Photo courtesy of Christian Solidarity International (CSI)


CSI Press Release
January 17, 2003

Ethnic Cleansing Continues in Sudan's Oil Fields
Appeal for Danforth to Witness Devastation

Mayom County (Sudan), Zurich, Los Angeles, January 17, 2003. Yesterday morning at 10:30, Sudanese government troops continued an 18-day "ethnic cleansing" offensive in Talisman's western Upper Nile oil fields by attacking five villages between Mankien and Tam, according to a senior SPLM official.  Speaking today to CSI, Taban Deng Gai reported that the village of Kual Kouny, located five 5 kms. south of Mankien, had been occupied by government forces, and that Kermyang, Lienepra, Kerial and Thargena had been strafed by two helicopter gunships and shelled with heavy artillery from the government garrison at Mankein.  The strategic objective of the Government of Sudan (GOS) appears to be to clear the population from the area surrounding the road from Mankien to Tam (24 km to the south-west) for the purposes of creating security for Talisman operations.

Gai, who is now in the combat zone, says that virtually every village in Mayom County has been depopulated as a result of the current offensive, leaving over 200,000 displaced. Since the offensive began on December 31, no emergency humanitarian aid has been delivered by the UN or other relief agencies, apart from a small consignment  of medicines provided by MSF-Holland. The cattle-less displaced are surviving mainly on leaves, roots, berries.

Gai expressed disappointment in the American government's failure to deliver aid, and its apparent unwillingness to condemn the Government of Sudan's current wave of ethnic cleansing. Appealing on behalf of the Nuer tribal chiefs of western Upper Nile, Gai urged the U.S. Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan, former Sen. John Danforth - who is currently on a mission to Sudan - to witness the devastation and human suffering, and to press the U.S. government to deliver emergency humanitarian aid without further delay. An American-led and financed rapid deployment, civil protection team has twice visit the scene of fighting since the 7th of January, but has not yet published its findings. No journalist from either the Nairobi or Khartoum press corps has visited the combat zone since the offensive began, according to Gai.

Gai also reported that Sudanese government troops attacked the village of Lare on Monday, January 13, for the second time in two weeks. On both occasions, government troops came out of their garrison at Mankien and set fire to building, including the humanitarian relief facilities of the World Food Program, MSF-Holland, Norwegian People's Aid and SSOM. On Sunday, the 12th  of January, the Sudanese army also renewed shelling of Tam and Riek to provide cover for advancing ground troops. Gai said that the attackers were repulsed before reaching the two towns.

The current ethnic cleansing in the vicinity of Talisman's oil installations is consistent with long-standing Sudanese government policy. Last October, U.S. President George W. Bush, condemned the GOS for acts of genocide, including low-intensity ethnic cleansing and slavery, in and around these oil installations. (Sudan Peace Act, H.R. 5531.)

The Islamist dominated Government of Sudan is fighting a declared jihad to subjugate the Black, non-Muslim population of Southern Sudan. At least two million people, mostly Black, non-Muslims, have died since fighting began twenty years ago. At the end of December, Sudan's President, Gen. Omer Bashir warned that "peace will come by the gun, if it cannot come by dialogue", and again characterized his government's war efforts as "jihad". (Reuters, Khartoum, Dec. 29, 2002.)

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