Published: 12:00 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 18 August 2011
Christians targeted in latest genocide campaign by North Sudan
Country/Region: Sudan, Middle East and North Africa
“It is a war of horror.”South Kordofan Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail
President Omar al-Bashir's forces are conducting daily air strikes and house-to-house raids in the Nuba mountains in South Kordofan state, which has one of the largest Christian populations in the North.
A leaked UN human rights report described "significant loss of civilian lives ... abductions ... arbitrary arrests and detentions; targeted killings; summary executions; ... mass graves; systematic destruction of dwellings; and attacks on churches".
Churches have been burnt down and Christians targeted because they are presumed to oppose al-Bashir's government. Pastors in particular have been singled out and tortured in an effort to get them to give up the names of those in their congregations, which they refuse to do. One church leader was told that the Sudan Armed Forces, the North's army, had a list of all church leaders and suspected Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) sympathisers.
Bishop Andudu of South Kordofan said,
My house was shot with guns and my chaplain was able to escape through the window and also my offices and cafe [were] burned down.
The daily bombings are preventing people from cultivating the land during the crucial planting season, raising fears of an impending humanitarian crisis.
History of violence
Many Nuba people allied with the South during the long and bloody civil war in which the North fought to Islamise the South. But when South Sudan became an independent nation on 9 July, South Kordofan remained part of the North. Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was forged between the North and South in 2005, the Nuba were promised an election to determine their political future, but this has so far been denied.
The Nuba people have been previously targeted, in the 1990s when more than 500,000 of their number were killed. The current violence is the latest in a long-running military campaign spearheaded by the National Islamic Front (NIF) to Islamise and Arabise the African indigenous population. Al-Bashir has been indicted for war crimes for the genocide in Darfur.
Before the secession of the south, al-Bashir declared that the North would be 100 per cent Arab and Muslim, posing an ominous threat to the minority Christian community there. Reports are now coming from the North of pastors being warned not to conduct church services, or else be killed. As churches come under increasing pressure, from both the authorities and individual groups, to close, some are shutting church schools and considering moving to the South.