Wednesday, September 12, 2007

400 - 500 Killed ?

Rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army - Unity faction say they shot down two helicopters, destroyed 70 military vehicles, and captured many soldiers while repelling an attack on the town of Haskanita by Sudanese Government Forces.

Rebel leaders also say that among those captured is a high-ranking Sudanese Army General.

That much has been published in an article by the Sudanese Tribune, a Southern newspaper based out of Juba. What was not published, and what I have been told by sources here, is that the rebels claim to have killed up to 500 Sudanese soldiers. They have even asked international aid organizations for help in burying them!

If this is the truth - and my sources have confidence that it is - then why is the international media not covering this story?

The main reason is that most people here are afraid of getting expelled. Jan Pronk, former head of United Nations Mission in Sudan, was thrown out of the country in late 2006 after blogging his thoughts on the effect of Sudanese military defeats on the morale of the armed forces.

Unfortunately, not only aid workers practice self-censorship. Journalists have been kicked out of the country or even jailed for publishing facts that offend the government. This is the sad debate that many of us in advocacy or journalism churn around in our heads - to submit watered-down reports and stay, or write the reality and not sleep at night for fear of waking up unemployed and kicked out of the country.