This Sunday, September 30, 2012, there will be a brief, but powerful, vigil for Sudan at Lafayette Park, right across from The White House from 1:30-2:30 PM. The vigil is sponsored by Voices for Sudan as a memorial to the victims of the Islamist Sudan regime’s decades long war against its own people and a call to the U.S. government to respond more forcefully to Khartoum. IRD is co-sponsoring the vigil and I will be one of the speakers.
On June 30, 1989, General Omar al-Bashir seized control of Sudan in a military coup. His goal: to make the country a completely Islamized and Arabized state by imposing Shariah law, crushing the indigenous African cultures and languages of the majority of the people groups, and by attempting to eradicate Christianity.
Over 2.5 million people died in the undeclared genocide in South Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile State during the long war, and over 5 million were displaced. When oil was discovered in South Sudan, the war went to another level and the regime used proceeds from South Sudan’s own oil to perpetrate genocide against them. Today, Khartoum has recommenced its genocidal war against the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and displaced and Khartoum’s blockade of food aid, along with aerial bombardment preventing the people from farming, has threatened hundreds of thousands more with starvation.
ICC-indicted war criminal al-Bashir moved on to wage genocide against the people of Darfur. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions displaced. Rape has been used a weapon of jihad against the Darfuris. After “cleansing” the region, the Khartoum regime has populated the home villages of the Darfuris with others who are sympathetic to the regime.
In addition to genocide in South Sudan, Darfur, and Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, Khartoum has oppressed and marginalized the Beja people of eastern Sudan to the point of extinction. The regime has blocked the Beja off from humanitarian aid and from the outside world, while draining the region of its rich natural resources and replacing the indigneous Beja people with sympathetic outsiders.
The regime is treating the Nubians in the far north of Sudan in a similar manner, damming the Nile River to flood their homeland, and selling Nubian farmland to Egyptians who are sympathetic of the regime. The Nubians are the descendents of a dynasty of Pharaohs whose land boasts more pyramids than all of Egypt. They are also the descendents of one of the most ancient Christian peoples – three kingdoms that fought and survived against Arab invasion for centuries before being deceived into giving up their sovereignty.
Do you see a pattern here? If you do, you see what the Obama Administration and the United Nations do not seem capable of seeing. Jimmy Mulla, President of Voices for Sudan, announced the upcoming vigil by saying, “It is vital that the tragedies of the past be remembered in order to prevent the tragedies of the future.” That is very true, and remembering the tragedies of the past in Sudan help to define the pattern of atrocities and genocide committed by the Khartoum regime.
But preventing the tragedies of the future is not the ONLY reason why the tragedies of the past should be remembered. They should be remembered because these people, these human lives, are important. They were treated as less than animals by the Islamists in Khartoum, but they are precious to God. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 115: 16). They were faithful and courageous. They refused to bow down to other gods. They refused to surrender their cultural and spiritual identity. They refused to let the bigotry, racism, and violence of their government define them.
From the mighty and well-known like Dr. John Garang, to the tiniest child killed in Darfur; from the tens of thousands who disappeared into slavery in raids led by Muharaleen on horseback, to the few who defied their captors and escaped to freedom; from the bombed cathedrals and hospitals of places like Lui, to the LRA-ravaged Equatoria; from the 40,000 or more Lost Boys and Girls who fled their homes and walked towards Ethiopia, to the half that number that survived the trauma, hunger, wild animals, disease, crossing the river, and attacks by Sudanese armed forces to finish growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp; from the Nuba men fighing on the battlefield, to the Nuba women and children fleeing bombs into mountain caves; from Blue Nile and Nubia and Port Sudan — all must be remembered, and someday, all must be vindicated.