Christians in Sudan, South Sudan Facing Death and Detention

Monday, January 23, 2012

KHARTOUM, SUDAN (Worthy News)-- Christians in Sudan and newly created South Sudan face possible detention, beatings and even death amid a "deteriorating humanitarian situation" with thousands of people being killed this year alone, aid workers and Christians said in statements obtained by Worthy News Sunday, January 22.

"Jonglei State in South Sudan...severe inter-tribal warfare has caused an estimated 3,000 deaths and displaced over 100,000 people in the last two weeks," reported Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which has been investigating the situation.

The region was reportedly a disaster zone by President Salva Kiir. "Tensions over cattle-raiding are common between tribal groups, However the violence in Jonglei constitutes the worst internal violence since South Sudan gained its independence," from Sudan in July 2011, CSW added.

The troubles have been linked to religious tensions, with Sudan known as mainly Muslim and Arabic-speaking, while South Sudan is more indigenously African in race, culture, and religion, with Christian influences and a perceived Western orientation.

Amid the chaos, Christians are  fleeing. That is also the case in the contested region of Abey, which has been viewed as being occupied by the forces of neighboring Sudan,  since May 2011.


In published remarks, Zechariah Bol Deng, a senior elder of the Ngok Dinka tribe who are resident in Abyei, said, “Currently, people are still suffering, there are thousands living under trees near the river, unable to return to their homes due to the presence of the SAF in Abyei, and with very limited resources."

He added that the presence of the Sudanese army "means that people are afraid to return to Abyei, and their situation is getting more and more desperate. Children are dying of preventable diseases and only a limited number of relief agencies are able to reach them.”

CSW said that attempts at finding a political solution were halted in May 2011, when the Sudan's troops took "the area by force." At least 130,000 Ngok Dinka residents fled the fighting, including Christians, the majority of whom are still unable to return to their homes, according to rights investigators.

In Sudan's capital Kharthoum, minority Christians have also been pressured to leave the country towards South Sudan, with reports of detentions and beatings, church leaders said.

Among those briefly detained in recent days was evangelist James Kat of the Evangelical Church of Sudan with officers allegedly beating him as they took him to a North Division police station. Kat, who lives at the church site, was reportedly arrested for using the site as his home. He was freed the same day, January 17, but uncertainty remains as he was released on bail, Christians said.


The previous say another church leader was arrested Monday, January 16, in a Sudanese Presbyterian Evangelical Church church property dispute in which police and courts "have been unjustly biased in favor of Muslims," Christian leaders said.

Officers arrested Gabro Haile Selassie, as he lives on the church property that has been transferred to a Muslim businessman in a disputed agreement. In published remarks Selassie, who was released on bail after a few hours, said he fears being arrested again and that police already started demolishing the church compound fence.

There was no immediate comment from Sudanese officials.

The tensions have overshadowed attempts by international organizations to help stabilize both Sudan and South Sudan. Two rounds of north-south civil war cost the lives of 1.5 million people, and a continuing conflict in the western region of Darfur has driven two million people from their homes and killed more than 200,000, according to several estimates.

Open Doors, another advocacy group investigating the situation, has warned that the tensions could add to persecution faced by Christians in the region.

3 thoughts on “Christians in Sudan, South Sudan Facing Death and Detention

  1. Jonglei Peace Initiative
    For Immediate Release
    January 23, 2012
    Washington, D.C. – Twenty-five South Sudanese diaspora community leaders from 
    across North America, including both Canada and the USA, gathered in Washington, 
    DC January 21-22, 2012 and focused on helping bring peace to their native state of 
    Jonglei in the new country of the Republic of South Sudan. We are known as the 
    Jonglei Peace Initiative (JPI) and include men and women from the Anyuak, Nuer, 
    Murle, and Dinka people. Officials from the Embassy of South Sudan and international 
    resource people joined us. We have agreed to call ourselves JPI  -- USA.
    After two days of deliberation, assessing the current context, and exploring ways to 
    contribute toward a sustainable peace in Jonglei state and South Sudan, we issue the 
    WE CONCLUDED that the urgency and risk in Jonglei and South Sudan is extremely 
    high and has the potential to:
    1. Further entrench tribal tensions that are counterproductive to building the world’s 
    newest nation.
    2. Continue to result in the death and injury of innocent South Sudanese, including 
    women and children.
    3. Undermine the future of  the new country of South Sudan and its economy by 
    deterring investors and making peace through development impossible.
    4. Create food insecurity by endangering farmers, cattle raisers and supply chains.
    WE CALL for: 
    1. The Government of South Sudan, making use of its military and police and 
    working in conjunction with the UNIMISS peacekeepers, to immediately create a 
    disengagement and separation between fighting forces between tribal groups in 
    Jonglei state and to assure all communities and citizens that they will be 
    protected by the Government of South Sudan through the establishment of buffer 
    zones and water points.
    2. The youth warriors to immediately end all raiding, abductions, violence and 
    destruction of their neighbors and their neighbors’ properties and return to their 
    own lands so that a legitimate peace process can be initiated.
    3. The placement of military and police forces near the water and toich lands of 
    Jonglei to insure that renewed conflicts will not be allowed to escalate during the 
    dry season and to provide a ceasefire environment that can create an opportunity 
    for community leaders to mobilize people for a just and sustainable peace.4. The President and Commander-in-Chief of South Sudan to make it clear that 
    there will be strict military discipline and action will be taken against any 
    deserters from the SPLA who seek to use their weapons to join raiding parties 
    from their tribes in attacks on neighbors or who join militias which fight against 
    the Government of South Sudan.
    5. The UNIMISS forces, in their international mandate to protect civilians, be diligent 
    in investigating any violent communal raids, gather credible evidence on the 
    violations and violators, and turn that evidence over to the justice system of both 
    the State and National governments of South Sudan for action so that the current 
    environment of impunity can be transformed toward the rule of law and justice for 
    6. The full engagement in peace promotion of those who carry moral authority 
    within all the Jonglei communities, including church leaders, chiefs, elders, 
    women’s leaders, and youth leaders who are committed to peace. And the full 
    engagement of the Sudanese Diaspora in supporting a just and lasting peace in 
    Jonglei and South Sudan.
    7. The full support of the international community and non-government 
    organizations in:
    a. Relieving the suffering of the people of Jonglei who are in the midst of a 
    humanitarian disaster caused by the cycles of conflict and revenge, and 
    b. Funding, facilitating and supporting community, youth and government 
    leaders who provide leadership for the communal peace process that 
    must be comprehensive and must be fully implemented after it is agreed 
    upon in conference.
    8. The immediate planning of international donors and investors to be ready to work 
    with communities for sustained development of all Jonglei communities, including 
    roads and infrastructure, economic development, food and water resource 
    management, the education of children, youth and adults, job creation, and the 
    institution of good governance that includes the administration of the rule of law.
    9. Since most of us are dual citizens of both the USA and Republic of South Sudan, 
    we call on the law enforcement agencies of the USA to fully investigate and apply 
    the laws of the USA to any situation where fundraising efforts may be done by 
    individuals living in the US for the purposes of supporting tribal raids that result in 
    terror for citizens in South Sudan and could even be supportive of genocide.  
    WE COMMIT to the following as the Jonglei Peace Initiative (JPI – USA):
    1. We will stand against any individual Sudanese American who issues statements 
    on the Internet claiming to represent whole communities and calling for conflict 
    rather than working for peace. If those individuals violate any laws in the USA or 
    Canada, we will support the effort of law enforcement agencies to uphold the 
    laws, and we will personally seek to bring community pressure against such individuals while inviting them to turn from their ways and join the peace and 
    reconciliation process.
    2. We will send some of our own leaders during the coming months to Jonglei to 
    work for peace among the youth and communities. We will go to the cattle camps 
    to be with the youth. We will work with chiefs, elders, church leaders, and 
    women’s leaders to teach, preach, and advocate for peace, to listen to the stories 
    of pain, to identify the issues that must be resolved for a just peace to be 
    established, and to identify the long term development opportunities that can be 
    the basis of a sustainable peace.
    3. We will work with any and every agency of government, church, civil society and 
    NGOS in South Sudan to help coordinate a peace process at both the communal 
    and state levels that will lead within 2012 to a just peace, established by the 
    communities themselves using our traditions, methodologies and rituals, and that 
    can be implemented and sustained so that Jonglei will be ready for a major 
    peace through development initiative.
    4. We will work within the Sudanese diaspora, especially those who are from the 
    state of Jonglei, to keep them informed of what is happening on the ground, to 
    mobilize them for support of a just peace for all tribes in Jonglei, and to build 
    support for investors and international donors to help the citizens of Jonglei to 
    build peace through development that gives hope for all our communities, both 
    now and in the years to come.
    5. Once a stable ceasefire is in place, protective forces are insuring the security of 
    the communities, and a communal peace process is established, we will support 
    the mobilization of all the communities of Jonglei to warehouse their weapons in 
    government or UN managed armories so that the destruction that our 
    communities have experienced will become a thing of the past.
    For More Information:
         JPI-USA Chairman: 
    Paul Mator Manyok  (Dinka)
    JPI-USA Deputy Chairman:
    Lero Odola  (Anyuak)
    JPI-USA Youth Leader:
    James Manyabol (Murle)
    Rev. James Goanar Chol  (Nuer)

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