Imagine the outcry if the American government was suddenly to engage in a campaign of extermination against the Navajos, one of America’s aboriginal peoples. The protests, especially from the Left, would be deafening.
But what would be unimaginable in America today is currently taking place in Sudan, whose rulers are no strangers to genocide. Sudan’s original people, the African Nuba tribes inhabiting central Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, are currently facing a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Arab and Islamist central government, whose leader, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, is currently under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur.
“The Sudanese Army and its allied militias have gone on an unsparing rampage to crush rebel fighters in the Nuba Mountains …, bombing thatch-roofed villages, executing elders, burning churches…,” stated the New York Times, citing United Nations officials and “villagers who have escaped.”
This is not the first time the Nuba, descendants of Sudan’s ancient Nubian kingdoms, have faced annihilation at the hands of their “government.” In 1983, Sudan’s southern black African tribes, already marginalised and racially discriminated against, rose up against the Arab central government (as the African tribes in Darfur were to do 20 years later). The African Nuba joined the rebellion within a few years, providing the South’s rebel army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), with thousands of fighters.
The cause of the 1983 revolt was Khartoum’s forced Arabization and Islamization policy, under which the country was to be governed by sharia law. Largely Christian and animist, the culturally African Nuba and southern Sudanese opposed these measures, causing the Khartoum government to declare jihad against them in 1989.
“The Government of Sudan’s self-declared jihad against the peoples of these southern regions is tantamount to attempted genocide,” a Christian activist, who witnessed firsthand Khartoum’s homicidal aggression, told a Congressional committee in 1995.
Largely unnoticed by the outside world, the Nuba and southern Sudanese, with some Israeli help, put up a fierce and brave resistance, defeating the jihad, but they suffered greatly for their heroic stand. Two million people died in the fighting that largely took place on their territory and another four million were displaced. Tens of thousands of black African Sudanese were also taken to Arab northern Sudan as slaves.
One of them, Francis Bok, a Dinka tribesman, told his story here in FrontPage Magazine of his ten years working as a child slave, from the age of seven to 17, for a cruel Arab master. While another, Mende Nazer, a Muslim Nuba, recounted her stolen childhood and trail of tears as a slave in an Arab household in Khartoum in her book Slave: My True Story. Nazer was 13 when captured in a Arab slave raid on her Nuba Mountains village.
The 22-year civil war between the Sudan’s northern Arabs and southern Africans ended in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that will see South Sudan become independent July 9. The Nuba Mountains, however, are north of the bloody and still unsettled boundary set out in the CPA, so the Nuba will not be joining South Sudan after it becomes independent next month. Even worse, the CPA did not grant the Nuba autonomy, as they desired, leaving their status undefined.
In his latest military campaign against the Nuba Mountains, President al-Bashir’s army and government-sponsored militias are once more spreading death indiscriminately. The official cause of the Sudanese government’s latest round of mass murder is that “tens of thousands” Nuba fighters have refused to disarm and “are digging into the craggy hillsides.”
But reports indicate the Sudanese military is waging a campaign of extermination along with a military one. Mig-29 warplanes are bombing Nuba villages unopposed, while witnesses have stated government troops “were shooting ‘the black people’.” UN officials have also reported the planting of landmines and digging of possible mass graves.
“Nuba were often just shot on sight by Khartoum forces, no questions asked,” testified former State Department official Roger P. Winter before a congressional hearing recently. “Today, again, Nuba are positioned for liquidation by Khartoum forces.”
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