Sudan: Recent Killings Threaten Independence
Bishop Warns Against Islamization in North
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YAMBIO, Sudan, FEB. 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A 37-year-old nun is just one victim among many of recent killings and abductions in the Sudan, threatening the efforts of the newest African nation, reported the bishop of Tombura-Yambio.
Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala issued an open letter calling for an end to the violence being perpetrated to the "Lord's Resistance Army" (LRA) and its guerilla commander, Joseph Kony, Aid to the Church in Need reported.
The prelate told the aid agency today that "the threat of violence widening could stress any new government in South Sudan, ruining the resources of a young nation as it fights to protect its citizens and prevent others from being drawn into the struggle."
Today it was announced that 98% of voters in a referendum in Southern Sudan chose to become independent from the north.
Khartoum-based President Omar al Bashir of Sudan stated that he accepts the official outcome of the vote.
Thus, in July, Southern Sudan will become the 54th independent African state, six years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the Sudanese Civil War.
However, the prelate expressed concern that the violence will have "devastating consequences" on the region's efforts to become an independent nation.
"Each day that goes by without a solution to the problem of the LRA is another day of terror and pain for those of us living under constant threat of renewed attacks," he said.
Bishop Kussala asserted, "The LRA problem in our communities will not be solved until Joseph Kony and the other senior leaders are made to leave the forest."
He reported: "Many of our children are still in the hands of the LRA. We do not know if they are alive or dead.
"Those who have managed to escape the LRA bear the physical and mental scars of what they have suffered and will never be the same again."
The prelate told the aid agency that the known murder victims include Sister Angelina of the local St. Augustine Institute, who was killed Jan. 17 while traveling to provide medical aid to refugees from South Sudan.
He added that nine people were killed, seven wounded, and 17 abducted during LRA attacks in his diocese from Dec. 22 to Dec. 25.
From that moment, the violence has continued, the bishop stated, and on Saturday eight people were found tortured to death in a village 130 miles from Tombura.
Aid to the Church in Need reported that in North Sudan, Christians in particular are experiencing threats due to the political changes in that region.
Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum warned that the region will soon become less tolerant to non-Muslims.
"The statement of President [al Bashir] some weeks ago that after the secession [of the south] the north will become Islamic in religion and Arabic in culture is a progressive plan," he said.
The prelate continued, "Until now, the northern government has been lenient in enforcing this policy for fear that the south will break away but now I do not think anything can stop them."
He reported: "In some places now [Christians and other] people are asked as to why they are still here in the north.
"People who go in search of jobs in agriculture production have reported mistreatment by the farm owners. They are not properly paid their wages and at times they are threatened with guns if they complain."
The bishop said that many Christians have already fled for the south, and that in his pastoral region of Kosti, Mass attendance has dropped from 1,000 to 100.