WE DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE AND JUST RESOLUTION TO THE HEGLIG CRISIS
(South Sudan’s withdrawal does not obviate this petition. We still need your signature)
- On 10th April 2012 the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) launched an air and ground attack from their base in Heglig (known in South Sudan as Panthou) against the Republic of South Sudan. The South Sudan armed forces, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), were able to repulse them and pursue them into Panthou where the SPLA is now still deployed.
- The United Nations Security Council, European Union, African Union, Arab League, United Kingdom, United States and other countries have condemned South Sudan’s occupation of Panthou and have asked South Sudan to withdraw its forces immediately and unconditionally.
- Meanwhile, Egypt has offered to mediate between the two sides to deescalate the current crisis and to find possible solutions to the outstanding issues of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). In this regard, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohammed Kamel Amr, this week visited Khartoum and Juba to consult with President Omer el Bashir and President Salva Kiir.
- South Sudan maintains that it is prepared to withdraw from Panthou providing that safeguards are put in place to ensure that the Panthou area will not be used again by Sudan to launch attacks on South Sudan. The withdrawal will not mean that South Sudan is abandoning its claim to Panthou. This area is one of several disputed regions along the border. South Sudan believes that the future of these areas, which are now occupied by Sudan, must be resolved peacefully through an international arbitration.
- The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA[) states that the international borders between South Sudan and Sudan must be based on the borders of 1956, the year in which Sudan became independent from Britain and Egypt. South Sudan believes that in 1956, Panthou and the other disputed regions, except Abyei, fell under the southern administrative authority and should therefore be part of the Republic of South Sudan.
- Post-war South Sudan, the poorest and the least developed of all countries, wants to focus on its social and economic development and endeavours to build strong and cooperative ties with all nations including and specially Sudan. But continuous military threats and attacks by Sudan, a country ruled by an indicted war criminal, has compelled South Sudan to allocate much of its limited resources to security and defence – a situation South Sudan wants to change.
- Inside Sudan itself, millions continue to suffer as Bashir wages his endless wars against them.
- South Sudan has withdrawn from Panthou following an unprecedented level of international pressure. Despite this, Sudan has not stopped its ground and air attacks. On 23/04/2012, a market was destroyed and a child killed in Bantiu, Unity State, when a Sudanese MIG-29 fighter jet dropped a number of bombs. There was no military target in the area and the incident was witnessed by international journalists.
- The Sudanese parliament has, in a unanimous vote, named South Sudan an enemy state.
- President Al-Bashir of Sudan has vowed to invade South Sudan and topple its "insect" government and has discounted any prospects for the resumption of peace talks.
- The Sudanese government has closed its borders with South Sudan and has threatened to shoot and kill anyone who takes any goods across the border.
- We the signatories:
- Deplore the international rush to condemn South Sudan. As a result, the historical realities about the status of Panthou and Sudan's repeated bombing of civilians inside South Sudan were overlooked and unjust declarations were made. We, therefore, plead with the International Community to recognise that South Sudan has not invaded Sudanese territory and have the right to stop Panthou being used as a launching pad for strikes on its territories.
- We ask the International Community, particularly the UN, to re-examine the roll of the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in the light of its poor handling of Khartoum’s obstructive position towards the outstanding issues between the two countries.
- South Sudanese are at a loss as to why Khartoum’s war plans have passed unnoticed by the International Community. Following the collapse of talks over oil transit fees, President Bashir declared that “we are now talking the language of war with South Sudan”. Aerial bombardment and ground incursions into South Sudan have increased in frequency and intensity since February this year as documented by the UN.
- We believe that the International Community have, through inaction, allowed the Khartoum regime, which is indicted by the International Criminal Court, to precipitate the current situation in order to bolster its internal position while giving it a justification to declare war on South Sudan. South Sudanese believe Khartoum intends to seize South Sudan's oilfields.
- We commend and welcome Egypt’s impartial and speedy peace initiative and urge other international players to offer similar assistance.
- We ask of the International Community not to forget the people of Sudan and South Sudan and to work with both governments to implement an immediate ceasefire, put mechanisms in place to secure the border and re-initiate the peace talks whose top aim now must be a quick and final demarcation of the borders between South Sudan and Sudan.
- British knowledge of Sudan was crucial to success of the CPA. We hope that Britain will again avail its considerable expertise to the final and full demarcation of the international border between South Sudan and Sudan.
- Immediately, deploy peace observers over the current South Sudan and Sudan border.
- Urge the two parties to resume the peace talks with border demarcation, this time, being the first objective.