A new dawn, a new Sudan

With the news agenda being dominated by the world of hacks and hackers, youd be hard pressed to hear of anything else, and probably the historic event of this weekend will pass many of us by.  Im not referring to the end of the News of the World. Rather the creation of the worlds newest nation and 193rd state South Sudan. South Sudans journey to independence has been marred by bitter, prolonged and bloody conflict, which was at its height in the 1980s and 1990s. A peace agreement brought some sort of respite to the full-blown warfare which wrecked thousands of lives and an agreement that South Sudan should secede from the rest of the country if that was what the people voted for in a referendum. As we saw earlier this year, the people in South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to separate from the North.  So tomorrow should be a day of celebration for South Sudan but unfortunately the raging conflict in the neighbouring and oil-rich state of South Kordofan will cast a gloomy shadow over the occasion.  Thousands have been forced to flee their homes in South Kordofan for fear of indiscriminate bombings from fighter jets: Sudanese Armed Forces and security forces have been searching streets and houses, arresting and killing people suspected of supporting the SPLA.  Amnesty has today reported that foreign weapons and military assistance has fuelled this bloody conflict unfolding in Sudan.  The USA has been involved in training the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army by providing $100million a year worth of military assistance to South Sudan.  This revelation comes less than a month after US President Barack Obama called for a ceasefire in the region.Russia and China are also alleged to have provided weapons and training to the region. Sudanese Air Force attack helicopters are maintained by a Russian company and Sudanese Mi-24 pilots have been trained in Russia.  Meanwhile, China has been one of the main suppliers of conventional arms to the SAF. Next week, UN member states will meet to discuss a global Arms Trade Treaty. Amnesty representatives will be at the UN to lobby for tough controls to be set up.  Members of the UN Security Council along with the other UN member states back up their words with action and do all they can to stop the brutal and bloody conflicts occurring in places like South Kordofan. If powerful states like the USA, China and Russia (three permanent members of the UN Security Council) really want to give South Sudan the best start, they can start by ensuring that their weapons dont to fuel an already bloody and terrifying conflict at its border.  A robust Arms Trade Treaty with human rights standards at its core will go some way to ensuring that. Click here for more information.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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