One year ago today, millions of Southern Sudanese stood in long lines to vote for independence in a national referendum. The sense of hope and the inspiration that I experienced last year in the streets of Juba when people gathered to celebrate the official birth of this new nation has been undermined by mass killings perpetrated by the forces of Omar al-Bashir and inter-ethnic strife in the south. And things are getting worse.

Children from near Pibor, in Jonglei State, South Sudan that have been displaced by recent violence. Photo credit: UN/Isaac Billy

The citizens of the newest nation on earth need and deserve more from us. The United States and international community must immediately take robust action to address the ongoing inter-ethnic violence in South Sudan and attacks by Bashir’s forces which are creating a new, massive humanitarian disaster.

Recent accounts of thousands being massacred in escalating ethnic violence – and a looming humanitarian disaster – underscore what is at stake and why more of the same cannot be an option.

Fighting between ethnic groups in South Sudan is taking a devastating toll. In 2011, more than a thousand South Sudanese were killed in tribal violence. Just last week, inter-ethnic fighting in the country’s Jonglei State is estimated to have killed hundreds and, according to some reports, possibly thousands. This worsening pattern of death and destruction threatens to spiral out of control without intervention.

Sudan’s President Bashir has committed acts of war against South Sudan, launching a series of attacks across the border since November. These attacks have killed innocent civilians and members of South Sudan’s armed forces, which are already stretched far too thin. Instead of imposing consequences for the actions of Sudan’s Bashir, the United States has publicly urged South Sudan not to respond in its own defense.

It is not enough to host a conference on South Sudan’s development needs, as the administration did last month in Washington. Increased and sustained diplomatic and material support is needed for the already overstretched UN Mission in South Sudan, including more peacekeepers for civilian protection and provision of helicopters to allow quick access to areas threatened by ethnic violence.

But any level of support will fail as long as Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president and international criminal wanted for genocide, is allowed to continue his relentless assaults on innocent civilians on both sides of the border. President Obama and other world leaders must once and for all get serious and get tough on Bashir, hold him fully accountable and stop the damage he continues to inflict with impunity. The President needs to lead the international community to expand Sudan sanctions, secure immediate access for humanitarian aid organizations while providing a robust investment in humanitarian aid, and expand the mandate of the International Criminal Court. This must be done immediately and involve the highest levels of government leaders.

As I said in a news release last week, the stakes are too high for piecemeal approaches and timidity. This is being reinforced almost daily with news from South Sudan and the border regions within Sudan including Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

We know that when the United States Government is paying attention and exercising its influence, progress can be achieved. And, we know that the strength of our voices so often mark that fine line between government action and indifference.

Many of the people who I met in South Sudan expressed gratitude for the attention and activism of so many in the United States that made hope – and independence – possible.  More attention and more activism will be needed to restore hope – and peace – to a battered and beleaguered people.

Over the next week, as we mark the one year anniversary of the referendum, United to End Genocide will feature stories from people like you who have taken action to make a difference for the people of South Sudan and Sudan. We hope that their stories inspire you as they have us, and we look forward to continuing to work together to secure peace and prevent atrocities.

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  • http://Davidnyuolvincent.com David Nyuol Vincent

    Dear Tom,
    I couldn’t agree more with you sir! I’m now in India where I came to meet the vice president of south Sudan. We had a fruitful discussion and we both agreed that perhaps our priority is no longer water, hospitals, roads etc but firstly we MUST go through the process of healing…I have been advocating for this since 2005. Now he understand why it is important and asked me to meet him in juba in two weeks time to present to him what I think could be the next step. This work would require a lot of actors and support, I wonder whether you can help me. I’m happy to share more with you if interested. Thank you for your article.

    David Nyuol Vincent
    South Sudanese Australian

  • Mi-Jeong, Park

    Sudan’s children are very poor, but almost of children in our country or some advanced countries are very happy. I think we have to donate or help for children but I’m also children. I hope Sudan’s children can always happy.

  • http://stepuponsecond.org patchur white

    what would an official united nations report say?::?::

  • Andrew (Andy) Alcock

    Dear Friends at United to End Genocide,

    I very much appreciate the good work you do to assist the human rights of the people of Sudan.

    I would like to respectfully disagree with the observation that Tom made in his report, however.

    “We know that when the United States Government is paying attention and exercising its influence, progress can be achieved”.

    The fact is that US administrations frequently support the very regimes that you and other good people around the world are trying to expose because of their inhumanity and gross human rights abuses.

    In doing some reading on the situation in Southern Sudan, I came across a report by Susan Gordon of the Huffington Post, who wrote the following on 3 January 2012, :

    “At 3 a.m., I received an email from my colleague and dear friend, Mohamed. Usually calm and measured in his communication, Mohamed raged in his email against the Obama administration and its Sudan envoy, Princeton Lyman, for their complicity in supporting the brutal regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The subject line of the email was “U.S. Sudan policy is killing us.”

    Many people had great hopes that the Obama Administration would make a difference for human rights, but this has not proved to be the case. He has done nothing to assist the plight of the Palestinians whose human and land rights are being violated every day by Israel.

    In my region of the world, he has continued to assist the Indonesian military (TNI) despite the fact that it has committed genocide in East Timor, West Papua, Acheh and parts of Indonesia (eg Bali and Maliku provence). In 1965, the CIA assisted Mahommed Suharto, the previous Indonesian dictator, to unseat the democratically elected government of President Sukarno. He remained in power for 33 long, corrupt and brutal years. Amnesty International claimed that a half to one milion people were butchered by the TNI in the year afterwards with the full knowledge and blessing of the then US Administration and the CIA.

    Some Indonesians inform me that the death toll was nearer 3 million. Most of the victims were those supporting greater democracy and a fairer distribitution of resources. Ethnically, the Chinese and the Balinese suffered the most.

    Barack Obama would know all of this as he spent a number of years living in Indonesia. He has done nothing to stop the support that the US gives to the TNI butchers.

    Of course, Australian governments that endorse everything that US administrations do also support these people. Many in the SE Asian Pacific regions consider that the TNI is the worst terrorist organisation in our part of the world and that it can continue on its bloody way because the US, Australia and some European governments allow it to do so.

    US and Australian leaders continually preach about democracy, but continue to support dictatorships or get involved in unnecessary wars to get hold of resources of other nations, to increase the profits of their corporations or to install compliant regimes. The fact is that the US is not a democracy as its governments are controlled by the Military/Industrial/Extreme Right Wing Complex (M/I/ERW/C). Dwight Eisenhower, before he retired as US President in 1961warned the US people to beware of the Military Industrial complex because he had the foresight to see that this was going to be a very powerful and undemocratic force.

    Since then, many extreme right wing organisations have worked to strengthen the power of this complex even further eg right wing Republicans (and Democrats), the Tea Party, The Family, Moral Rearmament (some quite pro Nazi in outlook) etc and they provide an almost insurmountable force in relation to the decisions of US administrations. However, to prevent US administrations (and the compliant governments like Australia) from bowing to the dictates of the M/I/ERW/C, more must be done to loosenthe strangle hold it has on decision-making processes.

    The supreme war criminal Robert McNamara was never elected by the US people to high office. He was appointed by the Kennedy Administration from the Ford corporation and was given great powers to escalate the US War in Vietnam to an incredible extent. Three million Vietnamese died, their infrastructure was massively destroyed and their environment was greatly contaminated because of this criminal megalomaniac and the US presidents (and other political leaders) who listened to him.

    As we fight for the human rights of the victims of human rights abuses, we also need to confront the political forces that help to install the dictatorships that carry out the crimes against humanity.
    And we need to look very critically look at our political structures that have given US and western politicians so much power to affect the politics of other nations.

    If we do not do this, certain individuals will always be able to get away with making more people suffer because of their greed and lust for power. And those of us who are struggling for social justice, human rights and a safer environment will be condemned to continue in this struggle forever.

    Yours for peace, social justice, human rights and environmental responsibility

    A La Lucha Continua!

    Andrew (Andy) Alcock
    Forestville
    South Australia
    AUSTRALIA

  • Mataka has arisen

    Uhuru Sasa

  • JAMIE WALDEN- MATHER

    Tom,
    Keep up the good work. I would love to come and work for you. How can we make people in America care enough to want to get involved?

  • Brianna

    Thanks so much for keeping us updated.
    I started researching this for a paper I had to right last year and fell in love with the cause. Thank You so much for keeping this very important issue of the forefront, the media does not talk at all about it and these people need our help. I love reading your updates and look forward to one day receiving the good new that our hard work was enough and the people of Sudan are doing well, living at peace, and past any semblance of civil unrest!