Sudan accused of 'ethnic cleansing' of Nuba people

THE ONLY indisputable fact is that people were murdered. The circumstances and number killed are still under investigation, but researchers are convinced that over Christmas something evil happened in Jebel Heiban, a village in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. It was the latest atrocity to emerge in what human rights groups say is a Sudanese government campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' against the Nuba people.

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.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting startup disruptin...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen