Khartoum continues persecution of Church in Southern Sudan
The Khartoum government's ban on humanitarian flights in southern Sudan threatens to bring widespread hunger to an area already suffering from military bombings, a Catholic bishop warns.
Bishop Cesare Mazzolari of Rumbek appealed over Vatican Radio for assistance to Christians and animists in the area who have been suffering from a 20-year war that has caused two million deaths.
Peace talks between the government and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army were interrupted last month when the rebels conquered Torit.
Because of "the bombings, everything is paralysed in the southernmost area of Sudan," said Bishop Mazzolari. "We cannot go in to evacuate the people, and they cannot come out."
"The Church continues to be persecuted in the north of Sudan, and many times the objects of these bombings are churches and works carried out by the Church, such as hospitals, schools, clinics," he added.
"The principal cause of this war for all the contenders is oil, but there is also the attempt to Islamise the people of southern Sudan by force," he added.
Bishop Mazzolari appealed to the international community to resume humanitarian flights and to halt the bombings, which he labeled acts of "terrorism."
UGANDAN PRESIDENT WARNS REBELS PLAN TO KILL BISHOPS
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has written to the Catholic bishops of northern Uganda, warning them that the rebel leader Joseph Kony is planning to kill them.
In a letter to Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, the chairman of the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative [ARLPI], the Ugandan president urged the bishops to break off peace talks with Kony, saying that the rebel commander had ordered his troops to kill the bishops and any other would-be peace negotiators.
"I did not want anything to happen, and later I am blamed," Museveni said. "That is why I put it in writing to the archbishop himself."
The president said impelled to write by testimony by a commander of Kony's rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), who escaped recently from the bush.
Meanwhile the LRA rebels have destroyed a Catholic radio station about 375 km north of the capital, Kampala. According to eyewitnesses, about 200 rebels attacked Radio Wa early last Friday. The station was burned to the ground, eyewitnesses said. No one was killed in the attack, but two people were killed as the rebels retreated northward.
A Comboni missionary who was at the scene about 20 minutes after the building was set ablaze said only a few items from the building were saved. "We only managed to remove two computers, a photocopying machine and a few CDs," the missionary said. Fr John Fraser, director of Radio Wa, said about $A135,000 worth of equipment was destroyed.
Catholic World News/Catholic News Service
Bishop of Rumbek: "International community cannot remain silent whilst Khartoum starves population" (MISNA)
Bishop Cesare Mazzolari (catholic-hierarchy.org)
Homily of Fr Peter Grace CP
Catholic relief organisation sounds alarm on Sudan (15/7/02)
Uganda raiders release priests (16/9/02)
3 Oct 2002