Ladies and gentlemen,

We are remembering May 16th, 1983 as the day that changed the history of the Sudan. It was the day in the idea of a new Sudan was born. A new Sudan in which all the citizens would live under secular laws, under which everyone would be treated equally. It was the day that brought all Sudanese who believe that the way the country has been run, since independence from the Anglo-Egyptian colonial powers, was wrong. The post independence governments ignored the fact that the Sudan was a multi ethnic, racial and religious nation. Those governments identified the Sudan as an Arab-Muslim country, in spite of the fact that Arabs are a minority of about 40% of the Sudan population.

Many young Sudanese joined the SPLM/A and fought government armies that were deployed against them. The SPLA achieved many victories against the Sudan government armies, captured all the rural areas in the Southern and Eastern Sudan and threatened the Gezira, the bread basket of the Sudan.

The government tried in the early 1990's to break up the leadership of the SPLM/A by disinformation and bribery so as to neutralize the forces around the oil-rich areas of Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal. It succeeded, and had the divided SPLA forces fighting against each other, while it exploited the oil wealth. The leaders whom the government deceived to break away from the SPLM/A realized that they had been duped after the government reneged on the agreements it signed with them, They returned to the main stream SPLM/A with some of their forces to continue the fight against the government.

The revenues from the southern oil provided the government with attack airplanes and helicopter gun ships which were used indiscriminately against the civilians of the south. Schools and hospitals were bombed from the air. Even distribution centers were targeted by these war airplanes.

The international community, under the leadership of the USA, woke up to the genocidal nature of the war between the government of Sudan and the SPLM/A. The two were pressured to solve the problem peacefully, since neither could win militarily. Threats of punishment or rewards were used on both to bring them to a peaceful settlement of the conflict. This approach seems to be working because the government and the SPLM/A are now drafting a comprehensive peace agreement in the northern city of Naivasha, Kenya.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The people of Darfur and Kordofan Provinces joined the struggle in 2003 to fight for the rights denied to them by the government. They formed two organizations known as the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), respectively.

To quell these two uprisings, the government armed the Arab tribes of Darfur and unleashed them to kill, rape and do all kinds of inhuman things to the non-Arab Sudanese of Darfur. It was the very same policy the government used against the people of northern Bahr el Ghazal. The Arab tribes of El Misiria and Rizeigat were armed by the government and sent to pillage, kill and take into slavery women of northern Bahr el Ghazal.

The government's use of Arab tribesmen to fight uprisings against it, in the south and west Sudan, has highlighted the government's policy of extermination or forced expulsion of the African Sudanese, so as to turn Sudan into an all-Arab country.

Many of the Sudanese who are attending this commemoration today were victims of the Sudan government policy of liquidation or forced to leave the country; (they are among) those who oppose its policies. Many lost their parents and loved ones. Others were children separated from their parents and had to fend for themselves in a harsh environment until they reached the security of refugee camps in the neighboring countries of Kenya and Uganda.

Emmanuel Bol Kuanyin-Agoth                       

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