the first day of protests police, security and pro-government militias used live ammunition. Bullets were aimed at the upper part of the body, in what appeared to be a shoot-to-kill. On Monday night Khartoum and Omdurman witnessed heavy tear gas accompanied with live ammunition and protests continued into the early hours of Tuesday. Wednesday September 25 was the bloodiest day in Khartoum with approximately 150 peaceful protesters shot dead by government militia and national security forces. The massacre took place when the internet was cut off for approximately 24 hours. Besides shooting peaceful protesters, witnesses testified that police and security forces retreated from many major streets and neighbourhoods in Omdurman and South Khartoum before sunset, then mass numbers of militias suddenly launched their attack using live ammunition. On September 27 and 28 the demands of the protesters went beyond economic hardship and corruption to the toppling of the regime and justice for the martyrs. This is when the police guided peaceful protestors into traps - a street or square with limited exits, where they were attacked by NISS and government militias leading to numerous deaths. Government officials and police authorities then accused the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) cells in Khartoum of killing peaceful protesters and destroying public and private property.
Aspirations for regime change
Within the past two months I’ve been interviewing activists from the Girifna (means we’re fed up) Youth Movement, Sudan Change Now (SCN) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) about the possibilities of peaceful and armed regime change.
One of the members of Sudan Change Now, Khalid Omer, detained since September 30 said when I met him last August “People previously waited for the National Consensus Forces to bring about change. Now each and every citizen is a change maker. Youth didn’t wait for political parties when they took the streets in January 2011 against the NCP. Now the NCP is on its last legs getting weaker politically and economically, interfering with tribalism and using racism to discriminate against fractions of Sudanese society."
An activist from Girifna Youth Movement, M.M, said “Girifna is a nonviolent resistance movement working on promoting human rights and sustainable peace. We are inspired by Ghandi’s non violence techniques and similar movements from Asia. Changing the regime is not our final goal but achieving social justice is. Thus if the NCP is removed and the revolution is accomplished, Girifna will continue its work on reconciliation, educating people about their rights and promoting sustainable peace”
According to Khalid, Sudan Change Now is also working on several campaigns targeting social change such as the “Against Racism Campaign” that was launched in May 2013.
Dr. Abdallah Teia Jumaa, a member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N); a political and armed movement said, “It’s time to topple the NCP or the people of Sudan will continue suffering. It has been proven that the youth can organize themselves successfully and fearlessly take to the streets in peaceful protests. But the regime is killing people daily in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile region and Darfur. Nothing worse could happen to us. More activism is needed to get rid of the NCP.”
Malik Aggar, head of the SRF, and Gibril Balal, spokesperson for the Justice and Equality Movement - an armed opposition group and member of Sudanese Revolutionary Front, maintained that they will put their arms down and stop military operations as soon as the Albashir regime has fallen.
Recent protests have revealed how fragile the NCP is. The false accusations of the SRF being responsible for killing peaceful protesters has made people reconsider the role of the government and police authorities. Residents of Khartoum believe that the NCP is targeting Sudanese citizens financed by resources which ought to be used to feed the poor and offer education and health facilities for Sudanese citizens. The use of excessive force on peaceful protesters undermines NCP justification of protecting Arab Muslim identity from traitors and western agents aimed at dividing the Sudanese community. While people in the war zones are continuing their struggle through both peaceful and armed means; people in the capital are convinced of the legitimate right of self-defense and armed struggle. Although the wave of protests has shrunk during the past few days, the list of grievances is increasing. Popular anger will soon explode in the streets: it’s only a matter of time.

الأربعاء، 11 سبتمبر 2013

Floods in Sudan: intervention beyond community-based initiatives is needed

Published here
The night of Wednesday July 31, 2013 in Alfath, a town northwest of the city of Omdurman, two children aged four and two died instantaneously after the roof of their house fell in; leaving their three brothers injured. When it rains in Alfath, parents have always put their children’s beds in the yard or even on the streets and covered them with plastic blankets in an attempt to keep them as far from falling walls as possible. A father of three children said "We cannot risk our children’s lives; it's better to keep them cold and wet rather than buried under debris." Another 3 kids were reportedly killed by electric shock on the evening of August 9 in the Gabra neighborhood of Khartoum.

Since the evening of August 1, 2013, Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, has witnessed heavy rainfall and harsh floods. The rainfall came up to 32-56 mml, making it higher than it has been in years and the damage even worse. The yearly rainy season, usually from the end of June into the beginning of September, always leaves many people injured or dead, due to the collapse of houses and roads. 

But these devastating effects of rainfall and floods do not seem to have much impact on the Sudanese government. Three days after the disaster, President Omar Elbashir flew to Tehran to congratulate the newly elected Iranian president without making any official statement with regards to the floods. The Khartoum state governor, in a TV interview, denied that this was a  “disaster” calling the situation a "crisis" instead, on the grounds that it was only a disaster if half the total population was affected. Abdulgadir Hemmat, head of the Khartoum Roads and Bridges Authority, meanwhile, admitted that the sacloe of the destruction was due to houses poorly built out of weak and cheap materials. He also made a point of saying that the houses built out of cement blocks were not affected and by doing so made the residents of Khartoum responsible for the damage they had incurred. 

The Sudan Metrological Authority website has apparently not been updated since 2012. They presented last year’s forecast as this year’s, failing to predict heavy rainfall. On the other hand, the website of the Ministry of Civil Defense was quick to report how a fire at the US Embassy in Khartoum was handled last January 2013.

As of August 9, the death toll came to 53 persons and the estimate of those affected by the floods exceeds 72,585 persons in Sharq Elnil, Kararri, Umbadda and northern Khartoum. According to UN dispatch, the Sudanese government has put restrictions on the humanitarian assistance NGOs can provide in flood-affected areas. As a result of these restrictions as well as the government’s reluctance in providing assistance and managing the floods, a wave of popular unrest has emerged in Alfath, Umbadda and Sharq Alnil as well as on social media sites. The protestors have demanded aid from the government, but the government has responded violently by trying to disperse the protests with tear gas. 

Nafeer, a community-based youth-led initiative, was formed on Facebook on Friday, August 2, 2013. They started operating from Gisr Centre’s headquarters, another youth led non-profit organization, by assessing and responding to people’s needs in the affected areas. They have been collecting donations, providing tents, plastic sheets, food, clothes and medical assistance to all those affected. Almost 1200 volunteers registered and joined Nafeer in its first week of operations. On August 5-6 alone they received 264 calls on their emergency hotline. Local residents and the Sudanese diaspora have made cash donations exceeding 400 thousand Sudanese pounds (approx. 57 000 USD).

Community-based initiatives like Nafeer frequently emerge to bridge the gap between people’s needs and lack of government services. Charitable initiatives, like Sadaggat and Shariee Alhawadith, have been providing food and clothes as well as medical care for years. They offer much-needed assistance and an ‘alternative’ to the official social welfare system which does not exist. 

However, Nafeer is different as they are offering ad hoc solutions for an emergency situation that needs mass government and national intervention. Although Nafeer aspires to offer assistance nationwide to all those affected by the floods, their work is inevitably limited to the State of Khartoum as it is difficult to access all the other areas. In North Darfur 2000 houses were destroyed by rainfall on August 1, 2013 and 500 houses in Dereig IDP camp in South Darfur was destroyed on July 17, 2013. 

There hasn’t been any attempt at the reconstruction of homes or shelter let alone psychosocial support for the survivors; what is needed extends far beyond the immediate assistance provided.  "It has been a horrible, unforgettable experience. My family has lost everything, thanks to Allah we are alive. Now, in just one week, I cannot imagine going back to university. We've lost everything; I'm afraid the roads to downtown Khartoum no longer function. Anyway I can't see myself ever resuming my normal life" said a flood survivor from Sharq Elnil on the eve of Alfitr day.

Islamists in Sudan: too many faces of the same coin

Published here
Sudanese Islamic parties and groups have organized a protest on Monday July 8, 2013 in front of the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum in support of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, claiming that the 30 June wave of protests was a military coup against the constitutional legitimacy of the elected president, and calling for prosecution of Abdul Fatah Al Sisi, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Egypt and Dr. Mohamed Al Baradei, the leader of the National Salvation Front. Although the government of Sudan, dominated by the National Congress Party (NCP), announced that “whatever is happening in Egypt is an internal affair” - parliamentarians representing NCP have joined in the protests.
Looking at the groups party to this process exposes many Islamic-driven subdivisions from the same cell of the Muslim Brotherhood. These include the Muslim Brotherhood themselves, the Popular Congress Party (PCP), the Just Peace Forum (JPF), the Islamic Constitutional Front (ICF) and the Saehoon group.
The Just Peace Forum was formed in 2004 by a racist group of Islamists led by Eltayeb Mustafa, the uncle of president Omar Elbashir. Its main aim was to mobilize people against ‘Southerners’ and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that brought peace between the north and south and gave southerners the right to self-determination which resulted, in 2011, in the independence of South Sudan. JPF claims include the allegation that Northerners have been abused by the Southerners and that jihad is the only way to bring about peace and justice.
The Islamic Constitutional Front was formed in Dec 2012, and called for the building of an Islamic constitution after South Sudan secession, claiming that the 2005 interim constitution was invalid to in the eyes of the Muslim majority, & crying shame at the Islamic front for having ruled for 24 years without enforcing an Islamic constitution.
It is worth noting that civil society constitution-making initiatives were banned from organising public activities or accessing the internally dispersed camps around Khartoum which are home to two thirds of its overall population. ICF is the one and only initiative aimed at constitution-making that is allowed to conduct activities in public.
Saehoon is the most recent Islamist group. It floated to the surface in November 2012, after the coup attempt made by ex-spies Chief Salah Gosh, the Brigadier-General Mohamed Ibrahim and the Major-General Adil Eltayeb. They are calling for reforming NCP and stopping the war in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile through declaring jihad against rebel groups.
The Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Eltorabi was formed in 1999 after the split in the ruling Islamic front that resulted in the National Congress Party (NCP) continuing in power while consigning the PCP to the opposition camp. NCP has intensified its crackdown on PCP affiliates; the friends of yesterday who have become the worst of enemies today.
Arbitrary arrests and detention for years on end are the lot of some active PCP members and even the chief of the party, Eltorabi, has exhausted the party, which has no difference of vision from all the other Islamist groups. PCP had allies among secular democratic political parties in 2009 when the National Consensus Forces (NCF) was formed to unify the opposition parties against NCP. But no more.
Ibrahim Elsanosi; the vice president of PCP has switched from democratic speech to that of the divine and has been addressing the protestors saying that Al Sisi is the Lord's enemy and the National Rescue Front is a coalition of the secular entity that is enemy number one. You would never imagine that  his party had ever been in alliance with secular political parties in Sudan in the NCF.
The Islamic Front was formed in 1985 after they had split away from the Muslim Brotherhood. They took over power through a military coup and ousted the elected democratic government on June 30, 1989. Rather in contrast to the sentiments they have expressed about Egypt's June 30 wave of protests; they immediately banned all political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations; arrested, tortured and killed whoever dared to oppose the regime and forced thousands to flee the country fearing for their lives. PCP hypocrisy and double standards are now shining through their rhetoric on Egyptian affairs; hopefully democratic parties of the NSF will get to see this.  It has been really amazing to see dictators speaking of democracy and criminals demanding justice.

The dilemma of Sudanese politics
The aspiration for a democratic secular state is endangered by having Muslim Brotherhoods sub-sets in power and in the opposition as well,  leaving far too little space for democratic secular parties and a youth movement to grow in, intensifying the threat of a crackdown and allowing the Islamist opposition to protest and demonstrate to the world how democratic the Sudanese government is.
Another thing that made us sit up was seeing police authorities protecting the Islamist pro-democracy protests; while last year during June and July peaceful popular anti-regime protests activists reported that over 2000 persons were arbitrary arrested by national intelligence and security services and detained for 5-8 weeks.
The June/July detainees testified that they have been tortured and maltreated by security officers. A junior female student in the University of Khartoum has lost an eye to a rubber bullet shot inside the university campus. 13 teenagers were shot to death by police forces in Nyala on July 31, 2013.
While the June/July anti regime protests were raging; Sudanese Islamists were chanting in the streets and celebrating their Egyptian victory of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi's inauguration. Today, a year later, they are bemoaning that Morsi has been ousted,  not so much for Morsi's sake as out of fear that Sudanese youth will be inspired by their Egyptian counterparts, who once before drove Sudanese people to take to the streets, on January 30,2011 and in the June/July summer 2012 protests - in an attempt to bring down the Islamic Front/ NCP regime. It is impressive to watch how Egyptian political dynamics influence and inspire Sudanese politics.

الأحد، 8 سبتمبر 2013

سياسة القهر في دولة الشريعة الاسلامية

اعتقلت الناشطة أميرة عثمان يوم 27 أغسطس 2013 بتهمة "الزي الفاضح" تحت المادة 152 من القانون الجنائي وذلك لعدم استجابتها لأوامر رجل الشرطة بوضع الطرحة على شعرها. رفضت أميرة المحاكمة الايجازية وأصرت على حقها في تمثيلها بواسطة محامي و اختارت أن تتحدث وتوجه دعوة للجميع لحضور محاكمتها يوم الأحد 1 سبتمبر 2013. وجدت أميرة قرابة المائة شخص، رجالاً ونساء في انتظارها أمام ساحة المحكمة عندما حضرت مرتدية نفس الملابس التي كانت ترتديها ساعة القاء القبض عليها، وأجلت المحاكمة لغياب القاضي.
أميرة عثمان بعد تأجيل المحاكمة، مصدر الصورة https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=160622257476136&set=a.160540914150937.1073741829.126831357521893&type=1&theater
قبيل أسابيع قليلة، أطلق سراح نور الهادي عباس، شيخ ومعالج تقليدي بعد اتهامه باغتصاب طالبة جامعية والحكم عليه بالسجن 10 سنوات والجلد مائة جلدة وفقاً لعفو بقرار رئاسي. نور الهادي لم يجلد قط وقضى عاماً واحداً في السجن. في الاسلام يعفو الله عن جميع الآثام عدا التي تتضمن ظلماً للبشر وانتهاكاً لحقوقهم، أما البشير رأس الدولة الاسلامية فقد منح نفسه حق العفو في مظالم الناس، وقد اعترف قبل شهور قليلة بمسئوليته عن دماء المسلمين التي سُفكت في دارفور ذاكراً أنه مساءل فقط أمام الله لأن حرمة قتل النفس لا يمكن معاقبتها في الحياة الدنيا.

استولت الجبهة الاسلامية القومية على الحكم عام 1989 بانقلاب عسكري وترجمت فكرها الاسلامي في "المشروع الحضاري" الهادف لإعادة صياغة الانسان السوداني وجعله "أكثر اسلاماً". ركز هذا المشروع على فرض معايير أخلاقية محددة ترتبط مباشرة بالتحكم في أجساد وسلوك النساء وذلك عبر وضع عواقب قانونية لإنتهاك هذه المعايير وتعريفها كشرط للاسلام الصحيح واجتماعياً عبر توجيه المجتمع للقهر تحت مسميات الرجولة والاسلام.

فُرض الحجاب على النساء السودانيات طيلة الأربعة وعشرين عاماً الماضية، ويعاقب الزي الفاضح الذي اتهمت به أميرة لعدم تغطية شعرها بالجلد، الغرامة أو السجن. معايير الزي الفاضح يحددها رجال الشرطة الذين يتفحصون أزياء النساء بصورة عشوائية في الشارع باحثين عمّن ترتدي بنطالاُ ضيقاً ، تنورة متوسطة الطول أو قميصاً بأكمام قصيرة أوببساطة في بعض الأحيان من لا تضع الخمار على رأسها. تعتقل كل عام الآلاف من النساء، تتم مساومتهن، جلدهن، سجنهن وتغريمهن بسبب ما يرتدينه. يوجه الإتهام بالدعارة للتواجد في مكان الدعارة الذي كما عرفه القانون يمكن أن يكون سيارة، مكتب، قاعة دراسة أو حتى شارعاً مظلم. تخرج قليل من هؤلاء النساء الى العلن مثلما فعلت أميرة ليتحدث عن ما مررن به خوفاً من الوصمة الاجتماعية بعدم الاخلاق والاسلام.

إن تفسير الحجاب في القرآن الكريم يختلف كثيراً بين الطوائف، حيث يرى السنة الوهابيون وجوب النقاب وتغطية الوجه، تتمسك كثير من الطوائف بكشف الوجه والكفين كما يرى البعض أن الحجاب ليس جزءاً من الاسلام بل الثقافة العربية. قبل أربعة عشر قرن وفي عهد النبي محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم في مجتمع شبه الجزيرة العربية البدوي لم تجلد أو تعاقب النساء لعدم ارتدائهن الحجاب. بالطبع لا تحاول الجبهة الاسلامية تحويل السودان لمجتمع أكثر اسلاماً من مجتمع الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم بل منح قهر النساء سلطة إلهية. أن حكومتنا " المسلمة" التي تصف الشيعة بالمشركين والخارجين  عن الملة، تمنع أنشطتهم (هذا يعتمد على العلاقات الدبلوماسية مع ايران والمملكة العربية السعودية) وتهاجمهم لفظياً خلال خطب الجمعة ولكن القضاة لايتوانون عن اصدار أحكام بالرجم كما حدث العام الماضي على اثنتين من النساء بناءاً على المذهب اليزيدي الجعفري الذي يبيح رجم الزانية المحصنة حتى وان لم يتم اتهام شريك ذكر في الجريمة. ويبدو من هذا المثال أن النظام يبحث عن أكثر الفتاوى تشدداً وقهراً للنساء حتى وإن كان على خلاف كبير مع مصدرها.

انني على قناعة بأن ما يحدث في السودان لا علاقة له بالاسلام بل بسياسات القهر. كإمرأة مسلمة أتمنى أن أرى نهوض المسلمين رجالاً ونساء ضد الانتهاكات الممارسة باسم الدين. مبدئياً يرتبط وجودنا في هذه الدولة بوضعنا كمواطنين نتمتع بالحريات والحقوق وليس بوضعنا كمسلمين أو غير ذلك. إن الدين كقناعة شخصية لا يجب أن يكون من شؤون الدولة أو أداة لظلم واذلال البشر.

الجمعة، 23 أغسطس 2013

Eritreans in Sudan: Their Struggle is Mine Too

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous digital media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world 
Published here

 One night in December, 2011, Grace refused to serve a Sudanese customer who used to drink tea and coffee daily without paying a cent. He would tell her “This is not your country; either serve me for free or leave to your home land where you can protest”. At that moment, he became enraged and poured the boiling water kettle all over her right side, from the shoulder down to the hips, causing severe burns. I met her 10 months after the accident, and she had not recovered yet. Her arm muscles seem to be severely affected. She had no money to feed, shelter or cover her medical needs, except for the donations she receives from time to time.
Grace has no official papers to file a case against the perpetrator who ran away in a street full of hundreds of people. She thinks that Sudanese people simply let him go because she is a foreigner. While working as a tea lady she was paying a guard to keep her tea set when the public order police raided the street and she ran away. She was caught several times by police officers who searched for money in her bag and the rickshaw she used every night to go back home.
Grace is one of the Eritreans in Sudan who stayed out of the recorded 115,000 refugees and 3000 asylum seekers. Her story is similar to a lot of Eritreans who crossed to Sudan seeking better opportunities but ended up in misery. The trip to Sudan is not easy at all; trafficking networks are very active in Eastern Sudan near Eritrea's border areas and extend up to Sinai desert in Egypt. Kidnapping of Eritreans happens all the way to Shegerab, the refugee camp. The most vulnerable are women who flee Eritrea alone. Stories of rape, sexual exploitation and torture are very common among the new arrivals.
Grace fled to Sudan on 2008, along with 9 of her friends who walked from Tisani to Kassala in six days due to the boarder's control. Rasheida trafficking gangs found them, and while the smuggler escaped, they stole from them all their money and papers. They were released after her friends' relatives in Europe paid ransoms to the trafficker. They continued walking towards Kassala, where they found a smuggler to take them to Khartoum. According to UNHCR over 1000 Eritrean refugees cross the borders to Sudan monthly, escaping political and religious repression, endless military service, and poverty. They flee Eritrea seeking better living conditions and opportunities, but Sudan is not their safe haven.
Eritrea is a small country located in the horn of Africa, with a population of 6 million persons. It witnessed 30 years of armed conflict with Ethiopia that led to its independence in 1993. From the beginning of the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Eritreans have been crossing the borders to Sudan as their intermediate or final destination. After independence, their reasons for fleeing are arbitrary detention, torture, absence of freedoms, forced labor, and indefinite military service.
In the early morning of May 27, 2007 a police force raided Marry's house in Eritrea and arrested her and her husband because of being Protestants. She took her younger child with her and left the two elder children in the house alone. She was detained for 6 weeks in Adapeto prison and released because her child was suffering from skin ulcers. She signed a pledge not to practice her religion anymore. "Although I was arrested while I was sleeping, not praying," said Marry. After her release, she was isolated and stigmatized; people neither visited nor greeted her. They were all afraid they may be arrested too. She agreed with her husband about fleeing Eritrea before him to Sudan. She left her two elder children with her mother.
The government of Eritrea controls the religious activities and acknowledges four “recognized” religious groups which are the Orthodox Church, Sunni Islam, Roman Catholicism, and the Evangelical Church. Other religious groups are not recognized since 2002, according to a HRW report in 2012. The Sudanese government also controls the religious activities of people. After South Sudan secession; the president has declared Sudan an Islamic country with no room for any religions' chaos. Soon after his speech, all the Christian holidays were cancelled. Even Christmas celebrations were banned without the security permission that churches have never attained. Last year, mass arrests of Christian youth occurred in Khartoum during Christmas time forcing them to flee the country soon after their release.
Bereket Issack graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture from Asmara University in Eritrea. He was immediately assigned to the Ministry of Agriculture where he completed his university service successfully, but the military service is indefinite and usually lasts for years with payment not exceeding 30 USD monthly. Bereket said "However, due to the unlimited national service, I was obliged to cross to Sudan, leaving my families behind. In September, 2010 I made a connection with a friend living nearby the borders of Sudan. Two weeks later; I was able to cross to Sudan via Hafir village to Shegerab along the way to Khartoum.” The story of Bereket called back my childhood memories of fear. During 1990's; hundreds of Sudanese secondary school graduates and youth including cousins and neighbors were fleeing the country because of the obligatory military recruitment through kidnapping them from the streets and public transportation and sending them to battlefield in the South.
Committee to Protect Journalists identified Eritrea as one of the most censored countries in the world for the past 6 years. With the total absence of independent media; the world has no access to what's happening inside Eritrea. No single news agency was able to investigate the coup attempt of January 2013. Jamal Himad, an independent journalist who worked for the Eritrea's Liberation Front in 1991 and as a presenter in Eritrea's official radio station was forced to flee to Sudan in mid-1995. He was fired from his job because of not being affiliated with the ruling party. He, along with many educated Eritreans in Sudan, formed Mabdara, a civil society organization that aims to spread values of democracy and human rights, and "Adoulis" the Eritrean Centre for Media Service. He said "Eritrea is a piece from hell, with no constitution, no legislation, no independent media, and no civil society or trade unions, except those affiliated with the ruling regime,"
Sudanese authorities are the extended hands of Eritrean regime. In October, 2011 Mr. Jamal Himad was arrested in Khartoum by the Sudanese security and detained for 2 months just before Isias’ visit to Khartoum. A few days before Himad’s arrest, Sudan deported 300 Eritrean asylum seekers to Asmara, leaving them to face torture and imprisonment. In December, 2012, two Eritrean journalists in Khartoum were arrested by security and detained for 3 weeks. The Eritrean Embassy has filed a complaint against them because they have organized a workshop on disaster management for Eritrean youth. One of those journalists was the person who introduced me to the Eritrean community in Khartoum. His arrest has terminated many plans we've put to support Eritrean refugees.
Random abuse by Sudanese authorities is a threat to Eritreans in Sudan similar to threats incited by the Eritrean government against its opponents. Bereket was arbitrarily arrested nearby his work place by two men wearing police uniforms and two men in plain clothes. He faced no charges, but they took his yellow refugee card and threw him into jail for two weeks with many Eritrean men. While he was in detention, his fellow Eritrean detainees advised him, as long as he can afford paying a bribe, the police will set him free.
Social integration of Eritreans in Sudan has always been an obstacle for non-Muslim, non-Arabic speaking Eritreans. Sudan is imposing a certain dress code for women, alienating minorities and oppressing the personal freedoms especially for Eritrean women. While Sudanese women are taking the risk and challenging the public order laws of the dress code; Eritrean women have always been an easy target. Listening to Grace and Marry has touched me personally. They called back all memories of violence and harassment I've experienced because people thought I'm "Habasheia" a term used to describe Ethiopian and Eritrean ladies.
In May, 2012, I stopped with my boyfriend in a juice shop to drink some lemonade, after a long exhausting day. A man was moving around us and staring at me. I asked my boyfriend not to start a fight with him because I'm too tired and I just want to go home. While my boyfriend was looking for a taxi; the man attacked me for reasons I couldn't understand saying "Habasheia; go back to your country, Damn you". He touched me and started beating me up. I shouted loudly to him and called my boyfriend. When he noticed, I was chasing the man in the street and shouting at people to catch him, but they just let him go. If you look like an Eritrean you will be treated like them. For this reason; many Eritrean ladies try to change their appearance and give themselves Arabic names.
Marry is usually wearing a black Abaya and a cotton scarf. She looked at my braided hair and my jeans saying that this was her favorite appearance in Asmara. Now she would never dare to wear jeans or take off the scarf, putting her at risk of abuse by revealing her non-Sudanese identity. Another woman testified that she was arrested for not wearing a Hijab; the police officer told her, “You are not Sudanese; if you want to go out with “naked” hair it is better to get back to your country”.
Marry and Grace found themselves with limited opportunities of employment as they haven’t been to college, just like thousands of internally displaced Sudanese women. They end up competing over informal sectors like tea business or domestic work. Resettlement also seems to be difficult for Grace without getting her refugee status. Marry finds it impossible to leave for a third country far away from her two children in Eritrea. Although she hasn't seen them for the past six years, she doesn't want to be far away.
Jamal has recently been resettled in Australia. As a friend of his, I was sad to say good bye. He is one of us and he shouldn't go, but I remembered that most of my fellow activists have fled Sudan. Bereket applied for resettlement in Canada and Switzerland, but luckily he found his way out and got a postgraduate scholarship in the German University of Hohenheim. With all the unfortunate incidents that he faced, he still thinks Sudanese people are generous and friendly. He is planning to get back to Sudan for his thesis research and try to help his people in Sudan. He thinks there should be cooperation between UNHCR and the Sudanese authorities to ensure the security of the refugees and asylum seekers in Sudan. Such cooperation would be in favor of protecting them from random abuse by the authorities, but would never secure the opponents of Isias’ regime as long as there is diplomatic cooperation between the two dictators. Resettlement remains a solution for selective cases and will not provide a solution for most Eritreans.
The dilemmas of Eritreans in Sudan are not their own; but also ours. The situations that drive them to flee are mostly the same that force Sudanese people to leave their home. The discrimination they face inside Sudan is what the Sudanese people struggle to end. The culture of exclusion deeply influencing the behaviors towards “others” is what must be changed. The “other” is a refugee, an IDP, a person from different ethnic background, a woman or a person with different beliefs. I long for a radical solution for Eritreans’ and Sudanese dilemmas: working towards maintaining democratic states in Eritrea and Sudan and promoting human rights and appreciation for the human diversity within the societies.

الجمعة، 19 يوليو 2013

Kamilia Kura: Relentless in Empowering Displaced Women

Kamilia is the founder and Executive director of Nuba Women for Education and Development Association (NuWEDA). She dreams about a Sudan that respects the diversity of its own people. She hopes for people to live in peace and dignity and to be treated as Sudanese citizens not according to their ethnic, religious, regional and gender identities. She says “I want the old days of Sudan to revive; when people were just Sudanese”

She was born on 1969 to Christian parents in Kadugli; the capital of South Kordofan state. Kamilia’s father decided to sell his flock of cows and move to Khartoum seeking a better life for his family. They migrated to Khartoum when she was an infant. She was raised in the church and volunteered to teach at Sunday schools since she was 14 years old.

Kamilia kept her eyes on attending the university and not have the same fate that most of her peers face; getting married and have children before reaching high school. Her family was willing to get her married soon after she graduated from intermediate school. The bishop Butrus Kura; her uncle and role model saved her by demanding that her father allow her to attend high school. The Bishop Butrus was supporting girls’ education; he advised many families which came to the church to allow their girls to attend high school, and many husbands to allow their wives to attend the university. Kamilia is keeping her uncle’s favor and wishes all the girls could access higher education. She got married after high school and moved to Nigeria with her husband where she got a diploma on community psychosocial intervention from Saint Jose State University on 1996.

On 1997, Kamilia was back to Sudan while the civil war in the south was raging between the government and Sudan People’s Liberation Army Movement. Hundreds of thousands of displaced persons were arriving in Khartoum. She talked to her friend Fatima Sulieman "We need to do something for our mothers and sisters who escaped the war to Khartoum" Along with one of the church elders; they have mobilized people to join them, conducted meetings, collected donations and provided humanitarian relief. On 2002, the group was registered as a nonprofit organization under the name Nuba Women for Education and Development Association (NuWEDA) to access grants that maintain the sustainability of their services and widen their community outreach. It kept growing and its mandate extended beyond providing humanitarian assistance to advocating for women’s rights, peace, building the capacities of women and youth through education, training on development related issues and awareness raising.

Threats by government security agents have always accompanied the work of Kamilia as a leader of a non-registered group and as an executive director of NuWEDA. Community based initiatives in the 1990’s were very limited; additionally most of the IDPs were coming from the war zones in South Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. The authorities in Khartoum regard them as rebels and spies and everybody who helps them as having a relation to the rebel groups. Till now the authorities are not keeping good intentions in the work of national civil society and Kamilia is subjected regularly to harassment and interrogations.

Changing social norms that violate women's rights, such as domestic violence and lack of women’s control over their bodies, is the challenge that NuWEDA has taken on. Kamilia was labeled by conservative men in displaced communities for spreading immoralities through educating women about family planning and inciting them against domestic violence. 

Girls’ and women’s education is NuWEDA’s missing key to empowering and securing women lives and well being through offering them better job opportunities, and a better life with choices. While NuWEDA is raising the community awareness by girls' education, public higher education is so expensive for most of the displaced families which are struggling with earning the daily living. NuWEDA is willing to run a program for sponsoring displaced women and girls’ university education. They have been seeking funds for this program for the past 5 years, although they couldn’t receive enough funds for the program launch.

In June, 2011, the civil war broke out again in South Kordofan region between the government and Sudan People’s Liberation Army/North. Bombardments of Kadugli and more than 40 towns, limited access to food, high incidents of rape by government militias, arbitrary arrests and forced military recruitment of women has made life terrible for families and forced 300,000-400,000 persons either to flee to Khartoum or seek refuge in South Sudan. Displaced families are living in poverty and women are heading the households. The majority has limited professional skills which leave them with limited and highly competitive employment opportunities like domestic work. There is no legislation protecting the rights of domestic workers by defining minimum wage, working hours, leaves and end of service benefits. NuWEDA is coordinating an economic empowerment program with other civil society organizations with the purpose of organizing displaced women in cooperatives to advance their economic status through savings, acquaint them with small business skills, improve their access to loans and form a sort of informal trade union.

Kamilia believes in empowering women to advance the status of displaced communities; her vision drove the formation of NuWEDA. The people’s needs for assistance have inspired her to form a group of volunteers, and then build a nonprofit organization. She finds the motive and legitimacy of her work from the people she serves.

السبت، 13 يوليو 2013

Cecafa Championship 2013: In A Stadium or A Battlefield?

Lots of critics have been made upon kicking off Cecafa championship in Kadugli and Elfashir. The two cities have witnessed unrest and continuous threats of Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) attacks. Apparently it was an attempt by the government of Sudan to show peace and stability in the regions of Darfur and South Kordofan and proof to the international community the success of Doha Document for Peace in Darfur and deny the civil war in Nuba Mountain and the SRF control over most of South Kordofan State territories.

Somehow was a clever strategy by the government; knowing that SRF wouldn’t attack the civilians in a football match, commit war crimes and crimes against humanity where all the attention of international community is drawn.

The government and UNAMID have made most of the arrangements to host Cecafa in Elfashir. The state government has founded play grounds in a valley although they can be destroyed at any moment by floods. One of Aldaraga Alola neighborhoods residents testified that they are suffering from water shortage since the preparations of the championship have begun due to the use of tankers which supply them with water in irrigating playgrounds. According to 3 women activists; the state government has put the responsibility of feeding visiting teams on the people of Elfashir; each 8-9 neighborhoods were responsible from feeding a team. UNAMID sponsorship to Cecafa was under the theme “Sports for Peace”. They haven’t noticed that SRF, tribes and other conflicted parties are not taking part of these activities. UNAMID has taken the responsibility of protecting football teams while protecting civilians wasn’t their mandate.

Along with two of my friends; I was lucky to attend two football matches in Elfashir; Marikh Elfashir versus Elman team of Somalia on Sunday 23rd, June 2013 and Marikh Elfashir versus Alahly Shendi on Wednesday 26th June 2013. Although football is not one of my interests but I’ve enjoyed watching the people cheering and supporting Marikh Elfashir in the two games.

Once I’ve arrived to Elfashir and Alnugaa stadiums; I couldn't miss the massive numbers of armed police officers, central reserve (Abutaira) militants, soldiers (SAF), popular defense militants, and Special Forces militants and few of traffic police officers. Approximately there were over 200 armed officers in more than 25 cars with Dushka.

I was afraid to attract their attention or challenge them by invading this “men’s only zone” but very curious to see their faces and expose what their eyes hide. Unlike Khartoum they were helping us to get inside and greeting us after their team won.

Inside the stadium they were even more armed men at least 500 of them. They were following the match closely, cheering and laughing rather than looking around and keeping the place secure.
Those soldiers/ militants are coming from all over the country to fight in a war it is not their own, staying in a city that has no regular theatre shows and cinemas. They found themselves with unaccountable authority, arms and vehicles full of fuel, moving randomly in the city with lots of aggression and boredom. Those young men ought to fall in love, marry and raise their children rather than committing horrors and killing their fellow citizens or being killed with a deadly shot.

Children street vendors were enjoying the matches, selling water and local snacks, getting excited by supporting Marikh Elfashir and cheering for their role models (Alsalateen[1]). My friends and I cheered for Marikh Elfashir which recovered from its death and won the match against Alahly Shendi. A cheerer said “I really want Marikh Elfashir to win the match; it is unfair that the people of Shendi are winning everything”

Coming to an end; Cecafa wasn’t made in Elfashir and Kadugli for peace but an arrogant power show. Elfashir didn’t look safer by hosting the championship. Football players testified that they were terrified in Kadugli for hearing explosions all the time as if they were in "An action movie". Hundreds of thousands of IDPs haven’t enjoyed watching the matches; at least the championship has kept militants busy for a while.

Photo of Marikh Elfashir Vs Elman team of Somalia 23/6/2013

[1] A nickname for Marikh Elfashir players means Sultans