CALL FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION!
Tomo Križnar, 15.12.2011
At least half of the population in the southern part of the most victimized Sudanese province Blue Nile have already left their villages since the war started on September 1. They are scattered in the bushes near their homes and fields, or are across the border in Upper Nile (I did not visit the refugees in Ethiopia) fearing bombardments from Russian sold Antonovs day and night in the blue sky of the new dry season and a new push of the Sudanese army, who can now use heavy military equipment supplied from China to exterminate the last of Africans out of the land of their ancestors.
Although the most clear announcement by Sudanese president Omar Hassan al Bashir in December last year indicated that in case of separation of South Sudan, there would be no tolerance for any ethical and religious differences and that arabization and sharia law would be imposed in what is left of what was once the biggest African state, where the longest and most cruel African civil war took place in 1983 – 2005 with two million deaths and five million displaced, and the fact that the international community had already experienced fulfilment of northern promises in the Nuba Mountains and previously in Abyei – and all informed members of the international community expected a new war in all border areas - UN agencies and even most known NGOs are still not present inside Blue Nile, or as significantly as they should be in neighbouring countries (except Ethiopia) to help the most unfortunate people on Earth.
I spent two weeks filming proof that reports published by rear media about bombardments by GoS Antonovs inside Blue Nile and across the border in the neighbouring Upper Nile are all true and not lies as claimed by GoS. The UN has not come to investigate yet, but if they hurry, they will still find the bones of eleven people killed when a bomb hit the market in the village of Bela Toma on November 7 and the smell of blood of innocent women and children evaporating from black cotton soil in a collective grave where civilians buried their remains. The locals who survive the bombardment of Bela Toma survive the same sort of war crime as those in Kurchi, in the Nuba Mountains in June, but this time, activists did not succeed in spreading the word, because we were not there to photograph or deliver cameras and satellite internet connections and train local volunteers to document and send proof to the international community by themselves.
GOS Antonovs are roaring through the sky on a daily basis. The people of Blue Nile are deadly scared to pick up the little of what they planted in the last rainy season and aren’t sure if they will be able to stay for the harvest. But the most efficient psychological warfare is perpetrated by night. Nobody sleeps, even the drunk ones, fearing an unseen strike will kill their kids. In the remote area of Guffa (north of Bunj in the Mabaan region of Upper Nile State), during the November 8 bombing, when 7 people were killed and many others wounded, bombs fell a hundred meters from the local traditional hut clinic. Personnel and patients left without taking medicines with them, I found boxes still lying on floor everywhere.
Respected champions of human rights everywhere on Earth - this is my call to you! Nowhere on the planet are indigenous people more terrorized and systematically exterminated from their ancient lands as in Blue Nile. Nowhere on Earth aboriginal tribes (Komo, Ganza, Ingassana, Udjuk … ) in an area dotted with systematically Islamized people, does have a more horrible enemy; an enemy that still maintains a traditional slave hunter culture, an enemy already accused of four main crimes against humanity – including genocide. Yet no media, no NGOs, no activists, no sympathizers are there to bring forward this daily desperation to the international community (Eric Reeves is great exception).
It is not easy to figure out why all this ignorance towards the African people, left to the mercy of their traditional slave hunters after separation of the new 193rd member of the UN declared on June 9 this year exists and what is really behind it.
Even in the greatest concentration of refugees in Doro, near Bunch, Maaban county, to which all the streams of refugees are flooding now and to which access is quite easy by commercial planes from Juba to Malakal and then by good road, the refugees do not have anything other than trees under which they camp with their families, kids, elders … There are no UNHCR plastic sheets, no tents, no blankets. They have only what they brought with them from their homeland: a cooking pot, a water container, some broken mosquito nets, some articles of clothing, rear mattresses and, worst of all, very little food!!!!! Small bags of sorghum, some goats, tiny cows – these are the only tiny food sources available to them. Yes, the UNHCR is helping – a big white WFP tent stands in Doro, but officials told me they have grains for only 3,000 people and there are already more than 40,000 refugees in the bushes around Doro; and many more are coming. I saw great masses marching in the direction from Blue Nile from north and east. The UHCR and WFP representatives in Doro are completely frustrated with their organizations, asking themselves what is wrong, what is going on, why are their leaders not reacting more quickly to their desperate reports and calls for immediate help. There are lots of guesses about the corruption of the UN’s highest ranking officials, even including conspiracies. Yes, MSF Belgium is in Doro, working with patients in an empty UNHCR tent. Samaritan Purse is starting to support the local hospital, where Dr. Atar operated last week with no operating table, under small headlights. Irish NGO Goal and Oxfam are approaching, but all this is nothing compared to what people need.
There are only three water pumps in Doro, the waiting time is approx. 3 - 4 hours.
Water is the first need besides food.
And, of course, a no flying zone must be imposed.
But who will do that? World political institutions are impotent and clinically dead, perhaps even corrupt.
A few independent friends of the indigenous people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, we have been calling for change since 2006, revealing that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement did not solve the political problems of these two provinces and that ‘Popular Consultations’, which were put in place instead of Referendums, as in the case of Abyei, are foggy phenomena that definitely do not allow self determination. We have been trying to call attention to the fact that the SPLA in Nuba and Blue Nile have not gained anything after all those years of fighting side by side with John Garang and the SPLA, that arabization and sharia law, with intentions of grabbing good lands, minerals and other natural resources, which was the main course of indigenous resistance and rebellion, will be imposed again, and that a new war will break out in this area immediately after separation of the South.
Most of the leaders I spoke to in Blue Nile felt victimized and expressed beliefs that they are being sacrificed for some higher business interests. ‘If the USA, EU and UN were really after human rights and democracy, they would have removed Bashir long before Gadafi, who is an angel compared to the war crimes of Omar Hassan al Bashir and his gang.’ Nobody believes that NATO attacked the Libyan regime to protect the rebels caught in the siege of Bengazi any more…
I found morale in Blue Nile to be the lowest. Not only among SPLA military leaders inside Blue Nile, but also among civilians. The saddest experience was spending some time with young fathers and mothers under the trees along the river of Jabous, east of the market village bearing the same name, some three hours drive on a relatively good road across the border. Almost the whole population of this village, who I met last February during the bombing, is now moving towards Ethiopia. ‘How long will this last?’ was the common question. They do not want to enter Ethiopia because they know that they cannot move freely in refugee camps in Ethiopia. ‘Plus’, they told me, ‘the generation that escaped the atrocities in Blue Nile in the last war not only learned English, but also learned some bad habits such as prostitution and alcoholism, which horribly effected their indigenous culture. After three days, I heard them saying: “We will take our children and wives to safety in Upper Nile and return to fight the enemy who is taking our land.”
This is what Bashir wants; he is already saying that there are no civilians in South Blue Nile. UN agencies, who still maintain policy by which they are not allowed to support refugee families inside Blue Nile, and not even within 50 kilometres from the border, are thus taking away the rebel freedom fighters’ families, and therefore their support, both in terms of food and emotional support. During the last world war, the entire families of both my parents worked for the partisans. The Slovenian resistance succeeded because even women and children were freedom fighters.
The fact is that the UN and even the NGOs, who are inviting indigenous families to come out of Blue Nile for food and shelter, are directly helping Bashir to depopulate the provinces of South Blue Nile and South Kordofan and win his target.
In the case of Nuba in the last war, we need to criticize the same, repeated, arrogant politics of the UN as before they negotiated access to their aid for families under rebel control and not only to ‘peace camps’ where the GOS used aid to feed their army and their families across Sudan and as bate for rebel children and traps for those who had given up and come from the mountains. In peace camps, the GOS abuse boys to train them as ottoman Turkish janitors, sending them back to fight their once friends in the SPLA rebel groups, and use girls as concubines for Arabs officers and surrogate wombs to give birth to lighter coloured children, changing the demographic structure in the Nuba Mountains.
As things look now: the whole world is against the indigenous people of Blue Nile. The long process that started with Arabs hunting slaves and cutting trees for charcoal, turning forests into deserts, is now concluding with the latest bombardments of the last Africans out of the province. ‘There will be no tolerance towards leftist ethnic and religious groups in case the South declares independence,’ said Bashir in December of last year. It is a question of dignity and pride to fulfil this promise. The regime in Khartoum will do everything to stop foreigners from taking part of what was once the biggest African country and distributing it among themselves. Foreigners, foreign powers speaking of human rights and democracy.
It will take a long time before the UN will adapt on this sacrificial altar and do what they should. Thus, only brave NGOs remain, helping and fulfilling the reason of their existence.
Please join us: the newly established Slovenia-based humanitarian organization, HOPE, supplied 107 cameras, lap tops and satellite internet modems last month and trained 21 volunteers to cover the work of missing international journalists and document further atrocities. The photos and videos can help to attract and raise awareness of sensitive people around the world before it is too late for this, the worst humanitarian crisis on planet.
Please join us, or do what you can, but please do not forget the people of Blue Nile, the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, Abyei and Darfur. Please celebrate this Christmas in a different way – remember that you had the privilege of eating last Christmas, and even yesterday. The grave in Jerusalem is empathy. Jesus is a child now born on a disputed border between two Sudans. Here in Blue Nile and Nuba, all of humanity is being put to the test: will compassion to the most innocent people on Earth prevail over interest in cheap energy embodied in the oil of South Sudan, or will the logic of the profits and comfort for the few prevail? Yes, Omar fulfilled his promise and prayed in Kurmuk on November 1. Yes, I saw with my own eyes that the SAF army from the North is advancing, and will quite surely take what the generals in Khartoum believe belongs to them. The army must occupy the area to prevent any future dissolving of what was once the largest African country, since international interests took away the oil-rich south. Yes, I also saw that SPLA morale in Blue Nile is degenerating, but what about the people? The women, the children, the innocent - the symbols of the holy family, now living under the trees in the gardens of Christmas 2011…
P.S.: Documentary film »Eyes and ears of God« (by Maja Weiss, Tomo Kriznar) is in final cut and will be released January 2012. World premiere Cinema for Peace, Berlin film festival, February 2012.