EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 Saturday 10th April
Activists from 18 countries join global day of action ahead of elections to urge ‘no business as usual’ with Sudan
Today (10th April 2010) activists from 18 countries will join a coordinated, global day of action, calling on Sudanese parties to ensure that the upcoming elections do not become a flashpoint for increased violence and human rights abuses. In recent days, many opposition parties have withdrawn from critical parts of the elections citing concerns that the election will not be free and fair and reports of widespread restrictions on basic freedoms. Campaigners fear that although the eyes of the world will turn to Sudan during the elections there will be inadequate focus on the human rights situation on the ground.
The events are being organised as part of Sudan365 (www.sudan365.org), a year of campaigning for Sudan, organised by a coalition of groups including Amnesty International, Arab Coalition for Darfur, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Darfur Consortium, Enough Project, FIDH, Human Rights Watch, Italians for Darfur, IKV Pax Christi, Refugees International, Save Darfur Coalition, and members of the Sudan Forum Norway.
Events are taking place from Mali to Norway, South Africa to Israel, Senegal to Northern Ireland (for a full list of locations see www.sudan365.org) as part of a global ‘beat for peace’ that is backed by famous drummers including Stewart Copeland from The Police, Phil Selway from Radiohead, Ghanian drummer Mustafa Tettey Addey and Middle Eastern pop star Mohamed Munir.
Campaigners are urging world leaders to ensure that there is no ‘business as usual’ during the election period and to exercise extra vigilance over events on the ground. Campaigners warn that the elections are taking place in an unstable environment and point torecent offensive in the Jebel Marra region in Darfur - in which hundreds of civilians were reported killed and thousands displaced from their homes – and an increase of violence in southern Sudan.
“Sudanese authorities are failing to uphold election standards agreed with the African Union in March. Violations of human rights – particularly freedom of assembly and freedom of the press – are threatening prospects for a free, fair and credible vote,”
said Georgette Gagnon, Africa Director of Human Rights Watch.
"Opposition activists have been prevented from carrying out peaceful activities, arrested and tortured. It is clear that elections carried out in this context will be severely compromised.”
said Osman Hummaida, Executive Director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies.
Activists will be coming together to join ‘Sudan Watch’ over the election period to keep a vigil over events on the ground. They will be watching Sudan Vote Monitor (www.sudanvotemointor.com), a project launched by Sudanese civil society to report on any violations occurring during the elections. Activists can also follow Sudan365 on Twitter (twitter.com/sudan365).
'The respect, protection and promotion of human rights by all those involved in the election; including the government, candidates, and supporters is of critical importance. Sudan must end the cycle of violence, insecurity and human rights abuses in the country,'
said Erwin van der Borght, Africa Director of Amnesty International.
The elections are intended to bea milestone in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Campaigners are calling on the international community to scale up their support to Sudanese parties to resolve outstanding issues ahead of the scheduled referendum in January 2011 and increase measures to protect civilians over the course of the year. The campaign calls for:
The Government of National Unity and Government of South Sudan to uphold the Electoral Code of Conduct that they have endorsed, including respecting the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and guaranteeing freedom of movement to all electoral observers throughout the country;
Election Observation Missions who decide to remain in Sudan for the period to monitor and publicly report on the human rights context before, during and after the elections;
The international community to speak out about any serious human rights violations that occur;
The UN mission to increase its presence and patrolling in volatile areas, in line with its mandate to protect civilians;
World leaders to scale up their engagement to support Sudanese parties resolve outstanding issues ahead of the referendum and work with Sudanese parties to agree a decisive strategy for international engagement after the referendum.
“This is a wake-up call to leaders. The elections start tomorrow. The referendum is less than 9 months away. The situation in Sudan remains dire. The recent spike in violence in Darfur shows that the conflict is far from over. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, that brought an end to a civil war in which over 2 million people died, remains fragile and inter-ethnic violence has increased. We need a first-class, coordinated international response. And we need it now.” said Joel Charny, Vice President for Policy, Refugees International, a member of the campaign.
"The upcoming elections represent a missed opportunity for Sudan to take a step forward in its democratic transformation. Farce will turn into tragedy, however, if violence is allowed to get out of control and Sudan's people suffer. We call on all parties to publicly renounce the use of violence and ensure adequate protection for voters. Human rights protections cannot be put on hold during this tumultuous time,"
said Mark Lotwis, Acting President of the Save Darfur Coalition.
Editor’s Notes [NOT FOR PUBLICATION]
1. For more information on events, interviewees or media resources please contact:
Amnesty International: +44 7899 678 857 [email protected] (English, French and Arabic)
Crisis Action: +44 207 269 9450 / +44 7951 244362 [email protected]
Arab Coalition for Darfur: +20 222753975 / +20 222753985 / +20 104 990348 [email protected] / [email protected] (Arabic and English)
Save Darfur Coalition: 202-460-6756, [email protected] (English)
2. Media materials available:
Campaign video and interview featuring celebrity drummers
VNR and images from Sudan
Please contact Crisis Action (+44 207 269 9450/ +44 7951 244362)
3. Interviewees available:
Arab Coalition for Darfur:
Haggag Nayel, Secretary General
Rania Rajji, Sudan Researcher
Dismas Nkunda, Darfur Consortium Co-Chair
Human Rights Watch:
Tiseke Kasambala, Senior Researcher, Africa Division
Italians for Darfur:
Antonella Napoli, President
Joel Charny, Vice President for Policy
Save Darfur Coalition:
Senior Director of Policy and Government Relations
4. Global Events
DERRY, Northern Ireland
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso
SAN FRANCISCO, U.S
WASHINGTON D.C, U.S
Sudan Vital Statistics: Background Brief
Background to the conflict
Sudan's civil war between 1983 and 2005 killed at least 2 million people and displaced a further 4 million. In 2003, as the civil war between North and South was winding down, a response was launched to a rebellion in Darfur that led to a campaign of death and destruction against civilians that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. As many as 2.7 million people fled their homes and continue to live in dangerous camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad.
After long and intense negotiations, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2005 – bringing an end to the civil war. The CPA established a Government of National Unity to oversee an interim period of six years in which outstanding issues such as power-sharing, wealth-sharing, border demarcation and security should be resolved. The CPA also set out steps for legislative reform ahead of the first national elections since 1986 that would pave the way for a referendum in January 2011 in which Southern Sudan would vote on whether or not to separate from the North.
But today, the situation in the war-weary South is increasingly volatile due to the fragile peace agreement – many of the outstanding issues have still to be addressed - and recent bouts of inter-ethnic violence and new displacements. And, in the North, there has been a recent upsurge in violence in Darfur. Many Sudanese worry that the elections in 2010 and referendum for Southern secession in 2011 could lead to more mass violence.
Displacement and Violence
2009 saw a marked increase in violence, with over
350,000 people displaced and
2,500 people killed. (1)
Sudan's civil war between 1983 and 2005 killed at least
2 million people and displaced a further
Sudan has, according to some estimates, around
4.9 million IDPs – more than any other country in the world. (3)
Food shortage and health
6.2 million people, including
4.2 million in Darfur and
1.3 million in Southern Sudan, are expected to require food assistance into 2010. (4)
In Southern Sudan, failed harvests have meant that families were consuming an average of
only one meal every three days from October 2009 onwards. (5)
Southern Sudan has the lowest
routine immunisation coverage rate in the world. (6)
305,000 children die before their fifth birthday every year from preventable causes in Sudan. (7)
women in Sudan die in childbirth each year – an average of
71 women every day
In Southern Sudan, a 15-year old girl is
more likely to die in childbirth than finish school
1,000 primary school pupils for every teacher in Southern Sudan.
92% of women in Southern Sudan cannot read or write.
Work Plan 2010 for Sudan, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Available at http://ochadms.unog.ch/quickplace/cap/main.nsf/h_Index/2010_Sudan_Workplan/$FILE/2010_Sudan_Workplan_SCREEN.pdf?OpenElement
Early warning – Early Action report for IASC Member Agencies, Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC). Available at http://ochaonline.un.org/OchaLinkClick.aspx?link=ocha&docId=1134581
Sudan Humanitarian Overview July-September 2009, Vol. 5 (3), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Available at http://www.unsudanig.org/docs/SHO%20Vol5%20Iss3.pdf