October, 31, 2018
An Urgent Open Letter to the Human Rights Conference, United Nations, the United States, United Kingdom, Kingdom of Norway, European Union, African Union, Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation, from the leadership of the Sudan Liberation Movement. (SLM/AW)
Will the World Awaken to the Reality of Sudan’s True Condition?
One of the most dangerous ideas of our time is the concept of post-truth, but there is no such thing, there is only factual truth or its inverse, falsehood. Yet, where Sudan is concerned, the international community, if the term is meant to imply a fraternity of nations, bound by a collective responsibility and solidarity based on universal principles of civilized conduct, morality and the rule of law, Sudan for all the egregious suffering of its people, is also a contemporary victim of the global assault on the truth, from within and without, where disinformation, neglect and cold blooded, geopolitical directives have forged a narrative so devoid of truth, matters have entered the realm of the surreal.
The latest installment in the dark farce of normalizing the abnormality of Sudan and spinning an imaginary rebalancing of causality and culpability in the tragedy of Darfur and the unceasing war by the murderous Sudanese dictatorship against its own people, has been authored by no less than UNAMID’s South African, Joint Chief Mediator, Jeremiah Mababolo, in his recent call for sanctions against the SLM, further tainting himself as a figure lacking entirely in objectivity and impartiality, that he can more accurately be described as the de facto international spokesman and foreign minister for the Khartoum regime, cloaked as a UN and AU honest broker. He is anything but that.
Quietly but with ruthless efficiency since he assumed his position, Mababolo has purged UNAMID of as many able and compassionate men and women, serving the perpetually underfunded, undermanned, under-equipped and failed peace keeping mission that from the outset should have stood its ground more firmly under a better resourced and more resolute, peace enforcement mandate, still striving against virtually impossible odds to serve the best interests of the long suffering people of Darfur, to shape it into his pliant instrument. With his housecleaning all but complete, Mababolo may now better serve and do the bidding of his true master, President Omar al Bashir.
That Mababolo has parroted the now tired refrain that the SLM is the primary obstacle to peace, rather than a blood drenched, kleptocrat, hardline Islamist both military and theocratic regime, that has kept Sudan on its knees with impunity for nearly thirty years, now in its gross incompetence as a dysfunctional government hovering only inches away from becoming a failed state, in the callous practice of blaming the rape and murder victim for their fate, instead of the perpetrator, is nothing new. It is akin to blaming the Jewish partisans for resisting their extermination in the 1943 Warsaw uprising for the razing of the Jewish ghetto by the SS, instead of apportioning blame to the Nazi genocidaires.
Mababolo is only the latest messenger for the bodyguard of lies distorting the painful truth of Darfur’s reality, though he is perhaps the most brazen and arrogant of Darfur’s false friends, never deigning to dirty his designer suits in the heat and dust of the IDP camps, an aloof figure more content in more comfortable air conditioned surroundings, the expert analyst who never looks upon what he decries, himself become an unwitting caricature of another would be African despot.
This is well in keeping with the African Union, an august body that might itself be better and more accurately re-named as the Union of Dictators together with its allied Arab League, also in need of rebranding as the Dictator’s League, where so few democratically minded, clean hands rule over a continent from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope, from the outset of UNAMID’s deployment unwilling to hold the only sitting president on earth indicted by the International Criminal Court for War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide, lest its members too face the possibility of an extended stay at the Hague. How many African and Arab leaders keep embracing and hosting al Bashir as their worthy partner and colleague, instead of the genocidaire that he is? From Paul Kagame to the Emir of Qatar, the butcher and robber chieftain of Khartoum is not short of friends.
Mababolo trying to roar as the dying toothless lion king of UNAMID, soon to be extinct in 2020, under the as implausible and false logic that an international protection force, no matter how weak and inappropriate to the task, is no longer needed by the civilians of Darfur despite four million of them living on the edge of survival, the bones of 600,000 murdered souls in the earth and an endless scorched earth campaign by government army troops, secret policemen and partner militias of the uniformed thugs in the Rapid Support Forces, that have not ceased slaughtering, raping ,burning and pillaging, is as pathetic as al Bashir believing his future will be any different than Gaddafi’s or Charles Taylor’s fate.
What is not laughable, however, is that the pending withdrawal of UNAMID and Khartoum’s calls to dismantle the IDP camps and forcibly eject its wretched occupants, once realized, will prompt an even more brutal evolution of mass killing at government hands and an even higher death toll from lack of humanitarian assistance as the new exodus would ensue that will mean a new butcher’s bill of catastrophic proportions. Mababolo would be doing no less than aiding and abetting mass murder and enabling genocide, in a hideous contemporary echo of both Rwanda and Srebrenica, inking a new page of the UN’s latest moral collapse with the blood of the people of Darfur.
Without hesitation the SLM repudiates the call for sanctions to be imposed against it, when the Sudan Liberation Army took up arms not from choice but obligation to defend the people of Darfur from a policy of deliberate subjugation, dispossession and extermination, where even as this communique is penned, the SLA having observed a humanitarian ceasefire to allow aid to be brought to those areas hardest hit by flash flooding and landslides, saw government forces, fragrantly launch lethal attacks on civilians. When the same regime forces have kept visibly building their troop numbers throughout garrisons and staging areas across Darfur, it is only clear what their future intentions are. And is it the SLM that continues to impose an enduring stranglehold and embargo on the flow of humanitarian supplies, medical relief and food, where hunger and disease have become well established tools of war by the regime, not only in Darfur but also South Kordofan and Blue Nile State? And where are the protests lodged by Mababolo and UNAMID to lift the humanitarian blockade?
In light of this recurring pattern, where in particular, government forces, unable to best the combatants of the SLA, routinely turn their wrath on the defenseless civilian population of Darfur they continually massacre and rape en masse, razing villages as matter of standard operating procedure, one wonders in what parallel universe Mababolo imagines such conduct constitutes the basis for peace negotiations? What sort of peace is it when armored vehicles, artillery, bombers and helicopter gunships open fire on peaceful villages, when live small arms fire is used on unarmed student demonstratorsand any legitimate dissent can result in summary execution or disappearance and torture in a government dungeon? It should be painfully self-evident why the SLM remains steadfast in refusing participation in a patently hollow, entirely fictitious and purely cosmetic peace process.It hurts our intelligence as well as sense of duty, where we are honor bound to ensure our fallen have not died in vain, as we must offer the best shield we may provide for our people, to spare as many new victims from the regime’s barbarism, that we are repeatedly asked to engage in what constitutes the theater of the absurd and a surrender of our cognitive faculties, before the weight of so much evidence contrary to the outright mendacity Mababolo is now peddling for Khartoum.
We cannot suspend disbelief to the degree we can ignore we are being murdered succumbing to disease and starved on a daily basis. We will not willingly swallow the lie any more than a man without water in the desert would consume sand to quench his thirst. Thus we demand both the UN and the South African government undertake an independent and impartial investigation of Mababolo’s dealings with the regime, to include a review of his communications and correspondence with Khartoum. Such an inquiry would be inclusive of his bank records and a probe to verify whether he has received bribes and illicit payment by the Sudanese dictatorship to secure his allegiance and that he further be subject to incisive questioning and to provide testimony under oath, to answer the multiple allegations of malfeasance that exist unknown to the outside world.
Of course we grasp that such an outcome is as likely as al Bashir tendering his resignation and voluntarily submitting himself and his closest henchmen for prosecution at the Hague. The behavioral patterns of dictatorship and endemically corrupt institutions are all too predictable. We expect to be denied by UNAMID, the AU, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, where in the last instance the concept of the Uma, the greater global Islamic human community does not seem to matter in the context of Sudan, not that an ongoing genocide seems to cause either the Indonesian or Turkish governments, as just two examples, any quandaries in their dealings with Khartoum, any more than it did Iran when it was chief patron to the dictatorship, or now to Medieval Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, the key enabler and sponsor in the Islamic fundamentalist sphere to the regime, with dishonorable mention to the all the other Gulf Cooperation Council states that also ignore our common humanity and break bread with mass murderers.
And where Islamophobia and viewing Muslims as a monolith is an all too common and prevalent prejudice in the West, the backward Salafist ideology, elemental fuel of Islamist extremism and terror, so beloved by the draconian absolute monarchies of the Gulf and al Bashir both, is misunderstood by the ignorant as the main current in Islam, where by contrast the downtrodden people of Darfur are largely adherents of the liberal Sufi strand of Islam, the most progressive, ecumenical, modernist and tolerant tradition in Muslim belief, and for it are judged apostate heretics worthy of death by their reactionary Islamic fundamentalist murderers. And when is the last time as a corollary of this, the ugliest fanatical core of ultra-conservative Islam, that the Arab world truly acknowledged its ancient and deep rooted racism towards Black Africans, that also animates Khartoum’s policy of forced fascistic Arabization and leaves the Arab world largely indifferent to our intended annihilation?
But we are accustomed to this hatred and bigotry from our neighbors and our oppressors at home, whom identify as Arabs and feel scorn towards negritude and an African identity, they still cannot reconcile. But when we strive not only to put an end to genocide and dictatorship and were never forged as a solely regional movement but instead endure our struggle to bring forth a national, pluralist, secular, non-sectarian democracy, founded on egalitarian and meritocratic principles, inclusive of all Sudanese, inspired by liberation movements across history, peoples and continents, not just our own, when we consider the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, as the anchoring historical incubators from the Enlightenment onward and founders of modern democracy, we are left in stunned, incomprehension that those in the West that we look to and draw our strongest example from to emulate the democratic vocation, abandon us and deign us a disposable people of little consequence, our humanity less worthy than theirs.
So it pained us deeply to see the Sudanese Army’s chief of staff Kamal Abdel Marouf being feted by US military senior officers and US Department of Defense officials earlier this month in Washington , label us terrorists, with no sense of irony or alarm shown by anyone present that a key figure implementing an institutional policy of genocide and state terror, from a country on the US list of states promoting terrorism, that has not ceased its support for Al Qaida and DAESH and its associated franchises despite lip service to the contrary, characterized us as extremists and a regional threat, all the more ludicrous an assertion when our commitment to confront Salafi terror is well established and a core tenet of our security perspective. Would American officers seventy years ago have cheerfully hosted Nazi SS officers denigrating members of European resistance groups?
It is as disheartening that the known war criminal, torturer and genocidaire General Mohamad Atta, former head of the Sudanese modern day Gestapo, the National Intelligence and Security Service, serves as Ambassador in Washington without any outcry.
Not long ago the current director of the NISS, Salah Abdullah, his own hands covered in the blood and entrails of his numerous victims from a long career as a hangman and secret policeman, was freely able to visit Paris as a welcome guest of the French National Assembly, a scene not precisely in keeping with the stated French policy to confront extremism at home, in the continent of Europe and abroad.In fairness the people of Darfur, even if they would wish to see a more decisive and morally resolute position from French Republic towards Sudanese state terror, do owe a great debt to France for the sanctuary it has shown to many dissident Sudanese yearning for their freedom, our movement included not least in the upper most echelon of the SLM, it is precisely why it was so jarring.
When historically the marginalization of Darfur in the context of a greater Sudan ,began with the British violent conquest of the last independent Sultanate of Darfur in 1916, setting a pattern of ghettoization and discrimination in favor of Arab Sudanese over Black African Darfuris in the classic colonial pattern of divide and conquer, that extended seamlessly into the post-colonial period to the present day, we are less surprised Number 10 Downing Street expresses little concern for our condition, itself pushes the faux narrative of the manufactured peace process, together with Norway, Oslo itself now happy to expand its trade and oil agreements with genocidaires, and continues to provide aid to the Sudanese security services, as incredible as that might seem.
Nobody should make the mistake that because we are poor and hunted and fighting for our lives that we are naïve simpletons unaware of the state of the world and the true meaning of Realpolitik and its expediency. In the wake of the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Anakara and the highly implausible explanation provided by the Saudi Crown on the circumstances of his death ,the inconsistent hand wringing by the major western powers, all the equivocation, lest petro dollars, arms sales and the strategic position and reputation of the kingdom and Crown Prince Salman and western interests be harmed, not least vis a vis the looming contest with Iran, means 600,000 dead Darfuris count for little. Western hypocrisy is matched by the fervor with which Turkish President Erdogan has seized on the tragedy as a cudgel to beat Saudi Arabia with as he seeks to establish Turkey’s dominance as the leading Sunni power in the Middle East, when he imprisons more journalists than any other nation.
But as reprehensible as Khashoggi’s assassination was, as one more example of what a brutal society Saudi Arabia is in a long litany of human and civil rights abuses in the Wahhabi monarchy, what is the death of one man, compared to the famine awaiting 5000,000 Yemeni children, as Saudi Arabia prosecutes its war, armed by the West and aided on the ground by vassal troops from Khartoum’s unformed gangsters in the RSF, and where does the plight of Darfur figure in this calculus, where the looming, man-made worst famine in a centurydoes not stir Western consciences? Why should we matter?
We know very well where we fit on the global stage among all the great powers, we are unwanted orphans. But the orphan that has to fight for every scrap of bread, is sometimes able to see better than the fortunate son who never wants for a meal. We will keep insisting until we are heard that the policy of the West vis a vis Darfur and Sudan is both myopic and counter-intuitive and ultimately harmful to the Western interests in the shifting tides of Sudan’s and Sub-Saharan Africa’s next evolution, where the West would do well to recognize that the Sudanese regime is on its last legs and like all dictatorships must ultimately fall.
That the European Union as it continues to whitewash and rehabilitate the Sudanese regime for a different rationale than Washington and presents al Bashir as a credible partner and bulwark to stem the flow of African refugees fleeing to European shores, by funneling hundreds of millions of euros to active genocidaires, which the ever morally flexible Federica Mogherini cannot sugar coat, has failed in the most elemental analysis where the root causal problem of the refugee question is somehow simultaneously the remedy? Should France and Britain have paid Nazi Germany to stop the flow of Polish refugees in 1939?
And when al Bashir has sought military assistance from Moscow with the stated aim of seeking protection from the United States and there are now Russian parastatal mercenaries present in Darfur and the Central African Republic and the United States and the EU both remain silent, why would Washington and Brussels help empower a willing Kremlin henchman, when clearly Moscow interfered in the US election two years ago, Russia poses an active threat to the Northeastern flank of NATO and is the primary enabler of the resurgent far right across Europe as the best means to better unravel the EU and the Trans-Atlantic alliance, as it also wages a campaign of information warfare directed at all the democracies of Europe? Why would the West allow a hostile Russia to establish a stronger presence in Sudan to counter Western strategic aims in the continent, even if it clearly doesn’t care about the human rights of the Sudanese people and stopping a genocide?
Therefore, instead of the past glories of Western democracy and civilization, where in particular during WW2 the West, with the help and sacrifice of not a few African soldiers, defeated Nazism, Fascism and Japanese Imperialism, put an end to the Holocaust, and established the principle of international law, we are now forced to remember the legacy of slavery, colonialism, the rape of our continent where the West in living memory has again and again stood by and enabled rapacious and bloody minded successions of dictators who plundered, imprisoned, murdered and brutalized their own people, for their own benefit. We also do not forget a long list of acknowledged and unacknowledged genocides and near genocides where Germany’s Herero Genocide, Belgian King Leopold’s savagery in the Congo, Portuguese brutality in Angola and Mozambique, French and Spanish bloodletting in North Africa, numerous British punitive expeditions, Italian barbarism in Libya and Ethiopia and modern day Rwanda are only a few examples of the many kindnesses of superior civilization the West brought to our shores, where complicity by inaction, indifference and deliberate collusion with our oppressors, makes Darfur the latest injury to the soul and body of Africa.
As to the United States having withdrawn from the human rights mechanisms of the UN, threatening to punish members of the ICC judiciary corps, the charge d’affairs at the US Embassy in Khartoum expressing zero concern over human rights in the Sudanese question, President Trump having referred to our continent as a “shithole,” and having passed legislation that sees refugee children separated from their parents and placed in cages, this is not the America that we have long admired. When we witness from afar that racially motivated and sectarian lethal hate crimes are spiraling out of control, in the US, in this context, we will not concede that the United States at present has the moral authority to lecture us on our conduct as freedom fighters defending our people against a war of extermination, that has witnessed the proven use of chemical weapons prompting no significant condemnation from the White House , even as it railed against chemical warfare use in the Syrian nightmare.
We stand alone but we are awake and we are determined to resist our oppression until the last of us falls if needs be, where to quote the immortal Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata,”it is better to die on your feet than to live on your feet.” We do not fight because we relish it. We fight to survive, without alternative, because we refuse to be willing participants in our elimination.And it is a great injustice to equate us or to confuse us with our executioners. Every waking moment we dream of peace and forging a fair society where we may at last lay down our arms and begin the vital business of reconstruction and reconciliation, ushering in for our children a brighter tomorrow, where the future architecture of our lives will be built on the pillars of education, tolerance, development, progress, equality and prosperity, if we can rise to the occasion and toil unflinchingly in the work of peace as much as we now must be soldiers of freedom. This will be possible if the regime’s war machine stops killing us and the world no longer looks away apathetically as we are butchered, and our humanity, worth, and dignity is valued as much as any other human being, and the day comes we may walk again without fear, breathing the air of free men and women. Those who seek to crush and silence us or readily corrupt us should reconsider the folly of their misguided logic. We have come too far to turn back, shed too many tears, buried too many of our comrades and loved ones to surrender to a false reality and broken promises. Instead we look across the annals of history to all the previous martyred peoples of past genocides, who rose up to defend themselves, this too is our sacred right and without any apology, we declare “never again!” The truth will out, our day will come and our liberation and the triumph of the Sudanese Revolution is not merely a fervent hope, it is the writing on the wall and the inevitable dawn that will rise tomorrow from the ashes of a dictatorship destined for the same hell, all tyranny faces, when the mighty heart of the people is truly awakened, willing to seize their freedom with their own two hands, and little else other than their courage, determination and a righteous impatience, that will no longer tolerate injustice.
As Victor Hugo wrote, “all the armies of the world cannot defeat an idea whose time has come.” Sudan’s hour has come and it is an inescapable reality manufactured falsehoods cannot defeat.
Abdul Wahid al Nur, Chairman Sudan Liberation Movement and Commander in Chief of the Sudan Liberation Army