“There is a real danger that the media, United States Government and international community will lose focus in the weeks and months ahead. During this critical time, we need your help to keep the spotlight on Sudan.” Mark Lotwis, Save Darfur Coalition
1. South Sudan Referendum
- The South Sudanese Referendum Commission chair has announced that in the referendum held in January, 2011, 98.6% of voters voted for secession, and 1.4% voted for unity. With more than three million votes cast, the turnout soared past the 60% threshold necessary for the referendum to be valid.
- A number of post-referendum issues remain unresolved, including citizenship, border demarcation, the Abyei region, wealth and power-sharing, popular consultations and transparency. Please note that the South will not become officially independent until July 9, 2011 and these issues have the potential for fomenting violence.
- The Rabbinical Assembly has passed several resolutions (2005, 2007) calling for international intervention to solve this international humanitarian crisis. In 2007, the Rabbinical Assembly called on the International Criminal Court to prosecute Darfur’s President Bashir.
- In general, the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate. According to a letter from Darfur diaspora leaders: “With the international communities’ focus on referendum for independence in South Sudan, Darfur has been largely overlooked and Omar Al-Basher’s regime has taken the opportunity to further oppress Darfuri civil society and initiate attacks against civilians.”
- Over four million people in Darfur and Southern Sudan have been affected by war and have depended completely on food aid for the past eight years. Most of them have been internally displaced and remain subject to direct attacks, abduction, arrest, rape and the deprivation of food.
- Food shortages, missing health services and widespread malnutrition are increasing again. UNAMID (African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur) remains ineffective and restricted by the government of Sudan.
- 200 civilians were arrested and tortured and the market was burned down by government security forces in the city of Nartity. They were released after protests asking the City Commissioner to intervene.
- In 2010 alone, the conflict in Darfur claimed at least 2300 lives, according to a recent UN report. In addition, over 40,000 civilians were displaced just in the last few weeks of December by government aerial attacks on villages and clashes between rebel groups and Sudanese armed forces.
- Talks between the Sudanese government and Darfur’s rebels have collapsed, and UN and AU mediators are turning their attention away from reaching a peace agreement.
“In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, all are responsible.”
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly is a founding member of the Save Darfur Coalition (savedarfur.org) and has been at the forefront of its activities, it is deeply concerned about both the success of the referendum on independence in South Sudan and the deteriorating conditions in Darfur;
Whereas violence against Darfur’s civilians continues unabated, with over 2,000 civilian lives lost just in 2010, and over 40,000 displaced in December by government attacks;
Whereas over the past decade the Rabbinical Assembly, in conjunction with the Save Darfur Coalition, has called numerous times both on the United States government and on the United Nations to make more efforts to save and protect the innocent civilian residents of Darfur, with some success;
Whereas the Sudanese citizens of South Sudan, called “the Jews of our time,” who have been brutalized by enslavement, rape and murder by the North Sudanese dominated government of Sudan, have overwhelmingly in a “peaceful, free and fair” vote indicated their desire for independence; and
Whereas as Jews, we understand well the consequences of silence and global indifference from the international community to crimes against humanity and understand our moral obligation to accept our responsibility for righting these wrongs.
Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly urge its international membership to call on its governments and leaders to:
- Ensure that the international community remain engaged in Sudan given that the South will not become officially independent until July 9, 2011, especially given there are still several outstanding post-referendum issues to be resolved;
- Continue to press the Sudanese leadership to come to a peaceful resolution of these outstanding issues before the July 9 deadline;
- Continue to prioritize a high level engagement and diplomatic surge, with enforceable incentives and pressures in order to influence the situation;
- Work to stop the violence in Darfur and develop a comprehensive peace process in that war-ravaged area;
- Increase humanitarian aid and ensure access for delivery to those suffering in Darfur; and
Be it further resolved that members of the Rabbinical Assembly continue to be involved in fundraising, programmatic and other activities on behalf of the Save Darfur Coalition in their communities.
Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, March, 2011