The popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have captured the imaginations of Marxists world over. The Indian ones weren’t late in reacting too. Protests by various left parties outside the Egyptian embassy here have made news. JNU campus has seen meetings, pamphlets, posters in support of the possible revolutions in the two African countries. Even the NSUI, the youth wing of the Congress, joined in supporting the pro-democracy upsurge in Egypt. (It is also interesting how the CPM, whose harmads have only recently massacred unarmed tribal protestors in Netai, are crying bloody murder over the violence against protestors in Egypt) The almost orgasmic tenor of the slogans of the left parties makes one feel as though the spectre of world revolution is looming above us. The problem with spectres, however, is that they don’t exist.
So, while these left parties look towards the people of Tunisia and Egypt to do something that they failed to accomplish in India, something else, of great international significance, was happening in another part of Africa. After facing one of the bloodiest conflicts post the world wars, South Sudan, in an exercise of mass democratic action, voted to be a free state. I am sure that the Marxists here would throw up some reason for their position, or the lack of one, on this momentous event. They might say that the secession was US backed. Or that Omar al Bashir is being persecuted because he is a Muslim. Or the classic “this isn’t in the interests of the world proletariat.” Whatever.
The fact remains that Mr. Bashir and his coterie of thugs were responsible for crimes that would make Modi and Karazdic blush. The Second Sudanese Civil War that he presided over saw every form of imaginable and unimaginable violence committed on the South Sudanese Catholics. Besides brutalities of the army and paramilitary forces, the wanton targeting of civilians by the air force rivals that of Sri Lanka and Israel. Sudan and Sri Lanka happen to be the only two countries in the world that have used their air force in such a massive scale against their own citizens. Please don’t ask where the Marxists who condemned Israel’s bombing of the Palestinians were. As I have said in another article, to them, some animals are more equal than other animals. South Sudan is just not ‘cool enough’ to deserve their attention.
Postcolonial Sudan was ridden by conflict between the Northern Muslim majority and the Southern Catholic minority. The first Civil War that lasted from 1955-72 was bloody and showed that the Catholics would always remain third class citizens in a united Sudan. The second Civil War, from 1983 to 2005, was bloodier and proved the previous statement. Over 2 million people were killed and many more mutilated for life. When the South Sudanese voted for freedom, one can imagine them recounting the horrors of the past as they chose a possible peace with secession to a violent unity. Over 99% favoured separation – the minimum required for the motion to be passed is 60%.
South Sudan’s independence means a lot for oppressed nationalities of the world – Tamils, Kurds, Palestinians, Chechens, Tibetans, Nagas et al. The Southern Sudanese Catholics, in terms of sheer numbers, have endured more losses than all the oppressed nations of Asia put together. They are a free people now. Even without the verbal solidarity and position taking of the Marxists. Maybe the other oppressed nations should also probe the limitations of the discourse of the Marxists. What they exclude is often more relevant to secessionist-liberation struggles than what they choose to speak about.
South Sudan officially becomes a new nation-state on July 9, 2011. Its President, Salva Kiir Maryadit, who was a part of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, will indeed have a tough job in his hands considering that the social and economic life of the people has been ravaged by continuous war. Some reports show that rogue elements from North Sudan are already trying to create trouble. That apart, 9th July will indeed be a great day for oppressed nationalities who also seek to carve out homelands to remember. South Sudan’s story needs to be told and retold. We wish them best in building their country – for themselves and for those like them.