Two recent publications of note (one from Newsweek [May 31, 2001], the other from The Guardian [June 4, 2001]) make clear that the Government of Sudan is accelerating its genocidal assault on the Nuba region in southern Kordofan Province. The Government of Sudan is engaged in the deliberate destruction of Nuba culture and populations. It is happening right now, and many tens of thousands of civilians are at acute risk. Military assaults on civilians are creating havoc, even as the Khartoum regime continues with its calculated plan to starve to death the population of the region.
Eric Reeves [June 4, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
Governments and international oil companies that have chosen a course of “constructive engagement” with the Khartoum regime must come to terms with the fact that what really defines their policies and presence in Sudan is complicity in genocide, nowhere more clearly than in the Nuba Mountains. This is not hyperbolic description; rather, it is a straightforward construal of the language in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:
“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such:
[a] Killing members of the group;
[b] Causing serious bodily harm to members of the group;
[c] Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
The Nuba people and culture are the victims of genocide on each of these counts. They are being deliberately destroyed because of who they are and what they represent. They have suffered from a relentless 10-year government ban on all humanitarian aid. A population that was approximately 1.5 million people at the beginning of Sudan’s civil war in 1983 is now less than a third that. The ban on humanitarian aid continues, even as very recent military offensives by government forces have threatened the last airstrip by which clandestine food and medical aid arrived (see attached news stories). And even though the civilian population of the Nuba faces severe food shortages, the recent government assaults were marked by the systematic burning of critical foodstuffs.
The liquidation of the population and culture of the Nuba serves the larger military and oil development plans of the Khartoum regime. It should also serve notice to the West that it has again failed in the face of African genocide.
“Government offensive is aimed at starving out Sudan’s Nuba rebels”
By Julie Flint, in Kauda, Sudan [Nuba region]
The Guardian — (U.K.)
June 4, 2001
The last two weeks have seen the biggest Sudanese government offensive against the Nuba since the first days of the Islamic holy war it declared against them in 1992.
Within 24 hours of the shelling beginning on May 17, the artillery fire had closed all the airstrips used to take clandestine food and medical supplies into the blockaded mountains.
Within a week government troops and militias supported by multiple rocket launchers had attacked seven villages in the immediate vicinity of the burial place of Yousif Kuwa, the man who led the Nuba people’s struggle for survival until his death on March 31.
When first shells hit the rebel-controlled airstrip, civilians and soldiers were gathering to mark the end of mourning for Kuwa.
The explosions barely interrupted the sound of music and laughter in the village where Kuwa is buried. His successor, Abdel Aziz Adam el-Helo, danced with a young woman in a blue dress as Nuba officers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) played traditional music on drums and lutes.
Christians and Muslims prayed together beside Kuwa’s tomb, a demonstration of the Nuba tolerance that is anathema to the fundamentalist generals who rule Sudan.
But thousands of Nuba were forced to flee as government soldiers scaled the mountains, destroying almost 2,500 homes and systematically burning food stores.
In one village, Kashama, a woman of was burned alive.
SPLA forces drove the government troops back after 10 days. They expect another attack.
With more than 40,000 Nuba in SPLA-controlled areas already facing famine after poor rains and attacks on productive land, the offensive threatens civilians far beyond the reach of Khartoum’s guns.
“It is obvious that the government is trying to seal the Nuba mountains by taking all the airstrips,” said Yoanes Ajawin of Justice Africa, who was meeting human rights monitors in the mountains as the offensive began.
“The way they are targeting villages and food is an indication they want to create a famine so that the Nuba run to government ‘peace villages’.”
Justice Africa’s monitors reported that dozens of Nuba civilians were abducted during the offensive, which involved attacks by more than 7,000 government troops on several fronts.
The government operation was named “The Heroes of Adar Yel,” after the place where a dozen commanders died in an air crash on 4 April. The dead included several high-ranking officers whom Justice Africa wanted to have tried for war crimes.
On May 26, the day after Khartoum announced that it was halting the aerial bombardment, it dropped eight bombs on the Lumon hills west of Kauda.
Catholic priests and personnel fled their compound in Kauda. In a statement issued during a visit to Canada, Bishop Makram Max Gassis pleaded for help. “I appeal to the international community for immediate intervention to create a ceasefire,” he said.
“What will the world do? Will it allow another Holocaust—this time of the Nuba people—to occur?”
For the past 10 years all appeals to the international community to intervene to save the Nuba have gone unheeded. The UN continues to accept Khartoum’s ban on the delivery of relief to rebel-controlled areas of the mountains.
The US, which has promised 40,000 tonnes of grain, does not say how it plans to get it to the blockaded mountains.
From Newsweek Magazine
“Sudan: Civilians Under Fire”
By Roy Gutman
May 31, 2001
A fresh burst of conflict violates a ceasefire—and poses new problems for U.S. policy in Africa
Even as it was announcing a May 25 ceasefire in its 18-year-old civil war, the government of Sudan was sending ground troops and helicopter gunships into the Nuba Mountains in a major
operation against civilians, according to well-placed humanitarian-aid sources in the region.
TROOPS TORCHED THE HUTS, sent civilians fleeing for their lives and displaced thousands of Muslim and Christian civilians in a region it did not control, a source in one aid group said. The
government’s actions came on the eve of renewed negotiations with the Sudanese opposition in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and
just as Secretary of State Colin Powell was traveling into the immediate region with plans for a new, more activist U.S. policy for Sudan. The operation poses a major challenge to U.S. diplomatic efforts in Sudan and reveals a serious weakness in America’s intelligence-monitoring capability.
Powell and aides told NEWSWEEK they were unaware of the offensive and the destruction of the habitat of a large number of civilians. And even after checking all available sources, they
still could not confirm details five days later, a senior official accompanying Powell said aboard his plane Wednesday night.
First word about the offensive came from John Garang, head of biggest faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, who told NEWSWEEK in Nairobi last Sunday that 14 villages in the area of
Heiban had been torched and more than 5,000 households destroyed with residents having to flee into the mountains, Garang said. U.S. officials accompanying Powell said they had no immediate
information and, even after consulting the U.S. missions in the region, were unable to provide any confirmation.
Humanitarian-aid experts, described by top Powell aides as highly reliable, used their own independent sources to confirm the assault
Wednesday. They said between 2,000 and 5,000 families were burned out of their modest quarters. With households averaging five or six people, this means between 10,000 and 30,000 people were forced to flee. There were no major attacks on military targets, says an informed source, who calls it “very much a civilian-targeted” operation. The source says there was no way of knowing the number of casualties. “If people are wounded, they generally don’t survive” due to the paucity of medical facilities, the source adds.
Unlike much of southern Sudan, where a mostly Christian and animist population is under frequent assault by the fundamentalist Islamic regime in Khartoum, Heiban county has both Arabic-speaking Muslims and Christians who do not want to submit to the Khartoum regime and its insistence on applying Islamic religious law. It has become a major target by the government following the discovery of oil in the area.
According to Garang, the Sudanese government dropped bombs over Tonj last Saturday and launched an offensive in three places. He said five brigades of troops—more than 10,000 soldiers—attacked in the Nuba Mountains, and they also attacked the SPLA in the southern Blue Nile and in Bar el Ghazal. (The SPLA has since faxed a statement to Reuters’s Cairo office claiming its fighters killed 400 government troops and won three battles on the southern
front lines Tuesday.) “This is a war against the civilian population. Not against the SPLA as such,” Garang told NEWSWEEK.
The more activist U.S. policy on Sudan is the result of strong pressure by a combination of evangelical Christian groups, the Congressional Black Caucus and the human-rights community. A
policy review is nearly completed, but Powell has already announced that Andrew Natsios, the director of the Agency for International Development, will be special coordinator for food
aid in Sudan. A special envoy—experienced diplomat Chester Crocker is reported to be under consideration by Powell—will be named to coordinate U.S. diplomacy and overall policy in
While in Nairobi, Powell announced that the United States will send 40,000 tons of grain to both the government-controlled north and
southern Sudan in an effort to avert a looming famine. The United States also has released some $3 million in assistance to the National
Democratic Alliance, an umbrella group in which Garang’s SPLA is a major component.
Despite the heightened U.S. interest, Powell declined to receive Garang while in Nairobi. Instead, he sent Natsios to talk with both Garang and the Sudanese ambassador. Powell’s next step is unclear. But it’s painfully obvious that one of Washington’s biggest challenges will be getting the kind of real-time data that its special
envoy will need to proceed.