SPLA-N Graduates New Soldiers
SPLA-N Graduates New Soldiers
Approximately 1,000 Soldiers Join the Ranks of the Sudan People's Liberation Army-North's "Regime Topple Brigades"
At a secret training camp in South Kordofan, the Sudan People's Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) has graduated new soldiers to its all-volunteer army. Approximately 1,000 recruits in three "regime topple brigades" will join an estimated 25,000 SPLA-N soldiers; among them are teachers, farmers, merchants and mothers.
Nuba Reports spoke to one of these graduates, Afaf, a 33-year-old mother from Kadugli, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)-controlled capital city where the war began. She is among about twenty other women who joined the ranks recently from the second "regime topple" unit. Afaf acknowledged that the circumstances of her life are unique. "For a woman, yes, the traditional place is the kitchen," she said, but the current escalation of violence between the Sudan Armed Forces and rebel groups like the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) demand a new way of being. "Even in the kitchen," she said, "the Antonov is still flying over us."
The daily appearance of the Russian-made Antonov planes casts a violent shadow over the population living in the SPLA-N stronghold of South Kordofan. Nuba Reports confirmed more than 220 bombs dropped from the aircrafts in the region in December. While many volunteers for the SPLA-N are trained to fight, others are merely trained to survive.
Brigadier General Arwa, explained that the rebel movement, SPLM-N, teaches citizens the skills for coping in a combat zone. Volunteers are educated within the ranks of the SPLA-N and employed in administrative and public services. "We as Nuba have realized that we are targeted through several forms, we are targeted as ethnicity, we are targeted for our lands, for its richness," Arwa said. "As a result, the leadership of SPLA-N and SPLM-N thought that people must be ready against this targeting."
Willing recruits arrive at the camps in increasing numbers, Arwa said, traveling by foot from villages near the Nuba Mountains, areas frequently targeted by aerial bombs. But not all recruits hail from the small villages in South Kordofan. Many soldiers come from large cities such as Khartoum, Port-Sudan, Medani and Gadarif to train with the SPLA-N. General Arwa anticipates the number of volunteers to keep growing as tensions flare between the SAF and SPLA-N and violence increases.
When questioned about recent accusations that the SPLA-N recruited minors, Arwa insisted that was untrue. Gesturing to the camp, he said that the training grounds are open to observers and human rights organizations. "Whenever we get a chance for the people to go to schools," he said, "we immediately take them there. We have enough men and women capable to carry weapons and protect our lands." Having educated citizens is the best way to fight back against the ruling powers in Khartoum, he suggested. "We are working to make sure the windows of education are maximally open," Arwa said. "If you recruit someone by force, they will never stay."