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The death of an archdeacon

"The death of an archdeacon" Continued...

Issue: "Do the math," Nov. 7, 2009

In a Sept. 1 appeal, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul (Episcopal Church of Sudan) joined SPLM officials pointing out that the tribal groups comprising the militias had been cattle raiders. But these militia are attacking administrative headquarters and towns where no cattle are held. Deng Bul said, "In the view of the church, this was not a tribal conflict as commonly reported, but a deliberately organized attack on civilians by those that are against the peace in Southern Sudan."

Storm holds the same view. She, her sister Danielle, and her father Nick were all part of the Anglican mission team. She wrote to President Barack Obama and other government leaders about Mabior's death, urging more U.S. action to protect South Sudanese. A student at Eastern University, Storm wrote of Mabior, "He was a kind and gentle man and has left a family and a community of people who relied on him." With her letter she included a copy of a photograph taken by her father of Mabior playfully presenting "availability" beads, the Dinka traditional necklaces worn by girls of marriageable age, to her and Danielle. He smiles broadly, full of life, as he drapes the beads around their necks. "People who I now know and love are dying," Storm told Obama.

"It appears that the northern government is violating the comprehensive peace agreement," said Storm. "It appears that the government of South Sudan needs international assistance. Who is keeping northern Sudan in check?"

No one, perhaps. In a more recent attack, on Sept. 19, the same militia of heavily armed Lou Nuer waged an early dawn attack on the local government center of Duk-Padiet, also in Bor county. The militia overcame local youths and organized forces trying to defend the area and ambushed several places at once, according to South Sudan military spokesman Major General Kuol Diem Kuol. This attack left 80 dead and 46 wounded.

But Lou Nuer have been victims, as well. In an August attack on Akobo in Jonglei, Murle tribesmen killed 185 Lou Nuer-mostly women and children. Also in August, northern Ugandan rebels, the LRA, attacked Ezo Town in Western Equatoria. They killed three people, including an Episcopal lay reader, and took 10 children from the Ezo Episcopal Church. In each attack, property was destroyed, hundreds were wounded, and 250,000 have been displaced again from their homes. In each attack, locals report, militias were well-armed with new automatic weapons, dressed in professional uniforms, and were well-trained and organized.

President Obama's Sudan Special Envoy, Major General Scott Gration, has expressed willingness to help renegotiate terms of the CPA at Khartoum's request. But a big question for the administration is whether Khartoum can renegotiate in good faith. At a July hearing on Capitol Hill, SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum Okiech warned that the Khartoum regime had distributed 79,000 AK-47s to militias throughout Sudan. At the same time, the government of South Sudan is under pressure from the UN, U.S. Agency for International Development, and others to collect guns from civilians in South Sudan. The imbalance leaves Southern villages vulnerable to war, not peace.

-Faith J.H. McDonnell is the Director of Religious Liberty Programs at the Institute on Religion and Democracy

Faith J.H. McDonnell
Faith J.H. McDonnell

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