Date:- 11th April, 2010
Reference: - Press release on contribution ofٍ SONAD towards peaceful elections in Sudan
“Yes to Peace, No to Violence” was SONAD’s key message to the Sudanese public 3-days ahead of April 2010 elections. About 20 Young nonviolent activists representing members of the Sudanese Nonviolence Forum, Alternatives to Violence Project Forum and Volunteers of SONAD carried out on 8th April a one day campaign in Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri reaching the total of 560 as direct beneficiary. The activists dressed in T-Shirts quickly transformed the Amjad-taxi drivers they had hired into campaign team with posters and stickers on vehicles. They distributed 2000 materials to tea sellers, bus drivers, students, traders and the police on the streets. The action covered mostly bus stations, markets, Universities and Internal Displaced Camps. Posters, stickers and t-shirts were used to convey the message of peace with slogan “Yes, to Peace No, to Violence”. Ms. Zahra Ibrahim, SONAD librarian and action coordinator says: “We want the elections to be peaceful and nonviolent to send positive message to other African Countries and the world. We are very happy that we were able to contribute our share to preventing violence in this crucial time in Sudan. Despite all difficulties in getting permits for the action, it has been a rewarding experience. We managed to enlighten the public to vote peacefully and whatsoever the challenges are there to face even the outcome of the elections, violence is the wrong answer”. Those reached, asked many questions about nonviolence specially its definition , principles and methods. The goal of the campaign was to remind the public that there are nonviolent ways of transforming conflicts – on all levels. One group also presented themselves at a cultural event with the pan-African peace caravan “Caravanamani” at Sunt-Forest. The project is being funded by Civil Peace Service of the German Development Service (DED).
Earlier, SONAD organized a one day workshop on “The Role of Media in support of peace and preventing Electoral Violence”. Two papers on nonviolence and the role of media in support of peace were presented and discussed by Mr. Faisal Mohammed Salih a Sudanese Journalist, media trainer and the Director of Teeba Press Center, Rafat Hassan & James Simon of SONAD concentrated on nonviolence approach. Fifteen (15) Participants representing different media houses of the Citizens daily Newspaper, Teeba Press, Ajrass Alhuriya, Khartoum Monitor, Elsudani, Elsahafa, Elhageega, Elayam, representatives of political parties and members of the civil society organizations. Participants had lengthy discussions about the challenges in the coming elections and the role media can play to promote peace. They hailed the role of SONAD in organizing the workshop citing Sudan as in desperate need of nonviolence methods for democratic transformation. Its worth noting that Sudan has never experienced a long period of democracy since independency in 1956. The country however, has experienced only four brief bouts of democracy with elections in 1958, 1965, 1968 and 1986.
Mean while in Southern Sudan, SONAD with funding from the UNDP Southern Sudan Elections support program conducted two five day each basic trainings and one 7-day training of trainers in nonviolent conflict transformation in the context of elections. The trainings which was organized in Nimule and Magwi County of Eastern Equatoria targeted Chiefs, Religious Leaders, Youth, Women and members of the political parties. As a result 6 Payam Peace Teams were established in Magwi, Parajok, Lobone, Pageri, Nimule and Mogali. The peace teams are now working hand in hand with the County authorities as well as other peace stakehoders. Many registered voters have very little knowledge about the election procedure and how to vote. Due to high rate of illeteracy, SONAD used games, role plays to elastorate how to vote and overcome elections challenges. SONAD further carried out voter education round in Nimule, Moli, Magwi, Abara, Torit, Hiyala and other villages of Eastern Equatoria. The Voter Education project was support ed by NDI National Democractic Institute for International Affairs, Juba.
SONAD being conscious of nonviolence, conflict Transformation, democracy and respect to fundamental human rights and being convinced that democracy can be achieved by people who are aware and conscious about their civil and political rights has organized number of the said activities as contribution to peaceful and nonviolent elections. SONAD however, has been organizing series of trainings in democracy, human rights education, nonviolence, gender and women empowerment since 2002 with funding from Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) & with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) since 2006.
For more information contact:
Moses Monday, Director, SONAD:e-mail: [email protected], Rafat Hassan, Nonviolence Project Officer, SONAD: e-mail: [email protected], Julia kremer, Peace Adviser: e-mail:[email protected]