New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof has apparently based himself on the border of Sudan and the new state of South Sudan as the two states seem to be moving closer to war. This is nothing new of course, South Sudan was formed because of the near 30-year civil war being fought in Sudan, only now it will be a “real” war since South Sudan is an official state these days.
Kristof’s reporting thus far reveals that little has changed in Sudan over the past half-century or so. The nostalgia is far from heartwarming. Over this period, the Arab regime in Khartoum has been systematically ridding the land of its black African residents in order to gain control of fertile farmland and also vital oil-rich regions. They began with the South, whose residents follow mostly Christianity or various African pagan religions, then they moved to the mostly Muslim region of Darfur and they are apparently now using the same policy in the Nuba mountains.
Bombings, ground attacks and sexual violence — part of Sudan’s scorched-earth counterinsurgency strategy — have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in South Kordofan, the Sudanese state where the Nuba Mountains are located. In some ways, the brutality here feels like an echo of what Sudan did in Darfur, only now it is Nubans who are targets.
“They said that they want to finish off the black people; they said they want to kill them all,” recalled Elizabeth Kafi, a 22-year-old Nuban who said she was kidnapped in December by Sudanese uniformed soldiers. She and others say that the mostly Arab Sudanese soldiers scorn Nubans partly for their darker skin, partly because some are Christian, but mostly because many Nubans back an armed uprising against decades of Sudanese misrule. In 23 days of captivity, she said she saw the soldiers use guns to execute several Nuban men, including her grandfather and brother-in-law. She described watching soldiers gang rape and then cut the throat of a young Nuban woman, and also stab to death the woman’s 3-year-old son.
What is even worse is what happens to those who flee. If they don’t get absorbed into the UNHCR hell-holes surrounding Sudan, they walk north, trying to reach a safe haven in Israel. On the way, they have to go through the Sinai, where many are kidnapped and ransomed by the local Bedouins and they are quite literally hunted by the Egyptian army, who shoot African refugees on sight.
Diaa Hadid has written a very confronting investigation into what these people face during their journeys.
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The young man from Sudan holds his arms close to his sides, as if still at the mercy of smugglers who he says poured hot melted plastic over his back, whipped him with wires and beat him with sticks as he lay face down and naked.
He pulls up his shirt to reveal scars that crisscross his arms, back and stomach.
Mutasim Qamrawi is among a growing number of African migrants reporting they were tortured in Egypt’s Sinai desert by smugglers despite promises to sneak them into Israel, where they hoped to find freedom and a decent job. The smugglers then extorted the migrants’ families for more money.
“You sit in your own grave until you can get the money. That is the only way to leave – or death,” said Qamrawi, 22, who was held in captivity for four months.
Human rights advocates say the situation is worsening, because smugglers are using harsher torture methods and demanding more money – as much as $40,000.
What is happening in Sudan is no Holocaust, it is not nearly as industrialised or systematic as the Nazi genocide. The Nazis aimed to eradicate the Jews from the planet, whereas the Sudanese Arabs are more showing callous indifference to a group of people of a different race who live on land that they want for themselves. That said, there are few arguments to make that eradicating the black Africans living on valuable land in Sudan does not amount to genocide. Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was indicted for genocide by the ICC in 2009 and has been flaunting this indictment ever since.
Of course, none of this raises an eyebrow because, as I have written before, the world does not care about black Africans. They fall at the bottom end of the spectrum in terms of value of human life. If Jews are really serious about “never again”, this is not a situation that we can ignore in good conscience. Don’t let the world stand by as the Sudanese genocide continues.