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July 2, 2011

Rebecca Tinsley

This week marks a milestone of misery for millions of Sudanese
citizens. It is the anniversary of the military coup that brought
Field Marshall Omar Bashir to power in Sudan in 1989. Since then
Bashir has earned international notoriety for his sustained campaign
to cleanse his nation of people who do not agree with him. This
includes seven years of genocide against the citizens in Darfur, for
which he was been indicted by the International Criminal Court.

In April Bashir faced uproar about the scale of public floggings of
women (43,000 in Khartoum state alone in 2008) for "public indecency",
which in Sudan means daring to leave their homes to go to school or
college. He confessed he was bemused by the fuss, saying that Islam
can be defined as, "To cut and to stone and to kill." The Sudanese
leader has also stated that rape does not exist in Islam.

While some might survey his pitifully undeveloped economy and the
absence of schools, hospitals and infrastructure as a sign of failure,
the Sudanese president has had other priorities. He wanted to purge
his country of ethnically black African people, Christians and those
who do not submit to his interpretation of political Islam. As he said
recently, when he rewrites the constitution there will be nothing in
it about ethnicity or diversity.

He has achieved many of his aims. The US State Department estimates
two million have died in southern Sudan while 300,000 are dead in
Darfur thanks to bombing and attacks by the Sudanese armed forces and
their militia proxies, grabbing the land and resources of the black
Africans whom they are ethnically cleansing. The violence continues to
this day, with hundreds of thousands uprooted in May and June as
Bashir's forces unhesitatingly crush any signs of dissent.

Last month reliable church groups reported the systematic rounding up
and execution of anyone who is "too black" in South Kordofan state.
Military trucks filled with young men, hands tied behind their backs,
were seen heading for mass graves on the edge of the capital, Kadugli.
In the Nuba mountains, survivors speak of Sudanese helicopter gunships
hunting the ethnically black African people like animals.

It was a triumph of US diplomacy that Washington, working with its
British and Norwegian partners, forced Bashir to allow a vote last
January to allow the mainly black African people in the long-suffering
south to form their own country, which will become independent on July

It is therefore disappointing that the US offers only words as
Bashir's killing machine increasingly targets both Darfur and the
black Africans who have the misfortune to live north of the new
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