Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sudan / South Sudan / South Kordofan

Sudan: Is a New Wave of Mass Crimes Underway?
By Eric Reeves
The New Republic, June 14, 2011
"As the July 9 date for the secession of South Sudan approaches, something very ugly is happening in Sudan. Northern Sudan has initiated a series of violent affronts on contested regions: the border region of Abyei last month, and now, South Kordofan, a northern state whose inhabitants mainly identify with the South. While the assault on Abyei has resulted in an already acknowledged humanitarian crisis, the consequences of the attack on Kordofan are likely to be even more severe. An early UN assessment of the aftermath of the brutal seizure of Abyei found that the actions by Khartoum's military and militia forces -- including killings and ethnically targeted destruction of property -- were 'tantamount to ethnic cleansing.' More than 100,000 Dinka Ngok -- the northernmost of the Dinka tribal groups, the largest in the South -- fled for  their lives to the south of Abyei. A mass of satellite and ground photography depicting ethnic cleansing and the extraordinary statements by former US State Department Ambassadors-at-Large for War Crimes of the 'crimes against humanity' further testified to the gravity of the assault. Conditions are poor for those who fled Abyei, and for many there is no assistance at all. Khartoum has thrown up an economic blockade on goods moving from North to South Sudan, including fuel, leaving many relief organizations without mobility. Many of the displaced are severely suffering. The New York Times reported on one woman, 'slumped in the meager shade of a thorn tree, her belly rumbling from the nearly toxic mix of wild plants,' who had lost two of her children in the 'chaotic exodus out of Abyei.' Now, even greater violence is rapidly unfolding in South Kordofan, which abuts Abyei and lies immediately north of an oil-rich region in the South. For the past week, there have been many reports of ethnically-targeted executions (including women and children), destruction of churches, the killing of church officials, and bombings of civilian targets in the Nuba Mountains.
Geographically situated within South Kordofan State, but nowhere contiguous with the are that will become South Sudan, the Nuba area is populated by an ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse people who sided with the South during the civil war and feel deeply uncomfortable with the threat of Khartoum's Islamism and Arabism. Because the center of military resistance is within the Nuba, and because Khartoum wishes to eliminate the region as a source of future threats,much of this assault on Kordofan will take place in the Nuba Mountains. We have no way of knowing exactly how many have fled in South Kordofan but the estimates are growing with terrifying speed; the UN estimate for the capital of South Kordofan State, Kadugli, is around 40,000. Human Rights Watch reports 'tens of thousands of people' fleeing toward El Obeid, the capital of the North Kordofan State. The World Council of Churches, an organization with close ties to the people of the Nuba, reports that as many as 300,000 civilians are besieged and cut off from humanitarian assistance. The highly reliable Sudan Ecumenical Council has declared that '[other civilians] have fled to the Nuba Mountains, where they are being hunted down like animals by helicopter gunships.' With critical shortages of water and food already reported -- it is also now the 'hunger gap,' the period between fall and winter harvests and the next round of harvests beginning in October -- conditions for those who have fled and are cut-off from any assistance will only grow more deadly. Ominously, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has given a free hand to military forces in South Kordofan, apparently giving license for the persecution of anyone accused of sympathizing with the southern Sudanese movement and party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which is overwhelmingly made up of African tribal groups. Human Rights Watch reports receiving 'credible reports' that various northern militia 'carried out house-to-house searches and set up checkpoints,' killing civilians in the process. [...]"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ