Sunday, 25 October 2015

War against Nuba People by Sudanese government

Everyone knows or has heard of the continuing Israeli siege in Gaza that has suffocated Gaza's 1.4 million civilians. The story of Israel's use of excessive force against Palestinian families and children is well known even for the blind who can only hear about the social and infrastructural destruction of occupied Gaza and the wider lands in Occupied Palestine. Thousands of miles south of besieged and blockaded Gaza, another blockaded land is under siege by government forces.

The Sudanese capital Khartoum. It could be mistaken for a mini version of Cairo with neighborhoods spreading across both sides of the Nile and its own unique culture. The second largest city Omdurman is to the city's West. 

Sudan is a multiethnic and multi religious country, it has been for thousands of years. Historically Sudan was an extension of Egypt vice versea often unified with its northern neighbor through imperial and pharaonic rules. Sudan is also the home of Nubia, Kush, Kerma, Merotic Empires and kingdoms and traded with Ethiopia and Arabia. Egypt and Britain both colonized and ruled Sudan under the Anglo-Egyptian condominium from the late 19th century to Sudanese independence in 1955. The British ruled Sudan as two separate entities with Northern Sudan being connected to the larger Arab and Muslim countries and Southern Sudan being tied to Eastern African countries such as Kenya, DR Congo and Uganda. Darfur was originally its own independent sultanate from the early 16th century until the condominium when it became part of Sudan. Gamal Nassar's emphasis on Arab nationalism and Pan Arab unity in Egypt and the wider region continues to affect Sudanese politics and thoughts into the present. When Sudan gained independence in 1955, the Sudanese government began pushing a policy of Arabization and Islamification in Southern Sudan and Darfur to cement Khartoum government's political and cultural control over Africa's largest country. The policy has continued to this day at the expense of Sudan's own multicultural identity, religious tolerance and the crushing of ancient languages and religions that predate Ancient Egypt. The current President Omar Bashir has taken the Saudi wahhabi brand of Sharia, islamification and anti-African racism to a brutal level against the long marginalized regions of Kordofan, Blue Nile, Darfur and Eastern Sudan's Red Sea state. The Sudanese government even before the current President Omar Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1991, ignored the grievances of its citizens outside the capital. Bashir is a wanted war criminal (International Criminal Court in The Hague has been calling for his arrest for the last 12 years) who escaped arrest for his crimes against humanity in South Africa during a meeting earlier this year. The African Union has condemned the Sudanese government's war against its own people for decades. AU peacekeepers are currently in Darfur and are extending their mission with resistance from the Khartoum government.

The mainstream media like to explain away the complexities by saying the Sudanese Civil War is a religious one between Christians and Muslims or African vs Arab (Sudanese Arabs are Afro Arabs). Being Arab isn't based on ethnicity but culture and language. When the marginalized Sudanese in the South, Darfur and Nuba Mountains,and Red Sea state (home of the Beja people) started fighting back against the Sudanese government, pundits dragged up the old mantra of "ancient tribal hatreds" or "just another African war between faceless governments and rebel forces." Rarely are the reasons and causes for the war in the first place are explained. 

2005 Comprehensive Peace Deal Al Jazeera

As part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Khartoum government and then SPLA Southern Sudanese rebels, the Nuba Mountains, Abyei and Blue Nile state were granted the right to vote on their futures. The ongoing bombings of the Nuba Mts and Blue Nile delayed the vote. When South Sudan gained in 2011, each region would be allowed to hold referendums on whether to stay part of Sudan or breakaway and become part of the new independent South Sudan. The recent war in Nuba Mts and against the SPLA-N began 2011 when elections for referendum was accused of being rigged by the Sudanese government. The Nuba people in both the Nuba Mts and Blue Nile and the Dinka Ngoc in Abyei are close cousins of the South Sudanese. That doesn't mean everyone in Abeyi would vote for joining their southern neighbor. Many fought for South Sudanese independence and against the Khartoum government throughout the 50 year old civil war in Sudan.

Sudanese govt targets only hospital in Nuba Mountains

When resistance is a crime

For over 20 years, the Nuba people living in the Nuba Mountain located in South Kordofan state in Sudan along the border with South Sudan has been under siege and blockaded by the Sudanese government. The Nuba people belong to many ethnic groups with a unique and ancient culture. In terms of religion, the Nuba people are half Muslims and Christians. Both faithful communities live in peace side by side. Religious coexistence doesn't spare either group: they are equally targeted. The Nuba people have witnessed their houses, schools, hospitals, farms and arable lands and roads destroyed by the Sudanese army's excessive use of force meant to punish civilians in the name of fighting the rebel group SPLA-North that operate out of the mountains. Entry into the Nuba Mountains is not allowed even for journalists. Some journalists have managed over the years to make it into the Nuba Mts but they are few. Most of Nuba Mts journalists are local people documenting the disproportionate war and crimes against them. Medical aid has been blocked as a form of collective punishment on the Nuba to starve the civilians and further hurt the SPLA-N's war efforts. Children and women bear the brunt of the blockade and bombing. In neighboring Blue Nile State, sandwiched next to Ethiopia, SPLA-N soldiers has also been fighting the Sudanese government to protect evacuated citizens and their land from destruction and ethnic cleansing. Sudanese Army will bomb even remote areas where there are little civilians or small rebel bases than blame the killing on the SPLA or their supporters. Another arm of the war machine, the Sudanese army relies on is local usually Arab or Arabic speaking militia in these regions. The militiamen are sometimes neighbors of their displaced and bombed neighbors from Nuba, Blue Nile or across Darfur. The militiamen see little irony in being able to settle in destroyed and depopulated villages in Darfur or aid the national army in chasing out their fellow countrymen. The militiamen terrorizing parts of Nuba and Darfur have become the unofficial infantrymen for the Sudanese army when soldiers aren't deployed or gruesomely prefer to bombard civilians from the air via antonov plane. Nuba civilians have been denied any form of return to their homes, schools and villages. The government has taken the ethnic cleansing a step further by encouraging Arab settlers from other parts of Sudan to settle in destroyed regions such as Darfur. Perhaps the same will be repeated in Nuba.

Viva la cultura: Culture lives

Even with the war, the Nuba people still live, go to school and celebrate their culture and language. Resistance through normalcy. The Nuba language not to be confused with Nubian, is actually made up of 100 languages sometimes named the Kordofan languages (after South Kordofan Province) but commonly referred to as Nuba to simplify the long list of languages. Again, Sudan's language diversity would put the tower of babel to shame. Nuba language specialists and Nuba activists are fighting to protect some of the Nuba language particularly the Moro Nuba language through language study project and printed materials for language students. Nuba artists and activists are also passing on the language and culture to the next generation. The Nuba culture is most famous for Nuba wrestling which is a national sport in Sudan and popular in Khartoum. It is both a form of therapy and pride for the Nuba. Some Nuba wrestlers are hoping that Nuba wrestling becomes an Olympic sport in the near future. Nuba refugee families and activists who live abroad in United States, UK, Egypt have been showcasing the Nuba culture, fighting for their rights and people's voices in their host societies to be heard. Not only that but to be respected in Sudan.

Khartoum's War on Sudan: When Civilians are the enemy Nuba Reports

Bombing civilians to punish rebel groups

The SPLA-N are a faction of the once nationwide Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement that had fought against the Sudanese government based in the capital Khartoum. Like many bombarded and occupied peoples in other parts of the world, Palestine included, the Nuba and South Sudanese people have long accused the Sudanese government of marginalization, collective punishment that purposely target civilians without distinguish, ethnic cleansing, lack of infrastructure development, failure to redistribute oil wealth and natural resources to benefit the whole of Sudan as oppose to just Khartoum. Centralization of everything from political representation to resources to solely the capital city plays a huge role in many long standing conflicts in the DR Congo. Sudan is no exception. The Sudanese government regarded the SPLA and the current rebel groups in Nuba and the Blue Nile states as threats to national security. The rebels are treated as terrorists although they have received recognition and support from neighboring African countries including South Sudan.

Yes, Sudan receives its military helicopters from Russia one of its allies and trading partners in its crucial petroleum industry. The other ally is China who uses the reasoning of its none of my business concerning the destruction of the Nuba Mts.  Nuba at the expense of the locals who are now in refugee camps in South Sudan or living in caves for safety. The constant bombing has made it impossible for many Nuba to return to their old homes or even attend school. Even in a safe environment such as the St. Joseph hospital, the only hospital in Nuba still fully operational, the antonov bombs are dropped near by to cause further fear and injury to civilians.

Nuba Reports: Nuba Child struck by Antonov missile in Nuba Mountians, Sudan

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