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Moving the mountains
Nuba people evicted to ‘peace villages’ as civil war continues.

The Sudanese Government is continuing its policy of ‘cleansing the mountains’. This is a euphemism for moving tens of thousands of people from their homes in the Nuba Hills and sending them to so-called ‘Peace Villages’.

Escapees from these villages say that men were forced to join Government militias or become farm labourers, and women were sent to work as unpaid servants in the North of the country. Some young boys have been sold as slaves. A reporter travelling in Nuba country recently saw ‘dozens if not scores of burnt-out and flattened villages’.

There is also evidence that the Government is expelling Nuba from Khartoum and other cities and sending them to ‘Peace Villages’ against their will. This development marks a new twist in the ‘cleansing’ campaign. Many

Nuba moved to the cities in the first place because they had been driven from their lands. Those who have managed to remain in the Hills often find themselves working as labourers on their own land, which has been ‘sold’ by the authorities.

For years the Nuba Hills have been forcibly cut off from the outside world. No food, medicine or humanitarian agencies have been allowed into the region, except for Islamic agencies supported by the regime, which aim to proselytize among the Nuba. Two-thirds of the Nuba are Muslim and the other third mainly Christian, but these faiths overlap with older regional religious practice.

In January 1992 the Governor of Kordofan and the head of the pro-Government militia declared a Jihad (Holy War) against the Nuba. This was followed by a Fatwa (Islamic Decree) by prominent local Imams which justified the killing of the Nuba by describing them as ‘infidels’. The Arab nomads of Kordofan, who have also been badly affected by the seizure and ‘sale’ of land, have been incited against their Nuba neighbours.

In November 1994 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan, Dr Gaspar Biro, repeated allegations of serious human-rights violations in the Nuba Hills. His written report was published on 14 February 1995 and indicates a further deterioration in the conditions of the Nuba.

It appears that the Sudanese Government is collaborating with local authorities who want to depopulate the area and help themselves to its rich agricultural land.

Aidan Rankin/Survival International

Deathly silence
As the conflict between the Turkish Government and the Kurdish opposition continues, journalists are falling victim to the violence. In 1992-94, 32 Turkish journalists and other media employees, most working for pro-Kurdish newspapers, were murdered. More than 100 Kurdish and Turkish journalists and writers are currently imprisoned, many of them for active advocacy of a political solution to the conflict. Eastern Anatolia has become too dangerous for foreign journalists. There is a growing tendency in Turkey to blame foreign sources for the strife – articles by foreign observers are widely perceived as hostile and destructive.

Source: World Press Review Vol 42 No 3

Beneficiaries of World Bank policy in Mexico City.

Stung by the criticisms of the ‘50 Years is Enough’ (FYE) campaign (see NI 257) the World Bank has issued a point-by-point rebuttal. On the question of ‘structural adjustment’ the Bank remains adamant, claiming that among the countries that ‘have begun to enjoy benefits associated with the successful implementation of appropriate economic policies’ is Mexico – a country which has been experiencing such a sudden and severe economic crisis that the ripple-effect threatens to destabilize the world’s financial institutions.

David Ransom

Sky’s the limit
The Cameroon Government has opened Africa’s first ozone-monitoring office and pledged to phase out the use of chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) which damage the earth’s ozone layer. Without denying the global problem of ozone depletion, it is still somewhat puzzling why Cameroon should be prioritizing it. An average Cameroonian annually consumes a tiny 8.7 grams of CFCs per head. With more than half the population lacking access to health services, locals are wondering what the fuss is all about. Environmental activists are pointing out that the Government would do better to stop the rapid commercial logging of forests. Citizens of Yaoundé, the capital, want to know why, when the Government claims to have no money to clear the garbage which threatens to engulf the city, it is launching a media campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of ozone depletion.

Source: Ndikum Patrick Tanifom/Gemini

Poor showing
Longtime NI contributors Mari Marcel and Stan Thekaekara have put together a widely praised report – Across the Geographical Divide – on the poor in Britain. The pair were flown in from the Nilgiris in South India to visit the housing estates of Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. What they saw shocked them. Despite noting that poor people in Britain seemed to be better off than their Indian counterparts, they found that in Britain poverty often meant decades of unemployment and the increased loss of skills and initiative which was very different from the Indian experience. They were most struck by the demoralization amongst Britain’s poor.

The report is available from Directory of Social Change, 24 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2DP.
Tel: (+) 171 209 5151 at a cost of £10 (plus £2.50 p&p).


Fish seek bicycle
Singular complaints
Complaints - Women aged 25 to 50
Complaints - Women aged 25 to 50
top number: % singles
bottom number: % in a stable relationship

Germany is the Lonely Hearts capital of Europe with 12 million single Germans in search of a partner. Lonely Hearts adverts spill out of almost every newspaper and magazine at a rate of an estimated 100,000 a week. And that does not include all the radio and television spots and e-mail messages. Lonely Hearts parties organized by the group Fisch sucht Fahrrad (Fish seeks bicycle – from the feminist joke that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle) are taking place across the country, drawing over 1,000 single people each time. They may be on the right track. A survey by German magazine Bunte has found that single women report higher levels of ill-health than women in stable relationships – with the perhaps obvious exceptions of insomnia and backache.

Petar Hadji-Ristic/Gemini


Women take to the streets

A greengrocer in Srinagar was spotted by an Indian Army patrol 10 metres from his house just 20 minutes after the start of curfew – he was outside because his house has no toilet. Just before sunrise the following day his battered and tortured corpse was found dumped in front of his house. Permission for a proper funeral was refused, so arrangements were made for burial in a local park. The women pictured here are standing at the entrance to the park to protest at the killing and to block the path of Indian soldiers who were trying to stop the ceremony.


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Hammer and scalpel
Oil under troubled waters.

The politics of oil have been driving the conflict in Chechnya to a much greater degree than has so far been reported. More than 20 large Western oil companies have already begun work extracting oil from the Caspian Sea. About half the oil destined for export is due to pass through new or reconstructed pipelines which cross the North Caucasus via Chechnya.

The western part of the North Caucasus region is Russia’s main agricultural centre and is supplied by petrol and diesel from oil refineries in Grozny, the Chechen capital. The railway line through Grozny links the North Caucasus to the Urals and Siberia. The main oil pipeline between Baku, Makhachkala and Tuapse, as well as the local pipelines for the south-eastern regions of Astrakhan, also pass through Grozny.

Its key position in the transport system explains why economic sanctions could not be used against Chechnya to achieve a compromise settlement – the Chechens simply took what they needed from the goods that crossed their country. President Dudayev threatened to blow up existing pipelines (not to mention nuclear power plants) should Russia launch an attack. The hurried Russian military occupation was a response to the stopping of all railway traffic through the region.

This showed how vulnerable any new oil pipeline would be. Turkey’s recent decision to ban the passage of large oil tankers through the Bosphorus has made export through the Black Sea unviable. Kazakhstan, Turkmenia and Azerbaijan have all, as a consequence, been discussing the possibility of pipelines through Turkey and Iran. Alarm at this prospect, which would weaken Russian control over oil supplies, was another factor that made Russia resort to extreme measures in Chechnya.

An alternative plan for a pipeline through Bulgaria and Greece, by-passing Turkey altogether, was agreed by Russia in October 1994. Russian influence over Caspian oil, however, depends upon a guarantee that the transport lines crossing Chechnya will operate normally – a relatively simple task until a hammer was used to undertake an operation that required a scalpel.

Zhores Medvedev

Obsolete computers – and they become obsolete every three years in the West – are a big garbage problem. In Britain alone around six million items of electronic equipment with a reclaimed value of $75 million are buried each year. Resources lost include high-quality plastics, tin, copper and aluminium in addition to precious metals such as nickel, palladium, silver and gold.

Now R Frazier Ltd, a company based in Dumfries, Scotland, run by former IBM director Liam McKenna, is specializing in reclaiming and re-selling redundant computer and electronic equipment to countries in the South with a need for entry-level technology. ‘We collect redundant equipment from a variety of sources, then repair and rebuild complete systems, taking a processing chip from one, a monitor from another and so on, creating a working system from several unsaleable ones.’ When equipment does not contain working components, metal and plastic are reclaimed, resulting in less than five per cent of the equipment being consigned to the landfill.

Source: People & the Planet Vol 4 No 1

The cost of dying
The UN offers proof – if it were needed – that the value of a life is open to interpretation. The UN currently pays $85,300 as compensation for the death of a soldier on a peacekeeping mission if the soldier is from an industrialized country. Soldiers from the ‘developing’ world, however, are valued at $19,500.

Source: Peace Matters No 8


‘Silence is also death. If you speak, you die. If you keep quiet, you die.
So speak out and die.’

Tahar Jaout, Algerian poet shot dead in May 1993.

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©Copyright: New Internationalist 1995

New Internationalist issue 267 magazine cover This article is from the May 1995 issue of New Internationalist.
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