The Road to Freedom in South Sudan

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).


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After decades of marginalization and persecution by its own government, this month, January 2011, South Sudan is deciding its own future. The last step of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) provides the South with a Referendum on Secession. On January 9, the South Sudanese all over the world began voting for either continued unity with Sudan or independence as a free nation. The voting will continue until Saturday, January 15 at 5:00 p.m.

Why Independence?

Few doubt that the South will vote for separation and independence. Of all the people around the world that have been besieged by Islamic supremacism, the South Sudanese are those who have most strongly and consistently resisted. And it has been a costly resistance. Over 500,000 died in the first phase of the genocide, the Anyaya (“snake venom” in the Madi language) Rebellion, 1955-1972. When war began again in 1983, it left over 2.5 million dead and over 5 million displaced throughout South Sudan and other disputed areas. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees, the massive loss of civilian life (as of 2001, one out of every five South Sudanese had died as a result of the war) was the largest civilian death toll of any war since World War II.

According to Dr. Milliard Burr in Quantifying Genocide in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains, the deaths from Sudan Air Force attacks on civilian targets were almost impossible to determine “because the aerial sorties number in the thousands, the bombs dropped probably can be calculated in the tens of thousands, and the southern Sudanese villages attacked numbered in the hundreds.” In addition to schools, hospitals, and marketplaces, churches were common targets. Virulent Christian persecution throughout Sudan included whole villages crucified or rounded up in churches and burned to death, as well as individuals tortured and killed. Tens of thousands of civilians died as an indirect result of bombing attacks as they were driven from their homes. Once displaced, villagers died from sickness, disease, and starvation.

Khartoum also armed Arab militias to conduct “scorched earth” attacks and slave raids. This technique helped “clear the land” for oil development in various regions. Oil companies in business with the Government of Sudan were given proof that their partnership was supporting the killing and enslaving of thousands of innocent civilians, but remained unmoved. (No American oil companies have been involved. The U.S. continues to have sanctions on Sudan’s oil industry.)

It is not surprising that the Sudanese regime also promoted slavery. The Arabic word for “black” is the same as the word for slave, abid. Tens of thousands of women and children from South Sudan were taken in slave raids over the years. They were gang-raped and mutilated, branded, and kept in pens like animals, given food not fit for animals, and treated as less than animals. They were forced to take Arabic names, speak Arabic, and to convert to Islam. “Masters” who were displeased with them beat them or chopped off their limbs. Other southern and Nuba children were abducted and held in “vocational training camps” where they were forced to convert to Islam and pressed into military service against their own people. Former U.N. Special Rapporteur for Sudan Gaspar Biro reported that boys as young as eleven years old were sent to the front of the offensive.

In some cases children escaped from attacks waged on their villages. About 30,000 of them, mostly young boys under the age of ten, trekked over 400 miles to Ethiopia. Some 16,000 of these boys finally ended up in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. These are the “Lost Boys of Sudan” who can be found across the United States today.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/al-kidya Kim Bruce

    I don't think the mainly Christian south will survive.
    There will still be raiding parties from the north and even more so now that they've riled the bees nest of Islam.
    The disease of Islamism never stops. It mutates to other forms and attacks with more ferocity than before.
    We will hear of kidnappings, beheadings, burnt churches and the likes.
    Eventually the south will fall to the juggernaut of Islam.
    I do pray for their survival regrdless.

  • http://www.theird.org Faith McDonnell

    We must make sure they survive. They are one of our best allies against global jihad. They resisted with little help from anyone for fifty years. And it’s not just the south. The marginalized people all over Sudan want freedom and democracy.

  • USMCSniper

    That is what we need more of, yes NATION BUILDING so that when the Muslims decide to wage a holy war against this new country, we can sacrifice more American soldiers for the primitives.

  • Alan Evans

    I don’t think this is going to happen. Southern Sudan won the military struggle on the ground. They have rich oil reserves and have not been able to derail the referendum process which is going on now. If they could they would have stopped this process with unlimited violence. They don’t have the resources or the ability to do this.