Sudan sticks to its guns
Sunday 06 August 1995
The government similarly claimed that a 350-page report published by the London-based human rights group African Rights after our clandestine three week visit to the Nuba mountains, was "a hate-fabricated fake report assembled from library pictures". I had not visited Sudan for two years, a claim that overlooks two visits with visas and two without; African Rights' Alex de Waal had been expelled on suspicion of espionage, a defamatory claim which de Waal has offered to discuss in court if Sudanese diplomats in London will waive their diplomatic immunity.
But poking fun at Khartoum's inept defence of the accusations made against it conceals the horrible reality of the crimes being committed in the mountains. Khartoum is refusing to engage in a debate about its offensive against the Nuba and instead is living in a looking-glass world where reality is inverted - where Mosques are burned in the name of Islam and Nuba women separated from their menfolk for their own "safety", are then raped by their "liberators".
Roger Winter, director of the US Committee for Refugees, returned from the mountains this week with evidence that Khartoum stepped up its attacks on the Nuba a few weeks after our visit, ordering Antonov bombers into action against civilian targets for the first time this year. The aerial bombardments of the village of Regifi, a farming community we visited an hour's walk from the nearest base of the Nuba rebels of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army, killed six villagers and wounded 13 - mainly children and old people.
"The Sudan government is actively bombing civilians in areas under SPLA control," Winter said yesterday. "I saw the damage and interviewed wounded survivors at Regifi. The loss of life occurred primarily in two huts. In one hut, nine kids were killed or wounded."
Film of the bombing, in an area the government claims its troops "liberated" two years ago, shows craters 10 feet deep, destroyed and damaged huts, children with head, arm and leg wounds. Winter said he would urge international pressure on Khartoum "to stop attacks on civilians and to open up access," to the mountains, cut off ever since Islamic extremists seized power in Sudan in 1989.
Rebel leaders believe the attack on Regifi was an attempt to seal off the breach in the blockade of the mountains exposed when we flew in with rebel leader Yousif Kuwa. All five bombs dropped in the first attack on Regifi fell close to the village airstrip - one of the few places in the Nuba mountains where planes can land.
One charge the Sudan government has repeatedly ignored is its attack on Islam in the Nuba mountains - the destruction of mosques, the killing of clerics, the burning of Korans. Winter met numerous Islamic leaders who were shocked by this "amazing reality". They asked him: "How can they burn the Koran and still be Muslim."
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...