Thursday, November 25, 2010


The Left is a broad category – from centrist social welfarism to communism. The Left in government ranges from the Communist Party in China to the Tripartite Alliance in South Africa.

The Left, based on its contribution to date, has a place in African politics, just as it features in every continent in the world. Those who would wish the death of the Left in west, east, central and southern Africa have a long wait coming. It is a fact that in certain parts of the African world the Left has been marginalized, neutralized or co-opted. What will further weaken the Left in Africa south of the Sahara and its western (Americas, Caribbean, Europe etc) and eastern ( Arabia, North Africa, Gulf states and points east ) Diasporas, is if it is unable to engage in the major challenges facing us due to emasculation or out of fear of the unknown. This paper argues that the principal challenge facing the Left today is how to engage the decolonization process underway in the Afro-Arab Borderlands.

What will weaken the left is the absence of an organizational framework which unifies it’s struggle. This is beside the absence of a political agenda. The Pan-African movement can serve as the forum of the African Left, as seen in Cameroon, drawing its lifeblood from the people’s struggle for unity, democracy, social justice, equality and economic progress in different social settings in the Diasporas and on the continent south of the Sahara. The issue of organization must be tackled first.

Even as the Berlin Wall was in place voices on the African Left stated that race was a key component in social analysis. However most in government toed the line from Moscow parroting that only class was important in defining social issues. In the South African Communist Party (SACP) during the armed struggle many were expelled who insisted, with varying degrees of emphasis, that race was a key element in social analysis.

For some, when  the Soviet variant of socialism suffered internal collapse, with the withdrawal of  Russia from its frontline position in the Third World, serious challenges were thrown up. Take, for instance, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Southern Sudan. Adwok Nyaba says - ‘In all honesty the SPLM/A was not  socialist or Left for that matter, although it raised socialist slogans. The Left is recognized by the manner  it organizes its means of struggle and the relationship between its leadership and the masses. The SPLM/A was militarist and that is why it is paying dearly for its political organization and the unity of its rank and file’.The SPLM/A was, in the language of those times, a progressive,  Left-leaning African liberation organization, similar to the Zimbabwe  African National Union (ZANU).

The SPLM/A had been at war with Khartoum from the eve of Sudan’s self-government in 1956, with the Soviets gone where was the SPLM to draw its support, both in terms of logistics and diplomatic promotion, to maintain its struggle with the Khartoum government? The Islamic fundamentalist government of Sudan based in Khartoum is lead not by white Arabs, but by a mixed race/coloured group, who are Arabised and Islamised, practicing genocide in Darfur, oppressing the African majority in the country, in alliance with the rest of Arabia, where they are accepted as inferior Arabs.

Sudan is strategically located, straddling  the line where Arabia meets black Africa. In Sudan, north of that line, are not white Arabs, but an Arabised and Islamised people of mixed race, living in the centre of the country, around Khartoum on the Nile River which flows from its source in Uganda, through Juba, capital of Southern Sudan, onto Khartoum, thence through southern Egypt, Cairo and into the Mediterranean Sea. These people, in the Southern African context, would be described as a ‘coloured’ people. In Sudan the light brown complexioned people living in the centre of the country around Khartoum, detaining power, historically served as a buffer between white Egypt and black southern Sudan. This is how the last colonial Anglo-Egyptian administration distributed power within Sudan society, as they left the scene in 1956. The power centre in Khartoum was to stem the tide of African nationalism coming north along the Nile, the overwhelming majority of the population of Sudan being black Africans. This explains the causes of the protracted war in south Sudan and the frantic attempt now on to alter the demographics in Darfur, so that Africans will be thrown back southwards, in what has been a historical  process of African retreat, since the time of the African civilization of Kush in north eastern Sudan, which preceded the black pharaonic civilization in Egypt, before the arrival of the Arabs in Africa. This type of ‘decolonization’ process was sanctioned in arrangements made by Europe and Arabia, to better exploit African labour and minerals. This is the challenge posed in Sudan today. The issues are similar in Mauritania, where the colonials gave power to a Moorish minority, to rule the African majority. The method of decolonization was the same in south and north Africa. Africans were to be hemmed in by Europeans in the south and by Arabs in the north, in a pincer arrangement  in which they would be bound  for ever to serve external interests in order to survive and escape genocide.

It could be said that the Left has come a long way from where it was in say, 1957, when Ghana achieved self-government under the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) lead by Nkrumah. Many now acknowledge that race is as significant as class, in any analysis of the African situation, especially when handling Pan-African issues.

African liberation action for decolonization was, in the case of Ghana, a mass not a class struggle, being lead by different strata of society, whereas in South Africa the struggle for majority rule was part of a process of decolonization, but it took the form of a mass struggle lead by the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the trade unions, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the African National Congress (ANC).

The two major areas for settler decolonization in 1957 were Southern Africa under Afrikaner/British  settler colonialism, and the Afro-Arab Borderlands, in the Sahel and the Sudan, running from Mauritania on the Atlantic eastwards to Sudan on the Red Sea. Whereas in 1957 the problems of Southern Africa were admitted by the international community, those in the Borderlands were not. Fifty years later, in the 21st century, the issues of Arab racism and hegemony in the Borderlands surface with a vengeance, why ?

Arab slavery and hegemony in the Sahelian Borderlands predated the arrival of the Heugenots in the Cape, in Southern Africa, by a millennium. In the mid-twentieth century proletarian internationalism, as co-operation between the  Left across borders was called, in an era dominated by two superpowers – the Soviet Union and the United States – was the quintessential ingredient in the decolonization of Africa. After all colonialism was administered from the Western metropoles of London, Lisbon, Paris and Brussels. It’s end was hastened by the intervention of the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe.

In Africa, the context of China until it joined the United Nations in 1971, must be put into consideration. There was no way China would have entered into the world arena before finishing its cultural revolution. It is this cultural revolution in the sixties that  consolidated the Communist in power after the defeat of the Nationalists, first in China and then displacing them in the world body. The current China stance is dictated by its economic power. This power has been acquired without eschewing its communist[ Chinese style ]ideology. It remains to be seen what will happen when China reaches the top of the world political and military order. China’s actions in Sudan, particularly in Darfur, require close inspection and monitoring, providing indications of its evolving relations with Africans. 

Those who partook in the Fifth Pan-African Congress (PAC) in Manchester in 1945, such as Du Bois and  Nkrumah, accepted the line of the Soviet Union, based on its internal need to keep in check its restive minorities, that race was not a factor in social analysis. One could say that Padmore was more circumspect in this regard. This was due to his period spent in Moscow as a member of the Comintern, where he had witnessed at close quarters how proletarian internationalism was tailored to Russian international interests, as the South African Communist Party had learnt much earlier.

Men such as Du Bois, Padmore and Makonnen, worked with Nkrumah in the implementation of his Pan-African agenda, which lead to the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1964. The OAU was a tool in the hands of African leaders. For the Arabs it served to enlist African support for the Arab causes of Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine

After the Camp David Accords and the establishment of relations between certain Arab states in Africa, such as Egypt and Isreal, the OAU and its successor the African Union (AU ) became increasingly subject to Arab, as distinct from African interests. It is from this period that the divide, north and south of the Sahara, became clearly discernable and their destinies no longer reconcilable. Arab members were not interested in the integration of the African Diasporas, on equal basis with continental governments, into the statist Pan-African structure. Certain Arab states took to underwriting/buying-into the expenses  of the organization, by paying state dues in the face of the indifference of some African states regarding their financial obligations. A point was reached in late 2007 whereby Gadaffi of Libya was able to manipulate the AU by threatening to withdraw  his support for the AU  and rather turning to the West and Europe, knowing that this would cause severe financial problems, even the collapse of the organization.

Makonnen had doubts about Nasser’s intentions in Africa and favoured relations with Israel. Nasser’s Egypt and Nkrumah’s Ghana, in close socialist alliance, were the main proponents of African decolonization, assisted by the Soviets. The OAU enshrined the concept of sovereignty and the inviolability of borders, with respect for the territorial integrity of states. Many Left leaning leaders in Africa, as late as the close of the 20th century, remained steadfast in their support of Nasser’s Egypt,despite Egypt’s signing of the Camp David Accords with Isreal  and its murky involvement with Britain in the neo-colonial dispensation  for Sudan.

Whatever may have been Nasser’s intention in Africa, many have argued convincingly that he was first a Pan-Arabist and secondly a Pan-Africanist. During his period Egypt continued its interference in  Southern Sudan, Darfur, Nubia  etc  by way of their institutionalized marginalization by Khartoum. Nasser  facilitated the marriage of Nkrumah to an Egyptian, a tactic used by Arabia in the past to neutralize African nationalist leaders in south Sudan. The rule of Ghana by the Convention People’s Party (CPP) saw the establishment of Ghanaian embassies in Khartoum and Nouakchott in Mauritania. Nkrumah would have been aware of the oppression of black Africans in Sudan and Mauritania by people calling themselves Arabs or Moors. It is said that it was the 1966 Khartoum Roundtable on the future of South Sudan, at which Ghana was represented, which brought Nkrumah to the realization of the need to support Southern Sudan. His Government was overthrown shortly thereafter by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Adwok Nyaba takes the view that most African leaders did not understand the genisis of the Sudan conflict. Arab diplomacy focused on wider issues, such as Palestine, concealing Arab internal contradictions with the captive black African people in their midst. It was therefore not surprising that the continental body, often described as Pan-Africanist, left to us by Nkrumah, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU), reflects the view that Arabs could be and indeed are ‘brothers’ – even as the Khartoum based government was fighting a protracted war with African nationalism in south Sudan, in a war seen by the Africans of southern Sudan, as a just war of decolonization from Arab settler colonialism.

It is probably from this period, if not earlier, that we note the Left’s failure to address the issue of Arab hegemony and racism, which attitude is still with us today. Residence in south Sudan teaches that at the point of contact in the Afro-Arab intercourse, Arabia is aggressive and expansionist, not hiding its interests. This is understood throughout the Arab world. However in areas removed from direct contact, such as the west and southern African coasts, it is a different story. There Arab, particularly Egyptian, cordial diplomacy is legendary. Yet an Egyptian diplomat could be shifted from the Consulate in Juba, to the Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia. It is this duplicity which has confounded Africans, but such protocol is rule-of-thumb in the Foreign Ministries of the Arab world, when dealing with Africa. African leaders are amenable to bribery by their Arab counterparts, at the cost of their people’s interests.

The OAU played a major role in the decolonization of Southern Africa, whilst it refused to be involved in the south Sudan issue, which was stated to be an Arab issue, the proper consideration of the Arab League. The Liberation Committee of the OAU ensured that the decolonization process in southern Africa received the maximum support of the Organization, including its Arab members. The Arab government in Khartoum,  although at war with Africans in  south Sudan, was generous in funding the anti-apartheid struggle. In mid-February 2008 the post-apartheid

Government of South Africa dealt in a cavalier fashion with a Darfurian freedom fighter seeking to enter South Africa, to explain the war going on in his country. He was locked up, his luggage confiscated and  he expelled on the next available flight, without being offered any explanation. This could best be explained as a deliberate act to deny South Africans first hand knowledge of what is going on in Darfur and Sudan.

The road to the defeat of settler colonialism in southern Africa was a long one. The African National Congress (ANC) had been formed in 1912. Later it was fused with the South African Communist Party. Shortly before South Africa attained majority government in 1994  the  South African leader Chris Hani and likely future President, was assassinated, being described as both a leading figure in the ANC and the Communist Party.

The Anti-Apartheid Movement was a powerful international tool of finance capital and played a leading role in the garnering of international support for the decolonization process in South Africa. There was no such humanitarian interest in the freedom struggle underway in Sudan by the marginalized majority. Those who followed the transfer of power from the white settler colonial Afrikaner Nationalist Party to the ANC saw how the Left in that country, worked with capital to create a new South Africa, so-called, with a mixed economy and  lots of opportunities for venture and transnational capital, so that there was never a chance that the commanding heights of that economy would shift from the pre-1994 situation. Indeed local capital quickly stepped off-shore to places like Switzerland. The Kempton Park talks leading to majority rule in South Africa, laid the ground rules for the peaceful co-existence and co-operation of the Left with organized labour and the centre-right, which rule remains in place today. In Namibia self-government saw the introduction of a mixed economy, with respect for the social contract, with assurances for public health and education, embedded in the Constitution.

It was therefore ironic that the government which emerged in South Africa, lead by the Left, experienced some discomfort in handling settler colonial issues in the Afro-Arab Borderlands, such as Darfur. This unease was felt to be a product of Soviet era relations, whereby the  ANC had forged close international socialist working alliances, which ultimately lead to the battle of Cuito Cunavale in Angola, where the progressive forces of Cuba, Angola, Namibia and South Africa defeated on the battlefield the racist minority Afrikaner regime of South Africa, which was in alliance with the international rightwing,  which included the USA, UK, the Angolan rebel group UNITA and others. From observation the ruling Tripartite Alliance in South Africa ( ANC, the Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU] )  has not shifted  from its view that class is the main and only determinant in analyzing human relations. The Mbeki Administration did adopt aspects of Pan-Africanism in its African Renaissance agenda, taking on board the Diaspora and championing  counties such as Haiti, whose role in contemporary African history had been ignored by the Left in the past. However the Alliance was unable to  answer charges that Renaissance was more a moral fig leaf for the penetration of South African capital into Africa, through the agency of Shoprite, the Banks and the breweries etc, to be followed by the vacuuming of minerals resources.

Whereas the world today is no longer in a duo-polar situation as during the Cold War, with power controlled by the United States of America and the Soviet Union, we are now in a period of the decline of the mono-power, the United States of America. This current scenario is slowly shifting in our view to a multi-polar world, in which new conflict issues are emerging, such as decolonization in the Afro-Arab Borderlands. We have seen terrorism become a matter of global concern, as well as fundamentalism and the preoccupation with the environment.

Closer to home the Darfur conflict is bringing to the surface an old problem, which has long been buried from global view, which was apparent during the long war in South Sudan, for those who were discerning. This is the issue of Arab hegemony, slavery, racism and abuse of human rights, lead by Islamic fundamentalist governments such as that in Khartoum, which  systematically seeks to change the demography of places such as Darfur, implementing genocide against the people of the area, such as the Fur, who are being forced off their land and are being replaced by Arabised West Africans, such as the Taureg. A similar Arab project is underway in Nubia, Northern Sudan, near the Egyptian border, where African Nubians, who have been living in the area for a millennium, are being removed in plain view of the world and Egyptian Arabs being resettled on their lands. Bear in mind that the conflict in the Afro-Arab Borderlands is as old as time, and that these issues were not publicized in the past. There will be new Darfurs spreading westwards. So long as Arab hegemony continues to push Africans southward it will be meet by a stout and organized resistance.

From observation it appears that the difficulties that the Left experiences in South Africa, of openly supporting harassed Africans in the Borderlands, is the admission  that in countries such as Sudan and Mauritania there is indeed a race issue, of such dimensions that just as South Africa needed the support of the Liberation Committee of the OAU to end apartheid, so in the Borderlands African solidarity and support is necessary. Indeed from Mauritania to the Red Sea there is an issue of Arab hegemony and racism. After all Africans lived on the Mediterranean coast, as Cheikh Anta Diop  explained to us. If Africans have been pushed Southwards as far as Darfur today – the issue is – what are Africans going to do about it. There is unease when an apartheid-type figure such as El Bashir of Sudan is able, in late 2007, to undertake a state visit to South Africa, where he is accorded full honours. Would the ANC, in say the mid-1980s, have remained silent if P.W.Botha had conducted a State visit to a Frontline state?

All progressive/Left leaning forces in African society have to take on board the truths of the Sudan and struggle to put in place changes for the better. The Left, both African and international has no choice, but to get engaged, as it did in South Africa. If the Left stays on the sidelines as a spectator, it ceases to be part of the solution and becomes part of the problem. The Left needs to fight Arab hegemony and violent Islamic fundamentalism. African contradictions  with the Arab Left stems from its acquiescence to Arab hegemony. A distinction must be made  between Arab Leftist ideas which are progressive and in line with progressive humanity and the support of the Arab left for Arab hegemony. Arab hegemony is imperial, it steals land and natural resources and it enslaves people. It is in continuous expansionist mode and has the support of the Arab League. But for the gallant fighters of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), Sudan under Tourabi, would have overrun the South and marched on Kampala, in the name of Jihad.

Arab racism and domination is not an issue for the United States of America lead liberal alliance alone. It concerns African progressive forces too. Arab hegemony is active from Mauritania to the Red Sea. This is not new. As Chinweizu said, the Borderlands have been a war zone since the arrival of the Arab in Africa. Africans were unable to admit and face-up to this reality. The conflict is low intensity, in the main, and generalized, with key combat zones such as south Sudan, which lost 2.5 million  during its liberation struggle, and now Darfur. These conflicts did not start yesterday, as the international press would want us to believe, but have been intermittent moving southward, again since the arrival of the Arab in Africa. Such conflicts are now in the public domain as the genocide in Darfur has received front page coverage internationally.

The Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS ) meeting in Burkina Faso in mid-January 2008 had top of their agenda, as a security matter, the issue of the Taureg. In the face of a collective Arab challenge there should be a collective African response.

Groups such as the Darfurian freedom fighters deserve the support of the Left. A factor in that support will be the orientation of the group in question. Wagging liberation struggle requires support, both material and diplomatic. Military equipment is taken from the enemy. The people of Darfur, support their  liberation movements. Amnesty International reports that the IDP camps in Darfur are flooded with weapons, with no shortage of youthful volunteers, ready to fight. In the camps a revolver can be purchased for US$25. In Sudan there will be no peace unless the claims of all the marginalized are meet. There are projections that this may take 10-50 years. The current peace process in the South is part of a longer unfolding process, which the late John Garang set in motion, towards a new Sudan. There is an ark of crisis of endangered African states, targets for Arab expansion as follows – Eritrea, Tchad, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, Senegal and Uganda.

And what about the lands which were ‘lost’ in the north of the African continent, such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco? The indications are that once majority rule has come to Sudan, then the preoccupation of the new Sudan will by way of education on human rights and history, re-educating the people that Africa has its own culture, history and civilization. And that the African origins of civilization, currently excluded from the school curricula in North Africa, is a fact of history. The ‘lost’ lands will not be recovered by war, but those now living in those lost lands will have to address the challenges of African culture, ideas and the Afro-Arab civilizational dialogue based on equality.

Afro-Arab relations have always been conflictual, with Africans on the receiving end, since the advent of the Arab on the Africa continent. The Left needs to engage this fact directly, not remain neutral and passive. The issues in play in this area are clear. The Left should not be afraid of confronting new situations, new challenges or unfamiliar terrain. In this period the Left should be vigilant and unbending in its core principles, as well as flexible in its approach

November 2010

The author expresses appreciation for the comments and reactions to the preparatory text of this paper, received from Dr Adwok Nyaba. 

Sudan Sensitisation Project (SSP)

Friday, November 19, 2010


Bill Bachmann:

The only legal options that were considered by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal court immediately below the US Supreme Court, at the November 9 hearing were whether Mumia Abu-Jamal is to be executed or get life in prison without parole.  The question of Mumia’s guilt or innocence and the opportunity of a new trial was not part of this hearing. The Third Circuit decided that issue in March 2008 in a decision made by the same three judges who conducted this hearing.

To grasp the significance of this hearing, one needs to revisit Federal District Court Judge William Yohn, Jr.'s decision of December 18, 2001. In that ruling the judge upheld Mumia's conviction but at the same time threw out his death sentence on the grounds that the verdict form used by the jury for sentencing at his trial violated the U.S. Supreme Court's Mills precedent, thereby prejudicing the jury toward the death penalty rather than life in prison. Yohn then gave the state 180 days to convene a new jury trial only on the issue of Mumia's penalty, in which the choices would be either death or life in prison without parole. On the other hand, if the state did nothing, Yohn ruled that Mumia would automatically be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

At the time he made this decision, Judge Yohn stayed his ruling on overturning the death sentence while the prosecution appealed his decision to the next higher level of federal court, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. (At the same time Mumia appealed Judge Yohn's decision upholding his conviction). Mumia was therefore never removed from Death Row and remains there to this day.

On March 27, 2008, the Third Circuit upheld Yohn's decision on the death penalty in a 3-0 vote. Again the decision was stayed while the state appealed to the highest federal level, the Supreme Court. (In the same decision, the Third Circuit rejected Mumia's appeal on the conviction by 2-1 that is, finding him guilty and, as before, Mumia appealed that ruling.)

On April 6, 2009 the US Supreme Court refused to hear Mumia’s appeal of the Third Circuit’s decision upholding his conviction.

On January 10, 2010, the Supreme Court ordered the Third Circuit to reconsider its decision on the death sentence in light of its unanimous rejection of an appeal from a white-supremacist named Spisak. That man admitted to killing at least two people in Ohio and openly stated that he wished to have murdered more. He had appealed his death sentence also as a violation of the Mills precedent, but involving a different aspect of it than Mumia's case. The Sixth Circuit, as did the Third Circuit in Mumia's case, ruled that the death sentence should be thrown out. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the Mills precedent did not apply in Spisak's case, and therefore execution rather than life in prison was the appropriate penalty. Based on that decision, the Supreme Court questioned the Third Circuit's ruling in Mumia's case, and asked it to reconsider the issue of execution for him as well.

Thus, the hearing on November 9th was on Mumia's penalty only. The choices before the court were either to sustain Yohn's and its own earlier decisions or to reinstate the death penalty.  According to those in the courtroom, the attorney who represented Mumia on this issue, Judith Ritter, argued the applicability of the Mills precedent very convincingly. On that basis Mumia’s death sentence should not be reinstated. The history of Mumia’s case, however, has shown that precedent and effective arguments, as in the argument of racial bias in jury selection made before the same three judges three years ago, are often ignored by the court in favor of a political agenda at least to keep Mumia locked up if not executed and completely silenced. That racial bias issue easily could have resulted in Mumia’s conviction being thrown out, but in a split 2-1 vote, the judges established a new precedent just for Mumia. (All three judges blew off the question of Mumia’s innocence).

After hearing the arguments and asking questions, Chief Judge Scirica said that the court would 'take the matter under advisement'. ). It may be months before a decision is announced.
If the Third Circuit reaffirms its earlier decision to sentence Mumia to life in prison without parole, the state will most likely appeal to the Supreme Court. If that court agrees with the Third Circuit, or in the unlikely event that the state doesn’t appeal at all, the state then will have 180 days to implement Judge Yohn’s decision.

In that case the prosecution would have to decide whether to do nothing and let the life sentence

stand or ask for a new penalty trial (which would take place in a Pennsylvania state court) in the hope of “winning” a death sentence again. Mumia would certainly want the latter to happen since it would give him some opportunity to introduce new evidence challenging the prosecution’s version of what happened on December 9, 1981, which was the basis for the jury’s guilty verdict at his 1982 trial. Thus, while this proceeding would not be a trial on the question of guilt or innocence, but only a hearing on the sentencing issue, new evidence that could undermine Mumia’s conviction itself might be introduced.

If the Third Circuit rules against Mumia, Mumia will surely appeal to the Supreme Court. But the odds for the Supreme Court to overturn the Third Circuit’s decision favoring execution are very small given the reactionary composition of that court.

However, even if the Supreme Court rules for a death sentence, Mumia would still have some legal options. Back in 2001, when Yohn threw out the death penalty based on the Mills precedent, he did not deal with several other issues raised by the defense. Therefore, Mumia would have the right to go back before Judge Yohn and ask him to address these other significant issues related to the improper sentencing process at his trial. Such a hearing, though limited to life in prison or execution, would inevitably also include challenges to the prosecution’s version of what happened at the crime scene. This would especially be true if grassroots work continues to expose the fraudulent nature of the trial and appeals process as has been done dramatically in the last few years; for example, through the release of the long hidden photographs of the crime scene, and the evidence that four people, not three, were present at there. This would also be true if grassroots work continues to press for a Department of Justice civil rights investigation and draws greater support and activism. Not only might the death penalty be once again overturned, but Mumia’s conviction itself might get thrown out.

Mumia's legal situation remains extremely dangerous as the re-imposition of the death sentence would surely be a big setback in his struggle to demonstrate his innocence. The authorities in Philadelphia are mobilizing for Mumia’s execution, and the Supreme Court seems likely to be sympathetic to that agenda. But even with that being said, the right that remains for Mumia to go back to Judge Yohn is very important for opening up space to expose the level of injustice, the violation of due process, and the racism that has permeated the entire history of this case. While the US legal system looks very powerful and impenetrable to justice, the grassroots movement in the US combined with international pressure could force the courts to make decisions that they otherwise would not. Surely Mumia’s being alive today, despite three attempts to kill him, twice with scheduled execution days, is a tribute to the massive struggles waged by people across this globe.


Bill Bachmann

Suzanne Ross
New York Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
International Concerned Friends & Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Tuesday, November 9, 2010



Dear all,

Greetings from Juba, South Sudan:

The Eighth South Sudan Governors' Forum, under the theme: Laying Foundation for a Strong, Vibrant and Peaceful Post-Referendum Southern Sudan which started on Tuesday has concluded today, October 30, 2010 with a closing remarks from our President, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit.

  • Below is the full closing remarks of our President, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit:




President of the Government of South Sudan at the 8th

Governors’ Forum

Theme: Laying Foundation for a Strong, Vibrant and Peaceful Post-Referendum Southern Sudan

Juba - October 30, 2010


President Kiir delivering his closing remarks on the occasion of 8th Governors' Forum, Juba - October 30, 2010

Pictures By Larco Lomayat

· H.E Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Dr Riek Machar Teny

· The Rt. Honorable Deputy Speaker, Daniel Awet Akot

· Deputy Speakers of the National Legislature

· Leaders of Political Parties

· Presidential Advisors

· Ministers at all levels of Government

· State Governors

· Distinguished Guests

· Ladies and Gentlemen

I am delighted to hear that during the last three days of this 8th Governors Forum, you were able to engage in frank and constructive deliberations. I could not attend the opening in person, because I was in Khartoum to attend the Presidency meeting which discussed various issues of national importance.


Although I was not here in person, I was able to follow your deliberations with keen interest. I am pleased to learn that the presentations made by our State Governors were very wonderful. I congratulate all the Governors for the achievements of their respective states during the short period they spent in Office.

The key emerging issues you have identified in this Forum, and the recommendations and resolutions adopted are all very important. The key issues raised by this Forum pertaining to security and referendum are very important and need to be addressed urgently.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen

The Governors’ forum is a reflection of our continuous commitment to promote constructive dialogue on all issues pertaining to decentralization and good governance. It enables the different levels of government and institutions to jointly address issues of common interest and build harmonious intergovernmental relations.

Decentralization is a very complex process that no country in the world can ever claim to have accomplished 100%. There will always be overlaps in competencies by the different government levels. There will always be complaints against the higher level of government regarding centralization of powers. There will be complaints against the lower level of government for lack of capacity. And there will be complaints regarding equitable sharing of revenue and other resources. The list can go on and on.

What this Forum therefore intends to achieve, is to provide an appropriate venue for expressing such views and complaints, and to find amicable and workable solutions to address them.

I think we in this Forum, can all agree that since the creation of the Governors’ Forum in 2006, a lot has been achieved in the areas of the decentralization of powers, sharing of resources and effective coordination between different levels of government and institutions. This should not however make us become complacent in addressing the enormous challenges that remain ahead of us.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen

As a result of the successive recommendations and resolutions adopted by this Governors’ Forum, the Government of Southern Sudan and the State governments have been able to make progress in all areas of governance. We have made significant progress in public sector reforms including building the capacity of our human resource and government institutions. We have improved the standards of our roads and communications. We have taken measures to improve security for our people. We have increased Block and Conditional transfers from GOSS to the States. We have increased the delivery of education and health services. And efforts have been exerted towards improving agricultural production to ensure food security.

These are great achievements that deserve our acknowledgment and appreciation. However, all these would have not been possible without our collective hard-work and commitment.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Recently, I attended the meeting of the Presidency in Khartoum where we discussed various outstanding issues including the 2011 Southern Sudan referendum and Abyei. The Presidency directed the harmonization of press releases pertaining to the referendum, because Southerners are reportedly running away from the North and Northerners running away from the South. It is important that both the National and Southern Sudan Governments re-assure both communities that they will be provided full protection during and after the referendum. Our position in the Government of Southern Sudan has been clearly stated in several occasions that Northerners living in Southern Sudan will be fully protected. We continue to call on the National Government to do the same.

The Presidency also resolved to demarcate the agreed area of 450 km of the north-south border, which is located in the north-eastern part of Southern Sudan. The Presidency has not reached agreement on Abyei issue, and the SPLM and NCP are expected to continue with further discussions on the outstanding issues. The two parties are also continuing their negotiations on post-referendum arrangments.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Although we are now left with only 70 days for the conduct of the referendum, the Presidency was not able to approve the budget of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission. The budget has been referred to a committee for final preparations.

Given our unwavering position in the Government of Southern Sudan that the referendum must be conducted on 9th January, 2011, it is our collective responsibility to do everything possible to facilitate the timely conduct of the referendum.

We must therefore mobilize any resources neccessary to support the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission through the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau to enable it conduct the referendum on 9th January, 2011.

In this regard, the concerned Ministries and institutions in the Government of Southern Sudan and States must take this directive very seriously. I believe that our people are prepared to for-go even one month salary for the sake of holding the referendum in time, should funding become the main excuse for those who want the referendum to be delayed or cancelled.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen

As you depart from this Forum, I would like you to immediately embark on mobilizing our people in the states to register. It is also vital for them to understand the implications of registering and not turning up to vote. We must as a matter of urgency address any security concerns in order to create a conducive environment for the conduct of a free, fair and transparent referendum. In order to ensure security, our police must have the necessary support and facilitation to cover all areas of the State. This is not only the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but of the states as well. The two levels of government need to work collaboratively throughout the referendum period.

The referendum taskforce and MPs should step-up their activities to sensitize our people on the two options of unity and secession. The two sides must be permitted and facilitated to present their views equally.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen

We must continue to cement unity among the people of Southern Sudan, and guard against attempts by those who plan day and night to divide us.

You may be aware that certain media houses in Khartoum are deliberately spreading cheap propaganda alleging divisions within the Government of Southern Sudan and the SPLM.

They have even gone further by manufacturing differences between me and my Vice President by attributing certain comments on me against Dr Riek Machar and even our great hero Dr John Garang.

I simply see all these as a desperate attempt by a group of people who have run out of ideas and strategies to undermine the timely conduct of the referendum.

No amount of propaganda can break the will of the people of Southern Sudan to remain united to confront the challenges associated with the referendum and beyond. We will not permit anyone to divide the leadership of the Government and people of Southern Sudan.

The people of Southern Sudan are committed to determine their political destiny in a free, fair and transparent referendum on 9th January, 2011. They are free to choose whether to remain in a united Sudan, or form a new state. They are therefore the only judges on this, and no amount of media stories or press statements can alter this fact.

I therefore call upon the people of the Sudan and all political forces in the country to respect and abide-by the will and choice of the people of Southern Sudan in 2011.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen

As regards to the resolutions you have adopted in this 8th Governors’ Forum, I expect all the concerned institutions to implement them in letter and spirit. Although it may not be possible to implement some of them due to financial constraints, all efforts must be exerted to implement those that are practically feasible.

In conclusion, I would like to commend the Vice President Dr Riek Machar Teny, and all the organizers of this 8th Governors’ Forum for ensuring its successful conclusion.

I also wish to extend my appreciation to the Governors, Ministers, Legislatures, Development Partners and all invited guests for their effective participation and contribution. I thank UNDP for its continuous support to the Governors’ Forum.

I wish all Governors’ and their Ministers a safe return to their respective states.

With these remarks, I declare this 8th Governors’ Forum Closed.













Sudan Sensitisation Project (SSP)


Monday, November 8, 2010


John Anthony:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." MLK.


Here is the answer: in this society the color black is synonymous with numerous negative stereotypes which strangely African Americans themselves believe in:
1. Black monday
2. Black cat
3. Black cloud
4. As black as sin
5. Blackmail
6. Blackball
7. Black eye
8. Black heart
9. Black list
10.Black / dark day
11.Black book
12.Black letter
13.Black deeds
14.Black thoughts
15.Black feet
16.Black look
17.Black propaganda
18.Blackest records
19. Black widow
20.  Black Saturday eclipsed- Published:  Monday | May 31, 2010 (Jamaica Observer.
21. Blackout
22. If this is true, and a supreme being did in fact decide that Beck should hold his self-branded Tea Party rally in the shadow of Martin Luther King, then we should take this as proof that God has a very dark sense of humor. Alexander Zaitchik,
23. Dark Day For the NYPD, New York AM,  May 17, 2010

25. Mr Soros, the hedge fund manager best known as the man who broke the Bank of England” after he made a billion betting against the value of Sterling on Black Wednesday in 1992,,  By Rupert Neate
Published: 3:01PM BST 09 Oct 2010 ; TELEGRAPH.CO.UK

26. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Obama gave a coded version of the standard liberal smear of the anti-tax Tea Party movement as being racist, referring its "darker" elements that "are troubled by what I represent as the president". By Toby Harnden
Published: 9:00PM BST 09 Oct 2010; TELEGRAPH.CO.UK

The logic is simple. So simple many college lecturers of physics and calculus cannot comprehed it.  If I believe that black is negative, bad and criminal and call myself black, I am in essence affirming that I myself is also negative, bad and criminal.  Why would I want to affirm that I am a bad person? Why would I want to do that every day? Strange but that is exactly what so many organizations like The Black Star Project is doing!
SOMEONE OR SOMETHING HAS BRAINWASHED AFRICAN AMERICANS CAUSING THEM TO FOCUS ON THEIR SKIN COLOR INSTEAD OF ON THEIR CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER AND CONVINCED THEM THAT THEY ARE BLACK PEOPLE INSTEAD OF GOD PEOPLE!  People who focus on their skin color instead of on their spirit and character content will always be at the bottom of the ladder anywhere in the world especially when they believe and associate that color with negative and dastartly attributes!  But such reasoning is too deep for the intellectuals and too simple for the partisans!
Since African Americans believe these stereotypes to be true calling themselves black is literally affirming negative affirmations over their lives!   If I call myself criminal for 18 years guess what I will become?  If I call my children no good, criminals, what do you think they will  become Reverend?  Now you know part of the reason why so many African Americans are in prison.  And the frightenning thing is intellectuals like Michelle Alexander and Tom Burrell  can understand calculus and astronomical physics but cannot comprehend such simple logic!

African Americans who have infected the world with the hypocritical "black consciousness"  aka we are black people (thus focussing on skin color instead of character content), movement instead of a genius, or productive consciousness aka we are genius or productive people (focussing on results), show extremely weird racial psychology! They now love the Democratic Party, the party of slavery, KKK, lynchings and 100 years of opposition to civil rights, etc and while they accuse Republicans often of racism, they see nothing wrong with abandonning their own brother African Americans seeking office for caucasian opponents as many like Reverend Floyd Flake did for Hillary Clinton over Obama!  It is racism when the Republicans do it but when the negroes do the same it is called something else. 
Psychologically it really looks like African Americans are angry at the Republicans for freeing them from slavery because their is nothing that the Republicans have done that compares to over 3000 lynchings, burning and razing of the Black Wall Street in Tulsa or the terrorizing and torture of the residents of Rosewood Florida, wantonly raping of the wives of Southern African American men or the overturning of the civil rights bill passed by the Republicans after the Civil War, nothing whatsoever!  And these psychologically impaired negroes now pointedly hate their liberators and love their tormentors!
Now their attempt to infect the rest of the world with this insane racist psychology and infatuation with the color black far greater than they are with college education or entrepreneurship should be repudiated strongly!  And they wonder why almost every ethnic group that emigrate to the USA zooms right pass them! You fools; while you love marching and talking about how black you are the asians are talking about sending their children to the ivy leagues!
"Following the 2001 offensive by the security forces which left more than two dozen dead and 75 injured, the then Public Defender Howard Hamilton said Saturday, July 7 - the day the operations began - should be tagged 'Black Saturday'.

"The 7th of July is a black day in our history. I call it Black Saturday. Too many lives have been lost for nothing to come of this,' said Hamilton of the 2001 incursion led by retired Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Reneto Adams." Jamaica Observer May 31, 2010
- Hide quoted text -
Are negro people really so dunce? Why do negro people seem to fall into the traps set for them all the time? 
We are always falling into the traps. Why do we never seem to learn? We fall into the trap when we respond in a manner that focuses on arguing and demonstrating and adopting and repeating negative stereotypes others invented for us, instead of taking actions that will by themselves refute the challenge of the trap or using positive stereotypes to help mold and define ourselves.
Try this question: What does it mean to be a black person? Who or what is a black man?  Indians and Pakistanis with dark skins do not consider themselves black and many recoil in anger when someone calls them black.  Years ago I heard a caucasian nursing student say of Colin Powell; "he is not black is he?"  Racist American law says that if someone had some fraction of Negro blood such a one was black even if their skin had  a pale appearance.  Thus many persons do indeed have dark/black skin but many do not and still yet they are referred to as black persons.  And many, like the Indians and Pakistanis who have dark/black skin consider themselves to be white persons! 
What does it mean to be a white person?  White is a description we use when clearly any intelligent person can see that no human being has any skin color remotely close to the color white.  The color of their skin is clearly not white so then it must be an attempt to describe something else. I believe that it is an attempt to describe their personality!  A white personality?  What is that? The truth of the matter is the color has nothing to do with a person's skin shade but it is an attempt to describe the character and personality. I mean it has to be so because their skin color is very clearly not white at all!  And we have fallen for this trap comprehensively.
Black, like white, is a color. Culturally they have taken on meanings that are opposite, with black mostly having negative meanings and white, positive ones. In the Bible white is represents holiness and purity but surprise, surprise black is not used to represent sin! Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ("Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. Isaiah 1:6).  So the Bible says sin is scarlet but yet today it is universally described as black! And the strange thing is dark skinned persons have accepted this description and thus fallen into the trap of having someone else define them.
What is a person? At the core a person is a spirit being with a physical house. That  spirit being has a personality and a character in that physical house. Is the color of the house a description of what the character and persolality ARE? Can a personality and character have  a color?
So what does it really mean to call someone a black person? Does it mean they are a color person or does it mean they are a negative person? Does it mean that they have black skin? If black skin describes the personality then  millions of persons have accepted that they are negative, dirty and bad considering that these very millions of persons themselves use the color black negatively!
It is conflictive and hypocritical to be use a negative word and try to say it is positive. Black is a color period and should not be said to be anything otherwise or  to describe a personality unless you want to do as the general culture has done and taken it and made it negative and thus seemingly the negativity of it has been accepted by all and African Americans because you use these negative phrases yourselves.
What black children? How about our genius children!  Calling them black means nothing positive; black is a color and does not describe what a human being is. I am black means what- I am a color? I am a genius now means something positive!
In essence, saying I am a black person is saying that I am a bad person; I am an inferior person;  I am a criminal person; I do bad things!  That is what the subconscious understands it to mean.  So then this negative affirmation is said over African Americans millions of times daily and they wonder why they are the last on the economic ladder and the first on the criminal ladder?? How could so many people be so dunce not to perceive this?
Words and images that impact perception and belief systems need to be taken literally because they affect the subconscious. What do you think has been the result of portraying dark-skinned persons in evil roles in movies (that has changed recently) in the past 60 years? Surely it could be said that this was
entertainment; but the impact on the minds of viewers has been unmistakable and jarring!
OK let us get  this one straight! When persons like the police use skin color to define what persons are what do we (Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson,et al) do and call it?  When employers use skin color to deny jobs what do we  call it?  And what is our response to the police and employers- that you cannot use ... to judge .....? Can you fill in the blanks?  So the why do we try to do the same thing we accuse the government and the police and employers of!
If you cut your skin what color is the blood-black, white or red? What is the color of your personality and character? For that matter does your skin color defines your personality and character?
When did we first start calling ourselves black and who originated it?


By John Anthony

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Write Letters to Editor on President Obama's Visit to Indonesia

Sample Letters to Editor on President Obama's Visit to Indonesia

In a few days, President Obama is expected to leave for a trip to Asia, including a several-times postponed visit to Indonesia where he lived as a boy. Letters to the editor are often the most widely-read section of newspapers, especially by decision-makers. Try to keep your letter to about 200 -250 words and be sure to include your full name, address, and telephone number when submitting the letter to the newspaper. If possible, include a local angle or directly respond to an article or opinion published in the paper. The more timely your response, the more likely it is to be published.
Contact us at or 718-596-7668, if you would like some help with your letter. Please send us copies of your letters, published and unpublished.
Adapt, mix and match the text of the 3 updated sample letters below. Use it in responses to online posting of articles and in blogs. Adapt the letters to your own words. Please check for additional letters as events develop.

Letter #1
For Publication
To the Editor
The Obama administration says that it supports democratic reform in Indonesia, but increased military assistance will do the opposite.
When Indonesia was a dictatorship, the U.S. was the Indonesian military's chief supplier. Military assistance ended in 1999, during the Indonesian military's rampage in East Timor after it voted for independence.
Most assistance has been restored since then, even though those responsible for human rights crimes in East Timor and elsewhere in the region have yet to face justice. Instead, reform efforts have stalled and many officers responsible for past crimes have been promoted to prominent positions. Recent videos document torture and the destruction of videos in the West Papua region by Indonesian security forces. A U.S. funded and trained police unit Detachment 88 is accused of torturing peaceful protesters. 
Of special concern was last summer's announcement that the U.S. would, for the first time in a dozen years work with Indonesia's Kopassus special forces. Training such notorious human rights violators will undermine the "Leahy law," which prohibits assisting units with unresolved human rights violations. The law is meant to prevent future abuses, as well as encourage an end to impunity for past violations, which has not happened.
On his visit to Indonesia, President Obama may eloquently promote democracy and civilian rule in Indonesia, but by providing military assistance now, he will be endorsing business as usual.
Your Name, Address, Phone/E-mail

Letter #2
Shortly, President Obama will return to Indonesia, his former childhood home. In his memoir, The Audacity of Hope, he wrote about the negative influence that the U.S. had on "the fate" of Indonesia, with policies that included "the tolerance and occasional encouragement of tyranny, corruption, and environmental degradation when it served our interests."
Indonesia has made progress since the overthrow of Suharto, the Indonesian dictator who ruled the country while Obama lived there. If he truly wants to promote further democratic change, he should publicly acknowledge the U.S. role in supporting Suharto's tyranny. During that time, the U.S. was Indonesia's major weapons supplier and gave its approval to the annexations of East Timor and West Papua. This might make some of his domestic critics and Indonesian hosts -- many of whom loyally served President Suharto and consider him a national hero -- uncomfortable. But a forthright and sincere acknowledgement of this history will resonate with Suharto's many victims.
President Obama should not offer military assistance, especially to Indonesia's Kopassus Special Forces. These notorious shock troops of Suharto's repression have not been held accountable for their human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and elsewhere. The Indonesian military remains largely unaccountable for its past and current human rights violations, and efforts at reform have largely stalled in recent years. U.S. law requires that the U.S. not train military units with bad human rights records until there have been real efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. Training Kopassus violates the law.
Your Name, Address, Phone and E-mail

Letter #3
To the Editor
A little more than a decade ago, the East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly to end the Indonesian rule in their country. The Indonesian military -- trained and armed by U.S. -- and its paramilitary allies exacted brutal vengeance in a bloody exit to a 24-year invasion and occupation that took up to 180,000 lives.
When President Obama goes to Indonesia, he should acknowledge the U.S. responsibility in this sordid history and press Indonesia to cooperate with credible trials of those who ordered the rapes, torture and killings. He should withhold military assistance until Indonesia has done so.
Past efforts to hold these generals accountable have gone nowhere. Many of them remain powerful in government or retirement. The East Timor government, fearing retaliation, is unwilling to stand up to up to its much larger neighbor.
Last August, during the 10th anniversary of the 1999 independence referendum, Indonesia pressured East Timor to release a recently-arrested former militia leader  "without charge, trial, or proper court authorization," according to the U.S. State Department's annual human rights report. UN-backed prosecutors had indicted him for his role in a massacre at a church where 30 civilians, including three priests, were slaughtered.
U.N. investigators and others have proposed a UN international tribunal to try those who organized and carried these brutal crimes. While in Indonesia, President Obama should announce his support for a tribunal and work with the Security Council to bring these perpetrators to justice.
Your Name, Address, Phone/E-mail
see also

WPAT: Torture video reveals "Indonesia's Abu Ghraib" on eve of Obama visit
ETAN/WPAT: Suspend Training and Funding of Indonesian Police Unit Detachment 88
Suharto's No Hero
U.S. Training of Kopassus: A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Not Come
ETAN To Obama Administration: U.S. military assistance will harm reform and set back human rights
WPAT Write Obama Ahead of His Trip to Indonesia
Joint Statement between ETAN and Indonesian Human Rights Groups on Martenus Bere and Justice for Timor-Leste
Support ETAN make a contribution here
Thank you for your support.
John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: +1-718-596-7668  Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391 
Email Skype: john.m.miller
Send a blank e-mail message to to find out how to learn more about East Timor and Indonesia on the Internet