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Mary Beenken, Published October 10 2010

Fargo Sudanese march for referendum

Members of Fargo’s Sudanese community marched Saturday in support of a referendum in their home country.

The referendum would allow the mostly Christian Southern Sudan to secede from Arab-­controlled Northern Sudan. Nearly 2.5 million people have been killed in war between these two Sudanese factions in the last two decades of fighting.

“We’ve been at war for over 20-something years,” said Simon Deng, a Sudanese man who took part in the march. “We want totally to be independent.”

Abraham Mach told the group of about 30 participants that American support was crucial to their effort.

“We are asking you to be with us. We need your support,” Mach said.

Gat-Kier Machar, another Sudanese marcher, said raising awareness about the referendum is crucial to ending the violence in Sudan.

“People have forgotten why they are in America. We need to wake them up,” he said. “The war is still on.”

The vote on the referendum will take place on Jan. 9, 2011, in Sudan. Until then, Machar said the Sudanese will continue to stage monthly marches and hope to draw more supporters each time.

Saturday’s march stretched from 23rd Street South to Fargo City Hall.

“If we keep silent, they will be winning,” Machar said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Beenken at (701) 235-7311