Sudan's Secret Slaughter
This report compiles information from a wide range of sources and groups in order to shed some much-needed light on the conflict in southern Sudan.
It cannot be exhaustive or definitive; in Africa's largest country, travel and communications are never easy. The researchers are not Sudanese, a fact that hindered access to information. Add war, fuel shortages and government restrictions on movement, and securing accurate information on recent events becomes even more difficult.
Even within these limitations, details of the secret war in southern Sudan, and of the secret slaughter linked with it, are emerging. This report draws together information on specific incidents of human rights violations along with some analysis of the political, economic and military situation.
The aim has been to use only confirmed reports or those from reliable sources - and to clearly identify rumor as such. It is believed that this report is factually as accurate a picture as it is possible to achieve about Sudan at this time.
The intention is not to shock - though many of the incidents are horrific - but to inform interested parties so they can have a better understanding of the situation.
Sudan is entering the sixth year of the latest phase of armed conflict in its southern region, a conflict that began almost as independence was established in 1955 and was broken only from 1972 until the early 1980s.
Very real differences exist between the present conflict and that of 1955-1972. During both periods, however, the conflict has been created and influenced by many factors: race, religion, economics, politics, Sudan's colonial past and its geopolitical position, and the personal ambitions of powerful and would-be powerful men.
It is probably not too simplistic to see this long-term conflict as the almost inevitable result of the sudden and poorly handled attempt to unify the mainly Arab, Islamic north and the African, animist or Christian south. This attempt at unity was made without any real level of tradition, understanding or agreement about the balance of power, levels of autonomy and economic relations between northern and southern Sudan.
Despite Sudan's surface impression of both a commitment to and a tradition of democratic institutions and respect for human rights, the conflict has often been accompanied by deplorable violations of political and human rights, including the suspension of elections under military rulers, widespread massacres, torture, rape, looting and the destruction of property. These violations have been directed in particular against noncombatant civilians.
From 1955 to 1972, the conflict between government forces and the Anyanya movement waxed and waned until Joseph Lagu unified the mainly Equatorial southern forces, which were demanding full secession. With efforts from the church, Lagu reached a peace accord with President Nimeiri - who had seized power in the 1969 military coup - that secured a measure of autonomy and promises of development spending for the south.
These promises were never fulfilled, however. A small rebellion in 1983 grew dramatically when President Nimeiri introduced Islamic Shari'a law throughout Sudan and divided the once southern region into three in order to weaken the political power of the dominant southern Dinka tribe.
Since 1983, southern Sudan has seen a slowly widening conflict between government forces and members of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) led by John Garang, which is demanding a democratic, secular Sudan with religious freedom and regional autonomy (not full independence for the south).
The SPLA has successfully recruited beyond the Dinka. Other tribal groups have since joined the conflict, either by taking advantage of the poor security situation and easy availability of arms or as a result of being deliberately armed and supplied by one side as a militia force.
The geographical region regarded by the SPLA as liberated has expanded. A vast swath of rural southern Sudan is now outside government control, and the main towns of Juba, Malakal and Wau suffer SPLA attacks. The conflict has also begun directly affecting northern Sudan: the SPLA attacks north-south border villages; many thousands of displaced southerners stream into northern areas to escape fighting and find work; thousands more southerners cross into Ethiopia as refugees.
Despite early hopes, the ousting of the Nimeiri regime in April 1985 and the resumption of democracy, with the election of Sadiq El Mahdi as prime minister, have not brought peace. Shari'a - or what some like to call Nimeiri's September laws remains in force; no political or economic initiatives have been taken over the south; and peace talks, or talks about talks, have floundered.
Following the 1972 peace agreement, the Sudanese people proved that they could achieve, if only for a short period, a real sense of reconciliation. Today's conflict is a major obstacle to almost any possibility of economic recovery and political stability. These factors, in turn, have their impact on the war, as Sudan simultaneously races a range of interdependent crises - economic, political and military.
As one of the world's poorest and least developed countries, Sudan has overseas debts of around US$10 billion, tiny reserves, little industrial production, a bad trade imbalance and is overdue on International Monetary Fund repayments, which curtails further loans.
Sudan has few resources to spend on the health or welfare sectors. Yet outside demands for an end to all subsidies on basic food and fuel for urban dwellers are being balanced by the government against the likelihood of the riots, civil insurrection or coup that would result if prices are allowed to rise. Armed forces expenditures remain high.
Sudan is almost totally dependent on agriculture, and has been badly affected by drought and is now at risk from the threat of an upsurge in locust infestation. The south has enormous potential-in agriculture, in increasing Nile water supplies downstream and in the discovery of oil-but the war prevents any exploitation.
With almost no real experience of democracy, Sudanese politics - particularly at the present - is a business of bargaining and balancing various forces, from the religious fundamentalists to the military hardliners.
The resumption of democracy within the north (little voting could occur in the south because of the war) produced many small parties, demonstrating the risks of fragmenting the traditionally strong politico religious voting blocks into regional and special interest groups. Along with the rise in influence of the fundamentalist National Islamic Front, these factors mean that the present prime minister, Sadiq El Mahdi, survives on a knife edge.
The basic religious issue - should Sudan advance or retreat from its present ill - defined position as a state with laws based on the Koran? - remains unaddressed, as does the regional issue-how much power, money and autonomy should any region, but particularly the south, be allowed? The paralysis of decision making and the concentration of power in the hands of the prime minister increases both Sudan's instability and the risk of coup.
The present phase of the conflict is entering its sixth year, with the army controlling less and less territory in the south and giving more and more rein to tribal militias.
A military victory is clearly impossible, but the route to a political solution - guarantees of religious freedom and regional autonomy, plus a clear commitment to divide Sudan's resources more fairly in favor of southern development - has been blocked by the political and economic crises.
With the war now extending into the north and Arab fears of the displaced southerners arriving in Khartoum, the prospects of peace appear to be retreating. Indeed, the strong impression in Sudan is that for all practical purposes the politicians have abdicated, or been effectively ousted, from management of the "southern problem," leaving everything in the hands of the military. If politicians will not grasp the issues, a considerable burden rests on the military forces of both sides to find political paths to resolve the present conflict quickly.
Cause for Grave Concern
The conflict in Sudan has always been accompanied by allegations of the most horrific human rights violations, from rape and looting to kidnapping, torture and massacre. Evidence now suggests that the latest phase of the conflict is reaching new depths of destruction, and that these are not the occasional and random acts of ill - disciplined individuals or units.
In particular, it increasingly appears that the government and its various armed forces operate a carefully constructed strategy against southern civilians to destroy any possibility of support or assistance for the SPLA. To judge by the reality of the situation, particularly as it affects the Dinka, that strategy would seem to include a scorched-earth policy in Bahr El Ghazal, theft or destruction of anything of value, widespread killings and torture.
One major element of this supposed strategy has been the emergence in the last two or three years of tribal militias armed by the military, or permitted to arm themselves from the large amounts of arms available in the region. In Equatoria, the Mundari have acquired arms and then have been supplied with ammunition by the army so that they would act as a buffer force in an area north of the main town of Juba against the advancing forces of the SPLA. In Upper Nile, the Nuer - traditional enemies of the Dinka - have created the militia known as the Anyanya II to harass the SPLA around the town of Malakal. Although at least some part of this force is clearly controlled by the army, Anyanya II has recently been reported to have established contact with Saudi Arabia's Relief Co-ordination office so it can "assist the war-affected Southern Sudanese."
At the same time, a split apparently occurred within the Anyanya II at the end of 1987, with a group from the Bentiu and Mayom area of west Upper Nile siding with the government, and others actually in the field in eastern Upper Nile switching sides to cooperate with the SPLA. This latter group is believed to have supported the SPLA with 4,000 troops in seizing the town of Kirmuk on the Ethiopia-Sudan border in exchange for safe passage of food into Malakal. As some confirmation of this move, it has been reported that the government army killed the leader of the breakaway group, and as a result all forces of the eastern Upper Nile Anyanya II have returned from Khartoum to the Malakal area.
In Bahr El Ghazal and the neighboring province of Southern Darfur, the Fertit tribe - also traditional enemies of the Dinka - has established a well-armed militia that appears to operate with complete freedom, taking advantage of the chaos for enormous private financial profit. The Fertit militia has, for example, been extremely active in stealing the most important moveable capital asset the Dinka possess: cattle. Of the millions of cows that once grazed across southern Sudan, it has been suggested that at least several hundred thousand have been looted, herded north and exported. Unsubstantiated rumors also abound of the resumption of slavery by northern groups buying and selling southern children.
The architect of the tactic of using tribal militias is Maj. Gen. Fedulla Burma, a senior army officer who was military governor of Southern Darfur for a time. He has been promoted into the cabinet and is second only to the Minister of Defense, who is the prime minister, Sadiq El Mahdi.
The overall results of this strategy against the south are dramatic: in the last few years thousands of southerners have moved north, particularly into urban areas, or walked hundreds of kilometers into refugee camps in Ethiopia. Many tell personal stories of the looting of property, the destruction of crops or the killing of family and friends.
Efforts to assist civilians in both the south and the north have become increasingly difficult, with restrictions on movements by food convoys or their looting by the army; attempts to use food and medical deliveries as cover for arms supplies; uncertainties about the political and administrative control over foreign agencies; seizure of radio transceivers; investigations into alleged (and denied) irregularities in permits or import licenses; as well as controls over the movements of personnel within Sudan.
A number of foreign agencies have already been expelled from Sudan on grounds that are unjustifiable. A trend also appears to be developing toward greater targeting of requests for assistance to the agencies of other Arab states or Islamic groups rather than to Western or Christian agencies. One example is the suggestion that Arab or Islamic organizations should help fund operations to relocate southerners away from Khartoum and the north.
As the savagery of the southern conflict increases, attitudes are hardening. The economic, political and military crises have fomented a search for scapegoats, be they refugees, displaced southerners, foreign aid workers or street children, rather than any real attempt to tackle and solve the fundamental causes of Sudan's truly desperate plight.
Shortsightedly, in view of its own vulnerability, the government does not discourage such destructive delusions. Indeed, its own policies seem to seize upon such factors as the refugees-it has announced that Sudan's previous "open border" policy for refugees is to end - as both a useful diversion of public attention and yet another way to bargain for more foreign exchange from the international community.
Destruction of the Dinka
The Dinka, with perhaps 2 million people, are the largest single group of the Bahr El Ghazal region in southern Sudan. During much of 1987 Wau, the capital of Bahr El Ghazal, was the base for the province's military commander, Maj. Gen. Abu Gurun, known as "killer," "the devil of the Sudanese armed forces" and "our Hitler" by army officers in Khartoum. The province's civilian governor, William Ajal Deng, a Dinka, was among a number of Bahr El Ghazal officials who stayed in Khartoum. The acting governor, Darious Beshir Asi, was a Ngogo of the Fertit group, which identifies with the northern Arabs and is a traditional enemy of the Dinka.
By the beginning of 1987, the civil war had spread through almost all of Bahr El Ghazal. Government troops would not travel in many areas except in large convoys. Food supplies had been badly hampered by the dynamiting of railway tracks to Wau, mining of roads and general insecurity in the area. Indeed, apart from occasional flights or army-guarded convoys of Arab traders' lorries, little food has reached Wau for many months. The one major aid agency attempt ended ignominiously with almost every single bag of grain stolen by the army or other groups.
Conflict has also reduced production of settled agriculturists to very low levels. Almost no fuel is available, and few flights can operate in or out of Wau airstrip because of SPLA rocket attacks on aircraft. Wau's population has fluctuated widely as rural people arrive to avoid insecurity and attack in the countryside and urban dwellers leave because of insecurity and attack in the town.
Within Wau itself, a measure of the problems can be gauged by the state of its health facilities: the small hospital barely functions and has no electricity, limited laboratory testing, shortages of all drugs and poor sanitation. In June and July 1987, there were almost continuous pay strikes by government employees. Limited health facilities, high food prices, almost no agricultural production and delays in salary payments have all led to widespread chronic malnutrition, neonatal tetanus, whooping cough and measles. Amid these troubles, the army has often looted health facilities for drugs and equipment.
Throughout 1987, the number of deaths due to starvation within the Wau area have been very high, though the collapse of services and insecurity prevented any precise estimate. According to one source, the extended family system in Wau is breaking down because of fear, hunger, displacement and killing: "Everyone is fighting for his own survival and for maybe a few close relatives."
Around Wau and throughout southern Sudan the war between government troops and the SPLA continued during 1987, with the SPLA also shooting down military aircraft. At the same time, civilians became more of a target for both government troops and their proxy forces, the tribal militias.
The following incidents from 1987 have been independently confirmed or were witnessed or reported by one or more reliable sources:
* March Police near Ed Da'ein in Southern Darfur round up displaced Dinka "for protection" into railway carriages. Local army-backed Fertit militia (joined by police) kill up to 1,000 people and the rail carriages are doused in petrol and burned. Government later admitted 100 died. Local people in and around Wau report that daily tribal murders have been taking place for months.
* April Priest reports finding bodies of people killed overnight and dumped in his area close to Wau. Army maintains 25-km security zone on east bank of river through Wau, where travelers or the displaced are likely to be killed. Partial 1987 death list numbered 207.
* May 5 Acting governor Darious Beshir Asi arrives. His inability to pay government workers' May salaries leads to violent strikes.
* May 14 Army shoots 10-26 Dinka outside Wau.
* May 17 Dinka official is kidnapped.
* May 26 Kidnapped Dinka official's body is found, with no head or genitals and with signs of torture. Other Dinka officials were kidnapped and killed during May.
* June Military governor Maj. Gen. Abu Gurun arrives. He appoints Lt. Col. Mohammed Moussad as liaison officer to Fertit militia, which received a large quantity of arms and ammunition, including AK47s and 80mm mortars. Militia activities suddenly move closer to the town-kidnapping, torture and murder of women and children rises to at least 10 casualties a day, even more during strikes.
* June 20 Eighteen Dinkas found dead in Lokoloko area near Wau, with mutilated bodies, no heads, no genitals and a pregnant woman with a cut abdomen.
* July 18 Group of Dinkas found dead in Lokoloko, again with mutilated bodies and one girl aged six or seven pierced by spear from vagina to mouth.
* July 23 Wau man reports being forced to help Fertit militia torture and kill two Dinkas by slow death (breaking and then cutting off fingers and toes, and so on).
* August 3 Army claims missile attack on C130 government plane.
* August 11 Responding to a "missile attack," Maj. Gen. Abu Gurun personally supervises search of Wau area inhabited by poor Dinka. All people without identification are shot by army and many houses are burned or looted. Total killed is unknown, but police report finding 89 bodies. Hundreds are brought to riverside by lorry and machine-gunned and dumped in river. Dinka boys, aged six to 10, are forced to kill their families with spears. Army puts 62 people in empty ammunition storeroom and gasses them to death with exhaust pipe connected from armored personnel carrier (witnesses report "red-lipped corpses," indicating carbon monoxide poisoning). Partial lists of missing or killed total 1,132. Gurun claims three "terrorists" killed.
* August Many Dinka children killed by Fertit militia. Fertit wife of a Jur (southern) man killed by Fertit militia - her eyes are put out, breasts cut off and then she is hanged. Lower ranks of the police (mainly Dinkas) form death squads to kill Fertits.
* September 6 Army in shoot-out with police, claiming mainly civilian victims. Total killed unknown, but police collected 310-350 bodies. Four army lorries are seen overloaded with mainly Dinka bodies; 100-150 people seen machine-gunned and thrown in river. Many displaced people living in the town center are shot by the army or crushed by tanks, with "heaps" of bodies all over town. One senior army officer reports 564 houses burned or destroyed by tanks, sometimes with people inside; one senior police officer estimates number of dead at more than 2,000.
* September Effective division of Wau town in two: east controlled by police (mostly Dinkas) and west run by the Fertit militia. Army tries to ambush the commissioner of police, Brig. Richard Makur.
* October 18 Four "SPLA soldiers," whom army claims to have killed near Wau, are identified as elderly women leprosy victims.
* October 22 Fertit militia in army uniforms attack Wau police headquarters with tanks.
* November 11 Maj. Gen. Abu Gurun leaves for Khartoum. The situation begins to calm down in Wau town.
* December Peace talks start in Khartoum between Fertit, Dinka and Jur representatives from Wau. Militia is withdrawn from Wau town after SPLA attacks on Fertit areas.
While thousands trekked east to Ethiopia during 1987 or are still on their way, many thousands more from Bahr El Ghazal fled the fighting and killing by heading north, bringing the total number of southerners living in or around Khartoum to an estimated 500,000.
Others have not gotten as far as Khartoum. By early 1988, an estimated 20,000 displaced southerners were moving through Southern Darfur, gathering around towns and villages such a Nyala, Tullus, Wad Hajjam, Kass, Kafindi Bei and Ed Da'ein. In early February 1988, the local council of Ed Da'ein decided to move one group of Dinka to prevent tribal tensions from rising and so trucked 1,437 people farther north to Abu Ajura, south of Nyala. Most were women, children or the elderly. No arrangements had been made for their arrival and because most had very few possessions or clothes, they were forced to beg food from local people and sleep outside during Sudan's coldest time of year.
Water supplies were very low, and the displaced were prevented from using village wells. People also reported a high prevalence of diarrhea, fevers, malnutrition and respiratory complaints.
Elsewhere, the situation is bad and getting worse. In Safaha, Southern Darfur, about 70 km north of the Bahr El Ghazal town of Aweil and 12 hours' drive from Nyala, several thousand Dinkas from around Aweil and Gogrial have already arrived to camp out around this extremely remote village. There are few health or feeding facilities, despite great concern over reports that many of the people are in an extremely poor state. Up to 20,000 could collect there within weeks, it is estimated, and these people will have to be moved north as the area becomes swampy during the wet season.
A mere 250 km south of Khartoum, the town of Kosti in White Nile province on the north-south border has also seen a steady influx of the displaced, mainly Shilluk people from Kodok, north of the Upper Nile capital of Malakal. By the beginning of March 1988, 18,000 had been registered, with a further 5,000 feared to be on their way from Malakal and 10,000 from Mengennis. There is very little spare food for relief supplies in the town, and other facilities cannot cope.
As people move from both Upper Nile and Bahr El Ghazal, in Equatoria the war is keeping food supplies for the capital, Juba, down to very low levels, with the commercial market supplied by traders receiving only 340 metric tons (mt) by road from its most recent convoy, while 320 mt came by air in one week, indicating the dependency of Juba on air supplies.
In South Kordofan, people are also on the move because of the insecurity, which will mean reduced harvests and a need for relief aid. There have been larger-than-usual Dinka movements north for seasonal work, which could lead to problems if these people do not return south as usual.
In the town of Abyei, perhaps 5,000 people have arrived from the surrounding area and northern Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile, where both SPLA units and the army-backed militias are active. At El Meiram, up to 7,000 Dinkas have arrived, most working on the surrounding farms. As at Abyei, El Meiram sees a constant traffic of people moving north to escape the insecurity.
Around Babanusa, it is "guesstimated" that 3,000-4,000 people have arrived, many of whom came north from El Meiram and Ed Da'ein; there may be 2,000 at El Muglad. One report describes the local people as "fairly hostile" but says the countryside, with roving militia bands, is more dangerous. Fewer problems are predicted at En Nahud, where displaced people have swollen numbers until around 5,000 Dinkas are working on local farms.
The militarization of tribal groups is making insecurity worse in the area of the Nuba mountains, where the militias have reportedly attacked several Nuba villages, most recently Shatt Sofiya in late March. Tension has also risen over the army's policy of restricting grazing to keep Nuba herds away from more southerly areas. There is concern over the appointment of Ali Juma'a (a member of Sadiq El Mahdi's Umma Party) as the new commissioner of South Kordofan, because he is from the Baggara group which has been armed as militias by the army.
Thousands of displaced people are in Kadugli town or the surrounding area, most of them from the Um Dorein area, which was in SPLA hands for some time and was bombed by the government. Several thousand more are said to be in the El Buram area.
The next wet season is expected to be "extremely violent," according to one source, because of the army-backed militia attacks on villages, Nuba hostility, potential trouble from Nuba army soldiers and the SPLA's Nuba-staffed "Volcano Battalion,"
Refugees on the Road
Almost since the start of the present conflict, Sudanese people have been crossing into southern Ethiopia. But in the last few months there has been a sudden influx of refugees which threatens to outstrip the food supplies that can be delivered to these remote areas from the port of Assab, 1,500 km away over the "very difficult" road conditions.
The poor security on the roads will make it difficult to achieve the target of a three-month food reserve before the wet season of June-September. The months of March-May will be "a critical period" for ensuring adequate supplies of food. Survivors of what has been called "the great trek" of up to 1,500 km from Bahr El Ghazal to Ethiopia are reported as saying that "the route is littered with the corpses and skeletons of children, the young and old people."
Hundreds are arriving every day in the Pachala area close to the Ethiopia border, each group worse off than the one before. An SPLA commander is trying to keep people in a reception area and provide food for next stage. Fifty people who escaped the reception area drowned in the nearby river because they were too weak to cross, according to one report. A group of 350 preparing to leave Pachala for the 180-km walk to Panyudo refugee camp were described as "dehydrated, with sunken eyes...others with diarrhea running uncontrolled...many with severe coughs..." One group was seen preparing old animal skin as a meal.
After passing exhausted and sick people eating leaves to survive on the road, in Pibor the situation was even worse: "Nothing to be eaten. Even the 'Lalop' trees were ragged; all the leaves already finished by those who had passed here before." The Pibor SPLA military commander estimated the death rate at eight a day, down from 30 a day during large movements in October-December 1987. The SPLA commander said the situation would get worse as the height of the dry season approached.
At Panyudo camp, many of the refugees seen were too young or too weak to pound their maize ration, and so were eating it boiled in water. Patients for the hospital overflowed from the huts to lie under trees. At night "the whole settlement is racked with coughing." Many of the refugees are young, aged six to 15. Most are from Bahr El Ghazal and tell similar stories of hearing gunfire and seeing smoke from their village while they were out grazing cattle: "We knew the Muraheleen [Fertit militia] had arrived so we ran further away with the cows. We returned in the evening to find the whole village completely razed to the ground. It was dead silent. We did not know where our parents were." The children then set off for Yirol where the SPLA was believed to have a relief operation. One boy said, when asked whether he liked the new camp: "I no longer hear gun shots, but there is no milk. We are starving."
Hard Times in the City
Khartoum and all urban areas of Sudan is expanding as poverty, drought and war force hundreds of thousands of people to abandon rural areas. The "drift to the city" of recent years accelerated in the early 1980s with the impact of the worst drought in living memory in Sudan. The influx was mainly of people from the north and the west who were searching for food, shelter and employment.
The then Nimeiri government would not recognize the seriousness of the situation and ignored the needs of the settlers. When thousands of hungry people began arriving to camp out in the desert beyond Omdurman, the regime's response was to truck them back into Kordofan, where many died.
Since 1983, the present conflict, and in particular the fighting and insecurity in Bahr El Ghazal, has brought a rising flood of southerners who arrive by foot, truck, bus or train in Khartoum to scratch a living in the illegal shanty towns that stretch for miles out of the city. Amid increasing northern fears over the impact of perhaps 500,000 southerners around Khartoum, the government and city council do not formally recognize most of such settlements and have made no plans to deal with the recent influx, except to threaten to truck people out of urban areas or back to the south.
The problems have not been helped by the government decision in late 1987 to close the "coordination offices" in Khartoum for Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr El Ghazal and to freeze all their budgets pending investigation of alleged irregularities. Southern officials in Khartoum have been told to return to their regions, but lack the money to pay for tickets - even if any flights are taking place. The dearth of funds for southern students' fees and subsistence have left many stuck in Khartoum with no support.
The present facilities within Khartoum are not equipped to cope with the growing influx of displaced people. Problems and conflicts are occurring over food, health services, education, land and water. Fears that improved facilities would "pull" people into Khartoum seem unjustified. A survey of the displaced in Khartoum in early 1987 suggested that insecurity was the main reason for 49 percent of the people to leave their villages, followed by 23 percent because of famine and drought, and only then unemployment at 22 percent.
New arrivals usually stay with relatives, friends or those from the same group until they are established. In the 20 or more officially recognized "planned areas" of Khartoum (designated for new building of low-class housing), the displaced may be able to rent or build a brick or mud-walled hut with some security. In "unplanned areas," the displaced build huts from cardboard, twigs, scrap cloth, metal and plastic on any waste ground, unused land or rubbish dump, constantly at risk of eviction.
Some help is being offered to the displaced. Relief activities and longer-term assistance are, however, difficult to establish when Sudan's own welfare, education and health services are extremely limited and the attitude of both the authorities and local people from other ethnic backgrounds toward the displaced can often be hostile.
Within the city-and other major urban areas such ac El Obeid and Port Sudan - the last few years have seen increasing pressures on all groups regarded as outsiders, including southerners, refugees and street children. The "Kasha" policy of forced evacuation of those regarded as "vagrants," for example, means that anyone without identification papers can be arrested at any time and expelled from the city. The commissioner of Khartoum Province, Karam Mohammed Karam, announced the beginning of one of the most recent Kasha campaigns on 9 December 1987, warning that camps for those arrested were being set up outside the city. In some areas, the latest tactics have extended to burning homes. In October 1987, for example, over 200 huts made of straw matting were burned without warning by police in one Khartoum area occupied by squatters.
Likely to exacerbate tensions in Khartoum is the recent proposal by Sadiq El Mahdi to appoint the leader of the loyal Anyanya II forces from west Upper Nile as "Head of Special Security in Khartoum," to identify and "deal with" (punishment unspecified) SPLA supporters and informers among southerners.
Violence between Nuer and Dinka would allow the Commissioner for Khartoum to fulfill his threats to deal severely with southerners in the city. At the same time as the official moves by the prime minister, the loyal Anyanya II is known to be issuing death threats and beatings to those from their home area who will not join them.
Observing all these developments, one source commented: "We are witnessing an intensification of the anti-southern prejudice which is being fueled here by the northern political parties, probably in an attempt to distract public attention away from the problems associated with the economy." Ironically, at the same time as these moves were going on, a settlement of several thousand southerners living in huts made of cardboard at Hila Shok (a main Khartoum rubbish dump) was charged taxes. From some of the poorest people in Sudan, a total of 3,000 Sudanese pounds (approximately US$650) was obtained. There is no indication that this tax implies any recognition of the settlement or approval for the people to stay.
The flow of displaced into Khartoum has not slowed; the latest estimates put arrivals at 1,000 per week. In the face of this, the government increasingly talks of its need for assistance in a resettlement policy, creating what it has called "peace villages" containing people from a variety of tribes along the north-south border. Such a scheme would clearly be internationally controversial, difficult to implement and almost impossible to maintain, despite talk of stationing armed police units within what are, in effect, artificially created strategic hamlets.
Human rights violations are taking place on a large scale in Sudan, a particular target being the Dinka. The government intends to undermine the physical and political support for the SPLA by driving out or destroying any people and resources that it could use in its military and political campaign.
If such terrorism against its own citizens is not the strategy of the government, then it is doing little or nothing to prevent such violations by its armed forces and the militias it controls. Such a policy undermines the government's claim to favor the full unity of Sudan.
In particular, the continuing presence of Maj. Gen. Fedulla Burma in the cabinet and of Maj. Gen. Abu Gurun in the army must be taken as an endorsement of rape, looting, torture and wholesale murder as legitimate tactics against innocent civilian citizens caught up in a war not of their making.
Even when fighting a civil war, the democratically elected government of a United Nations member state should observe internationally acceptable standards of respect for and maintenance of human rights. The government of Sudan must accept that duty to uphold the human rights of all its people.
Religious Persecution in Sudan
According to a May 24 article in Sudan Times, six young men are sitting in a jail in southern Kordofan, "guilty of nothing much more than the mere fact that they are Christians and were in the wrong place at the wrong time practicing their religion in the only way they know how." All are members of a small Catholic church.
The young men have been accused of opening a church and raising funds in the area without permission. Upon arrest, the men had a total of SL 48 in their possession, the collection from the previous Sunday, but were subsequently charged with collecting thousands of pounds. Their defense asserts that the church has long existed in the area, but that it was burned by Islamic fanatics in 1979 who swore that they would build a mosque on the spot. After September 1983, when Islamic law was imposed, the commissioner of Southern Kordofan, a Moslem brother, forbade the rebuilding of the Catholic church.
The defendants also have been accused of cutting firewood, which was used to make the bricks to repair the church, and of being in regular contact with a European parish priest in the area.
The six men were sentenced to 25 lashes each and to a fine of SL 500 for each of the four counts against them, or six months in jail for each offense if they cannot pay the fine.
According to the report, this story is not unusual for the area. It claims that Islamic fundamentalists routinely burn, destroy or close down churches and the members are often forced to move from the area or imprisoned or murdered.
The Situation of the Uduk
In 1985, the Uduk people of southeastern Sudan, who were suffering from drought and warfare, were receiving relief assistance. The government of Sudan accused the Uduk, as well as those providing assistance to them, of aiding the SPLA (Sudanese People's Liberation Army), which is active in the area. One Uduk man was jailed, and a church which was also used to store grain was burned. On two later occasions a total of 20 people were arrested, beaten and tortured. All were forced to confess that they had given grain to the SPLA.
The Sudanese army was defeated by the SPLA at Daga Post on 29 March 1987. On 30 March, while in retreat, the army burned and looted villages and churches in at least six locations. When one man refused to leave a church he was burned alive in it.
The SPLA sent word to the Uduk people that they should be ready to flee on 6 April. More than 10,000 Uduk followed the SPLA at that time, reportedly fleeing to the Asosa area of Ethiopia as refugees. Reports have circulated that the SPLA and other Sudanese nationals have been serving as militia and guards in some of the resettlement sites in the Asosa area.
At the same time, the government encouraged nomadic Arabs to attack four villages and churches of the northernmost Uduk territory. In one case, the army had to send a tank to destroy the church because it was built of brick. All church property was stolen, including books, typewriters, a refrigerator, money and building materials.
Although it is presumed that the SPLA members are now in refugee camps in Ethiopia, none of them have been heard from since May 1987. Attempts to trace them through international agencies have been unsuccessful. It is feared that the Uduk men have been encouraged to take up arms against the government, while the women and children remain in the camps.
Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.