SUDAN: Massacre in Heiban as Nuba ‘genocide’ enters its sixth year.

by - 25th May 2016


AT 6PM on 1 May, two Sudanese Air Force MiG fighter jets attacked residential areas within Heiban town in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, killing six children, three from one family.

The dead children were named as: Nidal Abdolrahman Ibrahim (12), Ibrahim Abdolrahman Ibrahim (10), Jihan Abdolrahman Ibrahim (5), Hafez Mahmud (10) Kuku Dawli (4), and Yusif Yagoub (4).

Despite an almost complete news blackout, the ‘Heiban Massacre’ is not an isolated incident.

The Government of Sudan’s genocidal jihad against the non-Arab and mostly non-Muslim peoples of Sudan’s ‘New South’ – Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile – continues a campaign that has just entered its sixth year.

For the Christians of the Nuba Mountains, it is the second 'genocide' in a generation.


The Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005, ending more than twenty years of civil war and Islamic jihad.

The CPA gave the GoS seven years in which to ‘make unity attractive’. After that time, South Sudan would be entitled to hold a referendum on self-determination; and the three contested non-Arab and SPLM-aligned regions – Abyei (which straddles the North-South border), along with South Kordofan and Blue Nile states (both in the north) - would be entitled to popular consultations through which the people would determine their own futures.

As the seven-year interim period drew to a close, the GoS realised that, having failed spectacularly to ‘make unity attractive’, it was on the verge of losing 25 percent of its land mass, 80 percent of its forests and 75 percent of its oil.

On 27 April 1993, at the height of the preceding Nuba ‘genocide’, clerics at the El-Obeid Mosque, North Kordofan, issued the now infamous fatwa:

‘An insurgent who was previously a Moslem is now an apostate [simply by virtue of his political opposition]; and a non-Moslem is a non-believer standing as a bulwark against the spread of Islam, and Islam has granted the freedom of killing both of them.’

To the Arab-supremacist Islamists in Khartoum, the secession of South Sudan would make this fatwa and this ‘genocide’ more urgent than ever.

As the 9 July 2011 referendum on southern secession loomed, the GoS moved pre-emptively to seize control of the three contested regions: oil-rich Abyei and South Kordofan, and Blue Nile which has gold, water and which generates hydro-electric power.

GoS bombing of Abyei commenced on 19 May 2011, followed by a military invasion that sent some 20,000 mostly-Christian, Dinka Ngok residents fleeing south.

The assault on South Kordofan started on 5 June 2011 with door-to-door 'sweeping' operations in the capital, Kadugli, designed to 'decapitate' the Christian community. These were followed by aerial bombardments, scorched earth warfare and the closure of the region to all humanitarian aid: an act designed to facilitate mass starvation.

On 9 July 2011, South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to secede from Sudan; and on 28 August 2011, GoS forces flooded into Blue Nile.

Further background:
‘SUDAN: Nuba Genocide Resumes’,
by Religious Liberty Analyst Elizabeth Kendal, 24 June 2011.
‘SUDAN: war spreads across ‘new south’ into Blue Nile’,
By Religious Liberty Analyst Elizabeth Kendal, 13 Sept 2011.


On 31 August 2014, Sudan’s most senior military and security officials met in the National Defence College, Khartoum, for a Military and Security Committee Meeting to discuss the ‘Management of Military Activities’. The minutes of that meeting were leaked to long-time Sudan expert Eric Reeves, who had them translated and verified as authentic. The minutes reveal an official policy of 'genocide' by means of mass starvation – and not only across the New South, but in the refugee camps in South Sudan's oil-rich Unity and Upper Nile states, which Khartoum wants closed.

In November 2015, Sudan’s Defence Minister Awad Ibnauf assured the federal parliament that all areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) ‘will be liberated through a massive military operation’.

In early February 2016 observers reported seeing massive columns of troops (army and paramilitary – including foreign jihadists) moving into South Kordofan along with heavy weapons in preparation for this year’s dry season offensive.

Having encircled the Nuba Mountains, the GoS is now bombing and strafing civilian areas, as evidenced by the 1 May 2016 attack on Heiban.

Though massively outnumbered and out-gunned, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) is holding its ground.

Latest reports:
‘Nuba Conflict Intensifies as Rains Arrive‘
Nuba Reports, 20 May 2016
‘The Shrapnel Finds Us Wherever We Hide’
By Tom Rhodes and Musa John, Foreign Policy, 19 May 2016
‘'Thousands' fled bombing in Sudan's Blue Nile this month’
Dabanga, 23 May 2016

Meanwhile in Khartoum, hundreds of Sudanese political and civic actors, as well as individuals have signed a petition condemning and expressing their horror at the 1 May 2016 ‘Heiban Massacre’. Signatories include 29 heads of all the major opposition parties in Sudan, thirty representatives of civil society, along with hundreds of individuals.

The signatories ‘call for the reawakening of the Sudanese national consciousness and for individuals and organisations to take campaign actions in response to this crime.’ They also ‘call upon the regional and international actors . . . to exert pressure on the Sudanese Government to end this violence and make Heiban the last aerial bombardment against civilians.’

These opposition voices need and deserve all the support they can get. So too do the imperilled forgotten peoples of Sudan’s New South.

Elizabeth Kendal is a freelance religious liberty analyst, and author. Her new book, ‘After Saturday Comes Sunday’: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East, published by Wipf and Stock (Eugene, OR, USA) is due out later this summer.