CHATYOUT NYDANG is the leader of a Muslim militia that helps the Sudanese government wipe out Christians in southern Sudan. In July relief-and-development agency director Dennis E. Bennett spoke with an elderly southern Sudanese man in the eastern Upper Nile about life in territory that Nydang patrols.

"Routinely, anyone Chatyout's men catch walking to church is beaten and told to convert to Islam, or next time they'll be beaten harder or killed," the approximately 65-year-old Nuer tribesman, Jon Giang-giang, told Bennett.

After finding a Nuer Bible in his backpack, Nydang's men recently beat Giang-giang until he was unconscious. Bennett, executive director of Servant's Heart, says they left Giang-giang in a pit for more than two days.

Little information about abuses in the Longochok area of the eastern Upper Nile surfaced until Servant's Heart began working there five years ago. Until two years ago, before government-allied forces lost ground to southern troops, Nydang's men would ask women they encountered on isolated roads one question—are you Christian or Muslim?

"If she answered 'Muslim,' she was set free," Bennett says. "If she answered 'Christian,' she was gang-raped by 10 to 20 soldiers. Then they would cut off her breasts to leave her to bleed to death, as an example to others that this is what will happen to you unless you convert to Islam."

The government of Sudan uses such local militias in its campaign to wipe out Christians and to secure their oil-rich lands in southern Sudan. It has begun pumping oil from a well in the eastern Upper Nile.

Two decades of civil war between Sudan's Muslim north and its Christian and animist south have left 2 million people dead. Government forces regularly target civilian villages and churches.

Sudan signed a ceasefire agreement with the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in October 2002. The government has violated it with major military offensives in the oil-rich Upper Nile since December 31.

"Attacks have continued unabated in both eastern and western Upper Nile despite the signing of a second and supposedly more comprehensive [ceasefire] in February 2003," says Richard Chilvers of Surrey, U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The October 2002 Sudan Peace Act requires the Bush administration to help monitor ceasefires and sanction violations of them. Bennett says such U.S. action has been tragically lacking.

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Related Elsewhere

Bearing the Cross focused on Sudan in 2001 as well

Previous Christianity Today articles on Sudan include:

Sudan Peace Process Criticized | Bush acknowledges country's military activity, but does not impose threatened sanctions. (May 21, 2003)
Slave Redemption | Americans are becoming instant abolitionists. But is the movement backfiring? (Aug. 9, 1999)
Sudan Peace Act 'Has Teeth' | But sanctions are at President's discretion. (Nov. 26, 2002)
Christians Push For More Progress in Sudan | Observers say there's a long road to go for peace. (Sept. 4, 2002)
Christian History Corner: Legacy of an Ancient Pact | Why do Christians still chafe under restrictions in some Muslim nations? It all started with Umar. (July 26, 2002)
Weblog: Peace For Sudan? | Both sides agree to secession for southern Sudan. (July 22, 2002)
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Books & Culture Corner: A Cry for Help | Sudanese Christians gather in Houston and ask for U.S. support. (June 27, 2002)
Justice Delayed | Sudan Peace Act may be a casualty of the war on terrorism.
Finding Homes for the 'Lost Boys' | They've seen their parents shot, their villages burned, and their homeland recede in the distance as they escaped. Now these Sudanese youth build a new life in suburban Seattle.
Freedom Panel Alleges Genocide | U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom makes suggestion on Sudan's worsening abuses. (May 4, 2001)
Turn Off Sudan's Oil Wells, Say Canadian Church Visitors | Christian leaders say they are "outraged" that a Canadian oil company is paying huge royalties to Sudanese government. (Apr. 20, 2001)
The Maturing of Victimhood | A new exhibit at the Holocaust Museum is a very good sign. (Mar. 29, 2001)
Sudan Loses Election for U.N. Security Council Seat | Sanctions continue to plague the African nation's bid for international acceptance. (Oct. 12, 2000)
Religious Freedom Report Rebukes China, Others | State Department finds many nations' religious freedoms deteriorating, but some are improved.
China Should Improve on Religion to Gain Permanent Trade Status, Commission Says | Religious liberty in Sudan and Russia also criticized.
Southern Sudan Bombed Despite Cease-fire Promise | Details sketchy from town of Yei, near Democratic Republic of the Congo. (May 8, 2000)
Turn Off Sudan's Oil Wells, Say Canadian Church Visitors | Christian leaders say they are "outraged" that a Canadian oil company is paying huge royalties to Sudanese government. (Apr. 20, 2001)
Sudan Relief Operations Endangered | Rebel demands cause agencies to curtail efforts. (April 3, 2000)
Bombs Continue to Fall on Ministry Hospitals in Sudan | Samaritan's Purse hit for fourth time, two killed in Voice of the Martyrs bombing. (March 24, 2000)
Confronting Sudan's Evils | Western Christians and governments should press Khartoum on multiple fronts. (Apr. 12, 2000)
Mixing Oil and Blood | Sudan's 'slaughter of the innocents' toughens religious freedom coalition. (Mar. 15, 2000)
Sudan Releases Jailed Catholic Priests | President Resolves Impasse in Contrived Bombing Trial. (Dec. 13, 1999)

Previous Bearing the Cross articles include:

North Korea—July 2003
Indonesia—April 2003
Nigeria—Feb. 2003
Egypt—Dec. 2002
Cuba—Oct. 2002
Turkmenistan—Aug. 2002
India—June 2002
Saudi Arabia—April 2002
Iran—March 2002
Vietnam—January 2002
Pakistan—Nov 2001
Laos—Oct, 2001
North Korea—Aug. 2001
Sudan—June 2001
Indonesia—April 2001
China—March 2001

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