Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nuba Genocide: US House Committee hears testimony

On Thursday 4 August 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights held an emergency hearing on Sudan to receive testimony on the Nuba genocide.

(For background on the Nuba genocide, see:
Sudan: Nuba Genocide Resumes.
By Elizabeth Kendal for Religious Liberty Monitoring, 24 June 2011.)

The emergency hearing, entitled "Southern Kordofan: Ethnic Cleansing and Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan", was called by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ).

As noted in Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 120, (10 Aug 2011), for some two months now the Sudanese army has being carrying out mass killings of civilians in Kadugli and a sustained aerial bombing campaign targeting Nuba populations across the Nuba Mountains. On top of this, Khartoum has closed the area off to humanitarian aid so as to engineer a famine.

This is not the first time that Khartoum has chosen to use starvation as a weapon of mass destruction. Khartoum has used this tactic before: in the early 1990s in the Nuba Mountains, in 1998 in Bhar el Ghazal (South Sudan), and more recently in Darfur. Now, as then, Khartoum will deliberately starve its own people while receiving food aid, exporting food and sending famine relief abroad.

For more on the Government of Sudan's use of starvation as a weapon of mass destruction see:
Why is Akobo hungry?
By Elizabeth Kendal for Religious Liberty Monitoring, 9 April 2010.

The three witnesses who spoke to the US House Committee were:

* Mr Bradford Phillips, the founder and president of Persecution Project Foundation and Sudan country director for Voice of the Martyrs. Mr Phillips, who has recently returned from 12 days in the Nuba Mountains, is an eye-witness to the devastation and terror. He expressed grave concern over the looming humanitarian crisis and gave chilling testimony of Christian pastors being targeted for arrest, horrific torture and execution as enemies of the state.

* Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail, the Anglican Bishop of Kadugli, South Kordofan, Sudan. He was in the US receiving medical treatment when conflict erupted on 5 June. His "flock" at the now ransacked, looted and torched Cathedral has been totally shattered.

* Dr Luka Biong Deng, president of Kush Inc. a Sudanese NGO working on peace and security issues in Abyei and the border regions.

A video recording of the 2 hour hearing is available on the CSPAN website.

Transcripts of testimonies are also available:
Brad Phillips
Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail
Dr Luka Biong Deng

Further to this, CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) interviewed Brad Phillips on 6 August. That 7 minute interview can be accessed here:
Crisis in Sudan Threatens Christian Community
Tracy Winborn, CBN News Producer, 6 Aug 2011

A call for action.

Like other Sudan advocates, Brad Phillips is calling for military action that would see Khartoum's Antonov bombers neutralised / destroyed. Phillips says, "We know where the planes are that are bombing civilians . . . they're in El Abed. It wouldn't take much to solve that problem and it would cost a whole lot less than what we've done in Libya."

This is also the position of Sudan analyst Eric Reeves, who wrote on 22 July: "Khartoum should be put on notice that any aircraft implicated in attacks on civilian or humanitarian targets will be destroyed on the ground, by cruise missiles or drone attack aircraft. This minimizes the chances for collateral damage, and provides a steady ratcheting up of pressure on Khartoum. Some of its aircraft, e.g., MiG-29s, are very expensive, running to $30 million each. But the ageing Antonov 'bombers' should be the first target, since they are doing the most damage to civilian lives and livelihoods in the Nuba.

"The call for an Iraq-style 'No Fly Zone', while understandable, is impracticable on a number of counts, given the geography of South Kordofan; and it would be hugely resource-consumptive. Threatening to destroy culpable aircraft on the ground would soon have the effect of creating a NFZ, but very simply and at low cost."

As Phillips says, we (the US) should at least be "siding with the victims" and "demanding that the UN declare an emergency so that humanitarian access is allowed".

Congressman Frank R Wolf, (R-Va.) gave a powerful and impassioned 7 minute appeal during the closing moments (from 1:44:30). "The UN has failed!" he raged. "China is the problem. . . You have to remove Bashir. . . This has been going on for over 21 years! They are war criminals. . . It is time for our government to do something about it."

As Reeves notes, "The alternative is to accept the continuing, indeed accelerating ethnically targeted human destruction of the Nuba people. This is not a morally intelligible alternative."

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, "Behold, we did not know this,"
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,

and will he not repay man according to his work?

(Proverbs 24:11-12 ESV)