Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sudan Update: President al-Bashir Promises No Return to War; Anti-African Racism in Australia Studied

Thursday November 22, 12:26 AM

Sudan president promises no return to war

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's president promised there would be no return to civil war in Africa's biggest country on Wednesday in a speech that sought to calm tensions over a growing stand-off with the south.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir called on his political opponents to work with him "for the homeland" during his opening address at the annual conference of his dominant National Congress Party (NCP).

"We will be patient in our political dialogue so we can achieve national unity," he told thousands of supporters who regularly interrupted him with ululations and chants of support. "And I confirm that we will never go back to war as long as we have peace as an option."

A growing confrontation between Khartoum and south Sudan's main party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), has already torn apart the country's coalition government and threatened a north-south peace deal.

Southern ministers walked out of Sudan's Government of National Unity last month, claiming that Khartoum was stalling on the 2005 peace agreement that ended two decades of civil war.

They have given Bashir until the beginning of next year to get back on track with the peace deal on a range of points, chief among them the demarcation of Sudan's contested oil-rich Abyei region.

On Wednesday, Bashir gave a measured speech that was in marked contrast to his highly charged address to government-allied militias on Saturday.

Over the weekend, Bashir wore military uniform as he urged the Popular Defense Forces to open more training camps and recruit mujahedeen "not for the sake of war but to be ready for anything." The SPLM deplored the speech, which it said amounted to a call for war.

But at the NCP conference, Bashir wore traditional robes as he called on the SPLM to come back to government.

He said: "I call all the political parties to forget their own interests for the sake of the homeland. I call them to leave behind conflicts between party leaders and amongst themselves and choose dialogue and consultations for the sake of the Sudanese people and homeland."

A series of meetings between SPLM leader Salva Kiir and Bashir -- and of a top-level group of officials from both sides -- has so far failed to find a break-through.

Kiir met with senior SPLM officials late on Tuesday to decide when to hold a further meeting with Bashir to try and find a way of the crisis.

Kiir on Monday told a rally of his supporters in south Sudan's capital Juba that he would also never take them back to war, although he reserved the right to self-defense if attacked.

Religious differences between the mostly Christian south and Islamic north catalyzed Africa's longest civil war that killed at least 2 million people and displaced another 4 million.

(Additional reporting by Ibrahim Hamdi; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Sudan President Criticizes Western Interference, Says Ready For War

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP)-- Sudan's government doesn't want war but is ready for it, President Omar al-Bashir warned Saturday during a rare show of public support for a paramilitary force accused of atrocities in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

"We will not seek war, but if imposed on us we are ready," al-Bashir told a rally to mark the 18th anniversary of the Popular Defense Forces, a militia he created to fight southern rebels and that has since been unleashed on Darfur.

He also accused western powers backing a 26,000-strong U.N. and African Union force due in Darfur in January of lying about their motives to end four years of bloodshed.

"Those Americans, those British, and those Europeans are not keen about the people of Darfur, or the people of southern Sudan or the Sudanese people," he said.

"They are all liars and hypocrites who are only interested in the riches and resources of Sudan," al-Bashir told the rally in the town of Medani, some 200 miles south of Khartoum, the capital. His address was broadcast live on national radios.

His allusions to the government's capacity to wage war came amid souring relations between Arab-dominated northern Sudan and the former rebels from the south of the country. The north-south civil war ended in 2005, but southern Cabinet ministers walked out of the national government last month because they accuse al-Bashir's regime of violating the peace agreement.

The president said his government wouldn't seek to spark a new war with the southerners, but warned that those who want to bring war to the north "should bear the consequences."

Like the ethnic African from the south, Darfur's Black tribes took arms against Khartoum in 2003 to protest what they describe as decades of discrimination.

The government is accused of retaliating by unleashing militias of Darfur Arab nomads that are blamed for the worst atrocities against civilians in a conflict that has killed over 200,000 people and made 2.5 million refugees.

Many observers say the janjaweed and Khartoum's Popular Defense Forces units are often one and the same. The government denies this, but the International Criminal Court in the Hague has issued warrants against a janjaweed chief and a Cabinet minister on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Khartoum resisted for months a U.N. peacekeeping force for Darfur. Under a compromise deal reached earlier this year, the hybrid U.N. and A.U. force must be predominantly African.

Al-Bashir reiterated warnings Saturday that he wouldn't accept some European nations to take part in the force.

He singled out Scandinavian countries, where some media had reproduced a caricature of Islam's Prophet Muhammad last year, and said Khartoum wouldn't allow them to contribute troops.

"Anyone who spoke blasphemously about the Prophet will not set a foot on Sudanese soil," he said.

Beshir ups ante in Sudan crises

November 18 WEDMADANI, Sudan(AFP)-President Omar al-Beshir on Saturday ordered the reopening of auxiliary training camps in Sudan to prepare for war and refused to accept certain countries from sending peacekeepers to Darfur.

In a fiery speech to his Arab heartland, Beshir spoke as a political crisis threatens peace between north and south Sudan, and toughened his stance against US criticism that Khartoum is obstructing a UN-African Union peace mission.

"We order the legitimate sons of the people to open their camps... not to declare war but to be ready," he said in the capital of Al-Jazira state to mark 18 years of a popular defence forces unit linked to his political party.

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement, former southern rebels who once battled the auxiliary, walked out of the Khartoum government last month.

They brand the popular defence forces a "militia" of Beshir's National Congress Party and wanted it dissolved -- one of a series of disputes that saw talks between the SPLM and the north collapse last Sunday.

Beshir levelled all blame on southerners for violations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended Africa's longest-running civil war in 2005, denying his northern government had any responsibility.

"It is them, the southerners, who violated the agreement numerous times," he added in a speech peppered with references to the Koran and holy war.

"We told our brothers in the SPLM that neither America, Britain or Europe are more keen for peace than us," he said.

"America, Britain and Europe are liars and hypocrites who want our resources and that's why they stole our children to sell in a slave market in Europe," he added, referring to a French charity's attempt to fly children out of Chad.

On the fate of the oil-rich Abiye region, another source of conflict between north and south, Beshir said northerners would accept only a border demarcation dating back to 1905 which would give them full control of the area.

Relations between Khartoum and the south have become increasingly unstable and talks aimed at resolving the political crisis broke down last Sunday.

Their 2005 peace agreement provided for a six-year transition period in which the south would enjoy regional autonomy and participate in a national unity government in Khartoum.

Switching his attention to a prospective UN-African Union peacekeeping mission to western Sudan's war-torn Darfur, Beshir said the "boots of those who attacked the prophet Mohammed would never trample on Sudanese land".

He was referring to Swedes and Norwegians who want to participate in a UN-African Union hybrid force set to deploy to Darfur.

They incurred a tidal wave of criticism in the Islamic world after newspapers in the two countries last year published cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet that sparked global controversy.

Beshir also said Sudan would not allow Nepal or Thailand to send troops to Darfur, although said he agreed with the United Nations for engineering troops to arrive from China and Pakistan.

On Thursday, US National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Washington was "deeply troubled" by "foot-dragging and obstruction" from Sudan over the joint peacekeeping force.

The head of the UN department of peacekeeping operations, Jean Marie Guehenno, also said this week that the 26,000-member prospective peacekeeping force may fail without air mobility and firepower.

More than four years of conflict in Darfur has killed more than 200,000 people from the combined effects of war, famine and disease while 2.2 million others have been left homeless by what the United States calls "genocide".

Sudanese Refugee Statements Hurt Community, Australia
21 Nov 2007

Psychologists are concerned that recent public statements relating to the integration of Sudanese refugees in Australia have had a significant impact upon the local African community.

Since these statements were made, psychologists working within the community have observed distress, outrage, and a sense of rejection amongst Sudanese and other African community members.

"When influential public figures such as Government ministers make unsupported statements, they can provide encouragement to racist perceptions among a minority of the mainstream population. We are particularly concerned that a senior member of the Government would make statements based upon anecdotal impressions and hearsay. The assertions were not supported by credible evidence," said Australian Psychological Society President, Amanda Gordon.

The Australian Psychological Society urges all political parties and their spokespeople to avoid using any fear-related tactics that marginalize the most vulnerable groups in Australian society.

Research has shown that humanitarian refugees have higher levels of distress than within the general population. Research conducted by Schweitzer, Greenslade and Kagee in 2007 shows that the Sudanese population in Australia have been highly exposed to traumatic events, such as war, torture and famine. These are the very reasons members of this community have fled to Australia.

The Sudanese community is relatively new to Australia and requires time to heal, survive and then thrive in the Australian context. There is evidence that Sudanese refugees, like other refugee groups, can benefit from social support particularly from within their own community, to assist with adjusting to the Australian culture and recovering from trauma (Schweitzer et al 2005).

"The demonization of newly arrived migrant groups does not promote social cohesion nor encourage community building," says Gordon. "We should be fostering an environment in which these groups can become part of the larger Australian community. The successful integration of Italian, Greek and Vietnamese communities indicates that time, accommodation and acceptance is required, not victim blaming."

The Australian Psychological Society sees value in supporting research into the continual needs of newly arrived migrant groups, and in developing interventions to assist recently arrived refugees from Africa. Nothing is to be gained by denigrating a whole community.

The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 15,700 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to peoples' lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.

Australian Psychological Society
Article URL:
Save time! Get the latest medical news headlines for your specialist area, in a weekly newsletter e-mail. See for details.

Send your press releases to

No comments: