10 Things is a new column that will bring you relevant political information in an easily digestible form. Learn something new!
1. The conflict in Sudan (for our purposes today) began in 1989 when Omar al-Bashir took control of Sudan in a coup masterminded by Hassan al-Turabi, founder of the Sudan’s version of the Muslim Brotherhood. As Andrew Natsios writes in the NYT: “Turabi’s basic political theory was, and remains, that the Koran contains all the guidance needed to govern a modern state.” Essentially, what comes out of this is a long-continued conflict between moderate Muslims and followers of other faiths (who often self-identify as Black Africans) and those, such as the government and Janjaweed, who seek to impose Sharia law (who often self-identify as Arabs).
This is al-Bashir. If you see him, please hit him on the head and drag him back to the ICC.
2. South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011, following a referendum that passed with 98.83% of the vote.
3. The Nuba Mountains are located in the province of South Kordofan, and extend for 145 km along the border between Sudan and South Sudan. The Nuba mountains are not only geographically important, but strategically important as well due to the vast oil reserves they hold.
4. Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) are locked in an armed conflict in Southern Kordofan state. This is because despite the fact that the Nuba people identified most strongly with South Sudan, they were not given the right to participate in the January 2011 referendum regarding the creation of South Sudan, or the possibility of the Nuba Mountains within it. In fact, their 2011 election for governor of South Kordofan was rigged so that an International Criminal Court-indicted war criminal and the planner of the genocide in Darfur, Ahmed Haroun, was declared the winner.
5. In the Nuba Mountains live the Nuba peoples, a diverse collection of over 50 tribes with distinct ethnic and linguistic markers. The Nuba peoples and peoples of South Kordofan have been subject to massacres, oppression and discrimination since the 1980s. Since the 1990s a “scorched earth” policy has been employed with large-scale destruction as a result.
6. Bombing campaigns and the “scorched earth” policy have pushed people to flee their farms for rocky shelters in the Nuba Mountains, a stronghold of the SPLM-North (think South Sudan). Genocide Scholars write that “some 200,000 to 300,000 people are currently seeking sanctuary in caves and on ridges of the Nuba Mountains where food is virtually nonexistent and the people have resorted to eating insects, tree leaves, plants, and roots.”
7. HART writes that over 305,000 civilians have been internally displaced in South Kordofan because of the conflict and an additional 23,000 have fled to South Sudan.
8. A letter to President Obama signed by 60 genocide scholars reads: “Satellite imagery has revealed mass graves, razed communities, and the indiscriminate low altitude aerial bombardment of civilian areas in South Kordofan state. Reliable eyewitnesses continue to report systematic government shelling and bombing of refugee evacuation routes, helicopter gunships hunting civilians as they flee their homes and farmland to hide in caves, and a deliberate and widespread blockage of humanitarian aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Anecdotal evidence of perpetrators screaming racist slurs as civilians are killed and raped are familiar to anyone who knows what has been happening in Darfur since 2003.”
Or, if genocide scholars aren’t your thing, George Clooney says basically the same thing.
WARNING: Graphic Images
9. Another key problem is that, as HART writes, “Khartoum has denied access to the Nuba Mountains for aid and journalism, meaning that the situation goes largely unreported in the international media.” I mean, we haven’t really been hearing about the Nuba mountains on the 6 o’clock news have we?
Neekoo Collett is an honours political science student. She attended the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies’ University Programme this summer at the University of Toronto. She hopes to be useful in preventing and ending genocides, but is still trying to figure out how.