The Sudanese Defense Minister announced that more troops wouls be sent to Sudan’s South Kordofan state, after rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) claimed on Friday to have killed 21 government soldiers last week.
Most of the soldiers were killed during the government forces’ unsuccessful attempt to take the strategic rebel-controlled town of Daldako, situated at around 20 kilometres of South Kordofan’s capital, Kadugli. This incident comes after, in late November, the government deployed more troops to the region’s capital, which had suffered periodic rebel mortar attacks.
Despite the Sudanese government’s inability to defeat the insurgency, Khartoum refuses to negotiate with the rebels, claiming that they are backed by South Sudan, and continues to warn Juba that unless it stops arming the rebels, it will not allow it to resume oil exports via Sudanese territories. South Sudan has denied involvement and offered to mediate between Khartoum and the insurgents.
Fighting broke out in South Kordofan in June 11, 2011, partly triggered by disputed state elections which ensured a narrow victory for the incumbent candidate for governor, Ahmed Haroun. In July 2011, briefly after South Sudan obtained its independence, the SPLM-N attacked the Sudanese army at Pisea and, by August, the rebels were gaining ground against the government’s forces.
The conflict spread to the Blue Nile region in September 2011. After declaring a state of emergency and dismissing the Blue Nile’s SPLM governor, President al-Bashir replaced him with a military commander. Subsequently, Sudanese authorities banned SPLM-North and other parties for their alledged ties with South Sudan, arrested numerous party leaders and imposed new media restrictions.
During the civil war, the SPLM-N rebels fought with the southern insurgents, but were left with Sudan, when South Sudan seceded under the 2005 peace deal. The rebels claim that they are fighting to protect their ethnic minority from governmental persecution, while the Sudanese government accuses them of inciting violence and mayhem on behalf of South Sudan.
In early December, actor George Clooney and a group of genocide scholars in the U.S. accused Sudan of committing crimes against humanity in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions, by emphasizing, throughout November 2012, it intentionally burned down 26 villages as part of a scorched earth policy.
These allegations have been further strenghtned through Human Rights Watch’s newly released report, Under Siege. It hightlights that, since the conflict started, Sudanese forces have carried out indiscriminate aerial bombardment and shelling in populated areas, killing and injuring civilians and causing serious damage to civilian property, while displacing over 900,000 people and forcing 200,000 more to seek refuge in South Sudan and Ethiopia.
The report also likened Sudan’s abusive tactics in the South Kordofan and the Blue Nile to those used in Darfur and during the long civil war, including the de facto blockading of humanitarian assistance, and warned that they have worsened already poor conditions.
With new government troops being sent in, the situation in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile can only go further downhill. There is a desperate need for an international acknowledgement of and reaction to the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, in order to put an end to the crimes against humanity that are currently being conducted.Thus far, the international response to this crisis has been muted, eclipsed mainly by efforts to resolve deteriorating relations and reinitialisation of conflict between Sudan and South Sudan in April 2012. Currently, the international community seems only preoccupied with reaching a resolution for the border dispute between South Sudan and Sudan over the Abyei region, largely because of its direct connection with both countries’ oil production and exports.
A leading advocate for ending the Darfur genocide, John Prendergast, has called on the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council to pressurize Sudan into stopping the fighting in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile and into finally allowing aid to be delivered. In its report’s recommendations, Human Rights Watch has also demanded that those responsible for serious crimes be held accountable for their actions and subjected to targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel bans, especially since many leading Sudanese figures, including President al-Bashir, Ahmed Haroun, and Abdulraheem Mohammed Hussein, the current defense minister, have received arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for atrocities committed in Darfur. The activists reaction and the report will hopefully also spark public outrage against the horrendous crimes occurring in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile and determine individuals to personally stand up against these atrocities as well as to demand action on the part of their countries and the international community.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com