SCIO, September 15, 1997


  1. Chronology
  2. Catholic Bishops visit the Pope
  3. Sisters vow to fight on
  4. HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH asks South Africa to bar arms transfers to Sudan


August 16: Sudanese President el-Bashir criticised Uganda today after it barred his plane from flying through Uganda airspace, the Sudanese news agency, SUNA, reported. Gen. el-Bashir expressed his "extreme dismay" when Uganda officials refused to allow the aircraft to fly over the country on his return from a tour of South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi.

18: Uganda has clarified that it denied President el-Bashir the right to fly over its space because the aircraft was unwilling to disclose the passenger and cargo on board. "They were hiding the nature of the passenger and the kind of cargo it had," Mrs Rebecca Kadaga, Uganda's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of Regional Co-operation said.

18: A meeting of East African mediators to plan peace talks between the Khartoum government and the Sudanese rebel movement has been indefinitely postponed, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Osman Mohammed Taha has announced. President Moi had offered to host the meeting of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Nairobi on Tuesday.

18: Sudanese Foreign Minister Taha speaking on state television late yesterday, said Washington was sending "military equipment and military experts to neighbouring countries, particularly Uganda".

18: Sudanese state councils have chosen 15 governors in the country's first limited-choice provincial elections since a coup eight years ago, officials said yesterday. Also, councillors in five provinces passed over the candidate backed by President el-Bashir. President el-Bashir, who took power in a military coup in June 19989, presented a choice of three candidates to the councillors in the country's 15 northern provinces.

19: Sudanese rebel leader John Garang is planning a new major offensive in south Sudan to strengthen his position ahead of peace negotiations, a former rebel was quoted as saying today. Mr Arok Thon Arok , a member of the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF) grouping former rebel factions, said in a statement published in Khartoum newspapers that planned mediation talks were called off because of the plan.

20: The international community was urged in Geneva yesterday to get tough with Sudan which was accused by a Christian aid agency of seeking to turn the country into a "totalitarian Arab-Islamic state". Mr John Eibner of Christian Solidarity International (CSI), addressing members of a UN human rights sub-commission, accused the Sudanese regime of condoning the abduction and enslavement of people from religious and ethnic minorities.

20: South African President Nelson Mandela wants to host direct talks between President el-Bashir and Col. Garang in South Africa. Speaking in Cape Town yesterday, President Mandela said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is involved with President Moi and other East African leaders in a regional initiative to end Sudan's 14-year civil war, will also be present for the peace talks.

21: Sudan has accused Eritrea of grouping troops for an attack across the border and charged that bomb attacks by alleged fifth columnists have killed nine people, press reported today.

21: A Sudanese rebel force said in a statement on Wednesday it had occupied a garrison in eastern Sudan, killing nine government soldiers in the battle. Sudanese Alliance Forces (SAF) said it seized arms during Sunday's attack near Doka, 150 km (90 miles) southeast of Khartoum near Sudan's border with Eritrea and Ethiopia.

22: Sudanese rebels today poured cold water on hopes raised by south African President Nelson Mandela of imminent peace talks between their leader and Sudan's president. The SPLA in a statement accused the media of alleging Col. Garang and President El-Bashir would soon meet after mediation by President Mandela.

22: Sudan today accused the Ugandan government of planning to recruit Sudanese rebels to an African peacekeeping force currently being trained by US experts in Uganda and four other countries. The official Al Anbaa daily quoted an unidentified Sudanese government official as saying that the Ugandan government was in contact with Col. Garang concerning the alleged plan.

23: President el-Bashir will meet Col. Garang at the end of the month in Pretoria, Foreign Minister Taha said yesterday. The talks to be hosted on August 30 and 31 by President Mandela will also involve President Museveni, Mr Taha said.

25: Community and political leaders from the largest black African minority in Northern Sudan say their group, the Nuba, has been coming under pressure from both sides in Sudan's 14-year civil war. However, the identity of the main perpetrators of the abuses committed against the Nuba varies depending on the source of that information.

26: President Mandela is this week set for a hectic round of international mediation efforts. Tomorrow, President Mandela is scheduled to meet with key players in both the Sudanese and East Timor conflicts, with the goal of helping forge peace accords in their war torn states. President Mandela will meet with Col. Garang in Pretoria as a prelude to what are expected to be crucial talks involving all the major players in the 14-year-old Sudanese civil war.

26: Sudan released eight political prisoners from the Blue Nile state yesterday, a newspaper said today. "The detainees promised ...not to repeat any hostile acts against the state," the private newspaper Akhbar al-Youm quoted recently elected State Governor Abdel Rahman Abu-Madien as saying.

27: Col. Garang has postponed a meeting today with President Mandela, but will attend weekend peace talks in Pretoria with opponents in the Khartoum regime, President Mandela's office said. "Garang is not coming today because of logistical problems basically related to transport, " presidential spokesman Mr Parks Mankahlana said.

29: Col Garang said today after meeting President Mandela in Cape Town he will not attend weekend peace talks in South Africa, in which the Khartoum regime has agreed to take part. Col Garang missed a scheduled meeting on Tuesday with President Mandela due to transport problems.

September 1: Participants in a two-day summit between rival African powers Sudan and Uganda were believed to have arrived this morning for the event hosted by President Mandela, officials said. South African foreign ministry spokesman Marco Boni said the talks were "on track" and participants- including President el-Bashir and Museveni- would address a media briefing with Mandela.

1: Sudan's information minister lashed today at Col. Garang, saying his decision not to attend the peace talks in South Africa showed him to be "a coward and evasive" . The statement by Brigadier el-Tayeb Ibrahim Mohammed Kheir, was carried by official Sudanese News Agency.

1: The SPLA claimed today to have seized control of three districts in the Nuba Mountains region of South Kordofan Province. Spokesman Yasser Arman said Col. Garang's rebels have captured Karkarai, Umdulu and Regifi.

1: In a press statement the SPLA-United (Dr. Lam Akol faction operating in the Upper Nile) said they have declared a unilateral cease-fire.

8: Ugandan troops and south Sudanese rebels are advancing on the town of Rukun, within an hour from the main south Sudanese city of Juba, a paper reported today. The Alwan daily said some 5,000 fighters equipped with mortars, machine guns and armoured vehicles were advancing on the town.

8: A Somali faction has denied a claim by the Sudanese ambassador to Ethiopia that Khartoum had closed its embassy in Mogadishu, saying the office was still open and carrying out Sudan's "dark mission" in Somalia. North Mogadishu strongman Ali Mahdi Mohammed has accused Sudan of backing his arch-rival, the self-styled "president" of Somalia Hussein Aideed, who controls South Mogadishu. The Sudanese embassy is located in south Mogadishu.

10: The Sudanese government has decided to return property confiscated in 1990 from former head of state Ahmed al Mirghani ahead of his expected return from exile, an independent newspaper reported today. El-Sharee el-Syasi reported that the government decided to hand back the property under an agreement with second-ranking opposition leaders providing Mr Mirghani returns to Sudan.

10: The Ugandan Red Cross Society has closed refugee camps in northwestern Uganda after an estimated 26,000 Sudanese refugees who occupied them returned home, an official said today. The refugees reportedly returned to areas of southern Sudan "liberated" from government forces by the SPLA early this year.

11: In a press statement the SPLA-United says that "on the 30th and 31st of July, a summit meeting of the SPLM-United and the Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF) was held in the capital of a friendly country. The meeting was crowned with signing a strategic agreement of co-operation between them".

12: Col. John Garang on Wed. 10 termed the Government's peace offer a "surrender agreement" and said his forces would continue to fight. He made the comments in an interview with the rebel Voice of Sudan radio, which was monitored by the BBC in London. In the radio interview Garang also scoffed at efforts by Sudan government to get South African President Nelson Mandela involved in peace-making in Sudan. He said the real mediation in the Sudan dispute had to come from IGAD.

13: In a press statement the SPLA-United says that "now that the cease-fire has heal for two weeks, the Provisional Executive Committee of the SPLM-United... resolved to enter into peace talks with the Government of Sudan. The talks will take place at the royal capital, Fashoda, under the mediation of His Majesty Reth Kwongo Dak Padiet."

15: Sudan says that Egypt violated its airspace by sending three warplanes South of the 22nd parallel, according to Alwan daily. It was the latest allegation by Sudan about Egyptian activities in and around Halaib, a disputed triangle of land between the two countries.

Catholic Bishops visit the Pope

Sudanese Catholic bishops on August 24 began a month-long visit to Rome. The visit is in accordance with the Catholic Church tradition in which every five years, each conference of bishops goes to Rome to visit the Holy Father and the Sacred Congregations. It is called visit ad limina Apostolorum (Visit to the door steps of the Apostles).

For the Sudanese bishops, it will be a special time for togetherness as they have, in the course of their duties, been scattered and isolated, because of the war situation. Additionally, it will for them be a time for renewal, planning and doing sound advocacy for peace in the war-torn country.

The bishops, according to the programme, will spend a day with His Holiness Pope Paul II on September 19. That means they will celebrate mass with the Pontiff in his own private chapel. They will see him as a group and also individually.

Making the trip are Gabriel Zubeir Wako, Archbishop of Khartoum , Paolino Lukudu Loro, Archbishop of Juba, Vincent Mojwok Nyike, Bishop of Malakal, Bishop Antonio Menegazzo, Apostolic Administrator of of El Obeid, Daniel Adwok Kur, Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum, Joseph Gasi Abangite, Bishop of Tombura-Yambio, Paride Taban Bishop of Torit, Erkolano Lodu Tombe, Bishop of Yei, Macram Max Gasis Bishop of El Obeid and the Apostolic Administrator of Rumbek Diocese, Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari.

Among the pastoral issues that the bishops expect to tackle in Rome are preparations for Year 2000 at national and diocesan level. They will also tackle peace issues and projects, including health training institutes in Sudan, national scholarships and survival factors in situation of war and civil conflict.

Charles Omondi

Sisters vow to fight on

Seventy four-year-old Australian Sister Moira Lynch, currently working as a nurse at the Mapourdit Dispensary, Sudan, has no plans for retirement.

The member of Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Hearts order, who is currently on a two-year contract, says she hopes to renew it and continue serving the Sudanese for as long as it is possible. She made the remarks while on a two-week recess in Nairobi, last month. Sister Moira was accompanied by her colleague and compatriot Sister Mary Batchelor, 68.

"I know that at my age, most people opt for retirement but for me I just hope to work for as long as it is possible,'' sister Moira said with a chuckle.

Sister Moira says that having gotten used to leading a Spartan life among some of the world's poorest, she finds life characterised by western comfort too artificial.

Like Sister Moira, Sister Mary too hopes to serve the Sudanese for as long as she is able to do so. A teacher by profession, Sister Mary says: "I really love Mapourdit, I love the work I am doing and I love the children."

"I would like to continue working in Sudan until I am not able to do so. As to when that will be, I do not know at the moment as I am very healthy even at my age." Sister Mary, who teaches Mathematics and English, will be celebrating her 69th birthday in November.

In August last year, the elderly nuns, with four other missionaries, spent 12 days in the SPLA prison. This episode did not discourage them. After a period of rest in their mothreland they came back in March this year.

"While in Australia, I visited many churches where I gave talks on the plight of the Sudanese," Sister Moira said, adding that "the people of Australia were so moved and their response was overwhelming".

All those who heard about the suffering of the Sudanese wanted to assist in any way possible, she recalls. One couple, Mr and Mrs Michael Paturzo donated $2,500 to the Sudan mission. The money was part of Mr Paturzo's pay-off following his retrenchment. "It is that kind of support that has enabled us to carry on," the Sister said about the positive reaction by the Australians.

Charles Omondi

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ask South Africa to bar arms transfers to any party in the war in Sudan

In a letter to the South African government, Human Rights Watch/Africa and the HRW Arms Project ask South Africa to take steps to guarantee that arms it sells are not used in the conflict in Sudan. This would include preventing other states from transferring the arms to the government of Sudan, to the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army, and to others fighting in Sudan.

A copy of the letter to South African President Nelson Mandela follows.

Dear President Mandela,

Your Defence Minister Joe Modise was quoted by the South African Press Agency on August 7, 1997, as saying that the South African National Defense Forces (SANDF) is planning to sell excess anti-aircraft weapons, Buffel infantry vehicles, Puma helicopters, and other war material.

Human Rights Watch writes to request that you do not transfer any weapons, either those mentioned or others, to any party to the conflict in Sudan. Both the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) are guilty of gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as we have documented in numerous reports.

We note that South Africa has a policy of not selling arms to the Sudanese government or to non-government forces. In order to guarantee that arms you sell do not end up in the hands of parties to the Sudanese conflict, we request that you impose restrictions on the end use of all arms your government sells, forbidding any recepient of South African arms from transfering or using, directly or indirectly, these weapons to or for the benefit of the parties to the Sudan conflict. In order to guarantee that this restriction is respected, we suggest that you adopt provisions such as those outlined in appendix A to this letter.

The ban on weapons transfers also should be applied specifically to Sudanese militia groups and muraheleen (tribal militias) operating under government sponsorship or with implicit consent, and those former rebel groups now aligned with the government such as Riak Machar's United Democratic Salvation Front. It should be applied as well to the opposition coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), of which the SPLA is an important member.

We are particularly concerned about reports that the SPLA is now seeking to obtain anti-aircraft weapons to use in the siege of Juba, a southern garrison town in which at least 100,000 civilians reside; these civilians would be cut off from necessary airlifts of food should all air transport be prevented. The Sudanese government is said to be stepping up its use of helicopters in the war against the SPLA, and has shown no regard for civilian lives in its attacks to date. Furthermore, there is evidence that the Sudan government is supplying arms, including but not limited to land mines, to rebel groups in neighboring countries. One such group, the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army, has a particularly bad record of abuses directed at children.

We note that you are now actively involved in the search for peace in Sudan. Although we do not take a position on peace negotiations, ceasefires, or the merits of the war, it is clear that the continuing flow of arms into Sudan, where the parties are already heavily armed, will do nothing to improve the lot of the civilians who have borne the brunt of the war for fourteen years. We therefore urge that you insure that no South African arms are used into this conflict.


          Peter Takirambudde                         Joost Hiltermann 
          Executive Director                       Executive Director 
          Human Rights Watch/Africa                Human Rights Watch 
          Arms Project
For more information:
          Peter Takirambudde        212-972-8400 x 248 (o)  (New York) 
          Jemera Rone               212-838-4792 (h)        (New York) 
                                    212-972-8400 x 208 (o)  (New York)
Bethany House, P. O. Box 21202, Nairobi, Kenya 
tel. +254.2.562247 or 569130, fax 566668 
For further information, please contact:
Fr. Kizito, SCIO, tel +254.2.562247 - fax +254.2.566668 - e-mail:


PeaceLink 1997