Cablegate: Uscirf Delegation's December 5-10 Visit to Khartoum

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1. (SBU) Summary: During their visit to Khartoum, December 5-10, a
delegation from the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom (USCIRF) met with civil society, non-governmental
organizations (NGO), United Nations in Sudan (UNMIS)
representatives, the Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC) and
officials from both the Government of Sudan (GoS) and Government of
Southern Sudan (GoSS). The December 7 detention and beating by
police of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Head of Northern
Sector Yasir Arman occurred while the delegation was here. Arman's
detention and mistreatment, as well as that of other peaceful
protesters, during a December 7 political demonstration in Khartoum,
became a focal point for the delegation's discussions here. During
the visit, the delegation also heard allegations that the Commission
for the Rights of Non-Muslims was under the control of the National
Congress Party (NCP). Many of their interlocutors expressed concern
that the National Human Rights Commission is not yet functional and
still awaiting appointment of commissioners. The delegation traveled
to Jebel Aulia, an internally-displaced persons' (IDP) camp outside
of Khartoum, where residents complained of marginalization. End

December 7 Demonstration

2. (SBU) In two separate meetings on December 8, Yasir Arman and
Priscilla Joseph (Note: Joseph is a member of the National Assembly
and the head of the latter's Human Rights Committee. End Note)
described Arman's detention and abuse at the hands of GOS police the
previous day. The incident occurred during what both said should
have been a peaceful protest culminating in the delivery of a
petition to the National Assembly Speaker calling for movement on
key legislation needed for CPA implementation (Ref A). At a second
meeting later that same day, Arman and Joseph were joined by SPLM
member and Government of National Unity (GNU) State Minister of
Justice William Ajak Deng. Deng said that 11 SPLM government
officials and over 200 other people had been arrested and detained
in two different police stations (104 people in the central police
station and 120 in a south station.) According to Deng, those
detained included 26 women, who were reportedly beaten during police
transport. The SPLM officials provided the USCIRF delegation with a
list of 33 names of persons who they claimed suffered injuries
during the previous day's arrests.

3. (SBU) GoSS Vice President Riek Machar called the arrests of
senior SPLM members a "humiliation" to the political party, as well
as to the individuals. In a December 9 meeting with the USCIRF
delegation and the Charge d'Affaires, the GoSS VP said the NCP had
subjected demonstrators to the very laws (i.e. the Criminal Law and
National Security Act) that the SPLM was now trying to replace in
the present session of the National Assembly. Machar added: "If we
are to move forward, it should be the last time these laws are

Role of the U.S. To Promote Democracy Process

4. (SBU) Asked by the USCIRF Chairman what the United States could
do to help move the democracy process forward, Machar responded
that the role of the U.S. government was to see that the CPA is
implemented. He stated that the U.S. should respect the will of the
people in Southern Sudan and prepare them for either unity or
secession. Furthermore, he noted that additional USG assistance
with security training would be beneficial to ensure police are
well-prepared for the national elections and referendum. GoSS
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr. Luka Biong Deng, was also
present at the meeting and asked for assistance in improving the
capacity of GoSS judges. He called the GoSS judiciary weak, and
said that although they now operated in a decentralized system,
judges continued to reflect the values and approaches of a unitary
state. He said the GoSS judicial system's personnel would benefit
from training to help them adjust to the challenges of building a
new state, and strengthen local judicial capacity.

CPA Implementation and Referendum

5. (SBU) Coordinator to the Chairman for the AEC, Simon Giverin, met
with the USCIRF delegation and poloffs on December 8. The meeting
occurred after a scheduled plenary meeting had to be cancelled

KHARTOUM 00001435 002 OF 002

earlier in the day when SPLM representatives were no-shows for the
session. According to Giverin, this was the first time that one of
the parties had not sent representatives to a plenary. (Note: The
plenary was rescheduled and took place with both parties present on
December 13. End Note.) Regarding CPA implementation, Giverin
expressed his personal concerns, calling the current situation "a
crisis." He added that in his view it would be very difficult to
meet the January 2011 referendum deadline.

National Human Rights Commission

6. (SBU) Political Affairs and Human Rights representatives from
UNMIS told the USCIRF delegation and poloff that there was very
little political will to open the debate concerning the Human Rights
Commission as mandated in the National Human Rights Commission Act
adopted in April of this year. They cited pending election issues as
the primary causes for delay, but also noted that all commissions
created to further implementation of the CPA largely existed in name
only. They reported that the GNU Presidency had not yet appointed
commissioners to the National Human Rights Commission, even though
civil society groups in October had held a press conference and
submitted a list of fifteen potential candidates for consideration.
There was very little public awareness, in their view, of the Human
Rights Commission and no expectation of imminent action. They
stated that this was despite an ongoing UNMIS advocacy campaign
meant to highlight the need for a transparent, inclusive and
participatory nomination process of Commissioners in line with the
Paris Principles and international best practice.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Special Commission for the Rights of Non-Muslims
--------------------------------------------- ---

7. (SBU) According to many interlocutors with whom the USCIRF
delegation met, the Special Commission for the Rights of Non-Muslims
is controlled by the ruling NCP, and lacks the ability to protect
non-Muslim citizens. Even the Commission Chairman, Joshua Dau,
acknowledged that the Commission only attempts to mitigate sentences
of non-Muslims convicted under Islamic Sharia law. It does not seek
dismissal of the charge altogether, even though the Interim National
Constitution exempts non-Muslims from Sharia law. Some of the
difficulties were due, he said, to the quick trial and sentencing
processes carried out by the GOS Public Order Police. Nevertheless,
Chairman Dau and other Commission members said they saw no
obligation to do more than seek reduced sentences for those
convicted of Sharia law offenses. UNMIS representatives expressed
fear that the rights of Southerners in the North would be exposed in
2011 following the Referendum on Southern unity with the north or
independence. Some of the Commission members confirmed this concern
by stating that if the Referendum vote was for secession, those
Southerners who could not go back to the South would have to "find
their own way" in a Sharia-based system.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Meeting with IDP Camp Residents Outside Khartoum
--------------------------------------------- ---

8. (SBU) Residents of an IDP camp in Jebel Aulia, approximately 40
km outside the city of Khartoum, reported no harassment of Christian
religious worship or confiscation of religious materials; however,
they said they felt marginalized as a Christian community. They
noted frequent questioning from police and denial of time away from
work or school to attend Sunday religious services. They claimed
social, as well as systemic, discrimination in their daily lives.
Many claimed that prevailing social customs in the north included
pressure on their children to convert to Islam. When asked how many
would return to the South if it seceded in 2011, three-fourths of
those present said they would do so. Some said they would have to
raise money before they could resettle in the South. Among those
who spoke with the USCIRF delegation, there was a general lack of
knowledge about repatriation. Many believed that there were no
longer repatriation services. Some in the IDP camp said they felt
their government had abandoned them.

9. (SBU) The USCIRF delegation did not clear this cable prior to
departing Sudan.


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