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William L. Saunders Jr. and Yuri G. Mantilla

Excerpted from: William L. Saunders Jr. and Yuri G. Mantilla, Human Dignity Denied: Slavery, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity in Sudan , 51 Catholic University Law Review 715-739, 721-725 (Spring, 2002)(100 Footnotes)


The NIF's war machine has been directed mainly against the people of the South and those in other marginalized areas where black tribes are resisting Arabization and Islamization, such as the Nuba Mountains in the center and southern Blue Nile to the east. As has been extensively documented, the Sudanese government bombs civilian targets, including hospitals. Villages that harbored international non-governmental aid agencies have also been special bombing targets. The Sudanese Government has intensified its aerial bombardment of civilian targets, including U.N. humanitarian aid centers, since the U.N. Security Council lifted sanctions against Sudan in the aftermath of the jihad-terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Churches have been targeted as well. One visit by an Episcopal delegation witnessed the bombing of Episcopal and Catholic churches despite the absence of resistance forces in the vicinity. One member of the team, a former Navy bombardier, said that it was clear that the bombing raid intentionally targeted the churches. One of the latest destructions of churches was of Anglican Bishop Bullen Dolli's cathedral. According to Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI religion correspondent:

Bullen's diocese straddles the frontline in the civil war between northern and southern Sudan. Wistfully, he remembers that until Dec. 29, 2000, he had a proper see (official center of authority) -- the brick Frazer Memorial Cathedral named after an early 20th century missionary. But then, soon after last Christmas, Soviet-built Antonov planes of the Sudanese air force roared in and flattened the building with five bombs -- of 56 dropped on little Lui (pop. 5,000) since the beginning of the millennium.

According to Brenda Barton, spokeswoman for the UN World Food Programme, during the month of October 2001, an Antonov bomber struck the village of Mangayath. This village was bombed before a UN plane flew over to drop food. And according to Bishop Caesar Mazzalori, six people, including a mother and her baby, were killed and several others injured when a government bomber hit the southern Sudanese town of Raga on June 3, 2001. He said that "the Sunday air strike took place in the afternoon and involved between seven and nine bombs, which were dropped along a straight line on strictly civilian section of the town."

Victor Akok, a County Commissioner in Sudan, stated that on the afternoon of Sunday, October 7, 2001, the Government of Sudan killed fifteen Black, non- Muslim children and one elderly woman in bombing raids on the villages of Gukic and Mayom Deng Akol, in the Mangok district of Aweil East County, northern Bahr El Ghazal. Eight children were also wounded in the aerial assaults. Sudanese Government Antonov aircraft dropped six bombs on each village. Note that many of these attacks happen on Sundays -- days of worship for Christians who are gathered in large numbers, and, hence, easy targets. The Sudanese government also poisons water supplies and destroys crops -- and there are credible reports that it uses chemical weapons.

The aim of all these actions by the government is to demoralize the people, causing them to abandon their homes. A huge internally displaced population has been created. Many refugees are sent to "peace camps" which are "little more than death traps." Refugees often must convert to Islam in order to receive food. Some refugees migrate to the North and settle in shantytowns around Khartoum, where the government often destroys the churches and schools they build. The Washington Post reported in 1998 the "routine ... bulldozing -- thirty times in the last eight years -- of sanctuaries and schools by earthmovers guarded by truckloads of Sudanese soldiers." Still others enter southern refugee camps, which may also be bombed by the government.

The systematic destruction of food and water and bombing of villages has placed the population in the South and the Nuba Mountains at continuous risk of famine. While the United Nations has organized relief efforts through a consortium of non-governmental organizations, called Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), the Sudanese government has often denied OLS permission to deliver food, thereby using food as a weapon against its own citizens, even at the height of famine. As recounted by Harvard professor Mary Ann Glendon, a particularly flagrant incident occurred in 1998: "Sudan used this veto to ban relief to rebel-controlled areas for weeks on end, while simultaneously raiding farmlands. For half a year, the world averted its eyes from this use of food as an instrument of war, until 2.6 million Sudanese suffered from famine."

The government appears to be using similar tactics against its opponents in the southern Blue Nile district in the vicinity of the oil fields. Furthermore, since 1989, the government has denied all food aid to those portions of the Nuba Mountains not under its control. Though the regime promised in May 1998 that it would permit a humanitarian assessment by the United Nations of the Nuba Mountains, it delayed permission until June 1999. When the assessment team arrived, sources report, government forces shelled it.

Furthermore, the government has taken actions that have led to the revival of slavery and the slave trade. It created and armed political militias under the Popular Defense Act of 1990. It also accelerated the practice begun a few years earlier of arming Muslim tribesmen, called murahleen. As NIF Minister of Health Mahdi Babo Nimer admitted, "the regime has made a decision to arm the Arabs and to command them to destroy the Dinka." According to two Sudanese Muslim scholars, these actions transformed traditional tribal conflicts and allowed the Muslim tribes to take Dinka slaves on a grand scale. As a result, "slavery, in its classical and known sense ... reemerged in Sudan." In some cases, militias accompany military trains that travel to Wau, raiding along the way and returning with slaves.

Though the government continues to deny publicly that slavery is practiced in Sudan, the evidence is undeniable. Some have tried to shift the focus to the efforts by Christian Solidarity and others to redeem slaves (charging that these efforts only make the problem worse). However, the redemption of slaves is a secondary issue. Whatever the morality and/or prudence of redeeming slaves, the taking of slaves -- not the freeing of them -- is the problem. That problem exists because of actions of the Sudanese government. United Nations Special Rapporteur Gaspar Biro (who ultimately resigned in frustration over United Nations inaction) noted that years of inaction on the part of the government, after it was fully informed of the facts surrounding the practice of slavery, have demonstrated the government's approval and support of the practice.

One of the main sources of financial support for the government of Sudan is oil. There is increasing evidence that the oil revenues are used to buy weapons to continue the ongoing genocide against the Southern Sudanese. Oil fuels the war against innocent civilians and has been widely condemned.