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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