Music stars drum for peace

2010-01-10 00:01

Khartoum - Drummers from Pink Floyd, Radiohead and The Police joined other musicians on Saturday to drum for peace in Sudan as part of an international campaign to press world leaders to prevent more bloodshed in Africa's largest nation.

The Sudan 365 campaign calls "on global leaders to take urgent diplomatic action over the next 365 days to prevent all-out conflict returning to Sudan", a statement by the organisers said.

It came as Sudan quietly marked the fifth anniversary of the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended a devastating 22-year war between majority Muslim north Sudan and the mainly Christian and animist south.

The CPA also paves the way for Sudan to hold its first general election in 24 years in April ahead of a key referendum on southern independence in 2011.

Celebrity drummers took part in a "beat for peace" film featuring a drumroll starting in the war-wracked nation "and being picked up and passed like a baton between drummers in over 15 countries" - including South Africa, Brazil, Egypt, France, Japan and the United States.

The drummers included Radiohead's Phil Selway, Stewart Copeland of The Police, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, as well as Egyptian musicians Yehia Khalil and Mohammed Munir and Ghana's Mustapha Tettey Addy.

Nine organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the US group Save Darfur joined efforts to organise the campaign along with the drummers.

In London, around 150 people gathered outside British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Downing Street office, drumming loudly and calling for peace in Sudan.

Gatherings were due to take place in a dozen cities across the world on Saturday as the film was launched on and YouTube, organisers said in a statement.

"I wanted to be involved in this project because I think music is such a powerful way of bringing people together," Selway was quoted as saying.

"Hopefully this film will show that together people can make a huge noise and through this film I hope people's focus will be brought back to what is happening in the Sudan over this very important next year," Selway said.

Five years after the end of the north-south civil war, the political situation remains tense between the two sides while south Sudan continues to be rocked by bloodshed and deadly tribal clashes.

The United Nations mission in Sudan said on Saturday it was concerned over a flare-up of violence in southern Sudan that has cost at least 150 lives over the past two weeks, mostly in inter-tribal bloodshed.

In 2009, a total of about 2 500 people were killed in the south and more than 350 000 fled their homes.

Since 2003, the volatile region of Darfur in western Sudan has also been the scene of a devastating civil war in which 300 000 people have been killed, according to the United Nations. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10 000.

"The next 365 days will be critical for the people of Sudan," said drummer Jamie Catto, founding member of 1 Giant Leap and Faithless, and the brainchild of the film.

"This global drumbeat is a cry for positive action from world leaders to prevent conflict from returning."

Egypt's Munir added: "Sudan has experienced too much pain and suffering in the last three decades.

"Now is the time to make sure that the future is one of peace and prosperity for all those in Darfur and the rest of Sudan."