By Brad Phillips
Southern Kordofan State, a.k.a. "the Nuba mountains," has been described in the historic 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) as one of "three contested areas" in Sudan - the others being Abyei and Blue Nile State. For decades, the residents of the "three areas" have been isolated and marginalized by Khartoum. There are approximately 1.5 million indigenous Nuba living in the 19 counties of the "contested" Southern Kordofan State. Neglect on the part of the U.S. Government and other caretakers of the CPA has led to the Nuba people being abandoned by the international community. In three years, they have gone from a "contested" region with rights guaranteed by the CPA (security, humanitarian access, representation, self-determination, elections and a popular consultation) to mere "rebels."
At the center of what is "contested" is the issue of basic human rights, i.e. self-government, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of association - basically the fundamental rights that Americans have traditionally held to be God-given rights. It is these God-given rights that are in conflict with Khartoum's agenda to impose "sharia" law in its self-described officially Islamic state.
In February, Matt Chancey and I traveled over more than 900 km with our Nuba team to visit four of the most war-affected counties in Southern Kordofan. In these areas, PPF is serving the persecuted in a number of ways, including sponsoring programs to provide more access to safe water, lifesaving medicines and medical supplies, emergency relief and shelter to internal refugees, and assisting the local church in discipleship and evangelistic outreaches by providing Bibles and evangelistic materials.
During our trip, we visited the abandoned Frandala Hospital, formerly operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF). On the 20th of January, SAF bombers dropped two bombs directly on the hospital. If you don't believe in miracles, you need to visit the Nuba. I witnessed with my own eyes the point of impact for both bombs that landed directly inside the hospital compound. Dozens of people should be dead, but in God's providence, no one was killed. One bomb detonated a few meters above ground after coming in contact with the frame of a tent directly over a foxhole where a dozen people lay huddled together.
Sadly, even though no one died from the bomb's impact, many thousands of others will likely die because of the vacuum created by the withdrawal of MSF from Sudan. This was the second bombing of Frandala in less than 8 months, prompting MSF to not only pack up and leave the Nuba, but all of its locations in Sudan.
THE WORLD GONE MAD
While Matt and I were visiting the "enemies of state" in Sudan, Sudan's Foreign Minister, Ali Ahmed Karti, a real terrorist and war criminal, appeared as an honored guest at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. His hosts overlooked his recent role in covering up the mass rape in Tabit, Darfur, and his former role in 1997 as Commander of the notoriously brutal Popular Defense Force (PDF).
The PDF, like the "Janjaweed," is responsible for the most heinous acts of genocide in South Sudan, Blue Nile, Nuba mountains, and Darfur. The blood of millions of innocents is dripping from the hands of Karti, Bashir, Ahmed Haroun and the other members of the genocidal cabal known as the National Congress Party. To Karti and company, the Nuba are "insects," "criminals," and "terrorists." The international community considers the regime that targets market places, churches, schools and hospitals for aerial bombardment as legitimate.
Sometimes I think the world has gone mad.
HASHA ALI AND HER BABY
Perhaps the most tragic event we witnessed was the funeral of Hasha Ali.
When we arrived in the community, family and neighbors were having a day of grieving and prayers as they buried two ladies and an unborn child killed by an Antonov bomb the previous evening. We had seen an Antonov fly over around 7 p.m. the night before. What we did not know was that it was headed to this village.
We visited the bomb site and found a funeral party of wailing men and women, mourning the loss of Hasha Ali, a young mother who frantically left the safety of the rocks to search for her infant son. She was hit by shrapnel and killed instantly. Hasha was 7-8 months pregnant and her shocked family could do nothing but watch her unborn child struggle inside its dead mother... until the kicking stopped.
All the while, back in Washington, D.C., butchers from Khartoum, with the aid of high-priced lobbyists, have been busy getting an image "makeover" in pursuit of "normalized" relations with the U.S.A.
While the Islamists in Khartoum are spreading their "gospel" message of religious and racial conformity through aerial terror, Nuba Christians, aided by believers in America and elsewhere, are reaching out to serve the victims of terror.
According to Ali Karti, Ahmed Haroun, Omar al Bashir and the members of the NCP, all of us who are working in the Nuba are criminals. In June, 2011, when the war started, Bashir ordered all foreign NGOs operating in the area to leave. Those who are still there are enemies of the State and subject to the same treatment "enemies" like Hasha Ali and her unborn baby received.
If engaging in active compassion for the persecuted is considered criminal behavior by the butchers in Khartoum, we stand "guilty" as charged and are honored to wear this badge.
Of course, as a valued ministry partner, you are complicit in all of our "crimes" - and we thank you. Our goal in 2015 is to increase our "criminal" activity in the Nuba mountains surpassing everything we've done before, and we need your continued support to make this goal a reality.