Nine years ago this month, the Islamist regime in Khartoum began its second genocidal war on the people of the Nuba Mountains. Southern Sudan became the Republic of South Sudan, a free and independent nation, but the Nuba Mountains became hell on earth.
The black African Nuba ethnic groups were targeted and hunted down by the Sudan Army and the Arab proxy militias — the same scenario that took place in the Nuba Mountains in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Sudan’s air force dropped bombs on Nuba villages, sending lethal shrapnel in all directions. The people fled to the caves in the Nuba hills to escape the daily bombers. Women and children remained in the caves for long periods of time, enduring starvation conditions, afraid to return to their homes and farms.
In any case, the militias — like the Janjaweed who ravished Darfur, another of Sudan’s marginalized people groups — arrived in Nuba land and burned homes, market places, schools, and churches. They stole or killed the Nuba people’s animals and crops. Tens of thousands of Nuba became refugees in South Sudan, in Yida Refugee Camp.
All of this was done by a mandate (fatwa) from the then President of Sudan, Omar al Bashir. Bashir and the other radical Islamists had declared a fatwa on the Nuba prior to the first genocide in the Nuba Mountains. This was because of the alliance between the rebel forces of South Sudan and the Nuba warriors that fought along with them in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
The Nuba wanted the same thing that South Sudan wanted: to be treated as equal, free citizens of their own country and not be victims of Khartoum’s racism and religious persecution.
For all the ensuing years, the Nuba rebel forces — the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (North) — have fought the armies of Khartoum to protect the Nuba people. If all of the fighting had taken place on land, the SPLA (North) would have won handily.
The Nuba gained back territory taken by Khartoum, and gained tanks, arms, and ammunition with every battle they won, when the Sudan armed forces dropped it all and ran away. But they did not have adequate fire power against the aerial bombardment.
It was not until Sudan’s non-marginalized people, the Arab Sudanese (“the center”) began their protests in the streets that the world community, including the United States, began to take real notice. Until then, we were content to apply band-aids, to provide food aid (mostly directed through Khartoum, which meant much of it was mis-directed), and to encourage the Nuba to succumb and accept Islamic law for the sake of “peace.”
But apparently, the petrol and flour shortage protests of the Sudan center people could move the world powers to pressure for change in Khartoum when the genocide of black Africans in the Nuba Mountains, Darfur, and Blue Nile State could not. That change included the 2019 downfall of Bashir himself.
Today, in spite of some real, positive steps forward, the marginalized people groups of Sudan do not have justice, equality, and peace. Nuba Americans, joined by their fellow marginalized people from Blue Nile State, have stated their case in a letter of petition that they are sending to President Trump. The petition, crafted by the Nuba Mountains International Association, is available for all those who wish to support them to sign with them before it is delivered to the President.
In the petition they acknowledge that for the first time in Sudan there is a real possibility for democracy and freedom regardless of religion or other differences. They tell President Trump that Sudan’s Transitional Government must seize this opportunity. Now is the time to ensure separation between religion and the state as well as a genuine respect for individual, social and political freedoms.
Alternatively, they explain, if Khartoum will not adopt freedom of religion, then the people of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile should be able to practice their right to self-determination. Now that the situation has changed in the government of Sudan they urge that the United States replace its Special Envoy for Sudan with an Ambassador. But it is extremely important that it be an Ambassador who really understands the complex situation and who upholds American values, like freedom, to help the marginalized.
The Nuba request that a U.S. Ambassador be unbiased. He or she must be someone who understands the importance of the separation between religion and state, something that has heretofore been in short supply in Sudan.
And knowing how for some time Sudan has been working, along with its well-paid lobbyists, to be taken off the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, they address that issue as well. They urge that the U.S. government set clear goals for Sudan to have to meet in order to be taken off the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, and ONLY AFTER after the government is civilian, secular, and promotes policies that ensure freedom of religion, and, ONLY WHEN the Transitional Government signs a peace agreement with all armed opposition groups.
The letter of petition, found below, will be sent to President Trump at the beginning of July. President Trump has been a very strong defender of persecuted Christians and other religious believers. He should therefore take up the cause of religious freedom and equality in Sudan, listening to the pleas of those who have endured unspeakable persecution and violence for far too long.
If you want to sign the petition, please contact us with your name, city, state, and any organizational or church association, if applicable, at info@TheIRD.org with “Sudan Petition” in the subject line.