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Sudanese hold Beirut protest over Nuba conflict

Sudanese nationals protest in front of the UNHCR offices in Beirut, Monday, July 21, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mazen Sidahmed)

BEIRUT: Around 50 people demonstrated outside the UNHCR office in Beirut Monday to raise awareness about the ongoing conflict in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan.

The war in the Nuba Mountains has been ongoing since 2011, when Ahmed Haroun, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, was elected as governor of South Kordofan in what residents believed to be a rigged election.

His election was met with mass protests, which eventually led to locals clashing with the ruling National Congress Party.

Recently, international aid organizations have begun to raise awareness about aerial attacks on civilian areas. Several videos have surfaced which show bombs hitting markets and other densely populated civilian areas.

Monday’s demonstration was organized by the Nuba Mountains International Association to raise awareness on these issues.

Abdul Baki Othman Koko, the head of the Nuba Mountains International Association, told The Daily Star, “Today we are standing to let people know what is happening in the Nuba Mountains and to let people know the crimes and violations being committed by the government of Sudan toward the people in Nuba Mountains.”

The crowd was approximately 50 strong, consisting of people of all ages but mostly from the Nuba Mountains and surrounding areas in Sudan.

They held several placards, which read, “Stop killing innocent people,” and “Holocaust and Genocide Prevention.”

The front of the crowd was lined with mothers sitting down with their infants on their lap while holding up pictures of amputated children and displaced youths.

One teenage boy held up a picture of George Clooney at the bedside of a visibly sick woman. The American actor is known for his advocacy work on Sudanese issues.

“We are living [in Beirut] as refugees coming from Nuba Mountains, and we try to convey our messages to all the concerned parties, to make them understand what’s happening,” Koko said.

Abdullah Malik Abdullah, secretary of the Nuba Mountain International Association in Lebanon, said the United Nations and the international community had turned a blind eye to what was happening in the Nuba Mountains.

“The main goal is to highlight the crimes being committed in the Juba Mountains and condemn the silence of the international community, especially the United Nations,” he said. “What people are going through in the Nuba Mountains is worse than what’s happening in Gaza or Syria."

Howa Musa Adam, an activist from Northern Darfur, echoed Abdullah’s sentiment.

“When people are dying in Gaza, the whole world is up in arms but the international community says nothing when there are children dying every hour in Darfur," he said. “There are children dying and women are being raped and we come here every day and talk about our problems and nobody listens to us.”

According to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a quarter of a million people have been displaced in Darfur in 2014 alone.

Abdullah believes that genocide is occurring in Nuba Mountains.

“The war is not a war between two factions or armed opposition, it is ethnic cleansing," he said. "This is like the holocaust.”

The president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, has been wanted by the ICC for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur since 2008 but is yet to face trial.

A member of the Nuba Mountains International Association, Ahmed al-Tayyar Tutu, shared his vision for a better Sudan: “When you take the American people, they are from all colors, from all tribes, from many countries but they have the law which controls them and they live in peace. So this is what we want.”

 

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