New wave of arrests in Nuba Mountains, clashes continue

December 5, 2012 (The Niles Newspaper)

by Gumaa Al-Fadel

Around 70 people have been arrested in the Nuba Mountains, revealing once again how locals are being caught in the crossfire.

Amna Yusuf was arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Service on November 10 and has not been seen since. “She only wanted peace and stability for this country,” said Ibrahim, Amna’s cousin, who lives in Kadugli. “She wasn’t a warmonger; it pained her to hear the roaring planes bombing victims in cities and mountains. I do not know why she has been arrested, or where she is now.”

In total around 70 people have been arrested. Activists from the city of Dalanj in South Kordofan said the National Intelligence and Security Service unit and Infantry Division 14, backed by militia men belonging to the Khartoum Government, carried out a large-scale arrest campaign among Nuba citizens in the cities of Kadugli, Dalanj and surrounding villages.

Some 34 Nuba women were arrested, including Radiya Suleiman, a professor well-known in the region, Khadija Mohammed Badr, a university graduate and a feminist activist, and Wijdan Ibrahim, a media worker at Kadugli Radio Station, according to the ‘Arry’ organisation, which defends human rights in the region.

Ahmed Tiyeh, a member of the Popular Defense Forces (PDF)‚ a militia fighting alongside the Sudanese army, said the detainees were cooperating with the SPLA-North, which is fighting the Khartoum government in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. “We have monitored communications between SPLA-North and those detainees as well as others we are still looking for. They have cooperated with SPLA-North and communicated information on the movements of the army,” explained Tiyeh, insisting that: “They must be arrested.”

A young man speaking on condition of anonymity said security agencies arrested his 67 years old uncle even though he is illiterate, apolitical and suffers from hearing problems. No one with these qualities can serve as a spy for any party, he argued.

Activists see the arrests as part of a government drive to vacate the Nuba Mountains. But, Tiyeh denied such allegations: “I am from Nuba, so where is the alleged ethnic cleansing? They come up with foreign agendas, and we defend Nuba’s identity, land and history.”

No truce is in sight given the tense situation in the Nuba Mountains. Government forces have mobilised thousands of troops and ‘Mujahedeen’ whose features are clearly recognised by the Kadugli population. These days the loud noise of government Antonov aircraft passing overhead is an everyday occurrence.

Both sides, the SPLA-North and the government in Khartoum, have stressed they believe they will win before the end of the year. But those suffering the brunt of the violence are the local people of the Nuba Mountains.

To escape death and detention, some have sought refuge in caves and mountains. They now cook tree leaves for food, regardless whether those leaves are poisonous or edible. The war has left them with no other choice, they say.

A US activist told AlertNet how he witnessed a pregnant woman giving birth during a visit to Param District. She was helped by local women carrying a small amount of water in dirty containers and had no roof over her head.

A young intellectual from Nuba, who lives in Khartoum and works for a voluntary organisation in Kadugli, said, without giving his name: “There is a saying that goes, ‘The West makes hamburgers, weapons and fear’; we only demand hamburgers since people are fed up with death and fear.”

Locals hope that peace will finally come to their war-torn lives, arguing that the longer war ensues, the more innocent victims are dragged into the crossfire.


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