The Sudan Referendum; our only option to freedom

By EMMA BERBERI

What would you do if you woke up one day to the sound of bombardment and gun-fire and villages being burned down and everything near you was gone within the blink of an eye? What would you do if you had to be banished from you village and have to walk for days and nights in the forest cold and all alone and not knowing where you are heading? What would you do if you had to starve for days without food or drinking water? What would you do if you were left alone in the forest with no shelter from wild animals? What would you do if someone killed your whole family and left you all alone to suffer in pain and anguish? Every Sudanese-Australian has witnessed the unspoken; this is the story of many Sudanese Australians and other Sudanese people that are living in other parts of the world. As a proud Sudanese Australian, I experienced lots of hardship when I was a refugee. I left Sudan when I was only four years old. We went to Ethiopia and from there we went to Kenya and then I came to Australia with my family in 2001 through humanitarian resettlement. It was not by choice that we left Sudan; it was a desperate flight for survival.

At last there has been the referendum for South Sudan to decide whether the people want independence, after being in war for over twenty years; and millions of people left dead and millions more displaced. Voting yes for separation in the Referendum is the only option that we have as a path to freedom. We were banished from our own country. We were treated like second class citizens in our own country. We were persecuted for our religious beliefs. We have been marginalized in our own country. We had to move from one refugee camp to another in search of a secure place to call home. Those refugee camps were not secure, for example in the Kakuma refugee camps which are in Kenya, the Turkana people attacked and killed many people, many people also died because of lack of proper medical supplies in these camps. Suffering had become the order of the day.  And that is why I voted for separation when I cast my vote at the Western Bulldogs Stadium in Victoria on Saturday the 15/01/2011. This was a historic day as it was the last day of the referendum voting.

The National Congress Party (NCP) which is the national party of Sudan has been in government all these years during the wars and is in government still. This party is headed by the Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir. The National Congress Party is based in northern Sudan, and most of the Sudanese in the north are Arabic speaking and most of them are Muslims, and they have their own dialects. The National Congress Party (NCP) is the cause of all the unrest and war that is happening in all parts of Sudan. They are predominantly an Islamic government that has introduced Sharia-law. Whether you are Muslim or not you have to abide by the Sharia-law. The National Congress Party (NCP) is to blame for the separation movement in Sudan. They have a radical Islamic ideology and a long history of prejudice against other ethnic groups. They have instilled in the northerners the view that they are superior to all other people in Sudan. They don’t care about other people’s religious beliefs. They have violated the human rights of very many people.

A vote for independence for South Sudan in the referendum is our only way to achieve peaceful co-existence, I am very optimistic that the country will be divided. If the country is divided, we can stay peaceful in the south and maybe they can stay peaceful in the north. The south might not be developed and might be under developed in so many ways, that very many people are very skeptical about a peaceful independent in south Sudan, because of things like corruption tribalism and other obstacles that come with under developed countries. But we are all very hopeful about South Sudan. We have raw material and resources that will help us on our way to development, and the most important thing is that we will have peace. All other concerns are secondary to peace. Other countries like Eritrea have made it and are living in peace. I believe that South Sudan will do the same.

As Martin Luther king Jr once said. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”. We are the oppressed and we are yearning for freedom, and our freedom is in sight. Freedom is the only way that will help us heal the wounds of the past. As Angelos Agok, a Sudanese poet wrote in his poem, The Dawn “The aim is tough, the path is rough, the dawn seems far but hope is in sight. Every bloodshed in every part of Sudan is unjustifiable and I hope the culprits are brought to justice for violations of human rights.

Postscript: Australia has given me a new life. I completed my Bachelors Degree in Communication (Public Relations). I am currently working full time with one of the community organisations in my local community. And I also did an eight weeks journalism training course last year conducted by Michael Gawenda from the Centre for Advanced Journalism at the University of Melbourne in collaboration with the ABC and AMES (Adult Multicultural Education Service). The aim of the program was to give Sudanese-Australians the skills to develop their own media voice. A more extensive program will be offered this year. This program has triggered my interest in journalism and I would like to pursue journalism further. With my journalist skills I can help Sudanese people and other disadvantaged people around the world tell their stories. I am very happy living in Australia as it has been the safest place in which I have ever lived.

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