The TIME magazine in a feature article appearing in the July 18th issue titled ‘Sudan: The violent birth of two nations’ highlights the humanitarian catastrophe faced by the people of Nuba Mountains, situated between Sudan and South Sudan, as follows may ring this parallel between Sri Lanka “Killing Fields”:
“Though the Nuba, ethnic black Africans, fought alongside the South Sudan at a cost of around 200,000 lives, their state of South Kordofan ended up inside the new north along with Darfur to the west and a third restive state, Blue Nile, to the East. Last December, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al Bashir proclaimed that their new northern Sudan would be monolithic Islamic Arab state. “We will change the constitution, and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity,” he declared. “Shari’a [law] and Islam will be the main source of constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language.”
Further upping the stakes, on June 1, though stalling on other elements of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the north-south war. al Bashir’s government announced it would implement the part about disarming rebels, starting with Nuba fighters.
War erupted in days. Aid workers fled. Khartoum sealed the roads and banned flights. A handful of journalists managed to reach the mountains, however, including a small team from TIME. And from 30 interviews in three days with rebel leaders, soldiers, civilians, refugees, the wounded and medical personnel, a consistent picture emerges.
Human-rights investigators will ultimately judge whether what is happening in the Nuba Mountains is classified as ethnic cleansing or genocide. What is clear is that by launching a campaign for terror against unarmed villagers, al-Bashir’s soldiers are committing crimes against humanity (defined as “a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population” in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court), and by targeting civilians they are guilty of war crimes (defined in Article 8 as “intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population”.)
Bolstering this case, as International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo notes, are the charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity already facing al-Bashir and his South Sudan governor Ahmed Haroun, over similar atrocities in Darfur.
Al-Bashir responded to the new accusations on July 1, saying he had ordered his soldiers to “continue their operations in South Kordofan until they clean the state of rebels.”
Jehanne Henry, Sudan specialist at Human Rights Watch, says, “It certainly appears war crimes are being committed. The government is not discriminating at all between military and civilian. It seems to have decided to take them all out.”
on Al Jazeera
Callum MacRae, Director of the Channel 4 production “Killing Fields” reported the following exclusive on Al Jazeera, about the situation in Nuba Mountains and its people:
South Sudan has officially made its way towards becoming an independent state.
But as it celebrates its liberation from the north, the orphan state of Southern Kordofan prepares for a long war with its adoptive parent in Khartoum (North Sudan, led by Al-Bashir).
The roots of the conflict lie in the historical marginalisation of the Nuba people, who inhabit the oil rich Southern Kordofan region, and who threw their lot in with the rebel forces of the south during the war.
There are now reports of civilians being killed, and the UN chief Ban Ki-Moon says he is extremely concerned about the situation there. But for the people of Nuba, the future looks bleak.