Too Soon for Sudan’s Christians and minorities to celebrate

Omar al-Bashir Sudan’s leader, Omar al-Bashir, who presided over the destruction of dozens of churches and the deaths of an estimated two and a half million people from religious and ethnic minorities, has been overthrown in a military coup. On Thursday afternoon, the defence minister, General Awan Ibn Auf, announced that a transitional military council would rule Sudan for the next two years. Although he promised elections would follow, civil society leaders and Sudanese diaspora are unconvinced their new military rulers will be any different from Field Marshall Bashir. The 11 April coup follows four months of pro-democracy protests in cities across Sudan. The peaceful demonstrations, organised by the Sudanese Professionals Association, were met with…

In Iraq, Iran and Turkey Are The Real Winners

The US is trying to create a Middle Eastern coalition to undermine Iran. They are sixteen years too late. Damaged historic Christian town of Qaraqosh on Iraq’s Nineveh plain, December, 2016. NurPhoto/PressAssociation. All rights reserved. This week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosts a meeting in Warsaw, aimed at forming a Middle Eastern coalition against Tehran. Yet, at the same time, the Trump Administration has confirmed most US forces will exit Syria by May, leaving a regional vacuum that benefits Iran, Turkey and Islamic State. This could provoke a new surge of migration and, paradoxically, put America’s closest ally, Israel, in peril: Iran is stockpiling weapons along the border between Syria and Israel, and its proxies are poised…

A slap on the wrist: Justice, from the Holocaust to Rwanda to Nineveh

Any day now, Theoneste Bagosora, a mastermind of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, will be eligible to apply for early release. In 2011, Bagosora’s life-in-prison verdict was reduced to 35 years by Theodor Meron, the American judge heading the international court administering sentences; the genocidaire has now served two thirds of his sentence. Meron has been criticised for freeing other architects of the slaughter that killed 70 per cent of the Tutsi ethnic group living in Rwanda.   Reuters: A rose bouquet is laid on a coffin in the Catholic church in Nyamata containing the remains of victims of mass killings during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In the words of a survivor who was eight years…

Race and Christianity in America

By: Rebecca Tinsley “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?” is the greatest blues line of all time, according to the African American intellectual, Stanley Crouch. For the rapper, Tupak Shakur, Jesus was, “Somebody that hurt like we hurt, that understands where we’re coming from.” James Cone’s “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” www.goodreads.com/book/show/12417679-the-cross-and-the-lynching-tree explains the parallels between Jesus, the innocent victim of mob hysteria in the Roman Empire’s province of Judea, and almost five thousand African Americans who were lynched, mostly between 1880 and 1940. In both cases, Cone suggests, the point was not the punishment or death of the supposed offender, but a warning to those considering sedition against the powers that…

Iraq, and the warning from Jewish history

Hakham Ezra Dangoor, chief rabbi of Baghdad, pictured with his family in 1910. (Jewish News) What do these three news items have in common? 1) The beautiful synagogue in Akra in Iraqi Kurdistan is crumbling to the point of collapse, as Iraq’s famous Jewish families (Sassoon, Saatchi, Gubbay, etc.) are written out of Iraqi history. 2) Thirty six Iraqi Christian churches were destroyed by Islamic State in 2014, but thousands of Christians cannot return from internal exile. Their homes are now occupied by Muslim Arabs, and their former communities are controlled by opposing Arab and Kurdish militias who each claim territory in the plain of Nineveh. 3) August 3rd marks the fourth anniversary of Islamic…

The lingering legacy of Ebola in Sierra Leone

As the deadly disease appears in Congo, Sierra Leone is still counting the cost of its 2014 epidemic. Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2015. Image: Simon Davis/DFID, CC BY 2.0. During the day, the streets of the Kissi district of eastern Freetown are perpetually crowded with pedestrians, as if a concert or soccer game has just finished. On either side of the road, in every available space, there are makeshift stalls selling mangos, grilled chicken feet, SIM cards, and second-hand clothes. There is a ceaseless soundtrack of trucks, animals, people and radios. The air is heavy with pollution from ancient taxis, and rubbish is heaped in rancid piles. It is hard to imagine these streets empty and silent….

Our selective outrage about Gaza

Events in Israel tend to mobilise otherwise dormant keyboard warriors. This week, social media has heaved with indignation at the plight of Palestinian protesters. Yet, the same critics of the State of Israel are strangely silent about the slaughter of far greater numbers of people in places like Sudan. Could it be that the Darfuris are the wrong type of Muslims? Or, like European Jewry in the 1930s, is the Sudanese cause simply less fashionable than the Palestinian one? When I give talks about our work with Sudanese refugees, someone invariably asks what I’m doing about “all the dead Palestinian children.” The fact that a far higher proportion of children have been killed by the…

Catholics in the firing line in Cameroon, as Mass Exodus continues

  Archbishop Samuel Kleda By: Rebecca Tinsley As Cameroon marks its national day on 20 May, violence continues to escalate, literally putting Catholics in the firing line. Last week, the president of the Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Samuel Kleda, escaped what local media describes as an assassination attempt. Shots were fired at his residence after he criticised Cameroon’s leader, Paul Biya, for his failure to broker genuine dialogue between the country’s rival Anglophone groups and the Francophone-dominated government. The attack comes after two years of increasing conflict which has prompted an estimated 160,000 English-speaking Cameroonians to flee to neighbouring Nigeria for safety, according to the UN. There are multiple verifiable reports that Cameroonian security forces have…

Viewpoint: Why you cannot trust politicians with global justice

The British Parliament is considering a move that may put justice within reach of persecuted minorities such as Christians in the Middle East. Lord Alton has introduced a bill that would require the British government to ask the High Court to decide whether or not genocide and mass atrocities are taking place. His private members’ bill is significant because it recognises that politicians are swayed by Britain’s trade links and other relationships with regimes perpetrating atrocities against their own people. In the years since the Holocaust, diplomats have shied away from labelling genocide by its rightful name. Under international law (the 1948 Genocide Convention, and the 2005 Responsibility to Protect doctrine), once we recognise genocide…

Christians in Sudan face ethnic cleansing, and the US and UK are rewarding it

The US government is reported to be on the verge of dropping Sudan from its State Sponsors of Terror list, despite the regime’s systematic bombardment of its own Christian civilians. The controversial move follows the lifting of sanctions against Khartoum in September. Andreea Campeanu/DECSudan’s government continues with the gradual confiscation of properties belonging to church leaders Washington has improved its relations with Sudan under pressure from Saudi Arabia. There are currently thousands of Sudanese soldiers fighting Saudi’s war in Yemen, of whom 400 have been killed. In the same year Sudanese forces were deployed in Yemen, Saudi and Qatar gave the deeply indebted Khartoum regime $2.2 billion. Yet, despite US overtures to Sudan, its president, Field Marshall Bashir, asked for President Putin’s protection…