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Exiled Sudanese General Continues to Work for Peace and DemocracyAlysha Atma & William Deng for Salem-News.com
Although stripped of physical property and monetary value, this Major General is teaching and leading through patience, peace and honor.
(PORTLAND / RICHMOND) - The conditions of a cell phone conference call in Sudan are difficult, the background noise, connection and language barriers even between three English speaking persons makes for receiving information difficult. At midnight last Thursday I was able to speak with General Dau, it took three tries and a few dropped calls to allow for the conversation to flourish and a rhythm to present. When the call was finished, I was in awe of a man who is willing to risk everything to help bring democracy and education to people who still call his name.
Humble, honorable and forever protective of his people, General Dau began to recite in detail what is currently occurring and historically happened, and more importantly what he hopes will be avoided tomorrow by speaking out.
Gen. Dau Aturjong Nyuol was born in Gokmachar Village in Aweil North County, in the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Southern Sudan. Although born in the bush he is educated, eloquent and mandates one priority, “My people deserve democracy and education. Those that have prayed on our children and families, have struck hearts with fear and marginalized should be held accountable to fullest”.
He believes that by bringing justice, surrounded by fair and just laws involve not just the communities’ voice but also the International world to stand up in solidarity. Holding those accountable for their atrocities, allowing a community to be heard and deciding their own future through talking and voting is the only way toward democracy.
“I am not happy about the elections that took place my people asked me to help bring them democracy, they voted for me as Governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal. The elections was looted and stolen from us all and the positive result was given to a false winner. I chose to self exile, I do not want violence, no bloodshed! This is the first time they are being asked to govern themselves, should be celebrated but it was refused by our controlling government.”
General Dau refused the option of violence; he adamantly puts his peoples’ lives and futures before his own. Although threatened with death and torture he believed in setting an example and chose to exile himself so that he could properly follow legal procedures; this also was denied him. The court refused to see him and his appeal. “The SPLM and NCP, they are playing a game with me and the people.”
General Dau in one of the founding members of the SPLA, a well respected Major General that has courageously and strategically fought in many battles. He believes in the cause, struggling for democracy and the voices of those going unheard in the South.
Over the last several years he is not the first to begin to separate from the Army and Movement of the Sudan’s Peoples Liberation (SPLM/A). Like many others, he has followed the philosophy of one for and with the people, and distanced himself from supporting greed and dictatorship that has become prevalent since the execution of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The elections gave an opportunity for many to run as independents, believing they could work well within the newly formed government. General Dau’s vision for Northern Bahr el Ghazal was to concentrate on services his people so desperately need; basic infrastructure; hospitals, schools and new roads. Further, General Dau’s vision was to empower the community he is being asked to lead.
There are very few schools in fact it is not uncommon to walk over one hundred miles before coming upon a schools house. “Nothing is up to date; there are very few teachers and no books. I want every child to come out of the bush and become educated, free education. That is the start, everyone’s start.”
One of the raging problems in this area is human trafficking; many members of the Dinka tribe in Aweil have been taken by the Arab militia and sold north as household slaves, often keeping them for their entire lives or until death. The lack of schools, education, food and household security has lead people to be easily taken advantage of as well as easy to raid and commandeer.
General Dau steadfastly refuses to continue to accept this tragedy; “Stop the marginalization; it is time for freedom, I will not accept this, and command our people to stand against this. I would like to work with CSI (Christian Solidarity International) and others to carry out the redemption of slaves and help prevent the returning of this inhumane practice by working with the International community to prosecute those that have continued to prey and conduct these acts”.
General Dau worries for his people now, unable to return to his home and lead those that have asked, he is left with very few options. Risking his life to return is a nonissue, although the current government has made their intentions clear “If I return I will be killed or tortured.” His fears rest with his people and the bloodshed and violence that would arise upon his homecoming. This is something he would like to avoid at all costs “My people come first”.
General Dau has heard much about the conflicts, and the increase of violence in many parts of the South. “The situation is not good, people are not happy, they are not given their rights, they were denied what was promised. The game is divide and conquer therefore there is much fighting between tribes. I want to engage in talks not war, the democratic way”.
When I asked him about the future of Sudan, the referendum and the ongoing crisis he was hesitant to comment. His answer again fell to the well being of the people of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, “I want them to stay calm and be patient. Begin to prepare for the 2014 elections, continue working toward, and for democracy. If my people ask and demand of me, I will run in the next election – yes. Democracy is long awaited”.
General Dau closed our interview with the words of guidance for the worldwide community to use the last elections as a lesson, to listen to the people and allow them to decide their future. A stronger International presence will help empower more discussion and less hostility.
Although stripped of physical property and monetary value, this Major General is teaching and leading through patience, peace and honor. Equality, humanity, and education lead his path daily while he continues to work for his people and the democratic system.
Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Deng is the President of Southern Sudan Project southernsudanproject.org and works many hours exposing human rights abuses, and speaking about the extreme slavery that has haunted the Aweil Dinka for decades. He believes education, hospitals and justice is the priority for his people and works continuously to help provide such.
He may be contacted and reached at the following email: wiilliamdengg@ yahoo.com
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