Day 3/16 of Activism Against Gender Violence: Jalila Khamis: Your Voice Will Be Heard!
The children and women of Nuba Mountains are very tired. I call to the international community to stop the bombing and the war in Nuba Mountains now!”
Jalila Khamis, Nuba woman activist, June 2011
Jalila Khamis spoke these words on video a few days after war erupted in the Nuba Mountains in southern Sudan on June 5th, 2011. These words are the reason that Jalila Khamis is currently being held in detention without trial. Held for eight months already, she is facing charges that could lead to the death sentence.
Jalila Khamis is a brave Sudanese woman activist and teacher. She is a mother to five and a member of many women’s rights NGOs, such as SuWEP (the Sudanese Women’s Initiative for Empowerment and Peace). She is involved in a number of Nuba women community service organizations and works on peace-making and fighting for better access and quality of education. Her work for the Nuba peoples in Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps in Khartoum is unique and helps young men and women join open schools to end their illiteracy.
This is not the first time Jalila has suffered reprisals from the state because of her activism. On March 14th, 2012, Jalila was woken at 2am in the morning by officials. Still wearing her sleeping clothes, she was taken to an unknown location and left there in solitary confinement for three months. Jalila’s ‘crime’? Hosting and helping IDPs from her village in Nuba mountains and reaching out to her fellow activists to help her and hundreds of other Nuba families in Khartoum host the overwhelming number of Nuba peoples fleeing their homes.
After one and a half years of war, of attacks on civilian villages, mass arrests and aerial bombardments, more than 500,000 from the Nuba Mountains are in urgent need for food aid. Yet the Sudanese government refuses to allow aid agencies from entering the region to save Nuba women and children from death by starvation. Thousands of Nuba peoples are taking refuge in the caves of the mountains, eating nothing but trees leaves and bugs. Women are being raped and killed by the government army and militias when they come down from the mountains to collect necessary water and food, while most of their men are either fighting, killed or detained. Those who remain inside the cold caves are old men and women and children waiting for the help that has not come for the past 18 months.
The war in Nuba Mountains is part of the Sudan political and development crisis, but the problem is also deeply rooted in modern Sudanese history, before and after colonialism. The marginalization of the south Sudan and Nuba mountains and other areas in Sudan was interconnected with the ethnic power distribution in Sudan. African ethnicities, among them the Nuba ethnicity, remain marginalized and excluded by the ruling and dominant ethnicities, who mainly reside in North and central Sudan. This background of complicated ethnopolitical relations of the Sudanese community ended by the secession of 30% of the population when Southern Sudanese voted in the referendum of January 2011 for independence from Sudan after 50 years of civil war, 9 million IDPs and more than two million killed. On June 5th, 2011, the terror of war started again in Nuba Mountains. When Southern Sudan voted for independence, Nuba peoples remained in Sudan, as they didn’t have the right of referendum. They found themselves in a new war with the Sudanese government - the current war in the region is opening the wounds of the last, which continued for 20 years from 1983-2005.
While the suffering of the Nuba peoples is escalating every day in result of the aerial bombardment and the land attacks by the Sudanese government , the international community remain paralyzed in taking any actions to protect the peoples of Nuba mountains from what could be the second genocide in Sudan following the Darfur crisis, where 300,000 were estimated killed between 2003 -2008, by the order of the Sudanese president Omar Albashir and his Defense Minister. Both top leaders are still free and repeating the crimes they committed in Darfur in the Nuba Mountains now.
Jalila called on the international community to move fast to end the suffering of her peoples, for as she said, “children and women are tired.” Today they are not just tired, they are dying of starvation, aerial bombardment and lack of medical care. Jalila remains in detention and is accused of publishing false information, simply because she spoke in a You Tube video about the atrocities taking place in Nuba Mountains in the early days of the war. Jalila Khamis’ call for peace is the call of all Sudanese women for peace in Nuba Mountains, Darfur, Blue Nile and all Sudan, in solidarity with Jalila and all Sudanese brave women in the war zones.
A protest in Cairo in front of the Sudanese government embassy is planned in solidarity with Sudanese women in war zones.
Please see Jalila here:
Learn more about the suffering in the Nuban Mountains:
and about the suffering of Nuba women: