ME and Ophelia

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Worlds and Communities

This post has taken me three days to complete. Today, out of necessity, I started up a third blog called Sudan Watch for my future posts on the Sudan. And my second new blog, "A Breath of Hope", I have now renamed Africa Aid Watch for my posts on the U.N. and aid agencies.

BlogSpots are still free of charge through Unsure how it will all work out, but I needed to do something about my posts on the Sudan because they've overwhelmed my personal blog here for the past four months. Eventually, I hope to have all three in the same style as here, so the other two will look like categories within this blog.

Yesterday, I sent an email to each of the three contact names given at a UK site called Western Sudan Development Agency. Below is a copy of the email. One of the emails, with a hotmail address for Adam Down, has been returned to me as undeliverable. Hopefully, the other two got through OK.

Note: just as I was about to publish this post, I saw Jim's latest post "Bring together online and offline worlds and communities" that inspired me to change the title of this post.

Email to: Adam Down, Abubaker Rashid and Bakhit Fodoul
Date: August 21, 2004
Subject: Sudan: Day of Conscience - MeetUps across America on Wednesday August 25, 2004 by Sudan Peace Supporters

Hello to all at the Western Sudan Development Agency,

Today, while searching the Internet for the latest UK government news on Sudan, I found your website Western Sudan Development Agency.

As you are probably aware, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is due visit Khartoum on Monday (Aug 23) for a meeting with government of Sudan - and on Tuesday (Aug 24) will visit Darfur (Mr Straw's plans to visit Sudan were first announced on July 22) - and so this is a critical time coming up and another opportunity to make our voices - from around the world - heard to put pressure on governments to intervene in Sudan.

Your site caught my eye because I have a personal weblog that I use to raise awareness of the plight of the Sudanese people in Darfur and Chad. I have published almost daily on the situation, since April 24 when I picked up on news of the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Darfur from Jim Moore's Journal out of Harvard in Boston, Mass, USA.

My weblog is called ME AND OPHELIA and can be found at

Jim is an American academic living near Boston and his weblog can be found at

Back in April, Jim and friends started a weblog on Sudan called "The Passion of the Present" at

If you read Jim's recent posts, you will see that MeetUps are being organised by Sudan peace supporters across America.

The date for the MeetUps is Wednesday August 25, 2004.

"Sudan Day of Conscience" is next week, in just 4 days time. This day can make a difference as it comes: the day after Mr Straw meets with GoS and visits Darfur; 1 day before the United Nations (UN) meets to consider Sudan; and 3 days before the US Republican Convention (the party of President Bush).

At the Passion of the Present, people across America are being invited to respond by inventing an action to post at Note the sidebar on the right where you will see a "Sudanese Peace MeetUp" button saying "Meet other Sudan peace supporters, let's make this happen!"

Unfortunately I am unable to participate in the MeetUps. I am located in Dorset, England, UK.

However, since Jim recently invited me to co-author the Passion of the Present, there is a chance I could contribute to the "Sudanese Peace MeetUps" by publicising news of your meeting for Darfur people that is scheduled to take place on August 26, 2004, in Birmingham, England.

Therefore, I am hoping someone at "Western Sudan Development Agency" would be willing to email me news of your work. It would be interesting to receive any news on Darfur - out of the UK or Europe - that I can share with my readers - and those at Passion of the Present in America (readers are from all over the world who also have weblogs).

I note from a recent news item from getreading, (see copy below) that Mr Ibrahim Hashim, 28, of Avon Place, who comes from Darfur, works for the Western Sudan Development Agency which is putting pressure on governments to intervene in Sudan. The item explains that Mr Hashim, who estimates there are 200 Sudanese living in Reading, England, called on people from the town to join him and other campaigners on a march from the Sudanese Embassy to 10 Downing Street last Friday. I would be most interested to receive and share your news and efforts to put pressure on governments to intervene in Sudan -- along with any other news, personal stories, photos - anything you think may prove helpful in raising awareness. Please don't worry if they are just scrap notes in an email - I can write around them and pull something together for publishing in my weblog and at the Passion of the Present.

Please forgive me if I have addressed you in this email incorrectly. Your website gives three contact names and addresses so, in order to be sure that this reaches at least one person, I am sending the same message, in separate emails, to each of you in the hope of an early reply. I would be most grateful if you could please pass on a copy of this email to Mr Ibrahim Hashim as I would be interested to know how he and other campaigners got on last Friday, along with any other news he might like to share.

With best wishes --

PS Below is a copy of the online report "Help Stop Sudan horror", followed by a copy of Jim's post at his Journal entitled "Please help, SOS for next Wednesday August 25:

HELP STOP SUDAN HORROR - Join protest march or donate cash

THE horrific images of Darfur may be a distant news story for most, but for one Newtown man the humanitarian disaster is all too close to home.

Ibrahim Hashim’s mother and two sisters are among the black Africans forced from their homes in Darfur, Western Sudan by Arab militia – the Janjaweed.

His mother is in a refugee camp in neighbouring Chad and his two sisters have also been forced from their homes and are living near her.

Mr Hashim, 28, of Avon Place, who comes from the region himself, has told the Evening Post of the refuges, famine, disease and terrible attacks inflicted there.

He said: “My mother is now in a refugee camp in Chad. I was able to talk to her on a satellite phone a few weeks ago.

“I also have two sisters who had to leave Darfur and are living near my mother in Chad.

“There are many reports of the Janjaweed militia raping black African women to humiliate them.

“My mother, who is 62, told me of an 82-year-old woman she knew who had been raped.”

He added: “I don’t want to say too much about my family, because everyone from Darfur living in this country has lost a member of their family.

"I have been told of people being bombed when they were out in the fields looking after their cattle.

“I know of a family – a father, mother and their little daughters – who were tied together and made to watch while their oldest daughter was raped.

“I know of another family whose two sons were killed before their eyes when they tried to stop the Arab militia men from raping their sister.”

Mr Hashim works for the Western Sudan Development Agency, which is putting pressure on governments to intervene in Sudan.

The Sudanese government in Khartoum has been accused of making the situation in Darfur worse by allowing the Janjaweed a free hand to ethnically-cleanse the area of black Africans.

Mr Hashim, who estimates there are 200 Sudanese living in Reading, has called on people from the town to join him and other campaigners on a march from the Sudanese Embassy to 10 Downing Street on Friday.

The protest march begins at 11am and anyone interested in taking part should contact Mr Hashim on (0118) 926 3801 or 07946 031 621.

He also urged people in Reading to give cash to the Red Cross and Oxfam for humanitarian aid for the people of Darfur.
- - -


Here is a copy of a report from Australia dated August 22:

Members of Melbourne's Sudanese community have rallied, calling for the immediate dispatch of an international peacekeeping force to Darfur in western Sudan.

About 100 protesters said the international community has been too slow to act on stopping Arab militias from killing thousands and driving a million black Africans from their homes in the western state.

The chairman of the Sudanese community in Australia, Ezekiel Arop, says they want the Australian federal Government to play its part in putting more pressure on the Sudanese Government to stop the violence.

So far, only a small contingent of 300 African Union troops have gone into Darfur to protect international observers and Mr Arop says only an international force will stop genocide similar to that which happened in Rwanda ten years ago.

"We are arguing for more, not just the African because we don't want what happened in Rwanda to be repeated again in Darfur and what happened in the South Sudan."

Another community member, Elhafiz Adal, says the international community is acting too slowly to help refugees fleeing to camps in Chad.

"Whenever we act so slowly people are dying and we know people are dying right now, so we need people to act more quickly.

"There are also people who have got stranded in the jungles, in deserts and in mountains and there is no way of making it to neighbouring countries, so their situation is much worse."
- - -

Note: over the past few days, I've found some great UK blogs while searching for Sudan news out of the UK, and have put some in my sidebar for reading on a regular basis, ie:

The Social Affairs Unit - Weblog
Downing Street Says
Chris Lightfoot
- - -

Resumes Consideration of Darfur -
The Grim Political Realities and Prospects

Any time now, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is due to arrive in Khartoum for meetings tomorrow (Monday).

Peace talks between Khartoum and the two rebel groups are also scheduled for Monday -- in Nigeria. Looks like Sudan's President Bashir won't be in Nigeria. Arab League (and possibly Libya and Egypt) are expected to sit in on the talks as observers, which is good that everyone gets to hear the same information, at the same time.

Mr Straw is due to visit Northern Darfur on Tuesday. The Governor of Darfur has been receiving quite a few foreign visitors -- Belgium visited sometime during the past few days.

The rebels are still holding out in Darfur. They estimate there are 600,000 civilians living in the areas under their control and surviving by grubbing around for food. On August 10, the UN said the two rebel groups in Darfur agreed to allow vaccination of up to a 500,000 children trapped behind rebel lines. The rebels use satellite phones to keep in touch with what is going on and say they stay glued to BBC radio reports in Arabic. Reports out today confirm that aid is being air dropped into Darfur.

On August 4, In an interview with Islam Online, the Janjaweed Leader was quoted as saying: “If disarmament is not all-encompassing, nobody will care,” he told IOL. “It makes no sense to disarm and leave us all by ourselves, facing bloody revenge sprees and ethnic cleansing.”

Tomorrow, at the talks in Khartoum and Nigeria, hopefully the issue of aid will be top of the agenda. Note my new blog Africa Aid Watch that logs recent UN delays and failures to reach at least 50% of those who are most in need.

Yesterday, John Prendergast, from the International Crisis Group criticized the international community for providing less than half of a March U.N. appeal for $350 million in humanitarian aid for Darfur, and for acting too slowly to stop Darfur's death toll from mounting. "As high-level officials from all over the world continue to talk very passionately, but act very timidly in Darfur, the Darfurian people continue to perish. And we're going to see those numbers increase dramatically," he added. In this report he calls for other measures if Security Council is blocked.

For the latest run down on the Sudan crisis please read Sudan expert Professor Eric Reeves' August 19, 2004 report entitled: "Ten Days Before the UN Security Council Resumes Consideration of Darfur: The Grim Political Realities and Prospects".

When reading Prof Reeves' report, it may feel like a train rushing headlong at you but sadly what he writes is true and is a must-read for anyone who has influence in politics and the media.

Grimly, the report concludes with these words: "A response adequate to the genocidal destruction that has occurred in Darfur, and is so clearly in prospect, seems nowhere in sight. This is "darkness visible."

In an effort to raise awareness in the UK re Wednesday's "Sudan Day of Conscience", I am pinging this post - via Technorati - to the below listed UK bloggers in the hope that they will read Dr Reeves' report. Thanks to everyone - sorry to bug you again.

Clive Soley MP
Tom Watson MP
Richard Allan MP
Alistair Coleman
Clive Summerfield
Tim Ireland
David Taylor
Norman Geras
Melanie Phillips (on holiday)
Councillor Bob Piper
Stephen Pollard
Gavin Sheridan

Note: for the latest news developments on the Sudan please tune in to Jim Moore and friends at Passion of the Present blog out of Harvard in Boston, Mass, USA.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 8/22/2004
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