By Stephen Brown
June 27, 2011
Imagine the outcry if the American government was suddenly to engage in a campaign of extermination against the Navajos, one of America’s aboriginal peoples. The protests, especially from the Left, would be deafening.
But what would be unimaginable in America today is currently taking place in Sudan, whose rulers are no strangers to genocide. Sudan’s original people, the African Nuba tribes inhabiting central Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, are currently facing a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Arab and Islamist central government, whose leader, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, is currently under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur.
“The Sudanese Army and its allied militias have gone on an unsparing rampage to crush rebel fighters in the Nuba Mountains …, bombing thatch-roofed villages, executing elders, burning churches…,” stated the New York Times, citing United Nations officials and “villagers who have escaped.”
This is not the first time the Nuba, descendants of Sudan’s ancient Nubian kingdoms, have faced annihilation at the hands of their “government.” In 1983, Sudan’s southern black African tribes, already marginalised and racially discriminated against, rose up against the Arab central government (as the African tribes in Darfur were to do 20 years later). The African Nuba joined the rebellion within a few years, providing the South’s rebel army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), with thousands of fighters.
The cause of the 1983 revolt was Khartoum’s forced Arabization and Islamization policy, under which the country was to be governed by sharia law. Largely Christian and animist, the culturally African Nuba and southern Sudanese opposed these measures, causing the Khartoum government to declare jihad against them in 1989.
“The Government of Sudan’s self-declared jihad against the peoples of these southern regions is tantamount to attempted genocide,” a Christian activist, who witnessed firsthand Khartoum’s homicidal aggression, told a Congressional committee in 1995.
Largely unnoticed by the outside world, the Nuba and southern Sudanese, with some Israeli help, put up a fierce and brave resistance, defeating the jihad, but they suffered greatly for their heroic stand. Two million people died in the fighting that largely took place on their territory and another four million were displaced. Tens of thousands of black African Sudanese were also taken to Arab northern Sudan as slaves.
One of them, Francis Bok, a Dinka tribesman, told his story here in FrontPage Magazine of his ten years working as a child slave, from the age of seven to 17, for a cruel Arab master. While another, Mende Nazer, a Muslim Nuba, recounted her stolen childhood and trail of tears as a slave in an Arab household in Khartoum in her book Slave: My True Story. Nazer was 13 when captured in a Arab slave raid on her Nuba Mountains village.
The 22-year civil war between the Sudan’s northern Arabs and southern Africans ended in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that will see South Sudan become independent July 9. The Nuba Mountains, however, are north of the bloody and still unsettled boundary set out in the CPA, so the Nuba will not be joining South Sudan after it becomes independent next month. Even worse, the CPA did not grant the Nuba autonomy, as they desired, leaving their status undefined.
In his latest military campaign against the Nuba Mountains, President al-Bashir’s army and government-sponsored militias are once more spreading death indiscriminately. The official cause of the Sudanese government’s latest round of mass murder is that “tens of thousands” Nuba fighters have refused to disarm and “are digging into the craggy hillsides.”
But reports indicate the Sudanese military is waging a campaign of extermination along with a military one. Mig-29 warplanes are bombing Nuba villages unopposed, while witnesses have stated government troops “were shooting ‘the black people’.” UN officials have also reported the planting of landmines and digging of possible mass graves.
“Nuba were often just shot on sight by Khartoum forces, no questions asked,” testified former State Department official Roger P. Winter before a congressional hearing recently. “Today, again, Nuba are positioned for liquidation by Khartoum forces.”
The Sudanese army also tried to unilaterally disarm SPLA soldiers in Abyei, which set off the recent fighting there. An accord was signed last week, however, between Khartoum and the SPLA at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa that would see 3,000 Ethiopian troops replace the soldiers of both sides in the disputed area. The Nuba Mountains were not part of this accord.
Given the Khartoum government’s record of breaking promises, vicious racism and genocide against its black African population, no one can blame the Nuba for refusing to give up their weapons. And the fact the central government has appointed Ahmed Haroun, who is also under ICC indictment for genocide in Darfur, as governor of South Kordofan where the Nuba Mountains and Abyei are located, indicates Winter’s analysis concerning possible annihilation of the Nuba is a looming reality. Like in Darfur where the ethnically cleansed Muslim African tribes were replaced by Arabs, the attack on the Nuba may be the beginning of a similar, sinister colonial project.
As during the 1983-2005 civil war, American evangelical Christians are taking the lead in demanding an end to the North’s aggression against the Nuba and the African Dinka tribe in Abyei. Sarah Palin, for example, was to visit the Abyei region next month with Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, but cancelled due to scheduling problems. Before the recent Addis Ababa agreement, Khartoum had ethnically cleansed an estimated 60,000 Dinka from Abyei with tanks.
American evangelical organizations have passionately advocated against Christian persecution and slavery in Sudan and elsewhere in the world. Appeals from American evangelicals to George W. Bush were instrumental in causing the former president to broker the CPA. Under its terms, peace was established and thousands of Nuba and southern Sudanese African slaves were able to return home from Arab northern Sudan.
“George W. Bush did more to free modern-day slaves than any other president,” wrote author E. Benjamin Skinner in A Crime So Monstrous, his book about human trafficking.
In comparison, America’s political Left, which never concealed its disdain for Bush and his evangelical Christian supporters, has remained relatively silent about Sudan’s suffering black African population. This is surprising when one considers the Left is in the forefront of calling for reparations for descendants of Atlantic slave trade victims. The Left was also very loud and effective in ending the terrible apartheid system in South Africa.
But since many leftists appear to believe only whites can be oppressors, its non-action on Sudan makes sense. It is probably also for this reason leftists so vehemently protest the expulsion by Israel of a few Palestinian terrorists from the West Bank and vigorously prepare flotillas for Gaza, while remaining largely mute when tens of thousands of terrorized black Africans, fearing death and enslavement, are forcibly expelled from their homes in Abyei. Since there is no such white villain in the Sudanese situation, leftist moral outrage on Sudan, in comparison, is nearly non-existent.
Much the same can be said about the America’s African-American leaders. Their concern about the decades-long black slave trade in Sudan has been minimal. This disinterest was so shameful that Al Sharpton was moved to criticise his fellow black leaders after his 2001 visit to Sudan.
“I am outraged that more of us, particularly of the African American leadership, have not talked about the slave trade that I witnessed with my own eyes in the Sudan,” Sharpton said after his return.
But since then, it has been noted Sharpton has not said much about the plight of black African Sudanese. Jesse Jackson has also not made their desperate situation a priority, although he was Bill Clinton’s special envoy to Africa during Clinton’s second term. One critic believes that if America’s black clergy had not pressured Sharpton and Jackson to comment, nothing would ever have ever been said about the Sudanese slave trade. For his part, Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, casts doubt on whether slavery even exists in Sudan.
This leaves President Obama, America’s first African-American president and, one would think, the Afrcian Nuba people’s best hope for survival. In a statement released last week, the president called the situation in South Kordofan “dire.” Obama also recognised the bombings by the Sudanese military and “reports of attacks based on ethnicity.” Incredibly, though, the president’s statement did not mention who is carrying out these “ethnic” attacks and which ethnic group was made homeless. And instead of threatening Khartoum with a call for a Libya-like, no-fly zone over Abyei and the Nuba Mountains to protect civilians from the bombings, Obama mildly praised the recent accord on Abyei, commending both parties “for taking this step forward toward peace…”
But instead of peace, Obama’s naïve and less than insightful approach to Khartoum’s hard-line and continued aggression is sure to produce only more of the same for Sudan’s long-suffering, southern Sudanese and Nuba populations: war, enslavement and death.
This article was originally published here.