Monday, May 23, 2016

SUDAN: Massacre in Heiban as Nuba Genocide enters its Sixth Year.


By Religious Liberty Analyst, Elizabeth Kendal, 23 May 2016

Photos emerging from Heiban in South Kordofan’s conflict-wracked Nuba Mountains provide fresh evidence that the Government of Sudan continues to perpetrate crimes against humanity.

Nuba Reports
At 6 p.m. on 1 May, two Sudanese Air Force MiG fighter jets attacked residential areas within Heiban town in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, killing six children, three from one family: Nidal Abdolrahman Ibrahim (12), Ibrahim Abdolrahman Ibrahim (10), Jihan Abdolrahman Ibrahim (5), Hafez Mahmud (10) Kuku Dawli (4), and Yusif Yagoub (4). Having seen the photos, I can tell you, that the heads and limbs of these small children were literally shredded.

What is most important to understand is that the “Heiban Massacre” is not an isolated incident. To the contrary, it is but one episode in the Government of Sudan’s genocidal jihad against the non-Arab and mostly non-Muslim peoples of Sudan’s “New South” – Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile – a campaign that has just entered its sixth year. For the Christians of the Nuba Mountains, it is the second genocide in a generation.

BACKGROUND

click on map to enlarge
On 9 January 2005, the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ending more than 20 years of civil war and Islamic jihad. The CPA gave the GoS seven years in which to “make unity attractive”. After that time, South Sudan would be entitled to hold a referendum on self-determination; and the three contested non-Arab and SPLM-aligned regions – Abyei (which straddles the North-South border), along with South Kordofan and Blue Nile states (both in the north) would be entitled to popular consultations through which the people would determine their own futures.

As the seven year interim period drew to a close, the GoS realised that, having failed spectacularly to “make unity attractive”, it was on the verge of losing 25 percent of its land mass, 80 percent of its forests and 75 percent of its oil.

On 27 April 1993, at the height of the preceding Nuba Genocide, clerics at the El-Obeid Mosque, North Kordofan, issued the now infamous fatwa:

“An insurgent who was previously a Moslem is now an apostate [simply by virtue of his political opposition]; and a non-Moslem is a non-believer standing as a bulwark against the spread of Islam, and Islam has granted the freedom of killing both of them.”

To the Arab-supremacist Islamists in Khartoum, the secession of South Sudan would make this fatwa and this genocide more urgent than ever.

click on map to enlarge
As the 9 July 2011 referendum on southern secession loomed, the GoS moved pre-emptively to seize control of the three contested regions: oil-rich Abyei and South Kordofan, and Blue Nile which has gold, water and which generates hydro-electric power.

GoS bombing of Abyei commenced on 19 May 2011, followed by a military invasion that sent some 20,000 mostly-Christian, Dinka Ngok residents fleeing south.

The assault on South Kordofan started on 5 June 2011 with door-to-door “sweeping” operations in the capital, Kadugli, designed to “decapitate” the Christian community. These were followed by aerial bombardments, scorched earth warfare and the closure of the region to all humanitarian aid: an act designed to facilitate mass starvation.

On 9 July 2011, South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to secede from Sudan; and on 28 August 2011, GoS forces flooded into Blue Nile.

For more background see:
“SUDAN: Nuba Genocide Resumes”,
by Religious Liberty Analyst Elizabeth Kendal, 24 June 2011.
“SUDAN: war spreads across ‘new south’ into Blue Nile”
By Religious Liberty Analyst Elizabeth Kendal, 13 Sept 2011.

GENOCIDE NO SECRET

On 31 August 2014, Sudan’s most senior military and security officials met in the National Defense College, Khartoum, for a Military and Security Committee Meeting to discuss the “Management of Military Activities”. The minutes of that meeting were leaked to long-time Sudan expert Eric Reeves, who had them translated and verified as authentic. The minutes reveal an official policy of genocide by means of mass starvation – and not only across the New South, but in the refugee camps in South Sudan's oil-rich Unity and Upper Nile states, which Khartoum wants closed.

Complete text: minutes for the August 31, 2014 meeting of senior NCP security/military officials. Eric Reeves, 29 Sept 2014.

See also: “Sudan Exposed: 'Starve them', 'empty the camps'”
By  Religious Liberty Analyst Elizabeth Kendal, 12 Nov 2014
AND "On the move again; 70,000 refugees compelled to leave [Yida] Camp." Nuba Reports, 18 Dec 2015.

In November 2015, Sudan’s Defence Minister Awad Ibnauf assured the federal parliament that all areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) “will be liberated through a massive military operation”.

In early February 2016 observers reported seeing massive columns of troops (army and paramilitary – including foreign jihadists) moving into South Kordofan along with heavy weapons in preparation for this year’s dry season offensive.

See: "SUDAN: Nuba brace for more jihad"
By Religious Liberty Analyst, Elizabeth Kendal, 17 Feb 2016.

Having encircled the Nuba Mountains, the GoS is now bombing and strafing civilian areas, as evidenced by the 1 May 2016 attack on Heiban.

Though massively outnumbered and out-gunned, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) is holding its ground.

Latest reports:"Nuba Conflict Intensifies as Rains Arrive"
Nuba Reports, 20 May 2016
"The Shrapnel Finds Us Wherever We Hide"
By Tom Rhodes and Musa John, Foreign Policy, 19 May 2016
"'Thousands' fled bombing in Sudan's Blue Nile this month"
Dabanga, 23 May 2016

Meanwhile in Khartoum, hundreds of Sudanese political and civic actors, as well as individuals have signed a petition condemning and expressing their horror at the 1 May 2016 “Heiban Massacre”. Signatories include 29 heads of all the major opposition parties in Sudan, 30 representatives of civil society, along with hundreds of individuals.

The signatories “call for the reawakening of the Sudanese national consciousness and for individuals and organisations to take campaign actions in response to this crime.” They also “call upon the regional and international actors . . . to exert pressure on the Sudanese Government to end this violence and make Heiban the last aerial bombardment against civilians.”

For full list of signatories, see: “The Massacre of the Children of Heiban: Make it the Last Crime of the Sudanese Government’s Aerial Bombardments.” 
Eric Reeves, 13 May 2016.

These opposition voices need and deserve all the support they can get. So too do the imperilled forgotten peoples of Sudan’s New South. The Nuba are Christians, the legacy of Australian pioneer missionaries. As they face their second genocide in a generation, one is left to wonder, “Why?”

Why, as the Nuba face the existential threat posed by greed-fuelled, state sanctioned, genocidal racism and Islamic jihad, they are abandoned to their fate?

Why is their plight of such little interest to the West?

Are they too black?

Is their plight too politically incorrect?

Are they too Christian at a time when Western “progressives” are dreaming of a post-Christian age?

One thing is certain, this genocide will continue until either the Government of Sudan achieves its aim of repopulating the resource-rich “New South” with Arab Muslims loyal to Khartoum, OR,  nations of conscience act together, with conviction and commitment, to force Khartoum to stop the killings, open the regions, and start the hard work of finding sustainable solutions.

-----------------------

Elizabeth Kendal is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks toChristians Today (Deror Books, Dec 2012), which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat.

Her second book, ‘After Saturday Comes Sunday’: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, is being published by Wipf and Stock (Eugene, OR, USA), due for release in the coming months.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Burma (Myanmar): 'Covert Drug Genocide'

By Elizabeth Kendal

This posting provides information to accompany Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 347 (9 March 2016) written for Global Day of Prayer for Burma (13 March 2016), focusing on what appears to be an ominous new strategy of the Burmese military to divide and destroy the ethnic nations—quietly.

In Burma, all land belongs to the central government, and though the government grants farmers tillage rights, it also grabs land back illegally when it wants to. Consequently, land is central to Burma’s civil conflicts. Struggles rage between a central government which is desperate for resources and foreign investment, and ethnic nations which would rather fight to the death than surrender their ancestral lands.

Burma’s military-drafted 2008 Constitution mandates that all armed forces in the country be placed under central military command. To that end, the government has insisted that the armies of the ethnic nations disarm and be incorporated in a Border Guard Force (BGF) under the direction of the Tatmadaw (Burmese military). Unsurprisingly, ethnic nations that have known nothing but land theft and violent military persecution are unwilling to disarm; they simply do not trust the government.

After the November 2010 elections the government claimed it had a mandate to fight “separatists” (i.e. the armies of the long-persecuted ethnic nations as yet unwilling to disarm and join the BGF). By mid 2011, war was raging. It was around that time that ethnic minority leaders began to observe unprecedented quantities drugs flooding into their towns and villages.

-------------------------------------------------------
BURMA: ‘COVERT DRUG GENOCIDE’
-------------------------------------------------------

In 1999, Burma launched a 15-year plan to stamp out poppy cultivation—a deadline that has since been extended to 2019. However, instead of eradicating poppies, Burma has witness the growth of a commercial industry, fuelled by military involvement and by demand in China, Australia and beyond. Producing 25 percent of the world’s opium, Burma is now the second largest producer, surpassed only by Afghanistan.

ETHNIC MINORITY REGIONS BEING INUNDATED WITH DRUGS.

As noted in the report, Third Myanmar Opium Farmers’ Forum Pyin Oo Lwin, 11–12 September  2015, “Many opium growing regions are located in conflict affected areas.”  Participants in the Opium Farmer’s Forum report many links between drugs and conflict, noting that most ethnic armed opposition groups striving for self-determination and more autonomy have an anti-drug policy, while a large number of militia groups and Border Guard Forces (BGFs) backed by the Burma/Myanmar army, are stimulating and taxing opium cultivation while also maintaining active involvement in heroin and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) production. (See report, pages 8-10, “Drugs and Conflict”).

According to the opium farmers, the Burmese military collect a poppy-tax, or bribe, to allow poppy cultivation. Then they might slash one field and extort money to protect the remaining fields. Military personnel also confiscate drugs from dealers, before selling the drugs back to locals, without arresting the dealers.

According to a 27 February 2016 opinion piece by Pangmu Shayi, published in Kachinland News: Ethnic armed groups willing to convert to border guard forces are given free rein to operate massive poppy cultivation and drug trafficking in their areas. Kachin State Special Region No. 1, encompassing the Pangwa, Kanbaiti area on the borderlands with China, fits this description perfectly.”

At the time of the Nov 2010 elections, only two armed groups had signed up to disarm and join the junta’s Border Guard Force: the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK).

And as Pangmu Shayi (Kachinland News) notes: “Special Region No.1 is the fiefdom of notorious drug lord Zahkung Ting Ying, leader of New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) turned border guard force. He was reelected to the Upper House in November [2015] after banning the NLD from campaigning in his territory. And it is this region, with its thousands of acres of poppy fields, that the Pat Jasan has targeted for its poppy clearing mission.”

PAT JASAN

Two years ago in Kachin State, with the drug problem reaching catastrophic proportions, the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) formed a group called Pat Jasan (lit. Prohibit Clear): a Kachin community-based drug-abuse eradication network.

Before they can be harvested, Pat Jasan units go in and slash poppy fields, often beating poppy farmers and dragging them off to faith-based drug rehabilitation centres. Though excesses have been reported, Baptist and Catholic leaders are working together to create a more disciplined and compassionate force. Boasting some 100,000 members, the Pat Jasan operates with full government support.

As might well be imagined, this is risky business, and exceedingly dangerous work. Pat Jasan members face opposition not only from poppy farmers whose livelihoods are risk, and from the militias and Border Guard Forces who protect them, but also from police and military personnel accustomed to taking bribes and receiving kickbacks.

Pat Jasan in Waingmaw town
On 3 February, a teenage member of Pat Jasan was shot dead and three others injured by sniper-fire while clearing poppy fields, causing the government to call a halt to the program. Undeterred, Pat Jasan members swelled to some 2,400 in Waingmaw township, keen to continue with the poppy eradication program. A stand-off ensued.

After several rounds of negotiation, the Kachin anti-drug campaigners and authorities agreed, on 23 February, that poppy clearance would go ahead in Sadon and Kan Pai Tee sub-townships of Waingmaw, under the protection of a 200-strong security team.

“Police, firemen and military troops will go together with the group,” said Kachin State Police Colonel Chit Oo . “Around 200 troops will go. We will not block them again and we will protect them from danger, especially from armed groups.”

Kachin Baptist Convention general secretary Reverend Samson Hkalam welcomed the agreement and said the authorities should be collaborating with the vigilante group instead of blocking its activities.
“I think that the authorities realise the importance of poppy destruction and they understand they need to cooperate with the anti-poppy activists for the good of our country,” he said.

“The military and police will accompany us and provide security,”  Pat Jasan's Daung Hkaung told UCA News. “We are going to six areas of opium poppy fields in Kambaiti township, Kachin State.”

According to UCA News, though the distance to the opium areas was around four hours by car, most of the group were walking.

“We are eradicating drugs because it destroys our younger generations,” Ying Kyang told UCA. “In Kachin state almost every family has drug users.”

On 24 February, as Pat Jasan volunteers started clearing some 20,000 acres of poppy in Sadon and Kan Pai Tee, an ethnic Kachin National League for Democracy (NLD) lower house MP for Waingmaw, U Lagan Zal Jone, submitted an urgent motion calling on the union government to support the fight against drugs, and assist and protect volunteers from possible attacks.

On 25 February, as more than 20 lawmakers discussed the urgent motion, unarmed Pat Jasan volunteers came under attack from militants armed with automatic weapons, grenades and improvised explosive devices. Locals who came to help the Pat Jasan activists were also attacked; cars and tents were set on fire. Eventually Pat Jasan retreated back to Waingmaw township. The security team did not intervene in any way. “We don’t understand why security forces avoided helping us,” said U Tan Gong. “We are suspicious of them.”

Twenty-seven Pat Jasan members were seriously injured, requiring transportation back to Myitkyina General Hospital; two later died of their injuries.

Myanmar Times reports: “Pa Ja San members suspect their attackers came from two groups, a militia connected with the Tatmadaw [Burmese military] that no one was willing to name, and the former New Democratic Army-Kachin, a splinter faction of the Kachin Independence Army that became a border guard force. The NDAK was led by U Zahkung Ting Ying, now of the border guard, and an elected Amyotha representative.”

Meanwhile, also on 25 February, the motion before the parliament, to support the anti-drug movement and protect its volunteers, was approved with a majority of votes.

Since then however, nine of Pat Jasan’s leaders have been questioned by the police. “The way they questioned us was like they were interrogating criminals,” said Zung Ding, a Christian pastor and leader within Pat Jasan.

“Since we have heard that the poppy farmers are planning to sue, it is very possible that the police have accepted the case. If not, we would not be questioned like this,” said Zung Ding. “When we asked the police if the poppy farmers of Wai Moe village had filed a lawsuit against us, they gave no comment.”

He told The Irrawaddi, “If they file a case, we have to face it.’

ETHNIC GROUPS SUSPECT ULTERIOR MOTIVES

Many ethnic minority leaders are convinced that the military is directing poppy cultivation and funnelling opium into ethnic regions with the ulterior motive of dividing and destroying the ethnic nations.

‘They want to kill [us] indirectly,’ says a Karen leader, L.t General Nerdah Bo Mya, in a YOUTUBE appeal. ‘They are putting a lot of drugs into our territory, [so as to ] make the up-coming generation so stupid that they cannot really think about politics . . . or their motherland.’

This fits exactly with Pangmu Shayi's 27 Feb piece in Kachinland News:

Pat Jasan. Kachinland News
“There are those who condemn the vigilante tactics of Pat Jasan, the community-based Kachin drug abuse eradication network. The criticism would be justified, if under normal circumstances. But the times, they are not a-normal, to channel Bob Dylan. These are desperate times, and desperate times call for desperate measures. How desperate are the times? Let me count the ways:

“An overwhelming number of Kachins – young and old, male and female, rural and urban – are drug addicted. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that Kachin State has the highest HIV rate among drug users in South East Asia. The AIDS epidemic has now reached such crisis levels that it is endangering even lower-risk groups like girls and women.

“The Kachins therefore consider opium and related drugs to be their ‘principal and most destructive enemy’. They firmly believe that if not addressed effectively and in time, the Kachin, a minority ethnic group in Burma with an estimated population of just over 1.5 million, could soon become an ‘endangered species’.

“Furthermore, the ease with which drugs are being flooded into Kachin towns and villages, especially targeting Kachin youth, gives rise to the widespread perception that a covert drug genocide is being waged against the Kachin.”

Led by the Kachin Baptist Convention, Kachin citizens are risking much to save their children, their families, and their nation from an insidious silent slaughter.

Shayi concludes: “Assessing Pat Jasan gains at this juncture, regardless of whether their poppy eradication efforts can continue or not, the campaign’s ability to expose long held suspicions that government itself is the major contributor to the drug abuse problem – from pervasive official corruption, to the impunity with which border guard drug lords and their Chinese compatriots have been allowed to engage in the drug trade – is no small feat.”

International support from states that value life and liberty would ensure their efforts will not have been in vain. Christian too must support their threatened brothers and sisters through advocacy, aid and prayer. Prayer for Burma: Psalm 56.

------------------------------------------------------------

Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks toChristians Today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).

This book offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat.