Sudan accused of 'ethnic cleansing' of Nuba people
Thursday 18 February 1993
Since October 1991, access to the Nuba Mountains area of Kordofan province has been restricted by the Sudanese military crackdown on the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the rebel group fighting the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum. At that time, the human rights group Africa Watch reported the Nuba were suffering from raids by Arab militia, army attacks and SPLA abuses. It said the Nuba 'faced the destruction of their ethnic identity'.
Reports of the destruction of Nuba villages and a forced relocation campaign continue to trickle out of the area. The reports talk of atrocities and Arab confiscation of Nuba land. The latest came from Jebel Heiban. Although details are sketchy, it appears that Arab militiamen armed by Khartoum entered Jebel Heiban and killed many people. Estimates of the death toll range from 100 to more than 6,000. 'We are not sure of the number, but we are sure something pretty horrible happened,' said Virginia Lewling of Survival International which has sought to bring the Nuba people's plight to international attention.
Tomorrow, Amnesty International will issue a report highlighting abuses against the Nuba and condemning the state of human rights in Sudan. A debate on whether to make public a UN human rights report on Sudan, supposedly including criticism of Khartoum's policy toward the Nuba, is scheduled for next week in Geneva. An international campaign for Nuba defence will be launched in London on 4 March.
The Nuba is a diverse group of 1 million Bantu-speaking farmers and herders living in the 'Arab' half of Sudan. They attracted Western attention through glossy photo books by Leni Riefenstahl, the former Nazi film-maker. The depictions of 'noble savages' with elaborate body paint also brought the wrath of successive governments. Khartoum has tried to clothe the Nuba and clamp down on their 'primitive' way of life, which was an embarrassment to political leaders or an affront to their religious values.
The government of General Omar Hassan el-Beshir denies there is persecution of the Nuba, 40 per cent of whom are Muslim, and says reports of deaths and relocation are due to the civil war. According to Survival International, events in the Nuba Mountains are not a result of army operations against the SPLA or villagers thought to be aiding the rebels, 'but a concerted campaign to eradicate the Nuba as a people, leaving their lands to be taken over by other groups more acceptable to General Beshir's regime'.
The droughts which ravaged northern Sudan forced nomadic Arab tribesmen, who support the fundamentalist government, to look covetously towards the fertile Nuba lands.
Suleiman Rahhal, the general secretary of the Nuba Mountains Solidarity Abroad group, said the goal was to make the area for Arabs only. 'The plan is to drive Nubans from the land by force. This job is given to the Arab militia who have an interest in this. They burn villages to the ground. Then the government come in with their relocation camps to make sure the Nuba never settle in the area again.'
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Budget 2015: George Osborne to axe subsidies for higher income earners in social housing
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...