Behind the Red Line: Political Repression in Sudan; Beset By Contradictions: Islamization, Legal Reform, and Human Rights in Sudan; Facing Genocide: The Nuba of Sudan

In This Review

Behind the Red Line: Political Repression in Sudan

Human Rights Watch, 1996
343 pp. $12.00

Beset By Contradictions: Islamization, Legal Reform, and Human Rights in Sudan

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 1996
98 pp. $12.00

Facing Genocide: The Nuba of Sudan

African Rights, 1995
344 pp. $14.95

Since coming to power in a coup in 1989, the regime of Lieutenant-General Omar al-Bashir has consolidated its power in Sudan through systematic detentions, abductions, torture, executions, "special" courts that bypass due process, and a security apparatus that operates outside the law with impunity. Declaring its purposes synonymous with the will of God, the regime has ruthlessly restricted rights to free expression, association, assembly, and religion, while carrying out an ambitious program to remake the country -- one of Africa's most ethnically diverse -- into a homogeneous, Arabized state ruled by an extremist version of Islamic law. To this end, Bashir has declared the ongoing war against southern insurgents a jihad and is pursuing a ten-year campaign of forced Islamization, pillage, rape, and murder against the people of the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan, where allies of the regime covet scarce arable land.

Each of these reports issued by human rights organizations takes a different angle. Human Rights Watch offers a broad overview of the regime's human rights record, explaining in painstaking detail how its policies violate international norms of law and justice. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights focuses more narrowly on the Sudanese legal system and in particular on how criminal justice, the judiciary, and the legal profession have been affected by the regime's flagrantly political manipulation of Islam to reinforce its despotic rule. African Rights looks at the campaign against the Nuba, who are now threatened with cultural extinction. Politically allied to southern secessionism but geographically separated from the southern heartland, the Nuba are facing Khartoum's onslaught alone as the international community averts its eyes, lest an acknowledgment that this is genocide entail an obligation to act.

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