Eric Reeves: respect the dying South Sudanese!

By Biel Boutros Biel,

Eric Revees, a controversial historian, speaking during an interview on Sudan and Darfur(Photo: file)

Eric Revees, a controversial historian, speaking during an interview on Sudan and Darfur(Photo: file)

6 April 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— I recently read on Sudan Tribune Eric Reeves’ piece of writing entitled: Famine in South Sudan should not obscure urgent food crisis in Sudan.” (see http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article62103). From the title, one could sense that it was emotionally authored and not centred on any significant intellectual and human touch. Had Eric Reeves reflected, he would have probably come to his senses to change the title. No, as usual, that is the international Professor Eric Reeves’ ways of rocking it!.

Eric Reeves is clearly unhappy that the current famine in South Sudan has attracted significant international coverage. The title and the subsequent opening paragraphs show his enviously saddened egoism and bad faith against the people of South Sudan. The suffering communities in the bushes of Mayendit, Leer, Duk, Ayod, Mundri, Niemni, Fangak, Kajo-Keji, Yei, Raja, Parajok, Torit, Tonga, Nasir, Aweil and many parts of South Sudan caused by the manmade crisis, would terribly weep and burn Eric Reeves’ article if they were to read its title and paragraph one. The man openly mocks the dying persons especially children and women who most need assistance at this point in time when their remaining possession; dignity, is being humiliated. Unfortunately, instead, Professor Eric Reeves shockingly stated:

impending famine in South Sudan is major news and has been reported inappropriately urgent fashion, including several recent stories in the New York Times, as well as by a number of other important news organisations. South Sudan has a population of approximately 12 million. Almost entirely unreported are the many locations in Sudan, with a population of almost 40 million, where there are severe food shortages, where malnutrition indicators are skyrocketing, and where famine also threatens in some locations.

Clearly to him, the famine that affects 12 million lives does not matter and should not be given wider coverage which he shamelessly described as ‘inappropriately urgent fashion.’ One wonders why Eric Reeves, a man who claims heart for humanity and high international profile, should always bend too low to author infamous and uncoordinated materials! When one reads his article quoted above, it is clear that Eric Reeves’ whole argument is on rubbishing the Sudan’s President Omar el Bashir for the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed by Bashir’s forces in Darfur and other parts of the Sudan coupled with the regime’s tactics to prevent food delivery to the suffering people. Yet in irony, Eric Reeves’ title disconnects with its contents except the first and second paragraphs which he intentionally comparatively mocks suffering South Sudanese.

Notably, many Sudanese in Darfur, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains face food crisis and undergoing other evil effects of war. Equally true, South Sudanese mostly in the abovementioned places are dying of famine that brings diseases. They are at state-defined humiliation of their dignity. The sufferings in which South Sudanese and Sudanese people have been undergoing, emanate from bad state policies of deliberate ethnic and racial elimination through induced famine, displacements, massacres, genocide mention them. For a man like Eric Reeves to blame the regional and international media and organisations for covering widely the sufferings of communities, that puzzles the very conscience of humanity. This Eric Reeves’ article plus other uninformed writings including his incitement to violence in Juba in July 2016 when he claimed of a coup to be staged(though for which Eric Reeves shamefully apologised later; see http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article59636), signal the very fact that South Sudanese should not longer take this man for granted. Despite his somewhat brainwashed international audience flattered by his long campaigns against Khartoum regime, but it would appear that judging the man for what he has been writing and what he failed to write, which he should have written, one is warned to think twice when reading emotional materials by this ‘Professor’ Eric Reeves. I contend that one would find it crucially simple to question the very intellectual foundation and informed logical credentials of a man pathologically partly believed for his international calibre rather than the whole truth.

Eric Reeves never even mentioned how wide international media coverage of the famine in South Sudan prevents the coverage of food crisis in the Sudan! He merely danced around the usual tunes against Sudanese regime and feels good, thinking he has written great article! Honestly speaking, assistance to people dying of famine is not determined by their numbers as Eric Reeves portrays 12 million South Sudanese. What matters is people’s dignity. From the universal values of human rights centred on human dignity, no matter the number, as long as the right to life which is the ultimate right that helps person enjoy other rights, is tempered with, it must attract urgent concern of sane world. Protecting people’s dignity regardless of their ethnic, racial or geographical background is the basis of our call and the very central conviction of all human rights defenders, among whom I assume Eric Reeves is one! Then why would he give his article uncoordinated title that insults the dignity of the suffering people? His intention clearly urges the world to stop feeling and getting concerned about dying South Sudanese.

If I were Eric Reeves, instead of diving on emotions, I would appreciate that the famine in South Sudan is being covered and would urge the international media like New York Times and others to also widely cover the food crisis in the Sudan. How did his ‘international intellectual greatness’ desert him here?

I strongly advise the ‘Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights’ Professor Eric Reeves to always leave emotions aside especially when writing on issues that touch on the dignity of the people. Otherwise, save for his brainwashed audience, intellectuals who are able to digest and analyse his outbursts, would hardly take him logically serious. The man seems to be at war with his intellectual conscience. Strangely, I am not alone to discover him. (See http://smc.sd/en/2016/03/eric-reeves-stories-misleading-the-media/). Finally, I call on the regional and international community to take more bold actions to end sufferings of both South Sudanese and Sudanese in the hands of their own leaders. There should be urgent measures to end the violence!

Biel Boutros Biel is human rights lawyer currently in exile; he holds degree of Master of Laws of the University of Pretoria, Bachelor of Laws of Busoga University, Diploma in Law of Makerere’s Law Development Centre and Diploma in Journalism of International Institute of Business and Media Studies. Biel is 2013 Human Rights Advocate at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University’s School of Law, in New York City, United States, where he studied Transitional Justice, human rights law and development. He is former co-chair of the National Human Rights Forum with the Chair of South Sudan Human Rights Commission. Biel currently heads, as its executive director, the South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA), an outspoken nonpolitical and nonprofit-making human rights organisation founded in 2007. The views expressed in this article, are of his own and do not necessarily reflect any of the institutions he is associated with.  E-mail: bielbb2015@gmail.com.


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