The Summoning of the Global South

Fair life advocate Klaus Stieglitz: For more than 20 years I have been going to South Sudan – to try to help the people there. And now these people are coming to me.

Like the rest of the people of the North, I summoned them.

By purchasing products and services whose affordability stemmed from companies’ swindling their workers and other residents of the South out of their rightful due: living wages and livable environments.

portrait of Klaus Stieglitz

The prosperity of our society on the northern half of this planet stems from the exploitation and ensuing suffering of the southern part, states the Munich sociologist Stephan Lessenichi.

I agree with him. The constituent elements of our prosperity include cheap energy and clothes and high-capability communication devices. This affordability stems from the pumping of oil in countries such as Nigeria and South Sudan, in which companies earn and pass along excessive profits earned through their not adhering to environmental and societal standards – and through their thus poisoning environments and paying if at all starvation wages. The same holds true in Asia’s production of clothes. Our communication devices’ capabilities rely on such resources as coltan, whose greed-maddened mining set off a chain of violence that led to a civil war in the Congo.

The excessive use of energy by the North – still very much continuing today – has been the main cause of climate change. A large part of its impact, in turn, is being borne by the South, in the forms of desertification and other detrimental changes in habitats. In Africa, these changes manifest themselves in conflicts for ever scarcer resources – such as pastures.

The losers of these conflicts often become refugees and emigrantsii. To put in other, simpler terms: we in the North have been stealing the basics of life in the South.

Why then are we so taken aback when – after our many years of living it up at their expense – these hungry and desperate people make their ways to us, and ask – in friendly terms – to be admitted to our prosperous world? What should actually give us pause for thought is that these deprived people are doing this in a friendly way.

We in Germany have a “social market economy”. Its guiding principle is of an economy that functions according to both the dictates of the market and the needs of its society. It was conceived in the post- World War II era, and has worked well since.

The social market economy does have a fundamental flaw. It was launched in the pre-globalization era. The fact that we in Germany take such good care of the needs of the people living and working here has permitted us to – very successfully and completely – ignore the needs of those not from here. We have learned to turn a blind eye to the ramifications of our greed to consume ever-greater amounts of ever-cheaper products and services: ever-greater suffering by the persons creating them. And this suffering is a major driver of emigration.

As is the case in most Northern countries, Germany is embroiled in a discussion about who is entitled to immigrate from the South. Our country does accept two kinds of immigrants: ‘the hurt and the helpful’.

The ‘hurt’ are those persons entitled to asylum because of persecution and other forms of suffering recognized by the Geneva Refugee Convention. And the ‘helpful’ are those possessing the skills or capital promising to benefit our economy and society.

A third category would be the ‘helpless’ – those whose flight from their homes is due to our having destroyed their livelihood. Sadly and unjustly, this category is not regarded as being a ground for admittance to Germany. Yet, some of them are already here and they will keep coming. iii

We in Europe have to ask ourselves a simple question: do we have the right to deny a woman from South Sudan refuge in Germany? The cause of her flight from her home, after all, is our greed for cheap gas, and that is leading the companies from which we get petroleum to pump it in a way poisoning the woman’s water, fields, family and live.

We in the North thus have a responsibility to make amends to the deprived and disadvantaged people in the South and to avert a potentially violent lodging of legitimate demands by the exploited.

Klaus Stieglitz (Sign of Hope) and his Team document the faulty oil exploitationmit in the Thar Jath area.

There are two complementary ways of living up to this responsibility, and to thus satisfying these peoples’ legitimate rights: we have to share our space and prosperity with the South. Our failure to do such could well lead to a densification of acts of violence in Europe.

The first way: we have to share our space with the South. In Germany, this sharing means expanding the rights of refuge to include the helpless.

The second way: we have to pay the real costs of the products and services created in the South. The prices that we pay have to comprise the funds disbursed by companies in order to live up internationally-binding social and environmental standards – and to compensate the victims of their past failures to do such. And we have to ensure that the companies in fact do such – through the institution of new mechanisms of enforcement and supervision.

The consequences of this will be – and this should come as no surprise – a drastic increasing of the prices that we pay. This increase in payment and stiffening of enforcement could well, however, have a very attractive spillover effect: the increasing of the standard of living and quality of lives of the people of the South, provided that the funds actually reach the victims of exploitation. These improvements, in turn, could well lead to their staying in their homes.

The first step toward solving the crises gripping our planet is for each and every one of us – be we managers directing global players or consumers going shopping – to unconditionally accept our individual responsibility. The price that we will pay for this assumption of responsibility will be very high – a sharing of prosperity and space. The benefit to us will be much greater. We and our children will be able to live in peace in Europe.

Born in 1969, Klaus Stieglitz is Vice-Chairperson of Sign of Hope. Based in Konstanz, Germany, this NGO provides humanitarian assistance and fights for human rights on a worldwide scale. Stieglitz repeatedly went on missions of investigation of South Sudan’s oil industry. Threats caused these to come to an end in 2015. Stieglitz and Sign of Hope are still spearheading the fight for an end to the oil industry’s poisoning of water, farmland and thus lives and livelihoods in South Sudan. This struggle is detailed in “Oil, Power and a Sign of Hope”iv. Co-authored by Stieglitz, this book was published by the Zurich-based rüffer & rub. Stieglitz has also co-authored several scientific studies.v

i Lessenich, Stephan: Neben uns die Sintflut: Wie wir auf Kosten anderer leben, München 2018.

ii See also Johnson, Pierre-Marc; Mayrand, Carel; Paquin, Marc: Governing Global Desertification. Linking Environmental Degradation, Poverty and Participation, Hampshire, 2006, S. 48 f; About the correlation between Climate, War and Flight see also: Weiss, Marlene: Klima, Krieg, Flucht. Wie Umweltveränderungen Migration antreiben. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung vom 24. Januar 2019, S.14. See also Ansorg, Nadine: Kriege ohne Grenzen: Ursachen regionaler Konfliktsysteme in Sub-Sahara Afrika, München 2013, S. 244.

iii See the figures about the total protection rate in Germany. This rate includes Refugees under the Geneva Refugee convention and political asylum entitlements: Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge: Aktuelle Zahlen zu Asyl: Ausgabe Dezember 2018. S. 11 von 13 http://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/DE/Downloads/Infothek/Statistik/Asyl/aktuelle-zahlen-zu-asyl-dezember-2018.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

iv https://www.ruefferundrub.ch/buecher/zeitfragen/item/348-oil-powerand-a-sign-of-hope

v See for example: https://www.hoffnungszeichen.de/system/files/documents/zbl.geol_.palaeont._teil_i_jg._2014_heft_1_effect_of_oil_exploration_and_production.pdf and https://www.hoffnungszeichen.de/system/files/documents/20161226_forensic_science_international.pdf

South Sudan justice on trial!

South Sudan justice on trial of human and environmental rights defender Peter Biar Ajak!

By Terry Swartzberg and Francis Michael Gwang

March 22, 2019

After more than seven excruciating months of languishing in a hellhole of a prison in South Sudan, Peter Biar Ajak – and seven other human and environmental rights activists – was arraigned on March 21 on a wide variety of trumped-charges.

The charges range from insurgency and banditry to conducting unlawful drills.

Observers report that Peter Biar – not surprisingly in view of his ordeal – looks weak and frail.

Biar and the other defendants were denied bail and reassignment to more centrally located and “humane” prison. They were granted the right to medical attention.

The arraignment is to be followed on March 25 by a trial.

Peter’s case has attracted worldwide attention, with Amnesty International, the UN and representatives of the USA’s Congress demanding his immediate release.

International oil companies – including Petronas of Malaysia, China National Petroleum and India’s ONGC – are believed to be behind Peter’s ordeal.

Peter was, after all, a co-founder of South Sudan Young Leaders’ Forum (SSYLF), which has become a well-respected advocate of political and environmental rights in South Sudan – and a voice speaking out against the forcible expulsion by oil companies-paid militias of South Sudanese from their homes and land.

To recap:

Peter Ajak was arrested on July 28, 2018, for purportedly “treason and other national security offenses”.

Peter was arrested at Juba airport. He was returning from abroad. Peter was getting a doctorate from Cambridge, one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Quite an achievement for any student – especially one who had spent his childhood as a “Lost Boy” – a child forced by war to flee his home and scrabble for a living.

Peter went on to resettle in the United States. He went on to study at Philadelphia’s La Salle and Harvard Universities.

It was this defense of human rights that got him in trouble with the oil companies and with the Kiir regime in South Sudan, which has clamped down on any forms of opposition.

Peter is facing the death penalty upon conviction.

“South Sudan must immediately free human rights defender Peter Biar Ajak,” stated the UN’s Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan, in a statement released on March 6th.

World Water Day 2019

Billions of people are living without safe water.  

This #WorldWaterDay, we must leave no one behind.  Did you know that water in South Sudan is #PoisonedbyOil? 

Der “jüngste Staat der Erde”

Genf/Juba (KNA)  Di, 12.03.2019

Das afrikanische Land Südsudan erlangte am 9. Juli 2011 seine Unabhängigkeit vom Sudan und wird deswegen auch als “jüngster Staat der Erde” bezeichnet. Hauptstadt ist Juba. Auf einer Fläche von der ungefähren Größe Frankreichs leben rund 10,2 Millionen Menschen. Das Durchschnittsalter der Bevölkerung liegt bei gerade einmal 18 Jahren.

Die Einwohner gehören einer Vielzahl unterschiedlicher Ethnien an; die größte Gruppe stellen mit rund 35 Prozent die Dinka. Anders als im muslimisch geprägten Sudan überwiegen im Südsudan die Christen.

Trotz seiner Bodenschätze – vor allem Erdöl – ist die Armut im Südsudan groß. Hinzu kommt eine Vielzahl an sozialen und politischen Konflikten. 2013 eskalierte ein Machtkampf zwischen Präsident Salva Kiir und seinem Herausforderer Riek Machar. Trotz eines im September 2018 geschlossenen Abkommens bleibt die Sicherheitslage extrem angespannt.

Seit der Staatsgründung sollen UN-Blauhelme für Stabilität im Land sorgen. Auch die Bundeswehr ist an der Mission UNMISS beteiligt. Kritiker werfen den UN vor, nicht entschlossen genug gegen die Gewalt im Südsudan vorzugehen.

Stichwörter: Südsudan, Konflikte, Menschenrechte, UN (Hintergrund – Stichwort) Südsudan

Gewalt im Südsudan

Im Krisenstaat Südsudan grassiert weiter die Gewalt. Trotz eines im vergangenen September geschlossenen Abkommens bleibe die Sicherheitslage prekär, teilte der UN-Menschenrechtsrat am Dienstag in Genf mit. Mehr als die Hälfte der 10,2 Millionen Südsudanesen habe zu wenig zu essen, es gebe nach wie vor 2,2 Millionen Flüchtlinge und 1,9 Millionen Binnenvertriebene, so die UN-Vertreter.

Genf/Juba (KNA) Di, 12.03.2019

Eine vom Menschenrechtsrat eingesetzte Kommission stellte in den Bundesstaaten Unity, Western Bahr el Ghazal und Central Equatoria teils gravierende Menschenrechtsverletzungen im vergangenen Jahr fest. Man habe zudem 23 Personen identifizieren können, die nach internationalem Strafrecht in schwere Straftaten im Gefolge des Konflikts verwickelt seien.

Seit Ende 2013 erschüttern Machtkämpfe das afrikanische Land, das 2011 seine Unabhängigkeit vom Sudan erklärte. Vergewaltigungen, Menschenhandel und die Tötung von Zivilisten sind laut UN-Angaben an der Tagesordnung. Die Sicherheitsbehörden verbreiteten zudem mit willkürlichen Verhaftungen, Folter und Hinrichtungen ein Klima der Angst und des Schreckens. Die Arbeit von Aktivisten und Helfern werde teils massiv behindert. Ein wichtiger Treiber des Konfliktes sei die Kontrolle über die Erdölvorräte des Landes.

Die in Konstanz ansässige Hilfsorganisation Hoffnungszeichen begrüßte, dass der UN-Bericht die Zusammenhänge zwischen Ölförderung, Krieg und Menschenrechtsverletzungen beleuchte. Der Report konzentriere sich auf Menschenrechtsverletzungen, die in Zusammenhang mit militärischen Aktivitäten verübt worden seien, sagte Hoffnungszeichen-Vertreter Klaus Stieglitz der Katholischen Nachrichten-Agentur (KNA). “Darüber hinaus finden schwerwiegende Menschenrechtsverletzungen durch die Ausbeutung und schleichende Vergiftung von mehr als 600.000 Menschen im Südsudan statt.”

Täter seien eine “gierige und schrankenlos wirtschaftende Ölindustrie und ein schwacher Staat, dessen Exponenten offenbar mehr am Füllen ihrer eigenen Taschen als an einer wirkungsvollen Kontrolle der Ölindustrie interessiert sind”, so Stieglitz weiter. Ein wichtiger Player sei der malaysische Staatsölkonzern Petronas, der wiederum als Sponsoringpartner für das Mercedes-Formel-1-Team auftrete. “Die Ölindustrie muss endlich aufhören, Menschen und Umwelt zu vergiften und für den Schaden geradestehen, den sie angerichtet hat”, forderte der Helfer. Hoffnungszeichen dokumentiert seit Jahren die Aktivitäten der Ölindustrie im Südsudan.

Weitere Informationen: https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/cohsouthsudan/pages/index.aspx

Stichwörter: Südsudan, Konflikte, Menschenrechte, UN (Zusammenfassung – 17.00 Uhr) UN und Helfer prangern Kriegsverbrechen im Südsudan an

Tanz auf dem Vulkan

Bericht in der Katholischen Nachrichtenagentur über: UN und Helfer prangern Menschenrechtsverletzungen im Südsudan an Öl als Schmierstoff

Von Joachim Heinz (KNA)

Im vergangenen September nährte ein Friedensabkommen die Hoffnung auf ein Ende der Kämpfe im Südsudan. Doch rund ein halbes Jahr später konstatiert die UN: Von stabilen Verhältnissen ist das Land weit entfernt.

Genf/Juba (KNA) Der komplette Bericht umfasst mehr als 200 Seiten.

Aber auch die 19-seitige Kurzfassung wirft ein Schlaglicht auf die verfahrene Situation im Südsudan. Am Dienstag befasste sich der UN-Menschenrechtsrat in Genf mit dem “jüngsten Staat der Welt” – auf Basis des inzwischen dritten Berichts einer eigens eingesetzten Kommission. Der Tenor: Auch nach einem im September geschlossenen Friedensabkommen zwischen den Unterstützern von Präsident Salva Kiir und seinem Herausforderer Riek Machar gehören Kriegsverbrechen und schwerste Menschenrechtsverletzungen für viele der 10,2 Millionen Einwohner zum Alltag.

Einige Konfliktparteien wie die von Thomas Cirillo Swaka geführte National Salvation Front haben das Abkommen erst gar nicht unterzeichnet. Die Folge: Nach wie vor gibt es Vergewaltigungen, Menschenhandel und Tötungen von Zivilisten. Die Sicherheitsbehörden ihrerseits säen laut Angaben der UN mit willkürlichen Verhaftungen, Folter und Hinrichtungen ein Klima der Angst und des Schreckens. Die Arbeit von Aktivisten und Helfern werde teils massiv behindert.

Als einen wichtigen Treiber des Konflikts nennt der Bericht die Kontrolle über die Ölvorkommen, den bedeutendsten Reichtum des Landes, das 2011 seine Unabhängigkeit vom Sudan erklärte.

Ein Beispiel: Weil Gemeinden und Bundesstaaten, auf deren Gebiet die Vorkommen liegen, seit 2013 ein Anrecht auf einen Anteil aus den Einnahmen haben, eskalieren immer wieder Streitigkeiten um Grenzziehungen. Seit längerem, so der Bericht, gebe es Bestrebungen, möglichst viele Ölfelder unter Kontrolle der Dinka zu bringen. Das ist die größte Volksgruppe im Südsudan – der auch Präsident Kiir angehört.

Einer, der die Entwicklung genau beobachtet, ist Klaus Stieglitz von der in Konstanz ansässigen Organisation Hoffnungszeichen. Es sei wichtig, das kaum vorstellbare Ausmaß von Menschenrechtsverletzungen im Südsudan immer wieder öffentlich zu machen, sagt Stieglitz der Katholischen Nachrichten-Agentur (KNA). Dabei, so betont er, litten die Menschen im Südsudan nicht nur unter den Folgen der andauernden Kämpfe. Weil die Ölindustrie seit Jahren Umweltstandards missachte, seien 600.000 Südsudanesen einer “schleichenden Vergiftung” durch verschmutztes Wasser ausgesetzt.

Täter sind laut Stieglitz “eine gierige und schrankenlos wirtschaftende Ölindustrie und ein schwacher Staat, dessen Exponenten offenbar mehr am Füllen ihrer eigenen Taschen als an einer wirkungsvollen Kontrolle der Ölindustrie interessiert sind”. Zu den wichtigsten Playern in der Branche gehöre der malaysische Ölkonzern Petronas, Sponsoringpartner für das Mercedes-Formel-1-Team. “Die Ölindustrie muss endlich aufhören, Menschen und Umwelt zu vergiften und für den Schaden geradestehen, den sie angerichtet hat”, fordert Stieglitz.

Eine juristische Aufarbeitung mahnen auch die Vereinten Nationen mit Blick auf den Bürgerkrieg an. Man habe im Lauf des vergangenen Jahres

23 Personen identifizieren können, die nach internationalem Strafrecht in schwere Straftaten verwickelt seien, so die Vorsitzende der Südsudan-Kommission, Yasmin Sooka. Eine juristische Ahndung der Taten, egal ob innerhalb oder außerhalb des Landes sei von entscheidender Bedeutung, um einen nachhaltigen Friedensprozess in Gang zu setzen.

Nicht nur zu diesem Zweck wäre es wichtig, mehr direkte Einblicke aus dem Südsudan zu bekommen. Doch das ist schwierig. Mit dem von ihm initiierten Netzwerk forsouthsudan.com bietet Terry Swartzberg Journalisten vor Ort eine Plattform für ihre Berichte. Auf der von Reporter ohne Grenzen herausgegebenen Rangliste der Pressefreiheit belegt das Land Rang 144 von 180. “Es ist ein Tanz auf dem Vulkan”, beschreibt Swartzberg die Arbeit der Kollegen. Einer von ihnen, Joseph Oduha, notierte Ende Februar: “Bedrohungen sind das Letzte, was ich vor dem Einschlafen zu hören bekomme. Bedrohungen sind das Erste, was ich nach dem Aufstehen zu hören bekomme.”

Hinweis:
Weitere Fotos finden Sie in der KNA-Bild-Datenbank auf www.kna-bild.de oder direkt mit folgendem Link:
http://kna-bild.de/paket/190312-89-00187

Free Peter Biar Ajak!

Call by UN, USA, Amnesty International: Free South Sudanese human and environmental rights defender Peter Biar Ajak!

by Joseph Oduha

March 8, 2019

For seven excruciating months, Peter Biar Ajak has been languishing in a hell-hole of a prison in South Sudan.

Instead of helping protect his peoples’ human and environmental rights – a role that his unique set of qualifications and skills had predestined him for – in the opinion of everybody from the UN and the Congress of the United States to Amnesty International and other renowned organizations.

Peter Ajak was arrested on July 28, 2018, for purportedly “treason and other national security offenses”.

Peter was arrested at Juba airport. He was returning from abroad. Peter was getting a doctorate from Cambridge, one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Quite an achievement for any student – especially one who had spent his childhood as a “Lost Boy” – a child forced by war to flee his home and scrabble for a living.

Peter went on to resettle in the United States. He went on to study at Philadelphia’s La Salle and Harvard Universities.

While doing such, Peter Biar Ajak served as a political commentator and co-founded the South Sudan Young Leaders’ Forum (SSYLF), which has become a well-respected advocate of political and environmental rights in South Sudan – and thus against the forcible expulsion by oil companies-paid militias of South Sudanese from their homes and land.

It was this defense of human rights that got him in trouble with the Kiir regime in South Sudan, which has clamped down on any forms of opposition.

Peter is facing the death penalty upon conviction.

“South Sudan must immediately free human rights defender Peter Biar Ajak,” states the UN’s Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan, in a statement released on March 6th.

We have a winner!

Here are the most powerful photos of our Stop #BloodOil in South Sudan photo competition.

And here’s the winner:

Playing in pollution: children frolicking in lead-poisoned water

Strike! Journalists stage country-wide protest.

by Joseph Oduha

March 8, 2019

On March 5, 2019, the Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) called on its members to “go on strike”.

The resultant, nation-wide protest was triggered by an unprecedented wave of detentions of journalists – 90! – by the government in the period from February 20 – March 4, 2019.

Another cause of the protest: the shutting down of the country’s newspapers. One of them – El Baath – has had 11 straight print runs confiscated by the government.

The journalists’ and the newspapers’ “crime”: their ongoing coverage of the unrest gripping Sudan, whose people are protesting the corrupt and oppressive regime of president Omar al-Bashir.

These arrest come upon the heels of the detention of 79 journalists in the period December 19 – February 19, according to figures released by Reporters without Borders (RSF).

South Sudanese oil workers launch protests

Workers protest unsafe conditions and lack of payment in South Sudan‘s oil industry

March 6, 2019

by Francis Michael Gwang

Another bad day for South Sudan’s oil industry and government.

After being charged by a UN human rights commission with being complicit in crimes against humanity and the environment, and specifically with facilitating and financing mass killings, rape, torture and economic cleansing, the industry and the government are now facing a new problem.

South Sudanese workers staffing oil processing facilities and pipelines have started demonstrating for safe operating conditions and for back pay.

The workers’ demands:

That Greater Pioneer Operating Company (GPOC), one of South Sudan’s major oil consortia, stop dragging its feet on implementing programs for the improvement of work conditions. These programs were originally supposed to be instituted no less than six years ago.

That GPOC respect the order issued by South Sudan’s minister of petroleum, Ezekiel Luol Gartthkoth, which is for the workers’ being paid back pay and a variety of allowances and subsidies owed to them – in some cases since 2013.

The workers have announced that a failure to meet their demands will cause them to go on strike and to sue the GPOC and the government.

GPOC is owned by China National Petroleum Corporation (40%), Petronas of Malaysia (30%), India’s ONGC Videsh (25%) and Nilepet (5%).