Has Apartheid moved North to Sudan?

by M. Jalal Hashim

On 22nd June 2011, the Ministry of Labour issued a general directive to all government departments to enforce compulsory retirement on any Sudanese of Southern origin as a direct consequence of denationalizing them, i.e. stripping them of their Northern Sudanese nationality. Another similar directive was sent to the private sector. Accordingly, tens of thousands of Northerners of Southern origin have been purged from Civil Service. To add hurt to insult, official farewell parties were made at the altar of this civil genocide. Many of these infamous parties were televised and broadcast. These cynical parties were held in ‘honour’ of those a majority of who have never seen the South and who have been living in the North for most of their lives. Twenty-one thousand soldiers were purged from the army overnight; those were the same soldiers who have fought in the Sudanese army against the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) of the South for years and years. Now they are required to go to join the army they have spent their lives fighting against for no reason other than the fact that their origin goes back to the South. More than four thousand policemen were also purged.

Nothing can be more erroneous as those people are not Southerners as such; they are simply Northerners of Southern origin in the same way as the Minister of Interior (Ibrahim Mahmoud, who is responsible of the Civil Registry and nationality) is a Northern Sudanese of Eritrean origin. In his days as a university student in Egypt, he even used to preside over the Eritrean Students Union. The following arguments show the weakness of the position of the government in Khartoum.

Who can tell that I am not a Southerner?

The Khartoum government lacks the legal ground to identify the ethnicity of any of its subjects since it dropped the question of ethnicity from its last census. Therefore the Khartoum government is not in a place to say how many Dinkas or Nuers or Shilluks exist in the Sudan, North or South. Likewise, it cannot prove that a particular person is a Dinka or Nubian or Fur. It is true that in the nationality application forms there is a question about the ethnicity of the applicant (the tribe in particular); however, those who got their nationality document in this way do not exceed twelve million since independence (including those who have since died). Furthermore, all the documents that predate 1995 have been damaged. The fact that the population was put at forty million in the last census proves that nationality documents are redundant in deciding who is a Sudanese and who is not. At least twenty-eight million, out of that forty million, do not have any nationality document but nevertheless are considered as Sudanese by the government.

What does the Nationality Law says about this?

The nationality law states that any foreign person who stays in the Sudan legally for 5 consecutive years becomes qualified for Sudanese nationality. The sliding majority of those Northerners of Southern origin have been living in the North for more than 20 years. So, if they were foreigners, they would have been qualified for nationality. In the Sudan we have many ethnic groups of foreign origin, such as those who trace their origin back to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Chad, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea etc. Why can we not have people who trace their origin back to Southern Sudanese ethnic groups such as the Dinka, Shilluk and Nuer?

What does the CPA says about this?

The CPA sets forth a clear criterion for those eligible to claim Southern identity, consequently establishing a sufficient definition of the Southerner. It clearly states that those with a Southern parent, or of Southern origin who came to the North from the South within a certain period, can claim the Southern identity and consequently could register to vote in the then-upcoming referendum. However, those who were qualified to claim Southern identity, but had been living long enough in the North and accordingly had qualified for citizenship could remain anywhere in the North if they opted to do so, i.e. it was optional. The implication of that option is that those who registered for the referendum had made their decision to be Southerners; those who did not registered, even though they were qualified to do so, had also made their decision to remain as Northerners.

What do the International Laws say about this?

All international laws and conventions pertaining to nationality clearly state that everybody is entitled to enjoy a nationality. Article 15 of the Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that “every one has a right to a nationality”; it further states that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality”. This is further supported by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which entered into force in 1975, makes it a specific duty of states to prevent statelessness. Article 1 reads that “A Contracting State shall grant its nationality to a person born in its territory who would otherwise be stateless.” The convention forbids stripping of nationality (denationalisation) “on racial, ethnic, religious or political grounds.” Even in cases of State Succession, no citizen of either the succeeded or successor State should be deprived of the nationality they have acquired through lawful means. Article 1 in the International Law Commission, Draft Articles on Nationality of Natural Persons in relation to the Succession of States, with commentaries, 1999, clearly states that “Every individual who, on the date of the succession of States, had the nationality of the predecessor State, irrespective of the mode of acquisition of that nationality, has the right to the nationality of at least one of the States concerned.” Other articles provide that States must take “all appropriate measures” to prevent statelessness resulting from State Succession, and that persons shall not be denied the right to retain or acquire a nationality by being discriminated against on any ground.

Having said this with regard to the internal law, it is worth mentioning that in March, 2011, in Addis Ababa, under the supervision of the African Supreme Committee which is headed by Thabo Mbeki, both the Government of Khartoum and the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) concluded the Framework Agreement which clearly stated that in the wake of the cession of Southern Sudan, all citizens either living in the North or the South will have the right to maintain the status quo if they opt to do so. Typically, the Government of Khartoum declined to ratify this agreement the moment its delegation touched down in Khartoum from Addis Ababa. The separatists of the North, the true makers of the cession of the South, could not tolerate any African of Southern origin in the North after succeeding in getting rid of the South.

The Apartheid State of North Sudan

There are at least 4.5 million Northerners of South origin who have nothing to do with the unfolding situation of cession as they have not participated in the referendum. The cession of Southern Sudan has been brought about by two factors; the first is the growing anti-black, anti-African, and anti-Southerner sentiment among a certain sector of Northern Sudanese who are ready to die in order to win the badge of Arabism. There has been a surge of this trend that started gaining momentum with the wake of the fanatically Islamist and Arab-chauvinistic regime of al Ingaz. This is the major factor that has created the conditions of cession. In such a state it was inevitable for any people to opt for cession, in particular the Southerners who have been living under the yoke of racism for centuries. The second factor is merely technical, i.e. the poll, which was exercised by about three-and-a-half million representing the eight million Sudanese citizens living in the South, plus about a hundred and sixty thousand who lived in the North and who had registered as Southerners for the referendum. This proves that the four-and-a-half million Northerners of Southern origin have nothing to do with either the referendum or its result. To hold those four-and-a-half million accountable for the cession of the South by either the government in Khartoum or its ranks and media institutions of hatred is merely racist. This measure by the government in Khartoum confirms that North Sudan is undergoing a phase of an Apartheid State. The Islamo-Arabists of the Khartoum regime want to avenge their own failure in maintaining unity on the Southerners, but having no such Southerners within its boundary has made them to target those Northerners of Southern origin. The four-and-a-half million Northerners of Southern origin cannot victimized in this manner.

The President who threatens his People

The regime of Khartoum is working hard to deepen the rift between Africanism and Arabism in the identity awareness of Sudanese people by not only enhancing this discourse of anti-Africanism, chauvinistic pro-Arabism, but further by initiating it through its top echelon of officials. The fiery words of the State President (who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity and genocide) in one of his late public speeches where he vowed to chase out any Southerner who dares remain in the North after July 9th, still resonates in the ears of the Sudanese people. In that unwelcome speech, the President did not bother to give a definition of the ‘Southerner’. To the public, a southerner is defined by complexion, a criterion no State that respects itself or its subjects can use without being racist. The two parts of the Sudan now need, more than ever, to  strengthen the ties that bring them together. The keyword today for the two parts of the Sudan is “interdependency” where the existence of Northerners of Southern origin (and Southerners of Northern origin) will surely pave the way to good developmental relations and will serve as a bridge between the shores of the two parts of the country. All other aspects of interdependency, whether cultural or economical, comes after this humane and material bridging. The regime of Khartoum is fully aware that the Sudanese people will very soon awake to face the grim fact that their beloved country is no more the same and that they will understandably be held responsible for this.

Action needed!

The national, regional and international NGOs and civil societies institutions, and the free Pan African elites and intellectuals worldwide cannot maintain their ethical and moral integrity if they allow this state fascism and apartheid orientation in the Sudan. They must not be blackmailed into capitulation. We have all to stand up and face this new wave of state racism. A Northerner is that Sudanese person who has lawfully qualified for Sudanese nationality and who has chosen to live in the North; a Southerner is that Sudanese person who has lawfully qualified for Sudanese nationality and who has chosen to live in the South. The foreigners are those who do not fall in either group. The Sudanese Northerners of Southern origin are being officially discriminated against by the government of Khartoum. This is taking place as part of a process of demographic engineering in the course of which African people in Darfur are being replaced by Arab groups brought in from Niger; African Nubas are being replaced by Arabised groups in Southern Kordufan and Abyei; the Beja of Eastern Sudan are being replaced by fanatically Islamist groups from the  Eritrean and Egyptian peasantry; the Nubians in the far North are being replaced by Egyptian peasants brought from over the delta. The current slogan that resonates all over the region: “the people want to change the Regime!” is being turned by the Islamist regime of Khartoum into: “the Regime wants to change the People!” For people to change their bad regimes is commonplace; but for a detestable and corrupt regime to decide to change its people is a matter that cannot be achieved without those wretched people being killed in cold blood – which is what happened in Darfur, and what is happening right now in Southern Kordufan.