A Year of Bombs and Silence

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).


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For twelve months the Nuba Mountain people of Sudan’s South Kordofan State have been under genocidal attack by Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP) government, the Islamist regime of ICC-indicted war criminal, Omar al-Bashir. The year’s toll on the 50+ indigenous African people groups that comprise the Nuba has been just as the regime desired. Over half a million people are at imminent risk of death from disease, starvation, and thirst, orchestrated deliberately by Bashir. And in the face of this genocide, the Obama Administration has been silent in every significant sense, refusing to take decisive action, uttering meaningless statements of concern, and tainting even those useless expressions by treating as morally equivalent the genocidal regime in Khartoum and those who are fighting against it to defend their people.

On Sunday, June 5, 2011, sources on the ground first reported that war had begun in the Nuba Mountains. A rigged election gave South Kordofan governorship to ICC-indicted war criminal Ahmed Haroun over the popular Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) war hero, Commander Abdelaziz Adam Al Hilu. Haroun demanded the disarming and expulsion of the SPLA from the region. Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and militias began deploying troops with heavy weapons, tanks, and a military air base. The Nuba division of the SPLA, now known as the SPLA-North, began to fight back against the SAF. Only in the air did Khartoum have the advantage. “We need quick action from the USA and the international community before another genocide occurs in the Nuba Mountains,” Nuba watchers warned.

Since that time, the SAF has bombed continually Nuba Mountain farm villages, burning homes, schools, and churches. Khartoum’s bombers fly daily over the region and with random cruelty drop barrel bombs stuffed with ball bearings, nails, and other deadly projectiles. The regime’s Islamist militia, the “Popular Defense Force,” Murahaliin of the Arab Baggara tribe, waged the ground war against the civilians while the SPLA-North was occupied in battle with the SAF. The militia staged house by house purges of black, African Nuba, particularly targeting church leaders and members. Khartoum also began waging war against the disputed Blue Nile State in September 2011, sacking the freely and fairly elected governor, Malik Agar, and killing civilians. Over 30,000 Nuba have fled to South Sudanese and Kenyan refugee camps. But the bombers ignore sovereign borders and occasionally attack there as well.

As many as 500,000 Nuba are hiding in mountain caves from Khartoum’s bombers. Thanks to Khartoum’s scorched earth policies, this fiercely independent and self-sufficient people’s crops have been burned and their herds stolen or slaughtered. Now they have no food but leaves and insects and little access to drinking water. Aid that would save their lives is already available, over the border in the Republic of South Sudan, but the NCP regime forbids cross-border aid. And the United States government, the United Nations, and the rest of world are silently compliant with Khartoum’s ban.

Brad Phillips, the founder and president of The Persecution Project Foundation (PPF) that has worked in Sudan since 1997, declares that the only reason the Nuba have not already been exterminated by Khartoum is that the SPLA-North “has clearly taken the fight to the NCP. After 500,000 dead and years of broken promises, marginalization, and persecution, the Nuba people have had enough.” In his Congressional testimony, Phillips criticized the U.S. and other governments for their inaction as people were being slaughtered. If it were not for the SPLA-North resistance, “led by their inspirational leader, Abdelaziz Adam Al Hilu, we would be witnessing another Rwandan-style genocide,” he blazed.

The truth is that the SPLA-North continues to win all of the ground battles against Khartoum’s troops, controlling 90 percent of the countryside. The NCP’s Sudan Armed Forces “are there in the towns, in garrisons . . . dug in like rats inside their trenches,” declared SPLA-North commander, Abdelaziz Adam Al Hilu interviewed by journalist Tristan McConnell for the Global Post. “They are not free to move.” Al Hilu observed that the Sudan Army is very weak and that they seem to have little will to fight. So why, as Nicholas Kristof demanded recently in his New York Times column, has the Obama Administration “consistently tried to restrain the rebel force”? Kristof said that Al Hilu and his troops want to liberate Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan State from NCP regime control, but that Washington is discouraging them. Al Hilu, he said, “seemed mystified that American officials try to shield a genocidal government whose army is, he thinks, crumbling.”

Al Hilu is thought of as the George Washington of Sudan by many of Sudan’s marginalized people. He says that the SPLA-North is able to fight against the larger and better-equipped Sudan Armed Forces, “Thanks to Bashir [and] SAF! It is Bashir who is supplying us [with equipment abandoned by the army]. They bring everything and leave it for us!” He showed Tristan McConnell the weapons and equipment that the SPLA-North had taken from the Sudan Army: “cars mounted [with machine guns], heaps of ammunition, shells, rockets, different types of guns.” The commander confessed that when they run across a weapon that they have not seen before, they actually look for ex-SAF soldiers to come and train them.

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  • StephenD

    "And in the face of this genocide, the Obama Administration has been silent in every significant sense…."

    You are so wrong with this. The President, even before there was a South Sudan, took action. He granted a waiver to Sudan to continue to receive US Tax Dollars in aid even if they use children as soldiers.

    Think on this for a moment. Do you think these kids volunteer? What happens to the girls in these villages where the boys are kidnapped into the Army? The regime getting our tax dollars rightly sees this as a quasi- approval of what it is doing. After all, if we were against it we would condition our aid thusly; But not Obama. Nosiree. HE took decisive action…just not the right sort of action you'd expect from a humane government. EXACTLY the type of action you’d expect from a closet Islamist which will help shore up North Sudan (Islamist) against its enemy, South Sudan (predominantly Christian).

  • Bud McFarlan

    " The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him."
    Niccolo Machiavelli

    Perhaps the Rev. Jeremiah Wright will be sent to negotiate a treaty between the two sides….or perhaps Debbie Wasserman…or perhaps Valerie Jarrett.

  • http://www.theird.org Faith McDonnell

    @Stephen – If you are talking about child soldiers, you should really focus on the hideously brutal Joseph Kony and the LRA. There was ALWAYS a South Sudan, it was just not officially a country yet. And are you speaking of the North (Khartoum) having child soldiers, or the SPLA? There were many unusual circumstances with the SPLA during the north/south war, and the world community, the moral equivalence crowd exaggerated the issue of child soldiers in the SPLA while denying the hundreds of thousands that Khartoum’s Baggara had taken as slaves from South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. And we have had sanctions against Sudan (Khartoum) for years – that is why people who say the U.S. wants Sudan’s oil and others resources were either lying or clueless. Those of us who were advocates for South Sudan pushed and pushed to get a waiver JUST for South Sudan (SPLA controlled regions) so that they might be able to at least start having some development, industry, etc.

    • StephenD

      Specifically, Obama has granted waivers for the continuation of US aid to Chad, Yemen, Congo, and Sudan. Regardless of the "reasoning" used, there can be no justification for EVER granting such a waiver. Under what circumstances could you see advocating using children as soldiers. In the last stand for survival you hand a child a weapon perhaps but you don't march him out against an enemy. There is no excuse for these waivers. This is…evil.

  • Mel

    Another great article Faith. Thanks for your tireless pursuit of freedom and justice for Sudan's suffering people. Unfortunately there is little hope that anything is going to change for the better vis a vis Sudan if we are relying on the Obama administration. Obama is psychologically incapable of doing anything that would offend the Muslim Brotherhood or its Saudi funders; even to the point where he knowingly and deliberately stands by, allowing genocide, ethnic cleansing, and slavery to take place with impunity. How this contrasts with all his pre-election rhetoric! If Bush today were to repost his post 9-11 ultimatum "you are either with us, or you are with the terrorists", Obama would stand — as his support for the terrorist Sudan regime clearly demonstrates — clearly "with the terrorists".

    • faithiej

      Thanks, Mel. Sadly, you're so right. I hope my Sudanese American friends who voted for Obama have learned the truth!

  • Lawrence

    Anywhere Muslims are killing Christians Obama never is concerned. When it is the other way round he and Mrs Clinton will fire from all cylinders. The cases at hand: Northern Nigeria and the South Kordofan. What have Christians done to Obama? Why does he hate them so much?

    • Linda Rivera

      A Muslim's allegiance is not to the country they reside in. It is to totalitarian, colonizing, expansionist Islam. The Koran war book commands Muslims to conquer all nations.

      Obama: "My Muslim Faith" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKGdkqfBICw

  • Linda Rivera

    Article: Al Hilu marveled that this is the same Bashir “who introduced Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to the world.”

    Al Hilu is apparently not aware that American leaders consistently take the side of the most radical Muslim terrorists in country after country. In fact America, created Al-Qaeda.

    Hillary Clinton : We created Al-Qaeda http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqn0bm4E9yw

    Hillary Clinton Admits US and Al-Qaeda On Same Side in Syria http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmNRcDexVcY

    Christians in Syria are living in daily fear. The terrified Christians are being specifically targeted for attacks and killings by the U.S. backed opposition in Syria.

    It comes as no surprise that the Obama/Clinton/Holder George Soros administration will not speak a word or so much as lift a finger to help the innocents of the Nuba Mountains and other places, who are in such desperate need of our assistance. Please God, surround them with your holy angels! Help and protect them!

    • HighPressure

      Didn't Hillary's Husband support the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) who was trained by Bin Laden to wipe out the Christian Minority and tried to bomb Serbia back to the Stone Age. Didn't Clinton create false stories about 100s of thousands being genocidally wiped out by Serbia when the oposite was true. About 6000 were killed and 40% were Christian when they were only 15% of the population. So Hillary is right. We did support Al Qaeda… well atleast Madeline Halfbright and Bill Clinton did.

  • Linda Rivera

    The founder of Islam, Mohammad, married a six year old child when he was in his fifties. Mohammad was a HUGE slave trader. Mohammad murdered/beheaded several hundred Jewish men because of the Jews enormous love for, and allegiance to our Wonderful Creator. The loyal Jews refused to follow another god and the new religion of Mohammad. The Jews' wives and children were seized for slaves.

    Mohammad is regarded as the PERFECT man and role model for devout Muslims who follow their religion. And that is the problem. There is no love, no mercy, no compassion for innocent humanity in Islam.

    It is impossible for representatives from Muslim countries at the UN to protect the human rights of non-Muslims. The UN should be abolished. Americans and other non-Muslims should not be forced to finance the RABIDLY ANTI-HUMAN RIGHTS Muslim/Leftist dominated UN.

  • Linda Rivera

    Hundreds of thousands of Black Sudanese Christian children and women have been taken for slaves by Sudan's Arab Muslims.

    Jihad Slavery in Sudan, with Dr Charles Jacobs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP4Fcx7AE_o

    May every slave be free one day!

    • HighPressure

      Yes, the slave trade is alive and well in the Muslim world.

  • Linda Rivera

    "Al Hilu believes in true religious freedom for all and a secular democracy based on the vision of the “New Sudan” of his late friend Dr. John Garang de Mabior. He said that Khartoum has “no place for anybody who is not a Muslim, who is not an Arab.” “Somebody like me, I am a Muslim"

    Al Hilu is a hero!