On this date today, 1 January 2008, John M. Granville (September 25, 1974 – January 1, 2008) was an American diplomat who worked in South Sudan. On January 1, 2008, he was assassinated in a shooting in Khartoum, Sudan at the age of 33. I will post the information from Wikipedia, before posting his mother’s letter to the Sudanese government.
Granville grew up in Buffalo, New York. He was a graduate Canisius High School in 1993 and of Fordham University. In 2003, he graduated from Clark University with a Master of Arts degree in International Development and Social Change. He studied as a Fulbright Fellow in Africa. After school, Granville joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Cameroon for two years.
As a diplomat, Granville worked for the United States Agency for International Development in Kenya and Sudan. In his current assignment, he led a project to provide residents in South Sudan with 75,000 radios that could be powered by a crank generator or solar panels. The project was part of the preparations for the upcoming 2009 elections in South Sudan.
"He told his mom several times ... that it's dangerous, what he's doing, but he wouldn't want to be doing anything else," said U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, who spoke with Granville's mother, Jane Granville, after her son's death.
Granville poses with Sudanese villagers, after providing them with solar-operated radios.
On January 1, 2008, Granville was attacked by gunmen while being driven home from a New Year's Eve party at the British Embassy in Khartoum. According to Sudanese officials, Granville was ambushed by two gunmen who stopped their car in front of his. His driver, Abdel Rahman Abbas, was killed immediately. Another gunman shot Granville in the neck and chest. He died a few hours later, after being taken to a hospital.
Ali Sadiq, a spokesman for Sudan's Foreign Ministry, has stated, "We do not know why this happened. All options are possible." However, other Sudanese officials stated that gun crime is unusual in Khartoum. The United States State Department refused to comment because their investigation was in progress. The attack followed a warning by the United Nations that a terrorist cell in Sudan was planning to attack foreigners.
Both the US and the Sudanese government have announced investigations as to the causes of the shooting and efforts to find the perpetrators. The US effort will consist of a joint State Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation team.
Four days after the murders, a previously unknown militant group, Ansar al-Tawhid (Companions of Monotheism) claimed responsibility via a post on a website used by Islamists.
In September, five Sudanese men admitted their roles in the shooting in filmed confessions.
On June 24, 2009 four men were sentenced to death by hanging for the killing. A fifth man received a two year prison term for providing the weapon used in the attack. The convicts were identified as Abdelraouf Abu Zaid Mohamed Hamza, Mohamed Makawi Ibrahim Mohamed, Abdelbasit Alhaj Alhasan Haj Ahmad, and Mohanad Osman Yousif Mohamed.
In June 2010, the four men broke out of prison, killing a police officer and wounding another during their escape. Sudanese authorities then issued a global Interpol warrant for their arrest. However, only one has so far been recaptured.
Granville's family in Buffalo said he was committed to his work in Africa.
"John's life was a celebration of love, hope and peace," a family statement said. "He will be missed by many people throughout the world whose lives were touched and made better because of his care."
On January 29, 2008, City Honors School in Buffalo awarded John Granville their annual Martin Luther King Keeping The Dream Alive award.
On May 2, 2008, John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State, addressed the American Foreign Service Association's memorial plaque ceremony in which he and others honored John Granville.
In the letter read out in Arabic by a prosecutor on Sunday and carried out by Agence France Presse (AFP), Granville wrote:
Statement to Sudan Court by Jane Granville
FrontLines - July 2009
The following statement was read in court on June 24 on behalf of Jane Granville by her Sudanese lawyer following the announcement of a guilty verdict in the murder of her son:
I, Jane Granville, as the sole heir of my son, John Michael Granville, am taking this opportunity to convey my wishes to the court regarding the sentencing of the defendants in his murder trial. I would like also to confirm to the court that I have not and will not accept any form of payment in exchange for leniency.
From the day I brought this beautiful man into this world, I knew he was special, and it was such a privilege to watch my only son grow into the unselfish humanitarian he became. The best example of that was illustrated in his last hours. I am told that he was unconscious when he arrived at the hospital after he and Abdel Rahman were shot. When he regained consciousness, his first question was, “How is AR?” and he kept asking that question over and over again. Until John’s last moment, and despite the obvious differences of nationality, race and John Granville, far left, with Sinclair Cornell, BearingPoint Inc.; Stephanie Funk, USAID; Faisal Sultan, BearingPoint Inc.; and Rich Haselwood, Mercy Corps, in Khartoum, November 2007. religion, John identified what he had in common with others and viewed everyone as fellow human beings. Even as he was dying, he continued to care more about others than he did about himself.
That love of others is one of the reasons why John valued his work in Sudan. His dedication and commitment to supporting and advancing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement guided his efforts toward the dream of a just, stable, and peaceful Sudan. Losing John is, therefore, not only an enormous loss for his family, friends and colleagues; it is also an enormous loss for the people of Sudan.
It is in John’s spirit of putting the concerns of others first that I submit this statement on sentencing, as required by Sudan’s legal system which found the defendants guilty of murder. This has been an extremely tragic and painful journey for all of us who knew and loved John. Our primary concern now is to ensure that the lives of other innocent, good-hearted and peace-loving people are not taken as his was. I believe that life in prison is the most appropriate punishment for those that commit murder, but Sudanese law does not provide for such a sentence.
Thus, it is with a heavy heart that I have to conclude that I am left with no other option. The death penalty is the only sentence that will protect others from those who took my beloved son’s life.