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Rights Group: South Sudan Troops Committed War Crimes

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(Jake Simkin/AP Photo)

(Jake Simkin/AP Photo)

JASON PATINKIN, Associated Press

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudanese troops committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity by killing and raping civilians during an offensive in rebel-held parts of the country’s Unity State, an international human rights group said Wednesday.

The South Sudanese army and their allies in the Bul Nuer ethnic group forcibly displaced tens of thousands of people in Unity by attacking women, elderly, and children, while burning villages and stealing cattle, Human Rights Watch alleges.

The group said many of the attacks were against villages with no presence of rebel fighters.

The study specifically documents the killing 60 people, including some by hanging or burning, and 63 rapes through interviews with 170 survivors — just a fraction of those killed in the April through June offensive.

In one case, a survivor described how the soldiers made her watch while they gang-raped her daughter before they burned the girl alive.

The rights group called for a probe of Sudan People’s Liberation Army commanders in Unity State.

South Sudan’s government has said any alleged abuses were limited to “a few individuals” who will face justice in national courts. But Skye Wheeler, a researcher with Human Rights Watch told The Associated Press the attacks were “far more widespread and systematic to be blamed on a few rotten apples.”

A U.N. report released June said there were serious human rights violations by government troops in Unity state

South Sudan’s civil war has inflamed the country’s ethnic tensions. The followers of President Salva Kiir, mostly from the Dinka ethnic group, are pitted against the Nuer of former vice president Riek Machar in fight that started in December 2013.

In Unity state, however, the fighting is mostly between the Bul Nuer, who have remained loyal to Kiir, and other Nuer clans aligned with Machar

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activism

‘Ngingubani:’ Who Am I? How DNA and Oral History Helps Black Youth Connect to Tribal Roots

‘I didn’t know who I was.’ This was not an uncommon belief for teenage boys plucked from the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa. Often disconnected from their families and living on the streets, they had little evidence of strong family ties. Maybe their story sounds familiar to you. Maybe you find yourself asking similar questions: Who am I? Where do I actually belong?

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Participants of the program gather for a cultural celebration with family members shortly following their reconnection. Courtesy photo.
Participants of the program gather for a cultural celebration with family members shortly following their reconnection. Courtesy photo.

By Chelsea Trautman 

‘I didn’t know who I was.’

This was not an uncommon belief for teenage boys plucked from the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa. Often disconnected from their families and living on the streets, they had little evidence of strong family ties. Maybe their story sounds familiar to you. Maybe you find yourself asking similar questions: Who am I? Where do I actually belong?

These questions were the initial inspiration for the Johannesburg Applied Ancestry Program launched in 2006 by researcher and program coordinator Clive Haydon, and Dr. Brian Hill, a university professor at Brigham Young University.

The program’s name: “Ngingubani,” or “Who am I?” in the African Zulu language, has a goal to help teenage boys between the ages of 12-16 better understand their identities by learning and sharing their own family stories.

Connect  

One story included a young boy who was separated from his biological mother when he was only 5 years old. Having no written history or knowledge of his family, his story was like many at the Twilight Children’s Center in Johannesburg where the program took place.

Through outreach to extended family, program social workers were able to find this young boy’s mother and facilitate their reuniting nearly 14 years after their separation.

After being connected with unknown relatives, participants sat down for an interview to learn the stories of those who had gone before them: the boys developed a stronger sense of self after hearing their rich oral history from people who shared their blood, culture, and heritage.

Robyn Fivush, PhD and professor of Psychology at Emory University stated: “These kinds of family stories create meaning beyond the individual. To include a sense of self through historical time and in relation to family members” (Jorgenson & Bochner, 2004: Norris, Kuiack, & Pratt, 2004).

Belong

The interviews and DNA samplings gave insight about these young boy’s native ancestral tribes. While not all participants were reunited with parents, they were all still able to connect with a living relative.

Through a culminating cultural celebration, participants at the Twilight Children’s Center dressed in traditional tribal clothing, and shared dances, artwork, and personal stories from the knowledge they gained during the program. This emotional tearful event made the boys feel valued by their parents and motivated their belief in who they could become.

Become

Thanks to DNA testing and family history stories, many can now discover their heritage and find a similar connection and belonging with deceased and distant family members.

A great way to begin is by telling family stories. Tell them as they are, setting aside opinions and personal bias to allow one’s family to interpret the meaning themselves.

For information on how to start, visit: familysearch.org, or through visiting a cemetery or by celebrating an ancestor’s birthday.

The ripple effect of family storytelling has the capacity to answer “Ngingubani.”

Chelsea Trautman is a research assistant at Brigham Young University.

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Activism

Oakland Ambassadors Strengthen Ties and Aid Efforts in Ghana

Oakland natives and esteemed members of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG), Jonathan P. Jones and Dr. Maritony Efua Jones, recently embarked on a significant journey to Ghana as guests of the World Martial Authority Ghana. This trip signifies a crucial opportunity to bolster partnerships, explore new avenues of collaboration, and contribute to impactful initiatives in Ghana.

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Elder Jorg Klebingat, Flint Mensah, Richard Burton, H.E. Dr. Maritony Jones, Amb. Jonathan Jones, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, Elder Alfred Kyungu. Courtesy photo.
Elder Jorg Klebingat, Flint Mensah, Richard Burton, H.E. Dr. Maritony Jones, Amb. Jonathan Jones, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, Elder Alfred Kyungu. Courtesy photo.

By Post Staff

Oakland natives and esteemed members of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG), Jonathan P. Jones and Dr. Maritony Efua Jones, recently embarked on a significant journey to Ghana as guests of the World Martial Authority Ghana.

This trip signifies a crucial opportunity to bolster partnerships, explore new avenues of collaboration, and contribute to impactful initiatives in Ghana.

Upon their arrival at Katota Airport in Accra, Ghana, the Joneses were warmly received by His Royal Majesty Okatakyie Asafo Boakye III, the distinguished king of Sanzule Kingdom in the Eastern Nzema, and Etse Nyamedi of World Martial Authority, Ghana.

Nyamedi accompanied the Joneses to the city of Mepe, which had recently experienced flooding, to assess damages and engage with local leaders, elders, and youth regarding the city’s urgent needs after major floods last fall.

Key concerns and priorities identified by the community include comprehensive flood mitigation measures, agricultural support, housing initiatives, educational enhancements, improved healthcare access, and the development of communal recreational spaces.

The Joneses were also graciously invited to meet with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at their headquarters in Accra. This meeting provided insights into ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ghana and explored avenues for collaboration to further assist Ghanaian communities.

The LDS leaders shared their prompt response to the recent flood, demonstrating their commitment to humanitarian aid by dispatching substantial supplies including medical provisions, sanitation items, blankets, and food to assist flood victims just four days after the disaster.

Additionally, Boakye extended a special invitation to the Joneses to his palace, where they were pleasantly surprised with a heartfelt recognition ceremony. Maritony Jones was honored as the Queen Mother of the Sanzule Kingdom in acknowledgment of her dedicated work, while Jonathan Jones was lauded and welcomed as the ambassador of the Sanzule Kingdom, symbolizing a meaningful homecoming to their ancestral land.

The visit not only strengthens ties between Oakland and Ghana but also underscores the collaborative spirit and commitment to meaningful progress and humanitarian endeavors shared by all involved parties.

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Issues Statement on Deaths of Humanitarian Aid Volunteers in Gaza 

On April 2, a day after an Israeli airstrike erroneously killed seven employees of World Central Kitchen (WCK), a humanitarian organization delivering aid in the Gaza Strip, a statement was release by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12). “This is a devastating and avoidable tragedy. My prayers go to the families and loved ones of the selfless members of the World Central Kitchen team whose lives were lost,” said Lee.

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Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Congresswoman Barbara Lee

By California Black Media

On April 2, a day after an Israeli airstrike erroneously killed seven employees of World Central Kitchen (WCK), a humanitarian organization delivering aid in the Gaza Strip, a statement was release by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12).

“This is a devastating and avoidable tragedy. My prayers go to the families and loved ones of the selfless members of the World Central Kitchen team whose lives were lost,” said Lee.

The same day, it was confirmed by the organization that the humanitarian aid volunteers were killed in a strike carried out by Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Prior to the incident, members of the team had been travelling in two armored vehicles marked with the WCF logo and they had been coordinating their movements with the IDF. The group had successfully delivered 10 tons of humanitarian food in a deconflicted zone when its convoy was struck.

“This is not only an attack against WCK. This is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the direst situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable,” said Erin Gore, chief executive officer of World Central Kitchen.

The seven victims included a U.S. citizen as well as others from Australia, Poland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Palestine.

Lee has been a vocal advocate for a ceasefire in Gaza and has supported actions by President Joe Biden to airdrop humanitarian aid in the area.

“Far too many civilians have lost their lives as a result of Benjamin Netanyahu’s reprehensible military offensive. The U.S. must join with our allies and demand an immediate, permanent ceasefire – it’s long overdue,” Lee said.

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