Sudan's treatment of blacks escapes scrutiny of the U.S.

October 28, 2001|By Gregory Kane

FRANCIS BOK unfolded his wiry, 6-foot-7-inch frame from the chair on the stage of the auditorium that serves Polytechnic Institute and Western High School.

He strode to the microphone and told a group of 1,000 students from nearly a dozen private and public secondary schools his tale of terror.

Yes, Arab militiamen abducted him from his Dinka village in the Bahr al-Ghazal region of the African nation of Sudan in 1986, when he was 7 years old. They killed his parents and two sisters, and gave Bok to an Arab family.

Yes, the Arab family did beat him and call him, repeatedly, Abeid, abeid -- Arabic for "black slave" -- and made him sleep with livestock. They did it because -- Bok was told, after repeatedly asking why he was so abused -- Dinkas were animals.

Yes, he did escape at 17, make his way to a refugee camp outside Khartoum and then to Cairo, Egypt. From there, Bok made it to Fargo, N.D. Charles Jacobs, president of the American Anti-Slavery Group, learned Bok was living in Fargo and invited him to Boston to work for the organization.

Bok told the students that he has toured the country the past 18 months, telling anyone who'll listen of the 18 years of mass murder, starvation, enslavement and rapine the Arabs of northern Sudan have visited on the Dinkas. Any questions? asked Bok, who is 22.

Ashley Patterson, a City College sophomore, had one.

"I wanted to know how people who are concerned get involved," Patterson said. Bok gave her his American Anti-Slavery Group business card after his speech.

"I thought it was very informative," she added. "There's a lot of stuff going on in Sudan I didn't know. He should speak at all city schools -- and churches."

Ihuoma Onyewuchi, an eighth-grader at St. Paul's School for Girls, had another.

"How long has the government of Sudan been in power, and what can be done to stop them?" she asked Bok. The short answers are "way too long" and "whatever it takes," but Bok told Onyewuchi that Arab persecution of blacks goes back centuries.

There were more questions from the students, who showed that they -- quite a few of them, at least -- were attentive and had listened to Bok. But there was one question they didn't ask, probably because, like most of their elders, they didn't know enough about Sudan to pose it.

What will happen to the Dinkas now?

Since Sept. 11, when a fanatical bunch of polecats killed thousands of Americans in a terrorist strike, the government of Sudan has been trying to make nice with America. They've provided us with intelligence information on terrorists. (Jerry Fowler, the staff director of the Committee on Conscience of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, spoke after Bok. Later, at an afternoon luncheon at the Associated Jewish Charities building on Mount Royal Ave., Fowler said Sudan should have plenty of such information because it harbored O-Slimey bin Laden and assorted terrorists for years.)

Sudan is now part of the anti-terrorism coalition. Bok, who also spoke at the luncheon, was asked how he feels about Sudan being part of the coalition and President Omar Bashir's government trying to schmooze Americans.

"It made me feel more lost," he said. "Now, no one will care about us. We need help from the American people."

Few in the United States cared about the Dinkas, either before Sept. 11 or after. Those in the U.S. of A's new peace" movement have wailed about civilian casualties in the bombing of Afghanistan. Bashir has bombed Dinka civilians -- deliberately, as a matter of policy -- for years. Ever hear the peaceniks make so much as a whimper about that?

Of course you didn't. They rant on and on about how our foreign policy was the motive for the terrorist acts that took down the World Trade Center twin towers, damaged the Pentagon and killed 6,000. Anybody in this country heard a disparaging word lately about Arab foreign policy"?

Let's cite a few facts here. The Arabs of northern Sudan have been slaughtering southern Sudanese for 18 years. The carnage actually started in 1956, when Sudan gained independence from Great Britain and a civil war broke out.

That first war raged for 16 years. Sudan's Arabs then took an 11-year hiatus from their national pastime -- murdering black Africans en masse -- until the next civil war broke out in 1983. The Arabs of Sudan have been aided, encouraged and abetted every step of the way in this genocide by other Arab countries. Not one has protested Arab treatment of blacks in Sudan.

Unless the United States and Britain act as a civilizing influence on Bashir, the situation for the Dinkas will get worse.

Companies from Canada and Sweden are exploiting Sudan's oil resources. The government uses the petrodollars to wage its ceaseless war against the Dinkas.

Should a small group of Dinkas -- swearing they were forced into it by years of oppression -- respond by killing thousands of Canadians and Swedes in acts of terrorism, it will be interesting to see how the blame-America-first folks react.

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