Tuesday, April 12, 2005

IRC: Sudanese civil society and NGOs recommend steps toward lasting peace in Sudan

Today's news from the IRC April 12 on the Sudan Civil Society Forum held in Oslo, Norway 7-9 April 2005:

More than seventy representatives from Sudanese civil society and international non-governmental organisations, including the IRC, today expressed deep concern about the lack of democracy and rule of law in Sudan.

In a statement presented on the second day of a major donor conference on Sudan's post-conflict reconstruction, the organizations also called for an end to the ongoing suffering and violence throughout the country, particularly in the troubled Darfur region.

The organizations said that the political, social and economic atmosphere in Sudan is not conducive to the transformation of the country into a democratic society. Fundamental and basic rights of the Sudanese people are not observed or protected by the state.

Among other things, the group called for immediate reforms of the legal system, press freedom and a transformation from military to civilian rule. The organizations said that civil society must play an integral role in the peace and the constitutional processes.

The April 11-12 meeting in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, brought together around 60 donor nations.
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April 12 -- Donors' pledged $2.6bn in aid for Sudan during the next three years. Robert Zoellick, US deputy secretary of state, announced a US commitment of $1.7bn (1.3bn euros, 899m GBP) intended to develop southern Sudan, though US Congress must still approve $900m of the sum. [More in previous post here below]
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Italy to send 220 troops by May as part of UN Mission in Sudan

April 12 -- Italy will send 220 soldiers to Sudan as part of a UN peace keeping mission in the east African country, Italian defence ministry under-secretary Giuseppe Drago announced on Tuesday, April 12.

Most of the troops who will arrive in Sudan by May will be stationed in the capital city Khartoum to guard the UN contingent's headquarters, while others will be deployed some 20 kilometres from the city at a telecommunications centre.

Other duties include maintaining security at Khartoum's international airport, particularly protection against terrorist attacks, Drago told Italian MPs in Rome.

The mission, dubbed 'Operation Nile' will be funded by the UN and is part of a 10,000-strong peacekeeping force sent to Sudan to oversee the transition following the end of a two-decades-long civil war between Khartoum's Muslim government and Christian and animist rebels in the country's south.

The Italians soldiers will remain in Sudan for six months and then be replaced by a contingent of Rwandan troops. Full Story via AKI April 12, 2005.
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There's more to ancient Nile culture than the Pharoahs

April 12 -- Think of the Nile river and people invariably think of the great Egyptian culture of the Pharoahs.

A major new exhibition, 'Sudan: Ancient Treasures', which can be seen at The Bowes Museum, at Barnard Castle, County Durham, UK, offers a unique insight into the lives and cultural history other ancient kingdoms of the Nile.

The exhibition is on tour from the Sudan National Museum, Khartoum via the British Museum, where it is has been shown to great acclaim.

It brings together many recent discoveries from excavations in Sudan, highlighting the extremely rich and diverse cultures which flourished in the country, which made it not only Egypt's rival, but even at times its ruler. Many of these treasures will go on public display for the first time outside Sudan.

Sudan is the largest country in Africa covering over 2.5 million square kilometres. For millennia it has been the zone of contact between Central Africa and the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern worlds.

'Sudan: Ancient Treasures' includes objects produced during all phases of human settlement from the Palaeolithic through to the Islamic period (from 200,000 years ago to AD 1885).

'Sudan: Ancient Treasures' runs until Sunday October 30. Open daily 11am-5pm. Visit www.bowesmuseum.org.uk or call 01833 690606.

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Camel Jockeys in the Middle East

April 12 -- The human and civil rights activist Ansar Burney, Advocate returned home today after visiting Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirate.

Mr. Ansar Burney, Advocate, was the first man to introduce true human rights in Pakistan over 24 years ago and is continuing to fight for this just cause ever since. He was born in Karachi, Pakistan on 14th August, 1956. He did his graduation, Master's and Law from Karachi University. Later he received an honorary degree of PhD. in Philosophy from Sri Lanka.

During his visit of three Middle Eastern countries he visited Camel Race Tracks to find out miseries of underage children working as bonded labour in the form of Child Camel Jockeys and living in private jails.

He also met the member of International Bar Association (UK), American Bar Association (USA) and Karachi Bar Association (Pakistan), said that these children, living wretched lives are abused and tortured daily.

They live and sleep in hot, crowded huts made from corrugated irons sheets, without electricity in the high desert temperatures of above 52 degrees centigrade. Years of abuse has led these children to have their upper legs flesh rubbed away, their bones and body structures being damaged and their sexual organs destroyed.

He also met the officials to discuss with them the human rights issue and the miserable conditions of the children whose ages are from two and a half to seven years only and working from 17 to 18 hours on slave labour. Mr Burney said the camel jockeys are mostly from Asian countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Yemen and Sudan working in the most miserable circumstances in Arab countries. Extract from Ansar Burney's website:

Child camel jockeys in the Middle East

It is easier for the oil rich gulf countries to continue, as they have done for hundreds of years, to buy children from the poorer countries across across the gulf in the Indian subcontinent and to force them to work as camel jockeys.

The children go outside to play and never return

They children are kidnapped by local gangs who will deal in any commodity that makes money. The children will then be taken by adults who when questioned may claim to be the children's parents. They will then travel, perhaps along the ancient slave routes to Karachi, and across the Gulf.

Winning at any cost

When the camel belong to a sheikh, a trainer will always choose to break the rules if it gives the camel a better chance of winning. The trainer receives a small prize if his camel wins. The camel jockey receives nothing.
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"We all have a common task to protect life, ending the culture of impunity."

-- Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court prosecutor who is investigating war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan gave the world court April 5 a list of 51 names of government officials, Arab militia and rebels suspected of slaughter, rape and pillaging.

[via National Catholic Reporter, April 15, 2005]

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