The human rights situation in Sudan is not marketable to the American people.
—Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in a conversation with Dr. Charles Jacobs, head of the American Anti-Slavery Group, at the State Department, September 15, 1999
Roman Catholic Bishop Macram Max Gassis is all too well acquainted with the slavery, starvation, and murder of his people in central and southern Sudan—caused by the National Islamic Front government in the north. The killing fields that fall within his jurisdiction include the Nuba Mountains. He is in exile, although he slips back from time to time to report on the atrocities inflicted on black Christians, animists, and Muslims. These horrors are largely ignored by the world, including the president of the United States and such members of the American black establishment as Jesse Jackson, Charlie Rangel, and Al Sharpton.
Because of the civil war in Sudan between the government and the resistant forces in the south, the children of the Nuba Mountains have been without schools for a generation. And so the bishop established the Holy Cross School in Kauda.
This is from a report I received from the bishop on February 19:
“On Tuesday, February 8, forces loyal to the Khartoum regime [the government of Sudan] launched an air attack on [the Holy Cross School], part of the Roman Catholic diocese of El Obeid.”
A Russian-built Antonov bomber targeted the heavily populated area around Kauda, including the school with its 339 students.
His report continues: “The Antonov aircraft dropped four shrapnel-laden bombs that landed near the school while outdoor lessons were going on, killing 15 children and wounding 17, some critically. A 22-year-old teacher was also killed. Most of the victims were first-grade students who were in the middle of an English lesson when the attack occurred. Nuba eyewitnesses also reported that eight bombs fell on nearby villages during the attack.
“According to a February 11 Reuters report, Sudanese government officials defended the attack, saying that schools are a legitimate target in the country’s long-running civil war. ‘The bombs landed where they were supposed to land,’ Dirdiery Ahmed, an official in the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, told Reuters.”
I am willing to bet most of you are hearing about these killings for the first time because these students were black Africans.
There are black Muslim families in the Nuba area who oppose the Arab fundamentalist leaders in the north. These people want to keep and nurture their African heritage and are not part of the northern jihad against Christians and animists.
After getting the bishop’s report, I talked to Gabriel Meyer, who had just returned from a fact-finding mission in the Nuba Mountains on behalf of Bishop Gassis. Meyer is executive director of the Windhover Forum, a Catholic nonprofit educational foundation based in Los Angeles.
“Five other students in the bombing subsequently died of their wounds,” he told me. “Also dead was a mother who, confronted with her child’s death, died of a heart attack.”
Among the students in the school are escaped and redeemed black slaves. And the American Anti-Slavery Group provides educational materials for the besieged Holy Cross School.
The Sudanese government has also been bombing the largest hospital in southern Sudan, operated by Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization headed by Franklin Graham. On the editorial page of the March 15 Wall Street Journal, Graham noted that “since 1998, our hospital has helped more than 100,000 Sudanese patients, and our doors will remain open to anyone who approaches us in need.”
The hospital has been under attack for the last three years, and Graham underlines the fact that “when several thousand Europeans are killed and tens of thousands displaced, the world calls it genocide. But when 1.9 million black Africans are killed and millions more are displaced, tortured, and even sold into slavery, the world remains strangely silent.”
Gabriel Meyer told me after his trip to the Nuba Mountains that the government in the north attacks the school and the hospital, along with the water wells, as part of its determined effort to destabilize these black communities so that all of Sudan will be under Islamic control. Black refugees are moved into what are euphemistically called “peace camps”—which, as Charlie Gillis reported in the December 1 National Post of Canada, are actually concentration camps.
I have seen a BBC video showing some of the murdered students. These are the names of most of those killed: Ruza Dabiel, Munira Khamis, Randa Abualla, William Abualla, Maima Tutu, Kaka Ali, Tabitha Hamdam, Francis Peter, Hamid Yousif, Hydar Osman, Kubi Yousif, Bashir Ismail, Osman Rajab, Kuri Abdel Gadir. Maybe this makes the horror somewhat less abstract.
Clinton spoke on February 14: “I am deeply concerned by reports that the government of Sudan bombed a school in the Nuba Mountains on February 8, killing and wounding many young children.” He called on the government to stop all bombing and any attacks on civilian targets.
Clinton said nothing about the far larger genocide against blacks in the Sudan. After he helped cause—by deliberate inaction—the genocide in Rwanda, he said this country would never abstain again. His word is worthless. So where are Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the white clergy, newspaper editorial writers, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Rudolph Giuliani—whose city invests in Talisman Energy, which helps provide the fuel for the bombing missions of the Sudanese government?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 18, 2000