Church Bulldozed in Khartoum

Demonstrating the kind of religious tolerance for which it is famous, the Government of Sudan demolished a church on Monday, June 18, 2012. For almost a year now, since the secession of South Sudan from the country to become the Republic of South Sudan, the climate for Christians in the north has become increasingly hostile. The Islamist National Congress Party government of ICC-indicted war criminal President Omar al Bashir has indicated, not gently, that Christians and Southern Sudanese in general, are not welcome in the Islamic Republic of Sudan. Sudan is now to be a pure Islamic state, governed by Sharia: “One religion, one language, and one culture.”

The tricky thing is that there are still tens of thousands of Christians in Sudan. Some of them are refugees from the South who are hoping to return to their homeland but have no prospects for livelihood when they do. Some of these Southerners have lived in the north their whole lives — they have no familiarity with the South at all. Some of the Christians are not Southerners at all. They are northern Sudanese whose situation is even more precarious, since they are considered apostates to Islam if they have converted to Christianity. And many of all of these Christians are Episcopalians, members of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. After the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church is Sudan’s largest.

As part of its message to Christians that they are not welcome in Sudan, on Monday, June 18, the local Khartoum government’s Ministry of Planning and Housing sent a couple of trucks, a bulldozer, and a cars full of police to the Parish Church of St. John in Haj Yousif, a Southern Sudanese refugee settlement in Khartoum and reduced the church to rubble. The cars appeared without warning and surrounded the church. Some of the women church members who were present asked to remove the church’s property before the church was destroyed, but they were only given enough time to retrieve a few chairs. The authorities arrested three young people who were taking pictures of the demolition, and they were held for some hours before being released.

According to the Rt. Rev. Ezekiel Kondo, the Bishop of Khartoum, Christians had been meeting as the Church of St. John in Haj Yousif since they were first “settled” in the barren desert area by the Khartoum regime in 1987/1988. The Southerners were given nothing by the Khartoum regime to help them survive, let alone have a church building.

South Sudanese who fled north to Khartoum during the war received nothing but misery from the National Islamic Front regime (now known as the National Congress Party).

Kondo says that eventually, after some years in which the people were living in cardboard shacks, the government surveyed the area and people were allotted plots for building more permanent living structures. Several times, the people requested land upon which to build a place to worship, but the government did not allot the church a piece of land. Eventually the Christians saved enough money and built the Church of St. John on the unused, desert land anyway.

In a statement released on June 19, 2012, the day after the destruction, Bishop Kondo said the government authorities said that the church was demolished because it had no legal documents or status and because the church “belongs to Southerners, and since they have got their own independence, they should not be there.” He added that some of the authorities demanded, “If you wanted to be in Khartoum why did you vote for separation?” (It is almost amusing how many northern Sudanese appear surprised and offended that the people that they think of as “slaves” and “infidels,” and do not treat like human beings should want freedom and dignity in a nation of their own!)

Kondo, who has been defending and fighting for the rights of the Church and for Sudan’s Christians for his entire life as a church leader, responded that the government had been refusing to give legal status to the church for the last 25 years. He said that it was evident that the Sudanese government did not respect the rights of non-Muslims. The church does not belong to South Sudanese, he said. It is part of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, and he, the bishop of the Khartoum diocese, is a Sudanese, not a South Sudanese. Kondo “strongly protested against the unjust action taken by the government local authority of Shereq El Nail” and he asked “for due compensation of all the destroyed items of the church.” He also requested that “the government of Sudan to allot a plot of land for this church so as to let the Christians of this area carry out their worship.”

 

The Rt. Rev. Ezekiel Kondo, Bishop of Khartoum, comforts his pastors in the church building wrecked by the Islamist government.

The feisty bishop reported that he had ordered the destructed church site to be left as it alone for five days while an inventory of the destroyed items is compiled. Kondo notified both the local and international media of the incident.  He also informed both the state and federal branches of the Ministry of Religious Guidance and Endowments. This is not the first time that the Government of Sudan has demolished or confiscated church property, and it will surely not be the last. But the churches are blessed to have strong, courageous leaders like Ezekiel Kondo.

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Sudan’s Nuba Mountain People Starved and Bombed

Reprinted from Front Page Magazine, February 28, 2012

For almost a year now the Islamist Government of Sudan regime in Khartoum has been conducting an extermination campaign against the black, African Nuba Mountain people of South Kordofan. Aerial bombardment, house to house searches and executions, and evidence of mass graves are indicators of thousands, if not tens of thousands, who have already been killedsince the jihad began on June 5, 2011.

The Obama Administration and other world leaders were willing to move heaven and earth to bring down Egyptian and Libyan tyrants. So far, none is willing not even to bring down Sudan’s ICC-indicted war criminal president Omar al-Bashir, but just to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths by pushing Khartoum for humanitarian access to those who are starving. Instead the Obama Administration, the United Nations, and other world leaders continue to deliberate and to allow Khartoum to control the deliberations by asking them what they will and will not accept. Khartoum, not surprisingly, has banned humanitarian access saying that food aid would be used to “feed the rebels.” In truth, why would world leaders expect the regime that again is creating the starvation and genocide to allow preventative measures?

Journalist Nick Kristof, who recently expanded his knowledge of Sudan from Darfur to other areas of genocide, admirably defied Khartoum by visiting the Nuba Mountains without a visa. Writing from the region, Kristof declared, “Like many others, I’ve denounced President Bashar al-Assad of Syria for his murderous repression, but the more than 7,000 estimated by human rights groups to have been killed under Assad is within the margin of error of estimates of the numbers of people killed by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan.”

Almost 30,000 of the targeted Nuba fled from their homes and are now in Yida Refugee Camp, over the border in the Republic of South Sudan. The Sudan government has not hesitated to cross international boundaries and bomb the refugee camp, and other areas inside the nation of South Sudan. This week, one of the Sudan advocacy heroes in Congress, U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), visited the Nuba refugees at Yida. As he greeted the people lined up to meet him, several young men held up a sign demanding, “Where are you Obama, the world president? Where are you, Banki Moon, UN boss? For how long do you want us to suffer?”

Mr. Wolf wonders the same thing. He recently wrote to President Obama describing Nuba Mountain atrocities. Wolf pointed out that this is “the very same government that the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) thought was deserving of legal representation in Washington, DC.” The congressman urged Obama to revoke the license of Khartoum’s attorney/lobbyist, Bart Fisher, and says that the license to represent the genocidal government should never have been awarded in the first place.

Meanwhile, at even greater risk than those at Yida are the hundreds of thousands who remain in the Nuba Mountains, hiding in caves, eating leaves and berries, and struggling to survive. While the Khartoum regime ground forces fight the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N), the resistance movement defending the people, Antonovs and MiG fighter jets continue to drop devasting anti-personnel bombs on civilians.

On February 1, 2012 the Sudanese air force dropped 8 bombs on Heiban Bible College, built by American relief group, Samaritan’s Purse. Miraculously, seeing this was a crowded first day of school, no one was killed or even injured. Two buildings were destroyed, though, that had risen on war-devastated land just four years ago. Victims of an even more recent bombing, reported by Kristof on February 22, were not as fortunate. Says Kristof, “Four women had been injured, the worst with a shrapnel wound that sliced open her chest and exposed her lungs.”

Satellite images from the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) show that Khartoum has amassed troops to shut the Nuba off from escape and stop food and medical aid from getting in. Initiated by actor/activist George Clooney in October 2010, SSP’s latest imagery shows “apparent artillery, main battle tanks, and infantry fighting vehicles controlling the main evacuation route for refugees attempting to flee into South Sudan.” Jonathan Hutson, Director of Communications for the Enough Project, says Khartoum “is creating a kill box . . . encircling the Nuba people of the Nuba Mountains, as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign.”

Sadly, this is not unexpected. Speaking at Kadugli, South Kordofan, soon after starting his attack on the Nuba in June 2011, war criminal Bashir threatened those who resisted Khartoum. Through rigging, his fellow ICC-indictee, Ahmed Haroun, Darfur’s genocide implementer, had been “elected” governor of South Kordofan. Resistance to his fraudulent election was met by Khartoum’s already-planned extermination campaign. Bashir declared, “If the people here refuse to honor the results of the election, then we will force them back into the mountains and prevent them from having food just as we did before.”

“Just as we did before” refers to the 1983-2005 Nuba genocide when the Nuba sided with South Sudan during the war. Nuba Muslims live as friends and brothers with Christians and refused to participate in Bashir’s jihad against the South. They were labeled “apostate” in an April 1993 government-sponsored fatwa that said, “An insurgent who was previously a Moslem is now an apostate; and a non-Moslem is a non-believer standing as a bulwark against the spread of Islam, and Islam has granted the freedom of killing both of them.” Tens of thousands of Nuba were killed outright or starved to death through saturation bombing and simultaneously banned international relief flights. Khartoum did “prevent from having food,” the same strategy the regime is now employing.

In 2002, the Sudan Peace Act, passed by Congress and signed into law as Public Law 107-245 by President George W. Bush, displayed understanding of Khartoum’s intentions, finding, “By regularly banning air transport relief flights by the United Nations relief operation OLS, the Government of Sudan has been able to manipulate the receipt of food aid by the Sudanese people from the United States and other donor countries as a devastating weapon of war in the ongoing effort by the Government of Sudan to starve targeted groups and subdue areas of Sudan outside of the Government’s control.” The law directs the President to an action modeled after the Berlin Airlift, to “develop a contingency plan to provide, outside the auspices of the United Nations if necessary, the greatest possible amount of United States Government and privately donated relief to all affected areas in Sudan, including the Nuba Mountains and the Upper Nile and the Blue Nile regions, in the event that the Government of Sudan imposes a total, partial, or incremental ban on OLS air transport relief flights.” It also provides reprogramming authority for the President to redirect “up to 100 percent of the funds” available for the UN operations to non-OLS agencies.

Alternate methods to deliver humanitarian aid, like those described in Public Law 107-245, could mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of people. For this reason, Act for Sudan, an alliance of Sudan activist organizations, is asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to display the same level of concern for the Nuba and other oppressed peoples in Sudan as she has recently expressed for the Syrian people by protecting innocent Nuba from their own government. In the “Secretary Clinton: They Can’t Wait” campaign, Act for Sudan tells Clinton that the Nuba need protection and aid. The message can be posted on the State Department’s Engaging the Community on Foreign Affairs Facebook page and on Twitter.

For those who would argue that the U.S. cannot afford to pay for humanitarian supplies, the heartbreaking reality is that much of the food and medical aid is already on the ground just over the border in South Sudan, almost within sight of dying Nuba. It is not a matter of funds, but of moral will and the determination to cross borders and deliver the aid for which the Nuba people can’t wait.

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Protesting the Butchers of Sudan’s DC Lobbyist

Reprinted from Front Page Magazine, December 23, 2011

What’s the going rate for souls these days? How about $20,000 a month? Such was the deal offered by the National Islamic Front (also known as the National Congress Party) government of Sudan to Washington, DC attorney Bart S. Fisher for help getting Sudan removed from the U.S.’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

Act for Sudan, a new alliance of activists against genocide in Sudan,1 alerted U.S. Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) to the Islamist government in Khartoum’s hiring of Fisher. When Khartoum had tried the same thing in 2009, Mr. Wolf wrote a scathing letter to President Obama asking him to direct the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to deny any waiver requests by U.S. companies seeking to represent the government of Sudan. An OFAC waiver is necessary because in 1997 then President Clinton issued an Executive Order imposing a trade embargo against the entire territory of Sudan and total asset freeze against the Khartoum government. Clinton cited Sudan for “continued support for international terrorism, ongoing efforts to destabilize neighboring governments and the prevalence of human rights violations, including slavery and denial of religious freedom.” Not much has changed.

On Tuesday, December 13, Wolf, who had written once again to President Obama, went to the House floor to condemn Khartoum’s arrangement with Bart Fisher, saying:

Mr. Speaker, I was appalled and outraged to learn yesterday that the genocidal government of Khartoum has hired a lobbyist to represent its interests here in Washington. . . Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan Bashir is an internationally indicted war criminal.  Bashir is accused by the International Criminal Court of five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture and extermination, and two counts of war crimes.

But Khartoum’s crimes are not simply a thing of the past. . . .

My office has received regular reliable reports from individuals on the ground . . . We’ve learned of ongoing aerial bombardments in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states.  We’ve heard nightmarish accounts of extrajudicial killings, illegal detention, disappearances, and indiscriminate attacks against civilians.  Furthermore, evidence gathered through satellite imagery by the Satellite Sentinel Project shows at least eight mass graves found in and around Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan.

Literally thousands have fled the violence.  Which begs the question: who is their lobbyist? They are in desperate straits having left behind their entire lives.  Who is their lobbyist? They are facing malnourishment and prolonged displacement.  Who is their lobbyist?

Further protest of Fisher’s arrangements with Khartoum came on Friday, December 16, when members of Act for Sudan were joined by other Sudan advocates to demonstrate outside of the law offices of Bart Fisher. Act for Sudan reported, “Carrying protest signs and chanting, ‘Mr. Fisher, step aside, you’re representing genocide,’ the activists called on the attorney to stop helping Sudan avoid consequences for ongoing government-sponsored genocide and mass atrocities.” Protestors were buoyed by the participation of Congressman Wolf, who warned President Obama, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the head of OFAC that “history will be their judge if they fail to act.” Jeff Walton, IRD’s representative at the protest, said that the timing could not have been better as lunchtime crowds were very interested in what the protestors had to say.

Stung by the public outcry, Fisher and the Obama Administration insist that he is not a lobbyist. Fisher says that he is providing “legal advice and counsel to the Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan.” David Cohen, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, replied to criticisms by Wolf and other Sudan advocates in Congress such as U.S. Representatives Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Michael Capuano (D-MA) that longstanding Treasury regulations allow Sudan to pay for legal work in the U.S. It does not seem to be a problem that such legal advice includes finding a way to remove Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

But Wolf says that Fisher tried to lobby him on the issue of U.S. sanctions against Sudan, which is not permitted under the license. “I never requested information from Mr. Fisher,” Wolf wrote last week in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. “And yet yesterday, he called my chief of staff. And in his letter he tries to convince me, as a member of Congress, that the current sanctions…should be altered. If that’s not lobbying, I don’t know what is.” Capuano declares, “The license should be revoked and it should not be reissued until Sudan has done everything it is required to do.” And in a recent press statement Payne said, “It is absolutely unacceptable that the U.S. has allowed a murderer like Omar Hassan Bashir to hire a Washington emissary to do his bidding.”

Whether or not providing legal counsel to a regime that is in the process of committing serial genocide can be construed as selling one’s soul, it is definitely making a deal with a devil. ICC-indicted war criminal Omer Hassan al-Bashir and his cronies in Khartoum are responsible for the deaths of over 2.5 million and the displacement of over 5 million of Sudan’s own citizens during decades of genocidal jihad against black African Christian, Muslim, and animist Sudanese from South Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile State region. Khartoum’s war on the Darfuri of western Sudan has caused the death of at least another 500,000 and the displacement of millions. Under the watchful eye of the Khartoum regime, the Janjaweed have pursued a policy to “change the demography of Darfur and empty it of African tribes.”

Even as the newly-liberated Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest nation, all hell broke loose across the remaining un-liberated Islamic Republic of Sudan. Al-Bashir’s campaign to exterminate the black Africans of South Kordofan’s Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State has resulted in unknown thousands of deaths evidenced by mass graves in Kadugli, South Kordofan. Hundreds of thousands more civilians face incessant aerial bombardment, brutal ground attacks, and violent displacement while the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Northern Sector (SPLA/N) fights against Sudan’s armed forces and Islamist militias to defend them. Khartoum is denying humanitarian access to these refugees, a policy that is nothing less than deliberate starvation.

Marginalized Sudanese from across the country have been horrified by the second genocide in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State. Inspired by the courage of SPLA/N soldiers, Nubians in the far north, Beja in the east, and young freedom-loving Arab Sudanese throughout the country, have joined in the call for regime change. When such calls echoed from Tahrir Square, Tripoli, and Tunis, the Obama Administration was quick to respond: to help crush the regimes and usher in new leadership without a clear picture of just who exactly comprised that leadership. Now, when Sudanese who want freedom and secular democracy could provide new leadership that would be a far cry from the Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda sympathizers now running much of the Middle East, there is no similar regime crushing. Rather than responding to the calls for freedom from Sudan, the Obama Administration is, in the words of Frank Wolf on the floor of the House, “empowering the voice of their oppressors.”

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Natsios Says What Needs to Be Said

In an opinion editorial in the Washington Post today, former Sudan Special Envoy and former director of USAID, Ambassador Andrew Natsios says that to stop the war on South Sudan, the U.S. should send anti aircraft weapons.

Some may think that this is too drastic of a proposal, but consider that the United States promised anti aircraft weapons to the South Sudan after the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Everyone knew that Khartoum only honors agreements for as long as it is expedient, and that their only real threat that South Sudan’s SPLA could not handle was aerial attack. So the Bush Administration stated its intention to provide anti aircraft weapons, “just in case.” Now the “case” is here. Khartoum, which has been bombing the Nuba Mountains since last June, and Blue Nile State since September, is now bombing over the border, in the sovereign country of the Republic of South Sudan.

It is into this scenario that Ambassador Natsios speaks.

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Blessing

(Dedicated to the Rt. Rev. Nathaniel Garang, Bishop of Bor, Episcopal Church of Sudan after a chance meeting on the path at Ridgecrest Conference Center in the mountains of North Carolina) First published in Women’s Uncommon Prayers, Morehouse Publishing, 2000.

The bishop blessed my Fiona, with hands dark and strong,
Hands that embrace the Cross where shrapnel shards – MIGs and RPGs burning villages and forcing flocks to flee –
Are by fusion and faith transformed.

The bishop blessed my Fiona, on his knees, eye level.
Eyes dark and strong, over-full with pain, and with the memory of a man with Cross and Bible,
Murdered and dismembered,
His scattered pieces Multiplied into 32,000 martyrs-to-be.

The bishop blessed my Fiona and me, her mother.
How could he help but think of other mothers? And of children: Burlap sacks struggling, then quietly sinking in the Nile, Dying in desert dust and dung, or branded and sold.
The currency of the Cross.

 

 

 

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Sudan’s Recurring Nightmare

Reprinted from - FrontPage Magazine – http://frontpagemag.com -

Sudan is a kind of diabolical Groundhog Day. In the film by that name, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) re-lives the same day over and over again until he learns the lessons needed to change his life and save the lives of others. In Sudan today, people of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State are re-living the horrific nightmare from which they thought they had finally awakened after the signing of Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. But in this case, it is the United States government that has failed to learn the lessons needed to change conditions and save the lives of others.

Along with the citizens of what is now the new nation of the Republic of South Sudan, the people of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State were for decades mercilessly persecuted and slaughtered by their own government. Starvation and enslavement were used as weapons of war along with ground combat and aerial bombardment. The hallmark of Khartoum’s multiple declarations of jihad against its own people is the deliberate targeting of civilians and particularly of Christians. In the case of Blue Nile State, one Sudanese military commander, Taib Musba, was responsible for the killing of 15,000 Uduk Christians in the mid 1980’s. Some he killed personally by driving three-inch-long nails into the tops of their heads. Others were crushed by a 50 ton Soviet-made tank.

Deliberate targeting of civilians is also the hallmark of Khartoum’s current offensive against the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State. Since June 5, 2011, the Islamist regime’s forces, aided by militias, have been conducting an ethnically-based extermination campaign in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan State while attempting to crush the resistance movement of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM/N). And in September they began attacking Blue Nile State, as well.

In June Islamist militias first conducted a door to door search looking for Nuba with orders from ICC-indicted war criminal President Omer al-Bashir to “sweep out the trash,” and whenever they find a Nuba to “clean it up.” The horrific “cleaning” has been verified by the Satellite Sentinel Project. This invaluable effort, started by actor George Clooney, has provided evidence of mass graves believed to be of some 7000 people that were rounded up at the UN compound in the capital city of Kadugli by Sudanese government collaborators and massacred. Since June, regular aerial bombardment has killed many and sent hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in caves and beyond in South Sudan.

To add to the nightmare, Khartoum began attacking Blue Nile State in September. Unknown numbers of men, women, and children have been killed and tens of thousands have been displaced, even as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA/N), the resistance movement’s forces, fight to protect the people and maintain territory. The people of Blue Nile and the Nuba now face starvation in government-orchestrated famine. Khartoum has banned all humanitarian assistance from the regions. Now Sudan’s rainy season has ended and Khartoum is resuming land attacks, moving mechanized infantry columns into place, in addition to aerial bombardment.

On November 3, Khartoum announced the capture of Kurmuk, the capital of Southern Blue Nile State, by Government of Sudan (GOS) forces. These forces include both the regular Sudanese army and Mujahedeen and Janjaweed transferred from slaughtering civilians in Darfur civilians to slaughtering civilians in Blue Nile State. According to Blue Nile Association North America, “before entering Kurmuk the GOS forces used aerial bombardment, heavy artillery and helicopter gunships targeting the city of Kurmuk and the surrounding areas, destroying water storage tanks, churches, schools and civilians’ homes.” Tens of thousands of indigenous people were displaced, injured, and killed. Khartoum may also have employed chemical weapons. Many of the injured SPLA/N soldiers “had strange bleeding from their ears and noses.”

Reports on the ground confirmed that all of the villages and towns in the 100 or so miles between Damazin city and Kurmuk as far as the Ethiopian border were completely looted, burned and destroyed by the invading forces. The Blue Nile Association stated that ICC-indicted war criminal president Omer al-Bashir had declared following the secession of South Sudan that there was “no room for any talk about diversity.” He announced that Sudan was now a “pure Arab Islamic State.” “It seems that after this campaign and the campaign in South Kordofan President Basher [sic] is following his words to eradicate and cleanse the indigenous people in Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains of South Kurdufan,” the Blue Nile Association declared.

Not content to bomb men, women, and children in their own home regions, Sudanese Russian-built Antonovs recently crossed international borders and dropped bombs in the new nation of South Sudan where many people from the north had fled. On Thursday, November 10, Sudanese bombers attacked South Sudan’s Unity State’s Yida refugee camp, run by the Christian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse. And the day before, the Sudanese had bombed Upper Nile State, also in South Sudan.

At least 20,000 people had sought refuge at Yida, just over the border from Sudan. The refugee camp was hit by four bombs, three of which detonated, causing extensive property damage. Thankfully, no persons were injured. The one bomb that did not detonate could have been the source of greatest tragedy. It landed wedged into the side of one of the huts used as a school building, filled with some 200 children. But the commissioner of Pariang County, Unity State, reported 12 people killed and 20 wounded in the area. The aerial attack on Upper Nile State was reported to have killed 7 people in the area of Guffa. Church sources there said that the bombing was “serious and deliberate.”

With the kind of nerve for which it has long been infamous, the Sudanese regime denied the entire episode. “This information is completely false. We didn’t bomb any camps or any areas inside the borders of South Sudan,” Sudan Armed Forces spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad told the AFP news agency. “What is going on in South Sudan belongs to the southerners. We don’t have any links to this,” he declared. The Sudanese Ambassador to the UN, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, similarly denied the charges, saying that the reports were “fabrications” and “there was no aerial bombardment.”

Meanwhile, the response of the Obama administration has been more of the same moral equivalency that has enabled Khartoum to continue on toward its final solution, an ethnically-cleansed Arab Islamist state, for years. On November 9, after the aerial attack on Upper Nile State, the State Department issued a statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms the aerial bombardment by the Sudan Armed Forces that occurred near the international border between Sudan and South Sudan.”

After saying that “indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilian targets always is unacceptable and unjustified” the State Department states the obvious: “This attack only further emphasizes the need for an immediate halt to indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas by the Sudan Armed Forces…” The statement warns that this also further emphasizes the need for “resolution to the conflict through a resumption of political talks between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Northern Sector.” It concludes by urging “both sides to fully commit” to African Union talks “facilitated by Thabo Mbeki.”

Apart from the doubt that many Sudanese have expressed concerning the former president of South Africa’s neutrality (since he himself owns a business in Khartoum), the idea proposed by the State Department that there can be a political solution to the conflict is absurd when the conflict is jihad. The oft-stated goal of Khartoum’s jihad is a pure Arab Islamist state. The majority of the Sudanese people do not want this Islamic utopia. They want freedom, democracy, and separation of church/mosque and state, and they have fought harder and sacrificed more for more years for it than any denizen of “Arab Spring.”

“We know very well the plans of the Khartoum regime, which is working on a strategy of demographic change and replacement of indigenous people with foreigners from Somalia and Niger,” said SPLM/N spokesman Arno Ngutulu in a November 11 press release. “We are more determined than ever to continue the struggle until the toppling of the regime and eliminate it from the roots completely,” the statement concluded. In this recurring nightmare in which those who want freedom and democracy in Sudan have to struggle against not only the Islamist regime in Khartoum, but must fight an uphill battle with the United Nations and even with the U.S. government, that “toppling” will not come easy.

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Congressman Blasts Media for Sudan Apathy

Reprinted from - FrontPage Magazine – http://frontpagemag.com -

U.S. Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) took the mainstream media to task for poor coverage of what he called “a really big story” on Thursday, September 22, at a hearing before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) on human rights violations in Sudan. Wolf oversaw a morning of powerful testimonies about the National Congress Party (NCP) regime’s continuing atrocities in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan, Darfur and other contested regions. He reiterated the need to support Sudan’s marginalized people in their efforts to bring change and noted the lack of media attention to the aerial bombardment, extrajudicial killings, government-orchestrated starvation, and arbitrary arrests that have been taking place since the NCP launched its attack on the Nuba Mountains, June 5, 2011.

Witnesses at the hearing were in agreement that Sudan’s problem is the Islamist regime in Khartoum. The first panel was devoted to Sudan’s refugee crisis. Jana Mason, senior advisor, U.S. Government and External Relations for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, focused on Darfurian refugees who may have no home to return to, even if peace comes to Darfur. She said land ownership “was complicated.” But some describe the complication as Khartoum colonizing parts of Darfur with nomadic people groups from elsewhere in Sudan and the Arab world while continuing to perpetrate genocide on African inhabitants of Darfur.

Tom Andrews, former member of Congress and president of United to End Genocide, was the first witness on the second panel. Andrews, who has just recently returned from Sudan, called President Omar al-Bashir a “genocidal monster” and told of speaking to Darfurians who had sought refuge with the Nuba from Khartoum’s Janjaweed. These refugees now experienced new horror as Janjaweed galloped through Kauda, Kadugli and elsewhere in the Nuba Mountains with orders from al-Bashir to “sweep out the trash” and kill the Nuba “when you find them.” Andrews also spoke to Nuba priests who had fled to South Sudan, reporting house to house searches for Christians and supporters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) taking place. Christians are a special target of Khartoum in the Nuba Mountains and throughout Sudan.

Jehanne Henry, senior researcher on Sudan for Human Rights Watch, revealed that while U.S. response to the massacre taking place in Sudan was inadequate, it was more than that of the African Union and the U.N. Security Council. Neither of these agencies had yet even condemned Khartoum bombings. She also stated that there were reports of bombings and other atrocities taking place in Blue Nile State, another contested region, as well. Satellite photos from the Satellite Sentinel Project confirm these reports.

Omer Ismail, senior policy advisor for Enough Project, reported that the Satellite Sentinel Project had discovered “at least” eight mass graves in the Nuba Mountains. He urged Congress to look at the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and elsewhere in the larger context and “address the source, not the symptoms.” “The U.S. must listen and respond to the voices for change in Sudan,” he urged, noting that the same international community that became so heavily involved in Egypt and Libya because of government oppression “should have been there” for Sudan from the time of the genocide in South Sudan.

The final witness was Yasir Arman, secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). Commander Arman was the popular candidate for president of Sudan, who ran against al-Bashir until the SPLM-N decided to boycott the race to protest election fraud. Arman, a great example to all Sudanese, is a northern Arab who shares the vision of a new Sudan with freedom and equality for all, espoused by the late leader of South Sudan, Dr. John Garang de Mabior. Arman declared that al-Bashir is a terrorist, and although his terrorism “starts with the Sudanese people,” it goes “worldwide.” He revealed that over 140 leaders of the SPLM-N had been arrested and tortured, and that Malik Agar, the governor of Blue Nile State “had been sacked” and replaced by an NCP loyalist. But these besieged areas, in their resistance to the radical Islamists in Khartoum, are the “new South in the North,” Arman promised.

The high level of frustration among members of Congress was evident even as Congressman Wolf, the co-chair of the commission and a long-time advocate for the beleaguered Sudanese people, described the hearing as one of the best ones he has ever been to on Sudan (and he has been to many). Wolf admitted that he was still pessimistic about conditions in Sudan “until Bashir is taken to The Hague and tried.” He declared, as he had done at a previous hearing in August, that “until there is regime change, and Bashir is no longer in power, we will not see change in Sudan.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), co-founder and co-chair of the Sudan Caucus, also contrasted the situation in Sudan with the “Arab Spring.” “We are perfectly happy to shoot missiles at Gadhafi for threatening to hurt his people, but we are doing nothing about a government that has been killing its people for years!” he exclaimed. “None of us really understands why we are not doing more,” Capuano added.

As the hearing came to a close, Congressman Wolf searched the packed hearing room, demanding of the crowd, “How many of you are from the media?” He counted as five hands went up around the room in the Cannon House Office Building. “Of you five, are any of you from Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, or NBC?” he questioned further. Silence.

Wolf lamented that no one in the media had asked any of the Republican presidential hopefuls about Sudan in any of the debates, and since only answers to questions and no opening statements were permitted, it was hard to gauge whether or not there was any interest on the part of the GOP candidates. The congressman said he intended to send the testimonies from the hearing to the five major networks and urge them to air the views of the candidates on this important issue. Perhaps he should send copies to each of the candidates’ campaigns, as well, and seek a direct response.

Increased media coverage from all quarters would help build pressure for change in Sudan as it did for the “Arab Spring.” But the mainstream media that reported breathlessly each protest in Tahrir Square and each NATO air strike to aid Libyan “rebels” has been mostly silent about Sudan’s fight for freedom. It’s up to the rest of us to keep up the pressure.

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).

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Jihad on the Children

Reprinted from Front Page Magazine, September 8, 2011

Kauda is a town in central Sudan’s Nuba Mountains roughly 50 miles northeast of the state capital, Kadugli. Along with the rest of the Nuba Mountains/Southern Kordofan region, Kauda is under attack by the National Congress Party (NCP) Islamist government of Sudan that seeks to eradicate the black, African Nuba ethnic groups. Every day Kauda’s rich hills and fertile valleys suffer new scars as bombs drop from the sky, terrorizing and killing men, women, and children.

Khartoum’s extermination campaign began June 5, 2011, after its candidate for Nuba Mountains governor, ICC-indicted war criminal Ahmed Haroun, stole the election from the popular Commander Abdelaziz Adam Alhilu. Haroun is the architect of the genocide in Darfur. Alhilu is a hero of Sudan’s civil war and current head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-North), the force defending the Nuba from Khartoum’s troops. When the people protested the rigging of the election, Sudan President Omar al Bashir warned that if the Nuba did not accept Haroun, his soldiers would “chase them up into the mountains” where they would starve. He also told Sudan’s armed forces and Islamic militias to “just sweep away the rubbish” in the Nuba Mountains.

On June 14 the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) bombed the airstrip at Kauda, and since then they have carried out dozens more air strikes there and in surrounding villages and towns. Kauda County Police Chief, Mohammed Ibrahim, told Sudan Radio Service on July 1 that an SAF airplane had bombed the Kauda Hospital the day before, killing civilians. A pregnant woman who had just gone into labor was decapitated in the bombing.

Then on August 22, just before declaring a ceasefire that was immediately and pathetically lauded by the U.S. State Department, Khartoum targeted again civilians in Kauda. According to sources on the ground, a single Antonov plane dropped four bombs “in and around” Al Masha Secondary School. Thankfully, no one was killed. Only two people were seriously injured. But the last time Khartoum bombed a Kauda school, the tragedy was overwhelming.

Kauda still bears the scars of a wound it received at nine a.m. February 8, 2000. As children at Holy Cross Primary School settled into their studies in “classrooms” under two large shade trees, the Sudanese government turned its war on the little Catholic bush school and bombed the school. Twenty students and one teacher died. Dozens were severely injured, many requiring amputation. The Sudanese air force dropped five “barrel” bombs, studded with nails, on what the low-flying aircraft obviously knew was a civilian target.

In his beautiful but painful book, War and Faith in Sudan, journalist Gabriel Meyer recounts the events of the horrific morning:

The first two bombs failed to hit their target, landing in a hollow a quarter mile from the school and at its perimeter. The third bomb, however, landed in the schoolyard between the two trees, leaving a blackened crater in its wake. Shrapnel moving at speeds of up to two hundred miles an hour sliced through the air.

The students who flattened themselves on the ground, as they had been trained to do, had a chance. Those who tried to run away from the blasts did not.

Seeing where the third bomb had struck, and with terrorized children breaking into a run all around her, teacher Roda Ismail tried to force them to lie down, and shifted her students to the back side of the southern tree to shield them from the shrapnel whining across the yard.

That was when the fourth bomb fell. This one exploded not in a line with the other bomb but behind the sycamore, ten feet from the shadow side of the southern tree where Ismail shielded her students. Their position left them exposed to the full force of the impact.

The teacher, Roda Ismail, 22, and twelve students, from 9 to 16 years of age, were killed outright. In addition, two students who fled to the bush died of their wounds, and the German Emergency Doctors reported five more children succumbed to their wounds the next day. Meyer quoted a Nuba teacher who declared that, “Even in death, the Nuba people are one,” commenting on the fact that seven Muslim and seven Christian children had died together. Christians and Muslims have always lived in peace and friendship together in the Nuba Mountains. And this was not the first time that they had died together.

One survivor, then 12 year-old Amani Hussien Abdallah, graces the cover of Meyer’s book in a moving photo by James Nicholls, the photographer who accompanied him to Sudan. She lost her whole right arm in the blast. Her left arm was also injured and her chest scarred. Another child, an eleven year old boy, Adil Kuku, had to have his hand amputated as it had been nearly severed by shrapnel. Another casualty of the bombing was the mother of Ruza (Rosa), a girl of nine who had been decapitated in the blast. She collapsed over her daughter’s broken body and died of grief.

Meyer visited Kauda three weeks after the bombing took place. He met the grief-stricken young fiancé of the teacher who had been killed. They were to have been married six weeks later, on Easter. He learned that young Amani Hussien Abdallah was now living with the Catholic Fathers because her family was unable to provide for her special needs. Roman Catholic Bishop of the Nuba Mountains, Macram Gassis, issued a fiery press statement on February 11, 2000. He said, “When you think of Sudan, remember the children of Kauda. Do not say merely that the regime of Khartoum violates the human rights of Christians and ethnic African peoples. Say, rather, that it kills children. This is the true face of this war.”

Initially Khartoum denied responsibility for the attack, according to Meyer. The NCP said that the bombing “was a rebel fabrication” and that the children were actually killed in an SPLA military camp. Then they changed the story and said that the children were actually guerrilla fighters or that the school was next to a military garrison. But a young Nuba man, Stephen Amin, studying at Daystar Christian University in Nairobi was home in the area conducting interviews with a camcorder. He was able to film the immediate aftermath of the attack, and his video was carried by the international press. After this, NCP officials referred to the bombing as “a regrettable mistake,” except for Dirdiery Ahmed, a minister at the Nairobi’s Sudanese embassy. Upon seeing the carnage of young schoolchildren in the video, Ahmed declared, “The bombs landed where they were supposed to land. The bombs landed in a military camp. The SPLA has pulled people into this military camp.”

The Sudan Catholic Information Office later reported that the 2000 Kauda bombing took place “just days after the latest rounds of peace talks” between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). No surprise. The NCP uses peace talks and ceasefires to its own advantage while still pursuing its agenda of atrocities.

With its August 2011 ceasefire, as with previous such declarations, the Khartoum regime believes that Western officials will overlook the annoying inconvenience of its continual violations, such as the current bombings in Kauda and elsewhere, in order to push through illusory diplomatic success. Most disturbingly, Khartoum knows that the diplomats will probably turn on the party that they can manipulate, and try to force them to make such unacceptable compromises as were never demanded of the freedom fighters in Egypt or the rebels in Libya. Hence, the State Department in an August 31 press release can be “deeply concerned about reports of continued bombings of civilian areas in Southern Kordofan by the Sudanese Air Force, despite the Government of Sudan’s announcement of a unilateral two-week ceasefire last week,” and then scold the SPLA-North saying, “The United States calls on both sides to allow unfettered humanitarian access to affected populations in Southern Kordofan.”

It should be obvious to all that only one “side” is preventing humanitarian access to the affected populations. Those who have affected the populations to begin with are the ones who prevent humanitarian access to those populations. Only one side is, as Bishop Gassis said eleven years ago, killing children, inflicting more and more wounds on Kauda and throughout the Nuba Mountains.

 

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I Haven’t Forgotten (Written 2008, updated 9/11/2011)

The principle of jihad practiced by the Sudanese government in which they pitted one African Sudanese people against another was known as “use a slave to kill a slave.” What a twisted, evil way in which to enact that principle here in the United States: using our own aircraft, our own fellow citizens’ bodies, as weapons

Like most people my age or older, I remember exactly where I was when I heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. In the same way, seven years after 9/11, I remember exactly where I was when radical Islamists changed the world as we know it.

I recount my experience here not because of some self-indulgent nostalgia, but as a way of honoring those who died, and of demonstrating how important it is to connect the dots about radical Islam and global jihad.

Knowledge of what was happening on that warm, sunny day in September came piecemeal to me. I was in a taxi on my way to the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill when I heard the first news report on the radio. An airplane had hit one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

“What a terrible accident!” I shuddered, thinking that a small aircraft had flown too close to the skyscraper and crashed to the earth.

A few minutes later I arrived at the Rayburn Building, so I didn’t hear any more of the news report. The Sudan Coalition, which the IRD helped to create, was having a press conference about the need for the U.S. government to enact capital market sanctions against companies doing business with the Islamist regime that was waging genocide against its own people in Sudan. U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) had offered an amendment to that effect in a piece of legislation known as the Sudan Peace Act. Such capital market sanctions would cripple the Sudanese regime financially in a far more effective way than we had been able to do through a divestment campaign against its partner oil companies.

Most of my friends and fellow advocates were already in the hearing room when I arrived. Every eye was fixed on a television screen, where a second airplane approaching the Twin Towers was making its nightmarish appearance. A heartbeat later, we all gasped. Some cried out, as if in prayer for the passengers and crews on the planes and the people occupying the World Trade Center. Others swore angrily—I think these were the folks who had already read the situation aright, and knew that we were now engaged in a battle such as we had never known before.

There would be no press conference by the Sudan Coalition that day. In my confusion and shock, which was merely a kind of self-protective denial that would later be replaced with grief and rage, I was numbly bemoaning the difficulty of rescheduling a press conference. Reminded of those in the government who downplayed the role of radical Islam in Sudan, I thought, “Now they’ll get it! Now they will understand what we’re up against!”

Then I connected the dots, and I “got it.” The inconceivable was taking place. This was deliberate. This was an act of terrorism. The principle of jihad practiced by the Sudanese government in which they pitted one African Sudanese people against another was known as “use a slave to kill a slave.” What a twisted, evil way in which to enact that principle here in the United States: using our own aircraft, our own fellow citizens’ bodies, as weapons against us.

Another news report then hit us in the Rayburn Building—it seemed that another plane might be headed towards Washington, DC to target the White House or the Capitol.

“We have to get out of here—now!” announced one member of our coalition, an expert on global terrorism.

Silently we all looked around the room at each other as if to say goodbye, reluctant to leave the room, which would be tantamount to accepting the new reality outside that door. We returned to the hallway which was already mad with Hill staffers and others trying to get out. The simple task of exiting the Rayburn Building became much more complicated and then leaving the city proved extremely difficult. But it was nothing compared to the hell that we would later hear was taking place in New York or just a few miles away from us, at the Pentagon. Or in the air over Shanksville, PA.

That morning we could not begin to comprehend how life would be forever changed. We now talk about appeasers of radical Islam as having a “September 10” mentality. I fall squarely on the other side of the divide. I’ve become more patriotic than I ever was before. I developed a totally unexpected appreciation of country music—since it was mostly country singers who paid and continue to pay tribute to those who died on September 11 and to those who serve our country’s armed forces. And every so often, I pull out a big book called Portraits: 9/11/01, open it at random, and cry over the death of someone I never knew.

In the days that followed 9/11, I wondered if those of us on Capitol Hill that morning owed our lives to the brave Americans who brought down United Airlines Flight 93. It seems likely that until they diverted that particular weapon of mass destruction, it was headed towards Washington, DC.

From what we know now, it seems that was definitely the case. And when one of my favorite country singers, Darrell Worley, sings of those who “went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field” in his ballad, Have You Forgotten?, I know that I have not forgotten. And I never will.

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Khartoum Attempts Eradication of Sudan’s Freedom Movement

Press Release: National Congress bans SPLM/N, arrests many members and leaders and confiscates properties and documents all over Northern Sudan

In a significant development, the National Congress Party has banned the SPLM/North and arrested many of its members and leaders in addition to confiscating properties and documents across the Northern Sudan.

Over the last 24 hours, the following violations have been reported:

1-Western Darfur State:

In Al Geneina, the capital of Western Darfur State, the security agencies yesterday conducted a predawn raid in a number of SPLM offices and residents of the SPLM members, resulting in the arrest of Madam Salwa Adam Bineiya, the Chairperson of the SPLM in Gadaref State. She was spending the Eid holiday with her relatives in Geneina. Madam Salwa is also a former SPLM candidate for the post of the governor of Gadaref. Five other members of the SPLM in Darfur have also been arrested. Several SPLM vehicles and documents have been confiscated after offices had been vandalized and shut down.

2-Al Gezira State:

SPLM offices in the entire counties and districts of the state have been shut down and members arrested, among them the secretary general of the SPLM in the state and a well-known activist in Wed Medani city, Ustaz Abdullah Abaker. It is to be recalled that the Governor of Al Gezira, Zubeir Bashir Taha attempted to close down the SPLM offices in many times in the last three months, even before the war could start in the two areas. Taha is well-known Islamic fundamentalist and anti-SPLM/N campaigner.

3-Northern Kordofan State:

SPLM offices in the state have been closed down. The SPLM Secretary General, the Secretary for Information and the Chairperson of Ghibesh District have been arrested by the security forces. Furniture and documents of the main office in Al Obaid town have been confiscated.

4-Khartoum State:

In the capital Khartoum, the security forces closed down the General Headquarters of the SPLM/N. The office of the Secretary General at Arkuwait has been vandalized, using a force consisting of four vehicles carrying heavily armed soldiers.

5-Nile State:

In this state SPLM offices have been shut down and vehicles and documents have been commandeered.

6-Sennar State:

Offices of the SPLM have been shut down and many members rounded up from their houses and detained. It is worth mentioning that Sennar is a neighboring state to Blue Nile.

7-Northern Darfur

All SPLM offices in Northern Darfur have been shut down, particularly offices in Al Fasher, the capital of the state. It is worth mentioning that all those who are arrested are civilians and have nothing to do with the on going war. They are citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights through peaceful means. We call upon human organizations and activists to bring pressure to bear on Al Bashir government to stop this witch-hunt against the SPLM/N membership. The general public in the Sudan, the region and the international community at large will be updated as we receive more information.

Conclusion:

The plan to eradicate the SPLM/N has been designed long time ago by the National Congress who fears the role of the SPLM/N as a democratic force in the transformation of the North. The leadership of the SPLM/N has been a target of a semi-Nazi campaign during the six year interim period. It is evidently clear to the National Congress that the SPLM/N is a formidable force, thus the delusional attempts to uproot it!

The National Congress, by depriving the SPLM/N of any political space, and by disowning the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement which was the only viable track, has deliberately chosen war as the only mechanism to eradicate the SPLM/N. The NCP will live to regret this choice as the SPLM is there to stay and to lead. Rather, it is the dictatorship of the NCP that will sooner or later be assigned to history’s dustbin.

Yasir Arman

SPLM/N Secretary General

September 4th,2011

 

 

 

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