On Sunday, Southern Sudan will begin a week-long referendum on whether to break off from Sudan and form a new independent state. The vote is being held under the 2005 peace agreement that ended a nearly four-decade civil war between the North and South that killed some 2.5 million Sudanese. The people of South Sudan are widely expected to approve secession, and the vote has stoked fears of renewed violence in Africa’s largest nation. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to the Sudan in these last few minutes. On Sunday, Southern Sudan will begin a week-long referendum on whether to break off from Sudan and form a new independent state. The vote is being held under the 2005 peace agreement that ended a nearly four-decade civil war between North and South that killed some two-and-a-half million Sudanese. The people of South Sudan are widely expected to approve secession, and the vote has stoked fears of renewed violence in Africa’s largest nation.
Professor Horace Campbell is still with us from Syracuse University.
What is the significance of this referendum?
HORACE CAMPBELL: Oh, thank you, Amy. This is a real turning point for the peoples of Africa, because the referendum is coming because of the long period of chauvinism and arrogance by those in the North who believe that those who call themselves Arabs are superior to the Africans and exploited the Africans, and the challenges of the history of the slave trade in the Sudan is very much a part of this election process.
But we are very cautious about the kind of leadership that will come out of this referendum, because we know that the majority of the people of the South will vote for an independent state. But that is not enough, because independence without the rights of the people, independence without guaranteeing the livelihood of the people, is not sufficient. We in the peace and justice movement, we in the pan-African movement, we supported the right of the Eritreans to separate over 20 years ago. But after that separation, outstanding issues of borders, outstanding issues of militarization, led to further wars between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
So, for us, the fear is, how can we ensure that after the referendum, that the outstanding border issues, the outstanding issues of citizenship, the outstanding issues of water, outstanding issues of oil — how can these issues be resolved in a way in which the Sudan is not plunged into another 50 years of war? This is going to require the most serious engagement from peace-loving persons from the African Union and from those who want to rise above the politicization of religion in Africa.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us. We’ll certainly follow this referendum. Horace Campbell, Syracuse University, his latest book, Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment.
And just this word, we will put an exclusive on our website at democracynow.org around the issue of what’s happening right now in Ohio. Four prisoners in the supermax Ohio State Penitentiary have launched a hunger strike to protest what they call their harsh mistreatment under solitary confinement. The prisoners are Bomani Shakur, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Jason Robb and Namir Abdul Mateen. They were sentenced to death for their involvement in the 1993 prison uprising in Lucasville, Ohio. For 11 days, over 400 prisoners staged a riot against prison conditions. Nine prisoners and a guard were killed. It was the bloodiest prison riot since Attica. We will talk with Staughton Lynd at our website, democracynow.org, for the details of the hunger strike that these four men are now engaging in.