Thursday, July 14, 2011


I love personal pictures, old and new. I love personal and family movies, old and new. But mostly the ones of years past, because it brings so much....connection, memories, pride and revelation of those times and people that now have a broader, deeper and enlightening perspective for me. With this in mind, I find this old film very interesting in the most basic of terms.

San Francisco on film: Days before the 1906 Quake

Source of the following text: cbsnews.com

A blog post by David Browning, the producer of this week's "60 Minutes" story about a mysterious reel of film, known as "A Trip Down Market Street:"

My wife, I confess, comes up with some of the best stories I do. Last year she sent me a link from a friend to a Web site showing a badly scratched version of "A Trip Down Market Street," the remarkable movie made a century ago on San Francisco's main drag. It's a film guaranteed to mesmerize anybody who sees it, even with the scratches: a bygone time brought to life.

I began poking around to find out more about the film and why it was made. San Francisco film archivist Rick Prelinger showed me a digitally restored version he'd commissioned that clears away the cobwebs and the scratches, making the film's impact even more vivid. And that led to another California archivist, David Kiehn, who took it upon himself to figure out the film's origins. Kiehn's dogged, meticulous detective work established beyond doubt it was filmed just days before the great earthquake and fire in 1906 that nearly destroyed San Francisco.

Photos: The aftermath of the 1906 earthquake
Photos: Favorite images from the Market Street film
Video: Watch Morley Safer's full report.

So as you watch the full 11-minute reel on this week's web show "60 Minutes Overtime," credit Kiehn and Prelinger for rescuing from oblivion its images and the dramatic, unexpected story of its making. As for the story of how it all wound up on "60 Minutes," credit Mrs. Browning.

-David Browning, "60 Minutes" Producer

Friday, July 8, 2011




The Dhamma Brothers ~ I saw this this morning and highly recommend it.

It is excellent! See the trailer and more here.

Where to see it: www.wgbh.org/watch/tvchannels


The Art of Living ~ Vipassana Meditation


The story of the Dhamma Brothers of Donaldson Correctional Facility continues to unfold today as the Vipassana program establishes deep roots and manifests a gradual change from within the prison walls. Four years after the shutdown of the program at Donaldson, Dr. Ron Cavanaugh brought it back in 2006.

Warden Hetzel has observed the benefits to both the Dhamma Brothers, whose numbers are growing, as well as to the other prisoners and the staff. Impressed by this, the Warden requested that the Vipassana program be made available to the entire prison population. To meet this request, the Vipassana program is being offered more frequently and to larger groups by the Vipassana Prison Trust.

A Dhamma Brothers cellblock is soon going to be established. Corrections officers have been offered paid leave and transportation to take a Vipassana program. Eight corrections officers have already decided to take the program.

Academic research findings support behavioral observations that show the positive influence of the Vipassana program. Preliminary findings from pre- and post-tests and 1 year follow up measures administered to both Vipassana and matched control participants include the following findings for the Vipassana participants;

• Increase in mindfulness & emotional intelligence

• Improved physiological & psychological well-being

• Decrease in anger and distress

• A 20% reduction in institutional infractions & segregation time

All of this signifies a shift within the prison culture from one of violence and despair toward one of hope and positive change.

Edward Johnson, Dhamma Brother
“On the third day of meditation, I began to feel calm.
And then and there, for the first time in my life, I was really ready to deal with me. A lot of guys was afraid to deal with
Big Ed. And now I was ready to take him on, right there on that meditation mat.”
– Edward Johnson, Dhamma Brother

Source: dhammabrothers.com/Prison


Read and listen to inmates letters: www.dhammabrothers.com/LettersGrady

John's letter #3 is really wonderful
Here is how he ends this letter:
...In that direct personal experience, I found five friends [faith, effort, awareness, concentration and wisdom] that would be strengths to withstand the storms of life. The five hindrances [craving, aversion, agitation, sloth, doubt] still come flowing at me. Each one of them attack me. As I know attack you and everyone else. Watch the news on TV; look at the faces of people in the world.

I will continue with strong determination to practice Vipassana with the insight of the noble path that these compassionate Dhamma brothers and sisters brought from ages ago and distant lands to the prison in Alabama. Who would have thought that AL-A-BA-MA prisoners would be the first prison in the United States to hold a Vipassana course? I never would have thought it was possible.

To all y’all Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam (May all beings be happy!)



A retreat of meditation and enlightenment within a maximum security prison in Alabama.

The Dhamma Brothers airs Friday, July 8 at 9 p.m. on WXXI World (cable 524/DT21.2).


Donaldson Correctional Facility is situated in the Alabama countryside southwest of Birmingham. 1,500 men, considered the state's most dangerous prisoners, live behind high security towers and a double row of barbed and electrical wire fences.

Within this dark environment, a spark was ignited. A growing network of men had been gathering to meditate on a regular basis. Intrigued by this, Jenny Phillips, cultural anthropologist and psychotherapist, first visited Donaldson Correctional Facility in the fall of 1999. She planned to observe the meditation classes facilitated by inmates and to interview the inmate meditators about their lives as prisoners.

As she met with the men, one by one in the privacy of an office, she was drawn in by their openness and willingness to talk freely about themselves. High levels of apprehension, distraction and danger characterize their lives as prisoners. Even though many of these men will never be released from prison, they were thirsty for meaningful social and emotional change. What she heard there was difficult to forget. It left her wondering if it were possible to live with a sense of inner peace and freedom within this harsh prison environment.

As a meditator herself, Jenny knew that meditation directly addresses the issue of personal suffering, and offers a simple yet powerful means for obtaining relief. But were these ancient ideas, as described in the teachings of the Buddha 2600 years ago, now relevant? Could the framework of this approach to suffering be translated into some basic principles of treatment that would be applicable to 21st century North American prisoners? Were these prisoners, many of them survivors of personal trauma, even capable of withstanding the emotionally and physically demanding experience of a Vipassana program requiring over 100 hours of silent meditation?

The Dhamma Brothers tells a dramatic story of human potential and transformation as it closely follows and documents the stories of a group of prisoners as they enter into this arduous program. It will challenge assumptions about the very nature of prisons as places of punishment rather than rehabilitation. Despite the difficulty in obtaining permission to film inside a prison, the Alabama Department of Corrections allowed a film crew to document, not only the Vipassana program, but many other scenes and settings revealing the daily lives of prisoners and staff.

Before the Vipassana retreat, the men openly express fear and trepidation, wondering what they will find when they look deeply within and face the consequences of past actions and trauma. They are shown packing their scant belongings and preparing for the journey inside, a very short walk down the prison corridor but a sea change in their lives as prisoners. We observe the transformation of the prison gym, a frequent site for violent battles among inmates, into a monastery, a separate, restricted place in which the inmate students can eat, sleep, and meditate in total seclusion from the rest of prison society.

The Vipassana teachers, Bruce and Jonathan, prepare to live and meditate with the inmates. Teachers and inmates, men from culturally different worlds, are locked together in a dramatically revealing process. This is, most likely, the first time non-inmates have ever lived among inmates inside a prison.

Seated on meditation mats on a red rug donated by the Warden, wrapped in navy blue blankets, the men sit still in silence as they journey inside. Their days are punctuated by a strict daily routine of eating, sleeping and meditating.

After the Vipassana retreat, the men tell their tales of pain and self-discovery. The spiritual warriors of Donaldson Correctional Facility discuss their collective experiences and vow to try to maintain their nascent sense of solidarity. In the nameless, faceless anonymity of prison life, where daily life is organized around social control and punishment, Vipassana has offered an alternative social identity based on brotherhood and spiritual development.

The stories of the men at Donaldson Correctional Facility are those of the unseen, unheard, and underserved. This film shines a spotlight upon society's outcasts and untouchables as we witness them on their Odyssean journey into their misery to emerge with a sense of peace and purpose.


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Thursday, July 7, 2011


What a happy video and music ~ how can one NOT move when listening to this!!



An original Song Around the World, that takes us on a musical journey from Brazil to India. Get ready to smile, dance, and feel the love of the world uniting through the power of music.

Satchita is featured on CD/DVD, PFC 2 (Playing For Change). From Mark: "Please share this video with everyone you know, and together we will change the world one song and one heart at a time!!"

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Monday, July 4, 2011


Photos of Bombardment killing Nuba Indigenous People in Kurchi village (Sudan).

Sudan ~ where President Obama once said the Darfur genocide must be stopped. Now, he supports those who commit the genocide (Khartoum), because of politics.

Photos received from Terry Nickelson of our humanity in the balance.org

Terry wrote this about the pictures ~
"These photos were taken on Sunday, 26th June, (2011) in Kurchi village in the Nuba Mountains by Younis Jamal, a field officer with Nuba Relief and Rehabilitation and Development Organization, the sister organization of the SPLA/M (NRRDO), who wants them to be circulated widely, so the world can see what the Sudanese military is doing to unarmed civilians in South Kordofan.

Sudan's Al-Bashir is distinguishing himself by conducting three ethnic cleansings simultaneously; Darfur, Abyei and South Kordofan. Nothing stops him."


Our humanity in the balance.org



Comments for President Obama: 202-456-1111


I sometimes write the President about genocide in Sudan. Three times I got a reply, but that was in the early days of his administration.

Tonight I wrote the letter below via www.whitehouse.gov/contact. Politicians claim that when you vote for them and they win that they have a mandate from the people. But assumption is presumptuous. So often, we vote against someone and not for someone.

July 4, 2011

Dear President Obama,

I believe compassion and empathy are the best of our human quallities As a human being who has worked since 2004 to bring attention to the Darfur genocide, I have watched as two USA administrations, the Bush and Obama, have stood idly by while Darfuris & now Sudanese in the Nuba Mountains region of South Kordofan get bombed by Khartoum. Your administration has chosen to side with Khartoum. I want to let you know that your administration has left me thoroughly frustrated and angry.

Never before had I involved myself in a campaign until your first one for President. I gave money to your campaign repeatedly, though I could not afford it. I rented a car to drive from where I reside in Rhode Island to volunteer to go door-to-door in NH for the week running up to the NH primary. I worked here in RI doing the same, but more comprehensively. I phone banked for you in NJ.

I say all this to tell you this: I cannot vote for a Republican for President this next election. But I cannot do any of the things that I did previously for your campaign this time. Why? I hope you get this letter and wonder that very question. You had me believing that your word was dependable. You had me believing you would be a President that I could be proud of. But I no longer believe that. I have watched you very closely-what you have said and done and what you haven’t said and done. My feelings of being betrayed by you started soon after Scott Gration spoke once you appointed him Special Envoy to Sudan. He obviously spoke for you. And he chose supporting Khartoum over the people Khartoum systematically has been eliminating.

I will be forced to vote against the Republican Presidential candidate this time and that will mean I will have to vote for you. I want you to know though you will get my vote, however you have lost something more important. My respect for you. And my trust in what you say that you will do. I made a small film for a Compassion Film Festival, DARFUR – THE ABANDONED GENOCIDE, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YG-6mQx8jI



and in the film, it has you saying over and over what led me to believe that you would not let the people down of Darfur. But you have done just that. No President that I can put my trust in would have done this.

The Darfur genocide “IS a stain on our souls”, as you said once. And genocide will go on as long as there is no accountability. Whenever you have a choice between right and wrong about genocide as a leader, there is only one that should allow you to sleep.

Sandra Hammel

This appears after you click "Send"~

Thank you for contacting the White House.

President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible Administration in history. That begins with taking comments and questions from you, the American people, through our website.


Our humanity in the balance.org



Comments for President Obama: 202-456-1111


At the link is a full article ~Jul-05, 2011 Probe-UN-neglect-in-South-Kordofan

Here is an excerpt:

The U.N. peacekeeping mission UNMIS has been a part of the problem in South Kordofan, where many Nuba, although northern Sudanese, joined south Sudan’s war for a democratic “New Sudan.” Established in March 2005, after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended the 22-year civil war, the mission was headed until 2010 by a man who colleagues say was given to calling the Nuba “monkeys.” On his watch, the lack of initiative of UNMIS and perceived complicity with Khartoum was a cause of deep frustration, and anger, to its most committed staff. UNMIS was also spectacularly uninformed about the reality of South Kordofan.

In 2008, I published a report that detailed the resurgence of government-supported militias in South Kordofan – including in a village called Al-Fayd – and concluded that “many now view war in the Nuba Mountains as inevitable.” UNMIS pooh-poohed the report, which it said was “far from the reality on the ground.” Fast-forward to April this year, on the eve of war, and an attack by militia who, according to UNMIS, “killed … looted … burnt houses and raped.” The village? Al-Fayd.

How little UNMIS knew. How little it cared to know! And how it has come to haunt the mission now that its own men are, in its own words, facing increasing “intimidation and obstruction” in South Kordofan – including from the militias it said did not exist.

Source: Jul-05, 2011 Probe-UN-neglect-in-South-Kordofan


Our humanity in the balance.org



Comments for President Obama : 202-456-1111


Cold blooded mass murder in the Nuba Mountains

By Samuel Totten

July 3, 2011 — Over the past four weeks, Government of Sudan (GoS) troops and allied militia have carried out a vicious and murderous attack on the people of the Nuba Mountains in the Sudanese state of South Kordafan. This is the very same government that perpetrated genocide in Darfur and continues to carry out devastating attacks on the region. Tellingly, Sudan’s president, Omer Al-Bashir, is already wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for the atrocities perpetrated in Darfur.

MIGs and Antonov bombers have created havoc in the Nuba Mountains; farms, tukuls, and churches have been burned to the ground; close to 100,000 people have been forced from their villages out into the wilderness and up into barren mountains; and untold numbers have been killed.

In Kadugli, the capital of South Kordafan, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have gone door to door in search of suspected members and supporters of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and executed them on the spot. GoS troops have also planted land mines throughout the area. In Dilling, GoS soldiers carried out their own search for members and supporters of the SPLM and upon locating them slit their throats.

While there are UN troops (United Nations Mission in Sudan or UNMIS) in the Nuba Mountains they have largely served no purpose. If truth be told, they are actually exacerbating the situation. First, they do little more than largely observe the violence and certainly nothing to attempt to halt it. Second, two sources inside the Nuba Mountains, both of whom must remain unnamed, reported that Egyptian soldiers with UNMIS were seen raping local women in Kadugli as the latter sought sanctuary from the surrounding violence. Third, when a massive group of civilians sought assistance at UNMIS headquarters in Kadugli they were purportedly told to leave and go to Dilling, some 120 miles away — a horrific journey on foot in the face of the ongoing attacks. Finally, there are reports that UNMIS personnel told people to head north when seeking safety, thus apparently leading them directly into the hands of the GoS troops. It is no wonder that rumors are afloat that those Egyptian soldiers with UNMIS are on the payroll of Khartoum.

Various reasons are aswirl as to why GoS troops attacked the people of the Nuba Mountains. First, some four weeks ago, Al-Bashir threatened that if the people of the region did not readily accept the newly elected Ahmed Haroun, who is wanted by the ICC on over 40 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes for the horrors perpetrated in Darfur, as their governor, they would suffer the consequences. In fact, in a speech in Kadugli, Al-Bashir stated that his soldiers would chase the Nuba people up into the mountains as they did in the 1990s, leaving them without food to starve to death once again. Second, when members of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), who, along with the vast majority of people in the Nuba Mountains, voiced their vast disappointment that Abdel Aziz, a popular and former commander of the SLPA, had been cheated out of the governorship as a result of a rigged election and also refused to take off their uniforms when ordered to do so, GoS troops attacked them. Third, many believe that the real reason behind the attack is that Al-Bashir wants to gain absolute control over South Kordafan and the border area with South Sudan in order to strengthen his hand in negotiations over Abeyi, a oil rich region straddling the border between the north and the south. Finally, there are rumors that Al-Bashir wishes to gain control of as much land as possible along the border, an area that is poorly demarcated, as he also prepares for future negotiations with the new state of South Sudan.

Al-Bashir’s propensity for killing those with whom he disagrees, who question his authority and/or policies, who challenge his dictates, whose land he desires, and/or who he looks upon with distain and wants gone is well documented. He’s done it previously in the Nuba Mountains (in the 1990s when he carried out genocidal acts and virtually starved people to death), in Darfur between 2003 and today during which over 400,000 blacks Africans perished, and he is back at it once again in the Nuba Mountains. And the world should never forget or overlook the fact that just because the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has been signed by the north and south, Al-Bashir, as president of Sudan, oversaw a large part of the north-south war that resulted in some two million deaths.

Clearly, Al-Bashir specializes in perpetrating crimes against humanity, genocidal actions, and genocide, and he does so whenever he wishes in the belief that he can do so with impunity — the ICC or any other court or tribunal be damned.

For the sake of the people of the Nuba Mountains, for the sake of civilization, for the sake of our own decency, we, and the rest of the world, must show Omar Al-Bashir that he is wrong — and that impunity does not reign.

Samuel Totten is a genocide scholar based at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He served as one of the 24 investigators with the U.S. Atrocities Documentation Project in eastern Chad. His most recent book is An Oral and Documentary History of the Darfur Genocide (Praeger Security International, 2010). He was last in the Nuba Mountains in January 2011 conducting research for a new book, Genocidal Actions Against the Nuba Mountains People: Interviews with Survivors of Mass Starvation and Other Atrocities.

Source: www.sudantribune.com/Cold-blooded-mass-murder-in-the,39420


Sudan president to speak at S. Sudan independence

JUBA, Sudan – Sudan's president will speak at independence celebrations in the south this weekend, officials said Monday, just days after he vowed to continue a military offensive in a border region.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir supported the January referendum that paved the way for the oil-rich south to secede and become the world's newest country on Saturday.

However, recent tensions in the border state of South Kordofan and the disputed region of Abyei have raised fears that the split could be a violent one.

The southern government said Monday that 30 African heads of state including al-Bashir will travel to Juba for this weekend's celebrations. British Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also are expected to attend.

Many issues remains unresolved around the split including oil rights and wealth sharing. Representatives from both sides spent have spent weeks negotiating in Ethiopia's capital.

Two decades of civil war with northern Sudan decimated the oil-rich south and left more than 2 million dead on both sides.

The south lacks infrastructure and basic services, is aid-dependent and suffers from frequent floods during its five-month-long rainy season.

Despite its rich oil reserves, the south has no refineries and must transport its oil through pipelines to a northern port on the Red Sea.

Al-Bashir said in a June 22 speech that he would block the south's access to the pipelines unless a favorable wealth-sharing agreement was reached.

U.N. peacekeepers are in the northern border state of South Kordofan, but a spokesman for the Sudanese government said Sunday they should leave immediately after the south becomes independent.

Such a move could leave tens of thousands of southern-supporting civilians without U.N. protection. A U.N. spokeswoman in Southern Sudan said any such decision would be made by the U.N. Security Council.

Tensions in the area have displaced more than 70,000 people.

Western advocacy groups have warned that al-Bashir's government is attempting ethnic cleansing and even genocide in the region against the Nuba people, a black African group targeted in the 1990s in government-sponsored violence that left as many 200,000 Nubans dead.

Source: Associated Press


More about the Nuba Mountains at www.occasionalwitness.com


Our humanity in the balance.org



Comments for President Obama: 202-456-1111


My opinion: The Nobel Peace Prize for President Obama was premature, to say the least.

October 9, 2009

Obama: Nobel Peace Prize is 'call to action'

President Obama said Friday that he was "surprised and deeply humbled" by the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award him the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

The committee said it honored Obama for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Obama said he viewed the decision less as a recognition of his own accomplishments and more as "a call to action."

The decision appeared to catch most observers by surprise. Nominations for the prize had to be postmarked by February 1, only 12 days after Obama took office. The committee sent out its solicitation for nominations last September, two months before Obama was elected president.

Source: Nobel.peace.prize norwegian-nobel-committee-international-diplomacy-and-cooperation-nuclear-weapons

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Sunday, July 3, 2011


This is a picture I wanted to include in the video, but when I got around to finding it, I was at the end of making the video and couldn't find an appropriate place to slide it in. Dad always "enjoyed" in a humorous way what he was giving Mom for Christmas. When I was there, I always was asked by Dad to wrap the gift. So, I am sure I wrapped this gift. Photo credit: Sandra Hammel

Huntington, Indiana
Dad's man-made lake
Photo credit: Sandra Hammel


The lake was made out of a field by my dad, where he also located a natural spring. The house was drawn by my mother and built by my dad. It is the third home that I lived in overall before moving out as an adult. The other two houses in the family childhood videos and photos were also built by my dad and the plan of the second childhood home was also drawn up by my mother. The first home was built right after WWII during the Depression.

This video at Youtube is "unlisted". Please, honor me and do not embed this video anywhere.
I have made this video in three versions. The above video is the second version. The third version is still processing at Youtube. Unlike the first version, there are audio glitches in the youtube uploaded video above.

I love pictures and videos and taking them. One thing is all the "unpleasant" times of a family are not in the pictures and videos for the most part. I made this video for my mother that I haven't talked to since my dad's funeral. But I have been emailing and sending youtube videos to her over the last months. It works well.

Story behind what brought me to making this video

My brother who lives in Hawaii, called my sister in Indiana recently because he felt mother must go to the hospital with an extremely low blood pressure. She has always had a very high blood pressure. The hospital kept her for a few days, ran tests and sent her home finding nothing. Then she went to her doctor and he had a test ordered, which was done June 24, 2011. Then the doctor "quit", as my brother put it. It took my sister pursuing the test results and Wednesday, June 29, my brother called to tell me the results: 75% blockage to one artery to the brain and 50% blockage to another artery to the brain. So the 75% blockage apparently is getting a stint and the 50% is getting medication. She was born in 1925, so it is surely risky that the stint will go well. No one has let me know when the stint is being placed in the artery.

So, I made this video for my mother. It is something I can do for her. Even though, there were some very hard words and actions about my dad the couple of years before he died...in 2007. I can do this. And give her some comfort.

My father's name is Hammel. And very little history has been passed down about my ancestors on his side. It is either Swiss or German, I believe.

My mother's family ~ the Mickley family's name was Michelet in Europe. And before one of the ancestors came across the Atlantic Ocean, they were from the area around Metz, France.

There is a book of the Michelet ~ Mickley history ~ The_Genealogy_of_the_Mickley_Family_of_America. There are some very interesting stories in the book, including the name (last) changes down through history. Some ancestors are listed as being killed by Indians. (See my blog post about the Indians: Neglected story of discrimination) There is a story about the Liberty Bell. Pages, I particularly like are: (Page 95 (Joseph Jacob Mickley ~ Biographical Sketch, 100, 102, 117-118, 150-153. My name is listed in the hard copy that I have. But my sister was born after the time that new children's names were added.

The first link is to this book put online by Cornell University ~

Other related links ~

archive.org/search/Minnie Fogel


Click on the image to enlarge
It has the Coat of Arms of the Michelet family and the motto of the family.

For Me ~ Raw title of the third version: Indiana The Lake July 14, 2002 #9 Hi 8 D 1 Edit Color of Video, Added Pictures and Video 720x480 (640x480) What A Wonderful World.mov

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The Nuba Mountains are situated in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan. A remote and beautiful place, the people suffered terrible atrocities by the forces of the Sudan Government during a 21 year civil war. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in 2005 with the help of the UK and US governments, gave South Kordofan and the Nuba people a degree of autonomy. Their traditions could continue even when Sudan split into two and they remained in the North after largely supporting the Sudan People’s Liberation Army of the South in the war.

The countries will split on 9th July 2011 - and the Sudan government has chosen the time before the split to carry out attacks on the Nuba people - clearly an attempt at ethnic cleansing.

The people living in South Kordofan comprise of Christians, Muslims and animist people who live side by side and who suffered so badly in the civil war that some families who fled high into the mountains have not dared to venture down in the past 6 years of peace.

Now the capital of South Kordofan, Kadugli, is a virtual ghost town, people have been executed on the spot and others have fled without belongings (for fear of being shot if found to be escaping) The SAF government forces are also fighting with the SPLA and the people, terrified, hungry and increasingly sick, are stuck in the middle. Many headed for the UN compound on the outskirts of Kadugli seeking shelter. The UN has been unable to step in because it “does not have the mandate” The UN is also due to leave Sudan once the new South Sudan comes into being. Leaving the Nuba people to their fate.

The international community helped broker the deal that has put the Nuba people where they are - it must take action now to stop the killing of peaceful innocent men, women and children. Please do whatever you can to raise awareness of this terrible situation. Thank you.

A father cradles his child, killed by Sudan Government bombing of Kurchi, Nuba Mountains 27th June 2011.


Sudanese Struggle to Survive Endless Bombings Aimed to Quell Rebels

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

As the Sudan government bombs rebels, the Nuba people have been forced to spend much of their daily lives in the rocky caves far above the valley floor. More Photos »

Source: www.nytimes.com/2011/07/04/world/africa/04sudan

LEWERE, Sudan — Fatima Ramadan, mother of six, froze, her eyes shooting up to the sky.

“Antonov!” she yelled.

Little girls threw down the pebbles they were playing with. Toddlers, sensing danger, started to wail. About two dozen people grabbed the young and dashed up the mountainside into a cave. It was hot and dark inside, and the children’s eyes were wide with fear.

“I don’t like this place,” said Kaka, a 10-year-old girl.

Nobody does. And yet thousands of people live like this.

As the July 9 division of Sudan nears, the government in Khartoum is scrambling to crush any rebellious chunks of the territory that will remain its own. Its forces have been relentlessly pounding the Nuba Mountains from Russian-made Antonov bombers for weeks, demanding that tens of thousands of rebel fighters dug in here disarm and drop their insistence on more autonomy for the distinctive Nuba people. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, including many children. Bombs have been dropped on huts, on farmers in the field, on girls fetching water together, slicing them in half with buckets in their hands.

As the area inches toward becoming fully engulfed in war, the Nuba caves offer a crucial refuge.

Every morning at sunup, Ms. Ramadan trudges up a hillside, about 1,000 feet high, lugging pots, water jugs, mats and blankets, the children huffing behind.

She nestles her cooking fire in a crack in the mountain wall, to conceal the smoke. The young mothers around her dangle their legs over ledges as they nurse. Older children play a game similar to jacks, using pebbles on the precarious heights. Old men just sit and stare. At dusk, which usually signals the end of the sorties, most descend. Very few young men are with them.

“These caves have saved my children’s life,” Ms. Ramadan said. A couple of hundreds yards below her is the evidence: jagged chunks of shrapnel, gaping bomb craters and a tree trunk with a huge hole blown straight through it. The bombings have shifted west in recent days, away from the Lewere Valley toward what is emerging as the front line in an area called Korchi. But the fear endures like a scar.

“Even the sound of a car sends us running,” Ms. Ramadan said.

In another time, perhaps, a hike up this mountain would be a treat. The views from the top are amazing. The undulating Nuba heartland stretches for miles into the hazy distance, the tawny hilltops clear save for some scratchy green brush and a few trees stubbornly clinging to the rocks. Down below, thatched-roof huts squat together. A few people swing hoes. A few women plant on their knees, as if they are praying. A tan stripe — the only road — slices across the valley floor.

“This is all about land,” said Saida Bakhait, who is also hiding in a cave with her children.

“Bashir,” she says, referring to Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, “needs our land and he wants to finish us off.”

But if war comes, it will not be an easy fight.

“Be tough! Be strong! Protect our land!” shout legions of young men — “freedom fighters” they call themselves — as they march through the mist-shrouded valleys at dawn to add to the rebels’ numbers. They do not have guns, so they train with sticks. Many are freshly carved, the wood still white.

Land is often code for identity and the Nuba see this as a fight for their cultural survival. These mountains are an outpost of traditional beliefs and Christianity (though there are Muslim Nuba, too) in northern Sudan. Many people here did not wear clothes until the 1970s, when the government passed laws forbidding nudity. Anthropologists have celebrated the Nuba for their singing, dancing, ferocious wrestling tournaments and dizzying number of languages, with nearly every major set of hills having its own tongue. Their land is among the most fertile in all of Sudan.

Because they had been subjugated by Sudan’s Arab rulers for generations, the Nuba sided with southern rebels during the latter half of Sudan’s north-south civil war, in the 1980s and ’90s. The government responded by bombing the hillsides, wiping out villages and incarcerating hundreds of thousands of Nuba in so-called peace camps where many were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint. People fled to caves then, too.

A peace treaty signed in 2004 called for Nuba to have a say in determining how much autonomy they would get — again, protecting their unique culture was a priority — but autonomy never came. Now, it seems, the government’s sudden interest in Nuba is timed to the south’s independence on Saturday. Khartoum may feel it has to send a signal that even after the south breaks off, the result of decades of struggle for liberation, it will not tolerate other secession movements.

“They lost southern Sudan with bitterness, and now they are projecting that bitterness on us,” said a Nuba man named Kuku.

In one place near Lewere, hundreds, perhaps thousands, are camped in caves. At least that is what some soldiers were saying. According to them, an entire village has uprooted itself to a mountaintop.

“But we can’t let you see it,” said a local elder at the foot of the mountain. He is sympathetic but firm.

“It’s the only place that hasn’t been bombed yet,” he said. “The last thing we want is for al-Bashir to know about it.”


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