For twelve months the Nuba Mountain people of Sudan’s South Kordofan State have been under genocidal attack by Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP) government, the Islamist regime of ICC-indicted war criminal, Omar al-Bashir. The year’s toll on the 50+ indigenous African people groups that comprise the Nuba has been just as the regime desired. Over half a million people are at imminent risk of death from disease, starvation, and thirst, orchestrated deliberately by Bashir. And in the face of this genocide, the Obama Administration has been silent in every significant sense, refusing to take decisive action, uttering meaningless statements of concern, and tainting even those useless expressions by treating as morally equivalent the genocidal regime in Khartoum and those who are fighting against it to defend their people.
On Sunday, June 5, 2011, sources on the ground first reported that war had begun in the Nuba Mountains. A rigged election gave South Kordofan governorship to ICC-indicted war criminal Ahmed Haroun over the popular Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) war hero, Commander Abdelaziz Adam Al Hilu. Haroun demanded the disarming and expulsion of the SPLA from the region. Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and militias began deploying troops with heavy weapons, tanks, and a military air base. The Nuba division of the SPLA, now known as the SPLA-North, began to fight back against the SAF. Only in the air did Khartoum have the advantage. “We need quick action from the USA and the international community before another genocide occurs in the Nuba Mountains,” Nuba watchers warned.
Since that time, the SAF has bombed continually Nuba Mountain farm villages, burning homes, schools, and churches. Khartoum’s bombers fly daily over the region and with random cruelty drop barrel bombs stuffed with ball bearings, nails, and other deadly projectiles. The regime’s Islamist militia, the “Popular Defense Force,” Murahaliin of the Arab Baggara tribe, waged the ground war against the civilians while the SPLA-North was occupied in battle with the SAF. The militia staged house by house purges of black, African Nuba, particularly targeting church leaders and members. Khartoum also began waging war against the disputed Blue Nile State in September 2011, sacking the freely and fairly elected governor, Malik Agar, and killing civilians. Over 30,000 Nuba have fled to South Sudanese and Kenyan refugee camps. But the bombers ignore sovereign borders and occasionally attack there as well.
As many as 500,000 Nuba are hiding in mountain caves from Khartoum’s bombers. Thanks to Khartoum’s scorched earth policies, this fiercely independent and self-sufficient people’s crops have been burned and their herds stolen or slaughtered. Now they have no food but leaves and insects and little access to drinking water. Aid that would save their lives is already available, over the border in the Republic of South Sudan, but the NCP regime forbids cross-border aid. And the United States government, the United Nations, and the rest of world are silently compliant with Khartoum’s ban.
Brad Phillips, the founder and president of The Persecution Project Foundation (PPF) that has worked in Sudan since 1997, declares that the only reason the Nuba have not already been exterminated by Khartoum is that the SPLA-North “has clearly taken the fight to the NCP. After 500,000 dead and years of broken promises, marginalization, and persecution, the Nuba people have had enough.” In his Congressional testimony, Phillips criticized the U.S. and other governments for their inaction as people were being slaughtered. If it were not for the SPLA-North resistance, “led by their inspirational leader, Abdelaziz Adam Al Hilu, we would be witnessing another Rwandan-style genocide,” he blazed.
The truth is that the SPLA-North continues to win all of the ground battles against Khartoum’s troops, controlling 90 percent of the countryside. The NCP’s Sudan Armed Forces “are there in the towns, in garrisons . . . dug in like rats inside their trenches,” declared SPLA-North commander, Abdelaziz Adam Al Hilu interviewed by journalist Tristan McConnell for the Global Post. “They are not free to move.” Al Hilu observed that the Sudan Army is very weak and that they seem to have little will to fight. So why, as Nicholas Kristof demanded recently in his New York Times column, has the Obama Administration “consistently tried to restrain the rebel force”? Kristof said that Al Hilu and his troops want to liberate Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan State from NCP regime control, but that Washington is discouraging them. Al Hilu, he said, “seemed mystified that American officials try to shield a genocidal government whose army is, he thinks, crumbling.”
Al Hilu is thought of as the George Washington of Sudan by many of Sudan’s marginalized people. He says that the SPLA-North is able to fight against the larger and better-equipped Sudan Armed Forces, “Thanks to Bashir [and] SAF! It is Bashir who is supplying us [with equipment abandoned by the army]. They bring everything and leave it for us!” He showed Tristan McConnell the weapons and equipment that the SPLA-North had taken from the Sudan Army: “cars mounted [with machine guns], heaps of ammunition, shells, rockets, different types of guns.” The commander confessed that when they run across a weapon that they have not seen before, they actually look for ex-SAF soldiers to come and train them.
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