Fire on the Mountain: War Crimes in Southern Kordofan

 

The following is a very important article written on June 24, 2011 by Elizabeth Kendal of Religious Liberty Monitoring (http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com/) regarding the current war in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan in Southern Kordofan State. We have received permission to reprint it in full. PPF’s Brad Phillips and Matt Chancey just returned from a 12-day journey into the Nuba Mountains to assess the current needs of the people and to verify and document many of the horrific accounts of war crimes and ethnic cleansing coming out of this area. The pictures in this article were taken during this amazing and sometimes harrowing journey.

 

 

 

 

Headed for the Warzone.

 

 

Sudan: Nuba Genocide Resumes

The Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan are populated by some 50 African tribes collectively known as Nuba. A marginalised and long-suffering mostly Christian people, the Nuba only narrowly survived a genocidal assault in the early 1990s. Today, as Southern secession looms, it appears that the genocidal regime of indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir may be set on completing the genocide it did not quite manage to effect during the civil war.

“Once again,” laments the Rt. Rev. Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail of the Episcopal Diocese of Kadugli, “we are facing the nightmare of genocide of our people, a final attempt to erase our culture and society from the face of the earth.”

The vehicles we used while in the Nuba Mountains were covered in mud to hide them from MiG fighters and Antonov Bombers.

When Vision Dies

Despite his best efforts when negotiating the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), South Sudan’s visionary leader, Dr. John Garang, had not been able to get the Government of Sudan (GoS) to agree to a referendum on self-determination for the Nuba. Garang, however, assured the Nuba that if the CPA was implemented then the racist, Islamist regime would be finished and a “New Sudan” would emerge. And so the Nuba signed the CPA despite their immense dissatisfaction at the lack of a referendum on Nuba self-determination.

When Dr. John Garang signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005 on behalf of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), he never intended that Southern secession should be the outcome. In fact Dr. Garang regarded the disintegration of Sudan as “something at all costs we must avoid.”

See: TEXT: Garang’s speech at the signing ceremony of S. Sudan peace deal http://www.sudantribune.com/TEXT-Garang-s-speech-at-the,7476 Sudan Tribune, Monday 10 January 2005

The CPA’s provision of a referendum on Southern self-determination was included primarily as a confidence measure to help the traumatised, jihad-ravaged Southerners support the CPA. Secession was never part of Dr. Garang’s vision, for Garang was acutely aware that all Sudan’s non-Arabs and non-Muslims — not just those residing in the South — needed an end to the crippling racial and religious discrimination and violent persecution they were suffering: they all needed a New Sudan. Doubtless after oil was discovered in the south, Garang would also have realised that the North would never let the South just walk away with 80 percent of the state’s oil reserves.

Troops headed to the front lines.

Dr. Garang saw Sudan as home to some 500 different ethnic groups speaking more than 130 different languages; an ancient land with a 5,000 year history of diversity and flux. He believed that at the root of all Sudan’s troubles were the regime’s efforts to create a monolithic Arab-Islamist State. According to Garang, Sudan’s problems could only be solved by Sudanese accepting their history, embracing their diversity, and committing themselves to the establishment of an all-inclusive New Sudan; a state “in which all Sudanese are equally stakeholders irrespective of their religion, irrespective of their race, tribe or gender”. “Sudan,” he said, “belongs equally to all the peoples that now inhabit the country and its history, its diversity and richness [are] the common heritage of all Sudanese.”

These soldiers are fighting, because they refuse to be "Arabized" or "Islamized."

Garang proposed a devolution of power to the various regions, and free and fair democratic elections through which a truly representative National Assembly could be formed. He believed that if these could not be achieved, then unity would become attractive and a nightmarish war of disintegration could be averted to the benefit of all. The CPA provided a window of six years — from 9 Jan 2005 (CPA) to 9 Jan 2011 (referendum on Southern self-determination). Of course Garang could not do this alone: such a feat would require oppositional unity and Khartoum’s cooperation to ensure full CPA implementation.

But tragically Dr. John Garang (born on 23 June 1945) died in a helicopter crash on 30 July 2005. He had led the SPLM/A for 22 years. From that point onwards the National Congress Party (NCP, formerly the National Islamic Front (NIF)) regime of President Omar al-Bashir did everything in its power to frustrate the implementation of the CPA.

See: Southern Sudan: On the path to war http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com/2007/10/southern-sudan-on-path-to-war.html Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC. 3 Oct 2007

See also: Sudan’s elections: already totally compromised. http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com/2010/04/sudans-elections-already-totally.html Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring, 8 April 2010

During these years, it was profoundly unfortunate that the “international community” chose to do little more than equivocate and appease the NCP/NIF regime. Ultimately however, it was supremely unfortunate that the SPLM — under the leadership of Salva Kiir and long-time pro-secessionist Riek Machar — succumbed to the “divide and conquer” strategy of the duplicitous al-Bashir. On the eve of the April 2010 elections, Kiir and Machar struck a deal with al-Bashir: the SPLM would pull their presidential candidate and guarantee al-Bashir the presidency in exchange for guarantees from al-Bashir — a brutal dictator who is driven by racial and religious hatred, who lies compulsively and is an indicted war criminal — that the referendum on Southern self-determination would proceed peacefully. This was a profound strategic blunder, a moral travesty and a failure of faith: a “covenant with death” indeed!

See: SPLM – NCP alliance: a “covenant with death”. http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com/2010/05/splm-ncp-alliance-covenant-with-death.html Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring, 14 May 2010

The PPF team poses on a "liberated" enemy tank.

Now with the South due to secede on 9 July 2011, the regime in Khartoum is doing exactly what dedicated Sudan-watchers feared it would do. It has invaded, ethnically cleansed, occupied and annexed the contested, traditionally Dinka Ngok-populated border region of Abyei. It has recommenced its genocidal war against the African, predominantly Christian tribes of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan (North Sudan), and it is bombing SPLA positions in the oil fields of Unity State (South Sudan), doubtless ahead of an invasion.

This man lost a leg but still manages to smile as our team greets several amputees at the only functioning hospital in the Nuba Mountains.

 

We met dozens of amputees during our visit to the hospital.

 

 

Abyei Seized

The hotly contested, fertile and oil-rich province of Abyei, straddles the north-south divide. Traditionally, northern pro-Khartoum Misseriya Arabs drive their cattle through the southern Dinka Ngok-populated regions of Abyei annually. The CPA mandated that Abyei should get its own referendum to determine whether it would be part of the south or the north after secession.

In July 2009, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that Abyei be delineated in such a fashion as to reduce its size (most notably in the east). The ruling put the highly productive Heglig and Bamboo oil fields in the North, under GoS (Khartoum) control. Naturally the GoS welcomed the fact “that the oilfields are now excluded from the Abyei area.” While the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) was disappointed, it accepted the ruling as “final and binding.” The ruling left the new, redefined Abyei even more predominantly populated by Dinka Ngok. Despite all this, the GoS continued to frustrate the formation of a referendum commission, while insisting that northern Misseriya Arab nomads be granted voting rights in Abyei, despite the fact that they are not residents. Ultimately the referendum did not take place.

This little girl lost her entire family in one of the bombings. She was also paralyzed by shrapnel.

Speaking on Wednesday 27 April 2011, to a rally of mostly Misseriya Arabs in neighboring Southern Kordofan (North Sudan), President Omar al-Bashir rendered a referendum void declaring: “Abyei is located in North Sudan and will remain in North Sudan.”

On Thursday 19 May, Khartoum accused the Southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) of attacking a convoy of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Dokura north of Abyei town. While the SPLA denied responsibility, the government responded with force.

We witnessed total destruction of villages by the Sudan Armed Forces.

After several hours of bombing and shelling, SPLA troops retreated and Abyei’s remnant 20,000 southern Dinka Ngok residents fled south as SAF tanks and thousands of troops moved in — their numbers having been built up weeks in advance. The MSF hospital in Agok, 40 km (24 miles) south of Abyei, had received 42 wounded by early Saturday morning. By Sunday it was being reported that Khartoum had seized and annexed Abyei.

This poor woman was pulled out of her burning home after bombs set fire to several buildings in her village.

Southern Sudanese leaders have accused the north of “an act of war”, something Khartoum denies, saying it was merely removing illegal elements so as to improve security and ensure peace and stability. Abyei, now under the control of Khartoum, has since been thoroughly looted and torched.

Meanwhile, though Abyei has clearly and obviously been violently ethnically cleansed, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said it was too early to call it ethnic cleansing. According to Ban Ki-Moon, ethnic cleansing can only be said to have occurred if the Dinka Ngok do not return.

See: Sudan’s invasion of Abyei: Is it ethnic cleansing or isn’t it? http://turtlebay.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/06/06/sudans_invasion_of_abyei_is_it_ethnic_cleansing_or_isnt_it By Colum Lynch for Foreign Policy. 6 June 2011

See also: Eric Reeves. An Abyei Timeline: The Long Road to Khartoum’s Military Invasion http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article328.html

People are so terrified from the daily bombings that hundreds of thousands have left their homes for the safety of the mountain.

Nuba Genocide — Khartoum’s final solution?

North Sudan’s South Kordofan state is defined by the Nuba Mountains. While the plains of South Kordofan are populated by pro-Khartoum Arab Misseriya Baggara nomads, the Nuba Mountains are populated by some 50 non-Arab, predominantly non-Muslim African tribes collectively known as Nuba. Long isolated, the Nuba are famous for their unique culture.

In 1968, Khartoum started acquiring large tracts of land for mechanised farming. As the Baggara nomads gradually lost more and more of their traditional pastures, they started grazing their cattle on Nuba land, destroying crops and occupying wells in the process. Tensions soared, exacerbated through the 1970s by drought. By 1983, the Baggara were raiding the Nuba at will with impunity.

PPF accompanied Aljazeera English reporters to meet Nuba commander Abdelaziz Adam Al Hilu.

Meanwhile, Dr. John Garang had united South Sudan’s various rebel forces to form the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). In June ’83 the SPLM published its Manifesto calling for a united, secular, democratic Sudan with equality and rights for all Sudan’s diverse peoples. Khartoum responded by imposing Sharia Law. The South would not submit. The civil war was on.

In 1984, senior Nuba leaders who likewise wanted an end to marginalisation and Islamisation, joined the SPLM/A.

Aljazeera English's late night interview with Commander Abdelaziz at a secret location.

In 1985, a local SPLA taskforce chased a band of Misseriya Baggara raiders to the outskirts of the Nuba Mts, killing 60. Khartoum responded by training and arming Baggara militias, known as Murahaliin, for use in a proxy jihad against the Nuba. When in 1986 an SPLA taskforce came seeking recruits, young Nuba men flocked to enlist. At that point the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) invaded the Nuba Mountains, purging Nuba villages of anyone they suspected of SPLA sympathies.

Brad has been a long-time friend of Nuba resistance leader, Abdelaziz Adam Al Hilu.

In 1989, Lt-Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed military coup. Al-Bashir brought the Baggara Murahaliin under government control, rebranded them as the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) and commissioned them to enact genocide in the Nuba Mountains.

The SAF and PDF eliminated the Nuba elite, razed Nuba villages, burned Nuba crops, and shut schools and medical clinics. The areas that survived under SPLA control were then blockaded — closed to all trade and humanitarian aid. Amidst this, the GoS established “Peace Camps” (concentration camps) where submission to the regime and conversion to Islam would win a family GoS food-aid. Hundreds of thousands of Nuba perished in the Government of Sudan (GoS)-engineered famine of 1990-93 rather than submit. If it had not been for corruption — i.e. Arab smugglers — Nuba civilisation would have been annihilated.

See: Facing Genocide: The Nuba of Sudan http://www.justiceafrica.org/publishing/online-books/facing-genocide-the-nuba-of-sudan/ African Rights, 1995

Today genocide has returned to the Nuba Mountains. Violence exploded in South Kordofan on 5 June 2011, as SAF and SPLA troops clashed in the capital, Kadugli. Subsequently, SAF and Baggara Arab militias have been conducting door-to-door sweeping operations in the cities and towns, killing everyone they suspect of SPLA sympathies. In a report entitled, “Genocide in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan” (22 June 2011), long-time Sudan analyst Eric Reeves reports: “Many of these people are hauled away in cattle trucks or summarily executed; dead bodies reportedly litter the streets of Kadugli.”

Commander Abdelaziz to President Obama, "This is another Rwanda Genocide."

While South Kordofan is the only state in the North with oil, this conflict is not primarily about oil; it is about extreme racial hatred and Arab supremacism. “The real issue,” explains Reeves, “is not political identity but Nuba ethnicity.” Reeves quotes aid workers and Nuba who report that the Arab militias have orders to “clear” the region of “blacks“.

Reeves writes: “Yet another Nuba resident of Kadugli (‘Yusef’) told Agence France-Presse that he had been informed by a member of the notorious Popular Defense Forces (PDF) that they had been provided with plenty of weapons and ammunition, and a standing order: ‘He said that they had clear instructions: just sweep away the rubbish. If you see a Nuba, just clean it up’. He told me he saw two trucks of people with their hands tied and blindfolded, driving out to where diggers were making holes for graves on the edge of town.”

Commander Abdelaziz joins with the Church in singing hymns at an impromptu service hidden within the mountains.

According to the Rt. Rev. Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail of the Episcopal Diocese of Kadugli, “churches and pastors were directly targeted.”

Christians have told Compass Direct News that they have witnessed clergy being shot and killed by the sword before their eyes, to shouts of Allahu Akbar. Rev Lual was dragged out of his church and tortured for two days. In Kadugli, the Catholic, Episcopal and Church of Christ churches have been looted and torched.

Three brave Nuba pastors who face arrest, torture and death if the ruling regime in Khartoum wins this war. (Faces blurred for security.)

The Bishop believes that President al-Bashir is declaring to the world that Sharia will be the law of the land for the north, while demonstrating that he will never recognise the legitimate presence of the Christian minority. “Please pray and fast with us as you are able for a solution to this crisis,” he pleads.

The singing of the Church echoed for miles through the mountains. It was one of the most powerful services we had ever attended.

Further to this, Khartoum is once again blockading all humanitarian assistance to the Nuba people. The SAF has bombed and totally destroyed the Kauda airstrip which was critical for humanitarian transport. Consequently, the UN can no longer deliver humanitarian aid. As Reeves notes, ”The airstrip has no military value, as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces have no aircraft. The concerted bombing, with high-explosives producing enormous craters, is simply to deny the Nuba food, medicine and shelter.”

Reeves reports: “The same assault on humanitarian efforts is underway in Kadugli and other towns under Khartoum’s military control. The UN World Health Organization warehouse and offices in Kadugli have been completely looted, as have those of other UN humanitarian agencies. The Kadugli airport has been commandeered by Khartoum’s military forces, and all humanitarian flights into South Kordofan have been halted. The World Food Program has announced that it has no way to feed some 400,000 beneficiaries in South Kordofan. As in Darfur, Khartoum intends to wage a genocide of attrition — defeating the Nuba by starving them.”

Now you know. What will you do?

As all long-time Sudan watchers know, Khartoum has considerable experience in engineering famine and using starvation as a weapon of mass destruction.

On Sunday 12 June, the governor of North Kordofan declared jihad on the mostly Christian Nuba. Meanwhile, the governor of South Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun — recently installed by Khartoum by means of a fraudulent poll — is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

See: Fear Pervades Nuba Mountains That Sudan Government Intent on Genocide http://asbarez.com/96507/fear-pervades-nuba-mountains-that-sudan-government-intent-on-genocide/ By Samuel Totten, a genocide scholar based at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. 13 June 2011

See also: Sudan’s Nuba people ‘targeted by army’ (youtube) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcayF_sZOf8 Video footage by Aljazeera

Unity State Bombed

Further to this, tens of thousands of Southerners have been forced to flee the aerial bombardment of oil regions in South Sudan’s Unity State. Clearly the regime is aiming to seize as much of the South’s oil-rich territory as possible before secession takes place on 9 July.

See: Sudan bombs Unity state ‘to control oilfields’ http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iJr2DUyucgja08GBBoMDbEEVkvrg?docId=CNG.f0cf4e201117b4e64ed6d628597c40b1.341 By Simon Martelli (AFP), 10 June 2011

See also: Over 2,000 displaced by North Sudan’s bombing of Unity State – officials http://www.sudantribune.com/Over-2-000-displaced-by-north-s,39250 By Bonifacio Taban Kuich, Sudan Tribune, 17 June 2011

See also: Eric Reeves http://www.sudanreeves.org/

5 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Thank you Brad, Matt and the entire PPF team for this report. The word must get out. I join you in prayer for the persecuted in the Nuba mountain area of Sudan.

  2. Thank you Brad, Matt and the entire PPF team for this report. The word must get out. I join you in prayer for the persecuted in the Nuba mountain area of Sudan.

  3. Standing with my Brothers and Sisters in Prayer.

  4. Standing with my Brothers and Sisters in Prayer.

  5. I wish that they can bring peace to the world and god bless Nuba Mountians forever.

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