Allimadi speaks at Forum. Photo-Brooklyn for Peace.
A forum, “What’s Happening in South Sudan,” was held in the Brooklyn’s Friends Meeting House on Schermerhorn Street, Wednesday. The speakers examined the background of the ongoing conflict there which has created untold suffering, tens of thousands of deaths and over 3.5 million –internally and externally–displaced people who have been forced out of their homes.
Violence is escalating in South Sudan, and famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan. As of 2016 estimates of victims of the war in South Sudan had already exceeded 100,000 and thousands more have been killed since that time. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) most recently reported 1,559,815 refugees since December 2013. What underlies the conflict? And what is the role of the U.S. and the U.N?
Speakers pointed out that the U.S. is the primary financial supporter of the government in South Sudan. Dr. Charlotte Phillips, Chair of Brooklyn For Peace, opened the meeting. Then Dr. Mohammed Nurhussein, Chair of the United African Congress (UAC) and a Board member of Brooklyn For Peace introduced the speakers and moderated the evening’s discussion.
The evening’s first speaker was Milton Allimadi, Ugandan-born, Publisher of The Black Star News, human rights activist and Adjunct Professor at John Jay College. Allimadi gave a brief overview of the history of South Sudan which became independent from Sudan in 2011. However since that time conflict has broken out between the President Salva Kiir and the Vice-President Riek Machar.
Mr. Allimadi places a large part of the responsibility on Gen. Yoweri Museveni, current dictator of neighboring Uganda, who seeks regional hegemony and has sent forces and military aid in support of Salva Kiir. Uganda, he noted, is a major ally of the United States and often does its bidding in regional conflicts. Military aid to Uganda, funded by U.S. tax dollars, has been used against the civilians in South Sudan. Allimadi said Americans can play a critical role in ending the massacres since the U.S. provides $750 million annually to the Museveni regime.
Mr. Allimadi has started a petition addressed to Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the U.N., asking that he not allow Gen. Museveni to politicize the suffering of South Sudanese refugees when Museveni and the U.N. co-host a conference about the refugees. He called on the U.N. and U.S. to condemn Gen. Museveni’s role in creating the refugee crisis. Signatures are requested. He commended the people of Uganda for welcoming and harboring the refugees.
The petition is available HERE.
(Americans are also encouraged to call their elected representatives to urge an end to the military support to Gen. Museveni using their taxpayer money and to call Secretary General Guterres at (212) 963-1234; after being transferred to his office ask why the U.N. hasn’t denounced Uganda’s military intervention).
The second speaker was Dr. Bereket H. Selassie, the William E. Leuchtenburg Distinguished Professor of African Studies, and Professor of Law, UNC-Chapel Hill. Having played a role in writing the constitution of Eritrea when it became independent, he as also a participant in writing the constitution of South Sudan. He emphasized the importance of including women as well as all ethnic groups in the political process.
Sidique Wai, the UAC President in closing comments for the evening called on other Diaspora organizations to actively demand for peace in South Sudan. A question and answer session followed the presentation by the speakers. You can see all of the evening’s photos here.