Tuesday, January 27, 2004


I recently looked up an old law school friend who is from Sudan. He is a Christian from the Dinka tribe in southern Sudan, and had many harrowing stories to tell about the Islamic military government that rules northern Sudan and that has been waging war on the south. I asked him by email what he thought of the recent efforts to negotiate a Sudan peace agreement. Here's his response:
Stuart, I am from one of the disputed areas, Abyei, to be specific.
Disputed is a politically correct term meant to inject a measure of undecidedness on the status of the area. Otherwise if you ask us, the people of Abyei, we are Southerners, Christians or animists, but almost never Muslims. Abyei has suffered the most atrocities of any area throughout the half-century-old civil war, has produced the leadership of the Southern insurgence and continues to be just that. But if you follow the talks in Kenya, the Sudan Government has vowed to keep Abyei unto itself, predominantly because of the oil underneath our soil, a curse masquerading as an economic potential.

I pray the United States does not get taken in by the chicaneries of the fundamentalist regime in Khartoum. While I understand that the nation's interest should predominate, regard should be paid to the current political environment in the Arab and Islamic world.
For more on the Sudan peace talks, go here, here, or here.

I'll never forget sitting in a room with my friend at Harvard, watching a video about the Sudanese civil war. The film showed Bishop Macram Gassis attempting to lead a Christmas service in a southern village. Some people had walked for days in order to attend the service. But the northern army had somehow heard that the service was going to occur, and sent planes to bomb the church. (The northern Muslim army, the narrator said, made a deliberate point of bombing churches, schools, and hospitals in the Christian south.) Fortunately, the people at the service heard the planes coming, and scattered throughout the brush. Still, it was a horrifying film.


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