Fear Pervades Nuba Mountains that Sudan Government Intent on Genocid

Fear Pervades Nuba Mountains that Sudan Government Intent on Genocide

Sat, Jun 11 2011
By: Samuel Totten

Tucked away in the hilly mid-section of Sudan lie the Nuba Mountains,
an isolated region that was the target of genocidal actions by the
Government of Sudan (GoS) in the early 1990s. This past week the Nuba
Mountains has exploded in violence again, and many of the inhabitants
fear that Sudanese President Omar al Bashir may be planning to
complete what he left unfinished many years ago.

Villages perched on steep hillsides in the Nuba mountains. (Source:
Left out of the referendum that resulted in southern Sudan severing
its relationship with the north, the people of the Nuba Mountains and
the Blue Nile region were, per the internationally brokered
Comprehensive Peace Plan, forced to remain with the north. That left
many in the Nuba Mountains devastated, frightened, and angry.

After all, boys and men from the Nuba Mountains fought for their
freedom with the south during the 20-year war between the north and
south, which resulted in some two million deaths. Not only that, but
many fear that without the support of the south’s massive military
might, the Nuba Mountains might, once again, face the scorn of the
GoS, be it in the way of a scorched earth policy and/or forced

Exacerbating the entire situation was the recent `election’ of Ahmed
Haroun to the position of governor of South Kordafan, the state in
which the Nuba Mountains is situated. Running against a popular former
commander (Abdul Aziz) of the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army, the
rebel group responsible for forcing the north/south referendum,
Haroun, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on over 40
charges for crimes against humanity and war crimes for atrocities
committed in Darfur, won what many in the Nuba Mountains perceive as a
rigged election.

For the past six months the people of the Nuba Mountains have held one
rally after another, sometimes numbering in the thousands, which is
something to behold in such an isolated and sparsely populated area,
calling on Haroun to give himself up to the ICC. Cognizant of such
rallies, just three weeks ago Omar al Bashir flew to Kadugli, the
capital of South Kordafan, and warned, `If the people here [meaning
those in the Nuba Mountains] refuse to honor the results of the
[gubernatorial] election, then we will force them back into the
mountains and prevent them from having food just as we did before.’
According to Article 2C of UN Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crimes of Genocide (UNCG), under certain conditions,
purposely and systematically depriving a people of food constitutes

The people of the Nuba Mountains take his threat very seriously, for
they know what he and his cohorts are capable of doing. Unfortunately,
the threat turned into reality within a week’s time. Over the past two
weeks the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have attacked one town after
another in the Nuba Mountains, killing people indiscriminately and
destroying farms and people’s tukuls (homes). Many people have fled
into the mountains, just as they did in the 1990s. Having left behind
their only means of livelihood and source of food, their farms, the
Nuba Mountains people may be facing a repeat of the 1990s in which
they had no resort but to scour the rocky land for leaves, roots, and
weeds to eat.

Now is the time for the international community to act – before
starvation becomes a fact of life and before the attacks morph into
massive crimes against humanity and/or genocide.

The current and ongoing attacks sound very much like those that the
GoS has carried out in Darfur for the past eight years. Ample proof of
that is the following description of a recent attack on the Nuba
Mountains’ village of Fet, which I just received from an individual,
who must remained unnamed, residing in the heart of the Nuba
Mountains: `At 8 a.m., approximately 350 men dressed in green army
uniforms attacked. Some civilians ran inside their homes for
protection but when the attackers approached the homes they started
burning them and they continued to burn people that were hiding inside
their homes. One of the first houses attacked was burned with three
women locked inside. One of the women was pregnant. As the civilians
were running away they were shot. The attackers burned everything in
site (sic).’ While this all-day attack was carried out, the national
police, SAF troops and national security troops looked on and did
nothing. In fact, `it is reported that the forces were ordered not to

The most recent update I received today was ominous: `More and more
voices on the ground are now describing this as `ethnic cleansing’ and
comparing it to the genocide which took place in the Nuba Mountains in
the early 1990s. Urgent international response is critical!’

While the ongoing crisis in Darfur, which the U.S. Government in 2004
deemed to be genocide, and the recent referendum that resulted in the
south splitting from the north, thus creating the new nation of South
Sudan, have been spotlighted by the international media and various
human rights campaigns, the crises in the Nuba Mountains have largely
gone unnoticed. That must change, and now!


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