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AS IN MANY ARAB AND AFRICAN COUNTRIES, [1] the discourse of Sudanese state-torture policies and/or practices indicates that these dehumanizing atrocities are strongly correlated with tyrannical regimes, rather than democratically-oriented systems of rule. Democracy encourages freedoms and the respect of human rights and allows a greater exercise of the right to self-determination, organization, peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and the press than authoritative governments do.

The human rights violations states that parties are accountable for crimes against humanity in accordance with international law and include a great number of acts instigated by the Bill of Rights (the International Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on Economic, Social and Economic Rights), in addition to a compilation of significant international norms (United Nations, 1987).

In essence, state bureaucracies violate human rights in the course of exercising their authority. An increase in state tortures and crimes against humanity is closely correlated with the extent of oppression and the persecution a state pursues against opposition. Unlike authoritative regimes, a democratically-oriented government is usually more tolerant and acceptable to the differences of opinion and political activity than authoritative regimes are.

The case of the Sudan indicates that over time authoritarian regimes were excessively suppressive at the time democratic governments became more tolerant and willing to reconcile national disputes peacefully. Sudan governments, especially the existing rule of the National Islamic Front (NIF which renamed itself recently as the Congress Party) have been involved in a large number of gross human rights violations such as genocide and extrajudicial killing, tortures, acts of slavery and ethnic cleansing, confiscation of private property, arbitrary arrest, etc.

Torture and acts of civil war constitute the main focus of this study as they certainly are directly related to the struggles of Sudanese southerners and the other marginal populations of the country such as the Nuba, Beja, Ingessana, and many other Sudanese-African groups in Darfur for the exercise of the right of self-determination as a viable way to save their lives and enjoy civil rights and freedoms in their own regions.

Initially, a brief account documenting state tortures with respect to major facilitating factors, as well as major inhibiting factors is offered. Subsequent sections focus on characteristics of the perpetrators, patterns of victimization, and different versions of individual and collective reactions under different forms of political systems. Legal, psychological and social consequences of civil war and tortures will be adequately exposed.

The exercise of the right to self-determination, as a significant international norm that protects the human rights and freedoms of minorities and marginal groups, will be discussed as a strong mechanism to stop civil war, state-torture, and other crimes against humanity in Sudan. [2]

The analysis is meant to explain and encourage a clearer understanding and projection of Sudanese constituencies and national identifications in ethnic, cultural, and political terms rather than any political configuration of Sudanese people as Arabs or Arabized simply because Sudan is a member of the Arab League or even that Arab or Arabized cultures have been remarkably dominant and ruling since the medieval ages.


Of all tools of destruction and degradation, the resort to end escalation of civil war is a major mechanism of torture, extra-judicial killing, and political domination by warring parties, in general, and anti-democratic governments, in particular. Dr Gaspar Biro (UN, 1994), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in The Sudan, wrote: "Most of the violations are to be considered in the context of a 10-year civil war in the south.... [R]egarding the whole range of human rights recognized by the United Nations,... almost all aspects of life are concerned."

The absence of democratic rule, an independent judiciary, free trade unions and political parties has consistently acted as a prime mover of state tortures and crimes against humanity. The terror of NIF-militias and the Popular Defense Forces, are fully related to the dismissals of thousands of skilled professionals, workers, attorneys and judges, army and police officers and their replacement by NIF supporters regardless of education, training, and experience. "The land from Malakal to upper Bahr al-Arab lay devastated, the populace was decimated, the cattle were stolen, the soil was uncultivated. The stench of death hung heavily over the land, and the tragic scene was compounded by a killer drought" (Burr & Collins, 1995:19). In the decade of NIF dictatorial rule in Sudan (1989-1999), the same disasters were equally spread to the western and eastern regions of Sudan with the continuity of civil war.

The International Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (United Nations, 1987) states in Article I that, "1. The term 'torture' means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. 2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application."

Documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (Africa), AOHR, and SHRO-Cairo throughout the 1990s, are the killings of Dr. Ali Fadl in a ghost house (a clandestine detention place) tortured to death; the medical negligence of educator Abdel-Monim Salman in Kober Prison until death; the extrajudicial killing of advocate Hamdan Hassan Kuri and his father; the shooting of engineer Abu Bakr Rasikh and the extrajudicial execution of businessmen Girgis, the son of the Coptic Bishop in Khartoum, Archangelo, and Magdi Mahgoub; the killing of Al-Taya Abu 'Agla, a student expressing her rejection of the NIF rule in a peaceful demonstration; the slavery of Gok Makuei Abang and other children; the brutal tortures of Brigadier Mohamed Ahmed Elrayah, student leader Magdi Abdel-Monim Hassan, and nurse Buthayna Doaka to mention only a few; the thousands of victims killed by air bombardments and the millions displaced from their homes in the war zones or largely massacred as a part of the regime's ethnic cleansing of southerners, the Nuba, the Ingessana, Masaleet, Zagawa, the Beja, and many other Sudanese-African groups in Darfur. The extrajudicial killings of army officers on 24 April 1990, lent support to the dehumanization process the regime exercised over a decade or so by state tortures against people.

In a clear report on state tortures in Sudan, the U.S. State Department (1991:378-379) emphasized the victimization of marginal groups who virtually included all non-NIP supporters, especially SPLM sympathizers: "Detainees in ghost houses were subjected to varying forms of torture, including whipping and clubbing; electric shock; the kicking of ribs or kidneys; binding of hands for long periods; blindfolding for days at a time; immersion of hands in boiling water; suspension from ceiling fans; and psychological torture, such as mock executions... Prison conditions are harsh, especially in Shalla prison in Darfur. Political detainees and suspected SPLA/M sympathizers ... were confined with criminals and mentally ill and subjected to overcrowding, deprivation of water under conditions of extreme heat, [unhealthy] living conditions causing typhus and other diseases, lack of medical treatment, and denial of access to family and friends.... Detainees were also held on the roof of security headquarters in Khartoum in overcrowded conditions and in searing heat with limited food and inadequate toilet facilities. Others were forced to remain spread-eagled or on their knees with hands on their heads along the outside walls of security building for extended periods."

In all state tortures and disasters of civil war, Sudanese women and children suffered the most, were brutalized, and even lynched by the NIF regime (SHRO-Cairo Human Rights Quarterly, I 999s). "in a procedure unprecedented through the modem history of Sudan, the Sudanese authorities conferred upon students an obligation of national service in connection with the right to education. The schools transferred education certificates to the ministry of defense which, in turn, allowed their delivery only in the training camps.... Thousands of students were thus deprived of the rights to education and the right to conscientious objection to military service. . . . Most of the conscripts were killed without any actual fighting in the war zones (SHRO-Cairo, 1998). The brave women and children who protested these violations were unlawfully tortured and arrested.


Torture and other gross violations of human rights are eloquently explained by Ali Mazrui (1986:243) in this statement: "[V]olations of human rights are preceded by a process of psychic subhumanization. The violator subhumanizes his victim in his own imagination... The violator does not need to dehumanize his victim completely. On the contrary, residual humanity is often necessary to give meaning to the sin of inter-human cruelty. The victim must be at least partly human before the violator is driven to this particular form of purposeful deprivation... The human rights of an individual are at their most fragile in situations of hate or distrust. They can be violated by another individual, or by an institution, or by blind social forces, or by rival collectivities. . . . The greater danger to human rights is the dichotomy between 'us' and 'them'."

The impact of torture is not only confined to the victims who continue to suffer shattering effects of the tortures for a long period of time; further problems equally affect the families, of victims and their friends and community members. In his complaint against state tortures by NW security officers, Brigadier Mohamed Ahmed Elrayah wrote: "I suffered ways of torture that could be unbelievable to anyone, that contradicted the upright teachings of religion and what state-managers declare and assure" (Sudan Human Rights Quarterly, 1996:36).

Although the names of many perpetrators have been carefully documented by victims of the NIF terrorist rule, [3] it is difficult to obtain detailed information on the motives underlying torture directly from the perpetrators. A trial of a few perpetrators, however, following the overthrow of the May dictatorial rule in April 1985 revealed that torture had been practiced on the victims in response to "orders of higher ranking security officers" (Al-Ayyam, 1986).

The expectation of a commander's personal satisfaction of a perpetrator's acts of torture, rewards, and impunity of perpetrators by law constituted important factors for the commission of torture against political opponents. Many perpetrators admitted that in other cases they had been influenced by special relations with the commanders of torture; for example close family relations, religious faith, and ethno-regional ties. A few perpetrators confessed they had been intensively trained in specific courses to torture state opponents as a part of security's revolutionary task to protect the state and leaders of the state.

As Mazrui earlier noted, the perpetrators were also trained to "subhumanize" the individuals under torture. State opponents were depicted as "enemies," "fifth-columnists," and "non-faithful" persons to prepare the perpetrators to torture them. For the most part, the NIF government avoided the use of prisons or police stations to torture political opponents, although some of these opponents, including Sadiq EI-Mahdi, the former elected prime minister, were actually tortured by security officers at the Kober Central Prison in gross violation of prison laws (Sudan Human Rights Quarterly. 1990s).

Disappearances and new forms of intimidation were increasingly initiated by the third dictatorial rule from 1989 to the present time (SHRO-Cairo; Human Rights Watch; Amnesty International: 1990s).

SHRM (1992) found that the tortures committed by the NIF security forces on the Nuba people included "an intensive and ingenious enterprise of spiritual and cultural engineering. The aim is to change, over a short period of time ...,the religious, cultural and political identity of the displaced into something radically different from [the present]. The agenda and ongoing projects of the state's Peace and Rehabilitation Administration are built on the intimate conviction that the displaced are deprived from spiritual and cultural values and heritage. Their African religions or popular version of Islam are not recognized for what they are: genuine beliefs that define the identity of these people and fulfill their spiritual aspirations."

These state tortures testify to the fundamentalist indoctrination of the NIF government, which did not only want to change Sudanese government, but also to "conquer the Sudanese society" as Professor Ali Abd-Allah Abbas succinctly concluded (Mahmoud, 1996).


Since the Sudan gained national independence, 1 January 1956, the country has been ruled by dictatorial regimes, except for the short-lived democratic governments of the years 1956-58, 1964-69, and 1986-89. In the three succeeding dictatorships torture has been consistently escalated in the Sudanese social and political life. This occurred despite the fact that Sudan is a country with a very long history of ethnic and cultural multiplicity and religious tolerance (Beshir, 1969, 1974; Adams, 1978).

Modern governments are power structures that are only legally and ideologically recognized as democratic systems of rule if constitutionality and the rule of law are closely observed under a sober system of popular accountability, and state managers are solemnly committed to the realization of human rights and civil freedoms for all citizens without any discrimination.

Armed conflicts have been pursued by state-managers or security agencies in the context of ethno-regional feuds, especially in the Savanah Belt where large tribal agglomerations fight for water and graze in the dry season (Fluehr-Lobban, 1973). Notwithstanding, both civilian and military governments engaged in varying degrees in civil war and unlawful detention of political opponents in police custody or clandestine detention as in the "ghost houses" of the NIF government.

Earlier during the first post-independence government (1956-1958), the country was largely governed by sectarian or traditional structures under a local governments' system that, inherited from the colonial authorities, placed the vast rural areas of Sudan under the administrative and legal governance of shiekhs and chiefs of tribal groups. The prevalence of traditional ways of living and the influences of local cultures helped to reduce crime rates, tortures, and crime against humanity in general (Fluehr-Lobban, 1990; Burr & Collins, 1995).

The urban centers, including the capital city of Khartoum, were directly ruled by provincial administrators under supervision of the central government. Despite the fact that police brutality was known through acts of tortures of the accused individuals to extract confessions, Sudan did not witness a high rate of flagrant tortures in the country as a whole. One case, nonetheless, concerned the 1950s Goada unionist tenants who had been incarcerated in unhealthy conditions in a small store of a farm near the town of Kosti until death. Subsequent investigations indicated that unlawful detention caused the death or severe injury of many detainees.

The perpetrators were later known as owners of land who had been torturing the victims as a consequence of long-standing land disputes. The incident was also perpetrated to challenge stability of the first post-independence government of the newly-elected prime minister Ismail Al-Azhari by some political rivals.

With the first military regime on 17 November 1958, state tortures were largely expanded through the abuse of police authorities against political opponents and trades unionists. Many cases of torture were reported of which the case of Mr. H. Hassanain in El-Obeid, the capital city of Kordofan, was widely known (Dar Al-Fikr AL-Ishtirakki, 1964). The military regime escalated civil war. In retaliation to killings of northerners in the South, the military rulers massacred thousands of southerners and many were brutally tortured. These brutalities continued unabated until the advent of the October popular uprising in 1964 which replaced the Abboud regime with a transitional government of civil rule.

Substantial reforms were initiated with the return of democratic rule to the country to improve the treatment of offenders in police stations as well as prisons. The freedoms guaranteed at that time for the press, association, and assembly exposed violations of human rights to the public, thus generating a strong awareness among citizens all over the country. The pressures exerted by political parties, trades unions, and professional groups contributed a great deal to this important development. Nevertheless, a strong tendency prevailed among the traditional groups that collaborated with the Abboud regime to protect wrong-doers from legal prosecution of their crimes (Dar Al-Fikr Al-Ishtiraki, Ibid.).

The May dictatorial regime succeeded the second democratic government by a military coup launched on 25 May 1969. The Revolution Command Council (RCC) developed sharp conflicts between sectarianism and its massive followers on the one hand, and the RCC and its supporters who mainly included unions and progressive groups.

The failure to sustain a progressive policy towards the South as advocated by Joseph Garang, a progressive lawyer whom the RCC appointed as the first minister of the newly-established ministry for southern affairs as a necessary step towards implementation of autonomous rule to the South on the basis of the June Declaration of 1969, in addition to massive nationalizations of foreign and national capital, and the exclusion of popular organizations from national policy and decision making alienated RCC from its former supporters and escalated civil war and civil unrest in the country throughout the 1970s and the 1980s.

Large sections of the population participated in armed movements to overthrow the May regime which in reaction expanded state violence and tortures to suppress the opposition. A harsh application of Shari'a punishments was further imposed to intimidate the popular resistance of the May dictatorial rule, and a new civil war flared with more violence and tortures upon the civilian population of the South and the Nuba Mountains.

Unlike the former Umma/NUP(DUP) centralists' coalition governments of 1956-58 and 1965-69, the third democratic rule made a serious attempt to end the civil war with the government's adoption late in 1989 of a Sudanese Peace Agreement that had been originally initiated by Mohamed Osman Elmerghani, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, and John Garang, leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Army, and strongly supported by General Fathi Ahmed Ali, Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces on 20 February 1989.

The democratic government, led by Sadiq El-Mahdi, the Umma leader, rectified important international agreements on human rights and hosted the first conference of the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) in Khartoum. Although the government failed to repeal all of the Nimeiri's repressive laws, fact-finding committees were established to investigate cases of torture and other gross human rights violations such as the El-Diem massacre of Dinka people in 1987.

The 1986-1989 democratically-elected government was particularly receptive to appeals by the Sudan Human Rights Organization which, guided by the late Professor Mohamed Omer Beshir, maintained a strong position against the civil war, state tortures, and all crimes against humanity since its public inauguration in 1985. SHRO has been chaired by Dr. Amin Mekki Medani in exile since 1990.

Most recently in the 1980s throughout the 1990s, direct intrusions by central governments in ethnic and regional feuds escalated armed conflicts to unprecedented levels of physical violence through acts of destruction, displacement, slavery, tortures, and massive killings. The short-lived democratic regimes were generally restrictive of torture as they were more observant of regional and international human rights norms than military regimes were.

On 30 June 1989, the NIF anti-peace and anti-democracy warlord organization toppled the democratic government, abrogated the constitution, and canceled the Sudanese Peace Agreement. With these anti-nationalist acts, NIF rulers escalated the civil war and expanded state tortures to unprecedented levels in the history of Sudan (UN:E/CN.4/1994/48).

The expansion of NIF state tortures and acts of terrorism beyond the national borders, such as the assassination attempt on the life of Egypt's President, Hosni Mubarak, in 1995 among many other acts of terrorism, led to the imposition of anti-terrorism sanctions on Sudan by the United Nations Security Council. The country sank into a scourge of slavery and human rights abuses, in addition to a steep collapse in the national economy. Despite recent discoveries of oil in the South mainly and the investments of China and Malaysia in Sudan's oil, the government announced it would pursue the option of war and transferred the new revenues of oil to arms sales from the former socialist countries and Yemen.

Compared to the May dictatorial rule (1969-1985) which, in turn, was more harsh and abusive of authority than the Abboud first military coup (17 November 1957 to 24 October 1964), the third dictatorial rule of the NIF since the 30 June 1989 coup to the present time has been exceptionally cruel and intolerant as it systematically continued to violate human rights (Andreassen & Swinehart, 1991:407).

Sudan still is suffering from state tortures and other gross human rights violations. It is therefore expedient to recognize the right of Sudanese citizens, especially those in the marginal areas and war zones, to exercise the right of self-determination as an internationally-recognized right to establish peace and unity in the country. Worthy of note is that the perpetrators of state torture as documented by victims of torture [4] have been largely NIF supporters who, for the most part, included security officers indoctrinated with the NIF anti-Islamic, anti-ethical, and anti-democratic thought.


Some Political Aspects

In this section I argue that self-determination is not necessarily secession, national unity is only possible with equality and human rights, and a lasting and permanent peace is only attainable with a complete eradication of war and state tortures.

Because the term South-North is not analytically useful in the context of this discussion, I will refer to the North in terms of specific groups that include the Northern elites [5] (both in and out of power), and the so far relatively powerless Sudanese-Africans who include Beja, Darfur people, the Nuba Mountains and, to a lesser degree, the Nile Nubians because they have integrated to a great extent with the powerful center although they still legitimately strive for the preservance of Nubia culture.

Ruling Northern elites mainly include the Umma and DUP, in addition to the newly-established NIF group since 1989 up to this day. Non-ruling Northerners mainly include in political and cultural terms the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) since the 1940s and the other North political organizations that recently in the last iemocratic period, including those Northerners who label themselves as the "New Sudan Forces."

There are certainly significant differences between ruling and non-ruling Northerners in ideology, political programs, and experiences. For one, SCP did touch upon the concerns of Sudanese groups in the marginal areas. For example studies by the communist martyr Joseph Garang on the ways to strengthen Southern-Northern ties include a series of important papers he published in the early 1960s and presentations he gave when he was Minister for Southern Affairs before his execution by Nimeiri and the May junta in July 1971 after the unsuccessful Hashim Al-Atta coup.

Nonetheless, the majority of SCP works and struggles were concentrated on Northern concerns as documented in the Marxiya and Qadaiya al-Thawra Al-Sudaniya that evolved as a masterpiece of Sudanese progressive politics for an independent Sudan in the Arab region of the Naserist era (1950s-1960s).

Unfortunately, SCP did not give equal concern for Nuba, Beja, Southern, and Darfur populations - the Sudanese-African genuine ethnic entities. Nor did the SCP pay full attention to African politics although it did support Ben Bela, Lumumba and Mandela. SCP acted as a very influential non-ruling Northern political action group.

The SCP may have to work to redress these shortcomings. Previous suggestions by this writer (Mahmoud, 1998) indicated that SCP may wish to seek ways to amalgamate with SPLM as one strong all-Sudanese secular entity. If this happens, it will help Sudan to strengthen international human rights norms in a principled secular manner versus turns and ups and downs of the other Northerners, ruling or non-ruling. Equally important, if Beja, USAP, and National Party would join a united SPLA/SCP party, the chances for a strong secular and peaceful Sudan would be even greater than ever before.

The newly established "New Sudan Forces" smaller groups, including Mustagileen, SAF, HAQ, and others perhaps to come are equally seen by this writer as non-ruling Northern groups that exhibit a non-Sudanese-African mode. The language and political announcements of these groups are actions and reactions meant for their groups to stay in the Northern elites' power monopoly.

The New Sudan Forces' political programs and activities have not yet included a radical leadership of Sudanese-Africans. Compared to SPLM, the 'New Sudan Forces' still are strongly Northerners from the center. If the New Sudan Forces are interested in a real all-Sudanese new Sudan, these groups may wish to join both SPLM and SCP as one secular national party.

This formation perhaps may provide Sudan with a hope in the future elections to strike a strong balance away from Sudanese Northern-dominated politics for the first time in history. In calling for this amalgam, not simply an alliance, this writer emphasizes the fact that both SPLM and new Sudan forces are significantly influenced by SCP literature in one way or another. This genesis should help, away from partisan or narrow-minded orientations and leadership concerns, to make of these groups one large political entity for the good of the whole Sudan.

The Sudan is one of the richest countries in cultural and ethnic terms all over the world. It is meaningless to suppress this beautiful fact. It is meaningful to highlight Sudan's cultural diversities and to relate political solutions to this diversity. These are not necessarily what ruling Northern elites believed and still hope to achieve: a united Sudan with people having one ethnic affiliation, culture, and religion.

In this writer's view, one Sudan is only possible when all Sudanese recognize and realize that they are a nation with different people, ideologies, ethnicities, and religions. The right to self-determination is analyzed in this context.

The Momentum of Self-Determination

Despite the persistent and ruthless NIF government's pursuit of Southerners and other Sudanese-African peoples' genocide, enslavement, and exploitation of oil fields to escalate the ongoing warfare, the striving for a permanent and just peace in Sudan seems to have finally founded a national, regional, and international appeal.

This momentum may be explained in light of (1) the struggle of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to force NIF rule to comply with NDA Resolutions (2) the failure of NIF to mobilize regional support while obstructing the IGAD initiatives (3) the interest of Americans to put an end to the civil war according to the interests of American, regional, and international goals, namely Middle East and Horn of Africa security and economic recovery.

The possibilities of autonomous rule within the framework of a united Sudan were always a motive activating Southerners and other oppressed Sudanese-Africans (including Nuba, Ingessana, Beja, and other groups in Darfur) to continue the struggle against the domination of the political elites of Central Sudan who inherited the civil service after independence and continue to control political power and state administration.

It took half a century of continuous conflicts and tensions to develop national agreements between Southerners, in particular, and the Northern elites to guarantee autonomous rule to the South. These agreements, as Abel Alier (1990), a Sudanese distinguished statesperson, correctly concluded, "were always dishonored." With the poor economy of the South despite its rich potential in oil, minerals, and agricultural crops, the ruling Northern elite consistently acted in a way that aborted autonomous rule either by military intervention or through imposition of economic dependency upon the South by the Khartoum central governments. Both strategies failed to establish permanent peace or development, including the short interval of the Addis Ababa Agreement (1972-1983).

With oil discoveries, as well as other important raw materials in the South, Ingessana, and Nuba Mountains, reliable political entities (SPLM/SPLA and USAP) that managed to maintain good terms with other democratic constituencies (NDA mainly), the interests of Western investors naturally increased in the oil fields. The time is now favorable for a permanent political settlement. There are international concerns, however: the NIF must not be allowed to abuse oil monies in a renewed war with the African people of these regions.

The investments of China, Malaysia, Pakistan, and other governments and the Canadian investors in Sudan oil must not be rejected, in principle, for future dealings. But they must stop their activities at the present time until a national political solution is accomplished between people of Sudan who are not represented by the NIF regime.

Equally important, NDA must not expand military operations to destroy Sudan's oil fields or pipelines. These are not NIF possessions. These constitute a valuable national wealth that must be protected and developed as national infrastructures that definitely will cost billions to repair if fully destroyed by acts of war.

Here is the significance of the American efforts to help Sudan put an end to the civil war and NIP reactionary domination under a false banner of nationalism and religious jihad.

The NIF never accepted nationalism in previous times but rather insisted on the universality of Islam -- a religion the NIP used to mislead the people against the interests of the national, cultural, and religious diversity of Sudan.

Self-Determination is a Tool of Peace and Socio-Cultural Equality

The need to exercise the right of self-determination is no fiction or political slogan. It is a reality accumulating over decades since August 1955 when the first Southerners brigade engaged in armed conflict with the Northern elites' determination to crush any independent voice of Southerners, even a simple claim of equal pay and equal civil rights. In time, however, and under the sufferings of war and the genocide of millions of Southerners who continued to defend themselves against Centralists' massive wars, thousands of Southerners gained high education in the West and in African universities.

These are individuals and groups capable of running the South and participating in Sudanese affairs as much, or even more than Centralists have been doing. It is absurd for the Northern elites, especially NIF government, to fight against history, evolution, and the will of people. In principle and in the final analysis, the people of the South will enjoy ruling the South, the people of the Nuba Mountains will enjoy ruling the Nuba Mountains, the people of Ingessana Hills will enjoy ruling the Ingessana Hills, along with the Darfur, Beja, and Nubians of the North who must have the same privileges of autonomous rule. The Northern elites' monopoly of wealth and power must end. It has proved useless. It is out-of-date. It is a dehumanizing political nightmare.

Here lies the significance of the SCP and other newly established nonruling Northerners to amalgamate with SPLM as one secular All-Sudanese national party. Such a strong political entity will strike the required balance in Sudanese national politics for the first time in our modern history to preserve the unity of Sudan within a broad framework of regional autonomous rule.

NIF Northern elites still are determined to impose the old notorious ways of imposing false nationalist slogans that only represented ruling Northern concerns on the Sudan with its tremendous new realities, especially the growth of intellectuals from other regions and the increase in public awareness of the marginal regions and their Sudanese-African people.

More than ever, many nations, organizations, and influential senators, businesspeople, writers and other artists, human rights groups, Muslims, Christians, etc. are beginning to understand the situation in Sudan. They will soon reject the traditional ready-made proclamations that only emphasize Arab unity and disregard Sudanese-African concerns and "national rights" in their own land, the land of the Sudan, equally with the other Arab-affiliated cultures and groups.

Islam and Muslims are not confined at all to the ruling or non-ruling Northern elites. Millions of Muslims practice Islam as the main faith in Darfur (which provided an important extension of the magnificent Islamic empires of West Africa throughout the medieval ages), the Nuba Mountains, Ingessana, Nubia of the North, and the South. Islam is no monopoly of any Centralist group or individual, let alone the present day NIF pretenders and war criminals.

The Sudanese Southerners include ethnic groups with multiple-ethnic affiliations that distinguish them from different parts of the country, including the geographical North (with its more multiple ethnicity and cultures). The Sudanese Nilotics of the South (Nuer, Dinka, Shilluk, Anwak, etc.) have maintained close ties with Northerners in the course of history. The Shilluk ruled the Funj kingdoms, or at least shared in the ruling process. But this fact is not emphasized by many Centralist historians who wrote about Funj rulers as descendants of Ummaya (an Arab aristocratic lineage) with no mention of the strong evidence that Funj rulers were Shulluk people. [6]

Many Southerners, Beja, and Nuba leaders joined the Mahdiya and led armies as influential emirs. The Dinka/Nuba Sudanese national leaders, Ali Abdel-Latif and Abdel-Fadeel Al-Maz, are honored among the most famous political leaders of Sudan's national movement in the early 1920s. Investigation is needed to highlight the role played by Sudanese Nilotics, Equatorians, Darfurians, Ingessana, and Nuba people in ancient Sudan. One possibility is that these same people were part of the Nub ian kings who ruled the known parts of Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt before the birth of Christ for centuries. Nonetheless, little archaeology is pursued in these significant areas.

If the ruling Northern elites expect Sudanese-Africans to live with them as a part of Sudan's cultures and peoples, as equal citizens in every respect, these Northern elites should have to show with political, educational, ideological, and socioeconomic programs and activities their real acceptance, recognition, and realization of the cultures and contributions of Sudanese-Africans and the blood affiliations that bind them as one Sudanese nation, despite the arrogant government policies and practices that led the Northern elites to think of themselves as "noble Arabs", rather than "noble Sudanese."

Sometimes, ruling as well as non-ruling Northern elites (including NIF) speak of Southerners and other Sudanese-Africans as being so divided into "tribal factions" that it would be impossible for them to run political affairs efficiently. What about the Northern elites' themselves?! Both Northerners and Southerners suffer similar factionalism as all other Sudanese peoples faced all over the country. Still, Southerners lost people and wealth more than any other group in Sudan as a direct result of the Northern elites' policies and the chronic war against them.

Recent Economic and Political Changes

Oil activities, NDA advanced Charter and Resolutions, NW hateful terrorism and greed, and the isolation of NW-controlled government have now created a new situation and new possibilities to handle the Sudanese Africans vs. The Northern elites' conflict in a practical way.

In the 1980s the conflict over installation of a refinery in Kosti beween Nimeiri central rule and the Southern government was a chief factor in the failure of the Addis Ababa Agreement. It was a major reason why civil war broke in 1983 and continues to the present time. The NW rule must not be allowed to pump oil from. Sudanese/African fields to finance a new genocide against the real owners of these oil fields, the Sudanese citizens of the South, Kordofan, Darfur, and Ingessana. A possible strategy to apply such banning would be through an international ban on Sudan's oil exports until peace is fully established between government and the opposition. Simultaneously, if oil or natural gas is discovered in the Beja land, they have to be the main beneficiaries of such minerals.

This writer earlier argued (AI-Ittihadi Al-Dawliya, August 1999) that the Sudan Government must wisely abandon all intentions to use oil for war. This is a very sensitive and national issue. It should be handled with care and attention, not with terrorism and ruthless or irresponsible behavior. Unlike the NIF tyrannical rule, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is committed to "confidence and just distribution of wealth and power."

Oil is the greatest hope for the victimized inhabitants of the South, Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and Ingessana people who are the majority population yet are marginal and deprived societies. The ruling Centralists (now represented by NW government) can only hope to invest oil returns for their plans and programs (not including the war) if they are on good terms with the oil regions and peoples.

Military action will only mean a full unrepaired destruction of Sudan oil fields and pipelines. The modest destruction most recently attempted by NDA forces is no guarantee that more serious attempts would not be carried out by many groups throughout the country. The exercise of the right of self-determination should pave the way to peace making and peace keeping with the commitment of all warring parties to respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. War is not an option.

NDA Guarantees for Self-Determination

The exercise of the right to self-determination which carries the possibility of a federation, confederation, or a separate statehood is de facto the solution for the crisis now within the NW/Congress party's determination to use oil for a new massive genocide of Sudanese-African peoples. The exercise of this universal right, however, can never be applied under NIF terrorist rule.

The experience of many Southern groups of the NIF so-called "peace agreements" turned out to be a complete disaster with more feuds and killings, and war mongering by the NW rule at the expense of the whole Sudan.

The exercise of the right to self-determination can only generate a peaceful result when supervised by a democratic central government representing NDA partners (who include Arabized, Sudanese-African, and Arab groups) in close collaboration with regional and international powers (IGAD and the IGAD friends who include USA, Britain, the Netherlands, and Italy) in addition to Egypt, as a close sister state of the Sudan.

To this national end, the NDA endorsed the IGAD Declaration of Principles (DOP) as a viable basis for such a just and lasting settlement to the crisis of Sudan. The NDA affirms the right of self-determination as a basic human, democratic and people's right which may be exercised at any time by any people. The NDA recognizes that the exercise of the right constitutes a solution to the ongoing civil war and facilitates the restoration and enhancement of democracy in the Sudan. The NDA affirms that this right shall be exercised in an atmosphere of democracy and legitimacy and under regional and international supervision.

To ensure the national context and democratic procedure necessary for the exercise of the right to self-determination, the NDA Charter clearly states that: "the NDA reiterates that true peace in the Sudan cannot be viewed within the framework of the problem of the South but rather from the standpoint that the root causes of our problem have a national character. The NDA affirms that our national problems cannot be solved except through frank, serious and continuous dialogue among all Sudanese national groups, and asserts that the nature and history of the Sudanese conflict has proved that permanent peace and stability in the country cannot be achieved through a military solution."

With this clarity, the NDA has committed itself as follows: "The constituent member forces of the NDA shall adopt a common stand on the options to be presented in the referendum in the South, which options shall be (a) unity (confederation of federation) and (b) independent statehood. The NDA affirms that the Central Authority (the transition government) shall during the transitional period devise and implement the necessary confidence-building measures and the appropriate restructuring of the state and socio-economic institutions and processes, so that the exercise of the right of self-determination could have the best chances of upholding the unity option."

The NDA Charter's words regarding the exercise of the right to self-determination are carefully phrased to ensure the option of unity as earlier explained. These conditions must include the fill insurance of public rights and freedoms, the appropriate restructuring of the state and socio-economic institutions and processes, which means the full abandonment of NIF existing laws and practices.

Under these conditions, NIF rule must go. Negotiations with NIP on the basis of a non-modified version of the NDA Charter or Resolutions must be strictly applied. Only an honest, strong, and straightforward application of NDA Charter and Resolutions will guarantee the proclaimed exercise of the right to self-determination, the only practical way to stop the war in the context of an NDA's central authority or transition government.

The unilateral and bilateral moves noted in the region by Arab countries to establish peace are important. Egypt, in particular, is most strategic for well-known reasons: The Nile, security of the Region, and other geopolitical factors. As repeatedly announced by both Sudanese and Egyptian leaders, the national and regional interests of the two sister states do not overlap with a dis-united Sudan. The Egyptian strategy is largely consonant with Sudan's national interests in geopolitical terms.

A separate state in the South from the rest of the country will generate immediate fears about the flow of Nile water, national and regional security, and concerns about Middle-East/Africa balances of power (Israel/Egypt). For the Middle East and Horn of Africa, as well as African nations as a whole, an NDA wise rule is the best candidate to help stabilize the region over the irresponsible government of NIF gangsters.

On the national level, most importantly, the economic, cultural, and social bind Southerners to the Northerners are favorable to a united Sudan provided that a principled implementation of NDA Charter and Resolutions is applied in the next transition rule. Still, it is in the interest of Sudanese Southerners to carefully decide by themselves for themselves on the future of the South. According to the right of self-determination, it is their own decision.

The Sudanese strategic moves as most recently observed through SPLA reservations on the Tripoli Declaration of August 1999 [7] (which aimed to reconcile the armed conflict between Sudan Government and the NDA regardless of the IGAD and the IGAD friends), and the frequent visits of Mohamed Osman Elmerghani, the NDA's President, to concerned nations in and outside the region, especially Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UK and USA, are quite indicative.

Both Elmerghani, leader of the NDA and DUP as a large Centralist constituency, and Garang, the NDA's military commander and SPLA Southerner leader, have maintained a strong alliance based on the commitment of both political entities to the unity, democracy, and peace of the Sudan. The strong commitment of Elmerghani and Garang and their political parties to the NDA Charter and Resolutions reflect their faithful obligation to the unity of Sudan.

The insurance of a full commitment between all NDA partners on the principled struggle to overthrow NIP rule, not to co-exist with NIP gangsters, and to exercise the right to self-determination as a significant part of NDA Charter and Resolutions among other issues are the agenda of the day. The Umma Party, as a large Centralists' entity, and the SCP as an influential Centralists' party both support the NDA decision to apply the right to self-determination within the framework of NDA Charter and Resolutions. The role played by parties of the marginal regions will increasingly influence Sudan's future if the NDA Charter and Resolutions would be carefully applied.

Of particular importance, the ideas by the martyr Joseph Garang, the former Minister for Southern Affairs regarding the construction of a viable labor movement between Northern unions and Southern (and others) unions are still brilliant and mostly needed. With the oil industry in the South and Kordofan and minerals industry in the Nuba Mountains, Beja, Darfur, and the Ingessana Hills, Joseph's far-sighted projection would possibly find a new momentum.

Interested in the eradication of terrorism and the stability of the region Sudan and its neighbors, especially Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and Kenya - the Americans who pumped a billion dollars or more in humanitarian support to Sudan victims of war would most likely encourage the exercise of the right to self-determination in light of the guarantees already adopted by the DOP and NDA Charter and Resolutions.

The NDA appears as the most promising candidate for the next transition rule of Sudan. A peaceful implementation of the right to self-determination will ascertain the transformation of humanitarian aid to development projects and economic recovery. Peace and democracy will go hand in hand in a climate conducive to confidence and national unity.

This writer believes that the NDA leadership and Sudanese masses must collaborate closely with the IGAD (led by USA Government) on the basis of IGAD principles to help put Sudan on the right path to sustainable equality and democratic rule.


This article focuses on the development of the Sudanese human rights' movement in the course of both democratic and dictatorial systems of rule. While democratic governments make an increasing effort to avoid involvement in torture or extra-judicial killings and actually subject such violations to fact-finding committees and judicial measures, authoritarian regimes tend to manipulate gross human rights violations against individuals and groups to consolidate political power. Seen in the context of this political conflict, the exercise of the right to self-determination provides that urgent human rights measures are needed to eradicate state torture for the insurance of democratic freedoms and the rule of law.

As clearly specified in the Report of the Special Rapporteur submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/60, dated February 1994 (UN: E/CN.4/1994/48), "As a member state of the United Nations, the Sudan is bound by the Charter of the United Nations. Further, it is obliged to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons within its territory."

Exercising the right of self-determination does not necessarily result in secession. It is more likely a path for a true and lasting unity between Sudanese-Africans and Sudanese-Centralists based on the full enjoyment of human rights and the eradication of state torture and the abuse of political power.

The time has come for a free, broad-minded, and intelligent recognition of Sudanese peoples' rights to rule their own affairs within the same Sudan that their cultures existed since the early days of history, without any special right of the Northern elites to rule over them. The time has come!

Mahgouh El-Tigani is President of the Sudan Human Right Organization, Cairo Branch.


(1.) See Arab Organization for Human Rights' (AOHR) annual reports on the situation of human rights in the Arab Region. Also see reports of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Banjul, on the situation of human rights in Africa.

(2.) The efforts made to combat human rights violations by the Sudan Human Rights Organization Cairo Branch and other human rights groups and non-governmental organizations in and outside Sudan have been increasingly recognized by the National Democratic Alliance (Sudan's democratic opposition groups), as well as the international community in general. Nonetheless, the NIF-controlled government continued to ban and disregard SHRO-Cairo appeals for all parties concerned to comply with human rights laws. See SHRO-Cairo publication on Sudan Laws and International Law, edited by Mahgoub El-Tigani, Cairo, 1987, in Arabic and SHRO-Cairo, The Commitment of Sudanese Forces to International Human Rights Norms, edited by Mahgoub EL-Tigani, Cairo, 1988, in Arabic.

(3.) In 1992, the Legitimate Command of The Sudanese Armed Forces issued an official release of the names of perpetrators of army officers and regulars. The names included members of the June Revolution Command Council, leaders of intelligence and state security (see the LC paper on the Human Rights Workshop, SHRO, Fund For Peace and ALU, Cairo, 1992). SHRO-Cairo book on Torture in The Sudan (undated) documented the names of many NIF perpetrators of whom the torturers of Dr. Ali Fadl included security captain Abdel-Azim El-Rufai', corporal Elobaid of the Kawa town, Nasr El-Deen Mohamed, and corporal El-Amin who was living in El-Fitaihab town in Omdurman. Other names of ghost houses' perpetrators included Mohammed El-Amin, Adil Sultan, Ahmed Gaffar El-Mowatin, Adil Ahmed Abd-Allah, Annas, and Omer El-Hag. Brigadier Elrayah (Sudan Human Rights Quarterly, 1996) specified captain Asim Kabashi, Kamal Hassan (whose real name is Ahmed Mohamed from Elissailat area), Hussain, Abu Zaid, Omar, Elwan, Elgamry, Ali, Sidd ig, Osman, Khugali, Magboul, Mohamed, Eltahir and others as the perpetrators who brutalized him. Earlier, colonel Abdel-Aziz J'far Mohamed Osman, a former security officer of the NIF June's military government, reported that he had been tortured by major Salah Abd-Allah and captain Mohamed El-Amin. He specified Adil Sultan, Hassan Ali (whose real name was Ahmed Ja'far), Abdel-Wahab Mohamed Abdel-Wahab (whose real name was Ali Ahmed Abd-Allah), Annas of the Doroshab police, Nasr El-Deen Mohamed, sergeant El-Amin of the Fitaihab town in Omdurman, sergeant Elobaid of the Soba town who were all members of NIF, in addition to many other officers of the state security organ as perpetrators (SHRO-Cairo, Torture in The Sudan, p.28).

(4.) See footnote 3 above.

(5.) The Northern elites include the businesspeople and the leaders of religious sects who were able with their wealth and social status to insure higher levels of education to their own children compared to the poor majority of Sudanese Bedouins, workers, and farmers. The elites inherited the British colonial civil service and armed forces since independence. They still influence Sudanese politics and economic life in the North by their wealth and traditional parties despite the fact that important changes occurred with respect to the access of many workers and farmers, men and women, to modern education and professional jobs through the supportive activities of trade unions and progressive parties.

(6.) See Mohyi Al-Deen Mohamed Salih on Mashyakhat Al-A bdallab (The Abdallab Dynasty), in Arabic, for a reference on this point.

(7.) The Tripoli Initiative and Declaration indirectly denied the abolition of the NIP false constitutional literature (the Turabi tawali laws and the Bashir constitutional decree no. 2) and involved a withdrawal of the NDA Charter to prosecute all NIP criminals. As such, the Declaration has speedily shone up as it almost passed away. Notwithstanding, Omer Bashir, the NIP coup leader and the existing head of NIP state, did not tolerate the NDA conditionality for his government to create with the necessary release of prisoners and an immediate recognitin of public freedoms to parties and the press among other important measures "an atmosphere conducive to a peaceful dialgoue" as the Declaration advocates. With impatient, absurd, and unpolished words, he asked the NDA to cleanse itself from sins before a reconciliation is made," thus ending with his own mouth his government's hope to strike a decent save-face reconciliation with the NDA's Centralists at the expense of NDA Masses.


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Mahmoud, Mahgoub El-Tigani (1996); "Human Rights as an Instrument of Political Stability," Conference on Universalizing from Particulars: Islamic Views of the Human and the UN Declaration of Human Rights in Comparative Perspective, Institute for the Trans-regional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia -- Center of Interregional Studies: 24-26 May 1996, Princeton University, USA.

Mahmoud, Mahgoub El-Tigani (1998); Sudanese Studies Association Annual Meetings, Tufts University, Boston.

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Author:El-Tigani, Mahgoub
Publication:Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:Mar 22, 2001
Previous Article:SLAVERY IN THE SUDAN SINCE 1989.

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