Tuesday, March 28, 2006

person inside of me - sleepless march

Dear Friends,

My apologies for not posting for sometime. Have been so tied down with projects that even checking email seems difficult. The documentary that i have been making with a few friends, about refugees in Malaysia, is at near completion. The editing has carried me though many sleepless nights. The cultural paper on the Peranakan community in Malaysia, which i have been writing for some time, needs more research and is nearing its final phase of editing and re-editing. More assignments and projects are due soon, and i am almost falling apart with the load.

Article 11 and the Malaysian Bar council has posted the open letter calling for the reaffirmation of the supremacy of the Federal Constitution online. For those of you who feel that your voice needs to be heard in Malaysian society, please sign the petition here.

The petition is for Malaysian residents. But those of you who are non residents, i encourage you to speak out about the petition to your Malaysian friends.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Erosion: Malaysian constitution

It took me a while to figure out a simple way to write today’s feature. I have opted for simplicity with the extreme attention towards passing on a very simple message to all Malaysians (and those who may be interested in Malaysian politics) who may be reading this.

Based on the speechs given by by Ms. Ivy Josiah (WAO), Prof. Shad Saleem Faruqi (Law), Dato Dr. Cyrus Das (Law), Mr. Malik Imtiaz Sarwar (Law), Dato Zaid Ibrahim (MP) at the recent public forum organised by "article 11" and the Malaysian Bar Coucil , i draw the following:

1.The federal constitution that was crafted by your forefathers is the most supreme document given to you.

2.The federal constitution of Malaysia says that any rule or policy that is adopted which are in conflict with the principles forwarded in the constitution shall be null and void.

3.The federal constitution makes it clear that Malaysia is NOT an Islamic state as Dr. Mahathir or other politicians may claim or wished it to be. Lets be very clear about this, Malaysia is a secular state, and such a privilege is guaranteed in the federal constitution.

4.The federal constitution assures us that no one race or religion has privilege over the other. Further, it assures that all people will be treated equally with equal privilege given to all

5.The federal constitution does not recognise the word “bumi putra” (translates to ‘sun of the soil’). Such reference is in fact unconstitutional and violates equal treatment of people in the nation. Further, the use of the word “bumi putra” is blatantly raciest. It implies that those not “bumi putra” are less deserving citizens. This is far from reality, as the federal constitution does not permit unequal treatment of people.

It has become clear that Malaysia masses are not aware of their constitutional rights as citizens.

Politicians have inserted confusing terms and policies to blur the understanding of the true implications of the constitution and what it stands for the public.

For example:

The referring to Malaysia as an Islamic state by a former prime minister has made people confused about their rights as Malaysians. It has also given extremist and radical Islamic groups to make use of the this blurred definition. PAS (an Islamic political party) for example has frequntly suggested replacing the supremacy of the Federal Constitution with the supremacy of Sharia.

The denial of justice in the recent Murthi case (reference), is a sign that the Sharia courts and religious groups have been going beyond their capacity. This phenomenon is thanks to the redefinition of Malaysia as a “Islamic” state.

Do not get it wrong, the constitution offers any one and every one, the opportunity to be heard. Denial of such an opportunity is unconstitutional. This is exactly what happened in the Murti case (and may others like it). She was denied justice when the civil courts said that it was upto the Sharia courts to decide, while she was unable to participate in the Sharia courts, as she was not Muslim. This is bad judgement on the part of the judge and a blatant disregard for her constitutional freedom.

The use of the phrase “bumi puthra” is similar. It has blur the public about their sense of worth. As if to say that certain sections of are more valuable than others. Consider this: any advertisement that says “10% discount for bumi putras” is unconstitutional.
What this means is that interested politicians (mind controlling insects) bring in concepts and segment society so that they are better able to rule.

The unconstitutional labelling of Malaysia as Islamic, when the it is clearly said in the constitutional documents that it is secular and the reference to a special “bumi putra” right, is unjust. It is stealing away from you (the common Malaysian) your freedom. It is denying you of your rights.

The next time this happens, remember, you have the right to sue any practice that is unconstitutional.

The public forum that was held in on the 12th of march by the NGO group “article 11” and the Malaysian bar council addressed this issue. Some ways to address this issue was suggested and included the setting up of a “constitutional court”.

following is a letter addressed to the current prime minister of Malaysia from the organisers of the forum. Clearly, it is of utmost importance that all malayaians become aware of this.

To: The Malaysian Government

Reaffirming the supremacy of the Federal Constitution

We, the undersigned, Malaysian men and women from all ethnic and faith backgrounds, are concerned about recent events and statements that undermine the supremacy of the Federal Constitution.

We wish to remind our national leaders that Article 4(1) emphatically declares that the Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation and that the oath of office of all parliamentarians, cabinet ministers and judges is singularly to defend the Constitution.

Further, Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution states that ‘Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation’. The Federation of Malaya Constitutional Commission, 1956-57 Report, states that this Article ‘shall not imply that the State is not a secular State’. The Supreme Court decision in Che Omar Che Soh (1988) reaffirmed that “the law in this country is still what it is today, secular law”.

Yet, increasingly we hear claims that Malaysia is an Islamic state.

Liberty and justice for all Malaysians may only effectively be realized through an independent judiciary with full powers of review. Sadly, Malaysians have witnessed the abdication of this power by our judges largely due to an ill-conceived amendment to the Constitution in 1988. In recent cases in the High Courts, judges have declined to adjudicate on pressing issues simply because they involved some elements of Islamic law, leaving litigants without any remedy. This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs and one which no civil society must endure.

We recognise that the spirit of the Constitution encompasses universal values of democracy, good governance and respect for all. This is compatible with the principles of all faiths represented in Malaysia.

We therefore

* call on the government and judiciary to uphold the supremacy of the Federal Constitution;

* call upon the government to ensure governance in accordance with the Federal Constitution and premised on the universal values of all Malaysian peoples;

* call upon the government to reaffirm that Malaysia shall not become a theocratic state;

* call upon the government to recognise the proper position of the judiciary within the Constitutional framework, as an independent and equal arm of Government


The Undersigned

*Kindly sign on the signature page provided*

Article 11 has this to say:
We are in the process of collecting signatures for our open letter to the Prime
Minister and hope that you are concerned enough to be part of this campaign.

Please find attached the Open Letter and the Signature Form. If you support the call we are making in the Open Letter we would be much obliged if you could download these documents, disseminate them and collect signatures to support this campaign.

Please approach your relatives, friends and any organisations that you might be in contact with to support this campaign.

Every signature collected is valuable and adds on more voice to the call that we are making to the Prime Minister.

Signature forms can be mailed back to us at The Secretariat, P.O. Box 493, Jalan Sultan, 46760 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

i do not have soft links to these documents. Please drop a note to astrorat@gmail.com for one.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mind control a reality..

I would like to draw your attention to a horrific fact of life. Ever watched the movie Alien and thought to your self, that scenes of the creature entering into peoples bodies doesn’t really happen? It is after all make belief right? What kind of creature in this world would enter inside your body, control you like a mindless zombie, and then only to hatch from you, using your body for nutrition while you die in agony.

Carl Zimmer has made the following observation about a humble wasp (not referring to white anglo- you get my drift). Its name: Ampulex Compressa. Its victim, not human, but a roach

The following is what Zimmer has to say:

As an adult, Ampulex compressa seems like your normal wasp, buzzing about and mating. But things get weird when it's time for a female to lay an egg. She finds a cockroach to make her egg's host, and proceeds to deliver two precise stings. The first she delivers to the roach's mid-section, causing its front legs buckle. The brief paralysis caused by the first sting gives the wasp the luxury of time to deliver a more precise sting to the head.

The wasp slips her stinger through the roach's exoskeleton and directly into its brain. She apparently uses sensors along the sides of the stinger to guide it through the brain, a bit like a surgeon snaking his way to an appendix with a laparoscope. She continues to probe the roach's brain until she reaches one particular spot that appears to control the escape reflex. She injects a second venom that influences these neurons in such a way that the escape reflex disappears.

From the outside, the effect is surreal. The wasp does not paralyze the cockroach. In fact, the roach is able to lift up its front legs again and walk. But now it cannot move of its own accord. The wasp takes hold of one of the roach's antennae and leads it--in the words of Israeli scientists who study Ampulex--like a dog on a leash.

The zombie roach crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the wasp's burrow. The roach creeps obediently into the burrow and sits there quietly, while the wasp plugs up the burrow with pebbles. Now the wasp turns to the roach once more and lays an egg on its underside. The roach does not resist. The egg hatches, and the larva chews a hole in the side of the roach. In it goes.

The larva grows inside the roach, devouring the organs of its host, for about eight days. It is then ready to weave itself a cocoon--which it makes within the roach as well. After four more weeks, the wasp grows to an adult. It breaks out of its cocoon, and out of the roach as well. Seeing a full-grown wasp crawl out of a roach suddenly makes those Alien movies look pretty derivative.

I find this wasp fascinating for a lot of reasons. For one thing, it represents an evolutionary transition. Over and over again, free-living organisms have become parasites, adapting to hosts with exquisite precision. If you consider a full-blown parasite, it can be hard to conceive of how it could have evolved from anything else. Ampulex offers some clues, because it exists in between the free-living and parasitic worlds.

Amuplex is not technically a parasite, but something known as an exoparasitoid. In other words, a free-living adult lays an egg outside a host, and then the larva crawls into the host. One could easily imagine the ancestors of Ampulex as wasps that laid their eggs near dead insects--as some species do today. These corpse-feeding ancestors then evolved into wasps that attacked living hosts. Likewise, it's not hard to envision an Ampulex-like wasp evolving into full-blown parasitoids that inject their eggs directly into their hosts, as many species do today.

And then there's the sting. Ampulex does not want to kill cockroaches. It doesn't even want to paralyze them the way spiders and snakes do, since it is too small to drag a big paralyzed roach into its burrow. So instead it just delicately retools the roach's neural network to take away its motivation. Its venom does more than make roaches zombies. It also alters their metabolism, so that their intake of oxygen drops by a third. The Israeli researchers found that they could also drop oxygen consumption in cockroaches by injecting paralyzing drugs or by removing the neurons that the wasps disable with their sting. But they can manage only a crude imitation; the manipulated cockroaches quickly dehydrated and were dead within six days. The wasp venom somehow puts the roaches into suspended animation while keeping them in good health, even as a wasp larva is devouring it from the inside

Scientists don't yet understand how Ampulex manages either of these feats. Part of the reason for their ignorance is the fact that scientists have much left to learn about nervous systems and metabolism. But millions of years of natural selection has allowed Ampulex to reverse engineer its host. We would do well to follow its lead, and gain the wisdom of parasites.
My next article is about a human equivalent of the Ampulex Compressa: the politician. I shall expore this "creature" in the context of a recent seminar that addressed the issues of undermining the federal constitution of Malaysia.

Friday, March 10, 2006

International Womens Day: a Malaysian Story

Kuala Lumpur: Ms Marina Mahathir, a news paper columnist and ex-president of the Malaysian AIDS Council, is a daughter of Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Being a proactive woman who believes more in action than rhetoric she frequently says “knowing about the risks associated with AIDS was not sufficient to change behaviour in women”.

Women being the main focus of her work, was the topic of her out spoken article written during the last International Women’s day (March 8th, 2006). However, the newspaper that she wrote this article for refused to publish it, citing various reasons. The article is below and it was confirmed by a reliable source as being authentic.
Picture from www.theage.com.au

Marina Mahathir for The Star

In 1948, one of humankind’s most despicable ideas, apartheid, was made into law in South Africa where racial discrimination was institutionalized. Race laws touched every aspect of social life, including a prohibition of marriage between non-whites and whites, and the sanctioning of “white-only” jobs. Although there were 19 million blacks and only 4.5 million whites in South Africa, the majority population were forced to be second-class citizens in their homeland, banished to reserves and needing passports to travel outside them, even within their own country. It was only in 1990 that apartheid began to crumble and South Africans of all colours were finally free to live as equals in every way.

With the end of that racist system, people may be forgiven for thinking that apartheid does not exist anymore. While few countries practice any formal systems of discrimination, nevertheless you can find many forms of discrimination everywhere. In many cases, it is women who are discriminated against. In our country, there is an insidious growing form of apartheid among Malaysian women, that between Muslim and non-Muslim women.

We are unique in that we actively legally discriminate against women who are arguably the majority in this country, Muslim women. Non-Muslim Malaysian women have benefited from more progressive laws over the years while the opposite has happened for Muslim women.

For instance, since the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, polygamy among non-Muslims was banned. Previously men could have as many wives as they wanted under customary laws. Men’s ability to unilaterally pronounce divorce on their wives was abolished and in its place, divorce happens by mutual consent or upon petition by either spouse in an equal process where the grounds are intolerable adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion of not less than two years, and living separately for not less than two years. Compare that to the lot of Muslim women abandoned but not divorced by their husbands.

Other progressive reforms in the civil family law in the late 1990s were amendments to the Guardianship Act and the Distribution Act. The Guardianship of Infants Act 1961 was amended to provide for equal guardianship for both father and mother, rather than the previous provision where only the father was the primary guardian of the children. In contrast, the Islamic Family Law still provides for the father as the sole primary guardian of his children although the mother is now allowed to sign certain forms for her children under an administrative directive.

The Distribution Act 1958 was also amended to provide for equal inheritance for widows and widowers, and also granted children the right to inherit from their mothers as well as from their fathers. Under the newly proposed amendments to the Islamic Family Law, the use of gender neutral language on the issue of matrimonial property is discriminatory on Muslim women when other provisions in the IFL are not gender-neutral. Muslim men may still contract polygamous marriages, may unilaterally divorce their wives for the most trivial of reasons (including by SMS, unique in the Muslim world) and are entitled to double shares of inheritance.

These differences between the lot of Muslim women and non-Muslim women beg the question: do we have two categories of citizenship in Malaysia, whereby most female citizens have less rights than others? As non-Muslim women catch up with women in the rest of the world, Muslim women here are only going backwards. We should also note that only in Malaysia are Muslim women regressing; in every other Muslim country in the world, women have been gaining rights, not losing them.

In this country, our leaders claim to stand for all citizens. Our Prime Minister is the Prime Minister of all Malaysians, our Ministers work for all Malaysians in their respective fields. There are two exceptions to this. The Minister for Islamic Affairs is obviously only for Muslims; even though some of the things he does affect others. While the Minister for Women purports to work for all Malaysian women, even though not all Malaysian women benefit from that work. Perhaps we should consolidate the apartheid of women in this country by having a Ministry for Non-Muslim Women which works to ensure that Non-Muslim women enjoy the benefits of the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a UN document which Malaysia signed and is legally bound to implement, and a Ministry for Muslim Women which works to gag and bind Muslim women more and more each day for the sake of political expediency under the guise of religion.

Today is International Women’s Day. Unfortunately only about 40% of the women in this country can celebrate. The rest can only look at their Non-Muslim sisters in despair and envy.
Denying the printing of this article is a sad (but true) representation of Womens rights in Malaysia. Perhaps sometimes it is a reflection of a reality that Malaysian face in, more ways than one. The newspaper has managed to silence a voice, and in doing so may have opened up a can of worms in the institutions ways of thinking.

As Irene Fernandez (Human rights worker in Malaysia), in response to this puts it “the struggle is uphill”. I am encouraged to see however, that people are in fact ‘struggling’ to for the cause.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Give peace a chance...

Violence, aggression, destruction, mistrust, anger, and harm continue to dwell over our need to protect godliness. In the name of God, groups of people continue to instil violence and hatred with no concern for respect to humanity. Radical groups have, in unprecedented rallies around the world, communicated that death shall be upon their ‘enemies’.

Its frustrates me to think how difficult it is to convince people that we seriously need to give peace a chance.

Nicholson of "The Australian" newspaper: www.nicholsoncartoons.com.au

Friday, March 03, 2006


Its mid term week. To maintain your sanity during this testing time, read Dr. Deb and effective ways to prevent a burnout!

Here's my contribution to de stress and unwind :D Enjoy!!! ;)

What a bright animal!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Darfur: understanding genocide

Todays post is dedicated to the understanding of the conflict in Darfur. The world watched and did nothing to respond to her. Darfur has been the center of grave violations of human rights and international laws, including crimes against peace, genocide, war related crimes and crimes against humanity, which has horrified its society and some in the international community. The killings in Darfur were triggered by series of events that is still elusive to most of us. Todays post is dedicated at understanding the root causes of conflict in Darfur.

The conflict in Darfur can be best characterized as an ambiguous set of events that seem not to have an apparent one-solid causal factor. The core of this violence revolves around motives that can be best explained, if you consider that Darfur shares multiple historic, ethnic, political, and social ties with its neighbor states. There is no one centralized cause for racial annihilation and violence have occurred, but rather a gradual mixture of varying agendas and opportunistic alliances (Disarm, n.d.).Darfur is inhabited by a variety of peoples, generally constituting of two distinct groups: non-Arab black peoples such as the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa, and Arab tribes collectively termed Baggara (also black by the standards of most non-Africans), who settled the region from about the 13th century onwards (Waal, 2005). Both groups are Muslims, however, relations between the two groups have long been tense; the pre-colonial Fur kingdom regularly clashed with the Baggara, particularly the Rizeigat. Moreover, before the 20th century (and by some accounts well into it) Darfur was a center of the slave trade, and Fur slavers competed with Arab ones to raid the nearby Bahr el Ghazal to obtain slaves for the coastal regions. The two groups also have differing economic needs, which has led to clashes: the Fur and Masalit are primarily sedentary farmers, while the Arabs and Zaghawa are nomadic herdsmen. This paper will describe how their ways of life, access to land and water resources, complex interaction of political tensions and other aspects of their society played a role in creating and escalating the violence (more recently by the Janjaweed militia).

The lead role in rousing conflict in was Darfur was played by the Um Jalul, and its aspiring leaders’ links with Chad, Libya and - more recently - Khartoum (Waal, 2005) The key link in the Um Jalul was Sheikh Hilal Mohamed Abdalla, whose clan’s annual migration pattern took them from the pastures on the edge of the Libyan desert in northern Darfur to the upper reaches of the Salamat river where it crosses from Sudan into Chad. Renowned for their traditionalism, vast herds of camels, and the huge reach in their network, the Um Jalul were a logical intermediary for Libya’s political gunrunners. The clans encounter with the Salamat militia, first social, then commercial and finally military, helped create the Janjawiid (headed by the Sheikh’s younger son Musa Hilal).

Sheikh Acyl’s gift to Darfur included the Arab supremacist ideology (Waal, 2005) which believes that that the descents of the Prophet Mohamed are entitled by birth to rule Muslim lands. Specifically, they believed that the Juhayna Arabs (group that includes both Salamat and Um Jalul) should control the territories from the Nile to Lake Chad. Darfur, which was an independent sultanate until eighty years ago, lies in the centre of this land ‘promised land’. The ideology motivate those who were involved to fight for control, mobilized through a group known as the ‘Arab Alliance’ or ‘Arab Gathering’.

Understanding the violence in Darfur demands an understanding of this complex local histories, whose roots run deep. However, to simplify the our understanding the situation in Darfur, the conflict is best described as that mainly between the Janjaweed (the government-supported militia recruited from local Arab tribes) and the non-Arab peoples of the region.As a result of the ensued conflict there began a large influx of displaced non-arab black Africans, fleeing from Janjaweed. The resulting conflict and violence been widely described as an "ethnic cleansing", and frequently as "genocide" (Seattlepi, 2005). The United Nations estimates that 50,000 have died in the 18 months of the conflict since its start, while more than one-million people had been displaced from their homes (Seattlepi, 2005)

The government of Sudan has had a strongly Arab character since the country's independence in 1956 and has been a military dictatorship since 1958. The First Sudanese Civil War, between the Muslim government and the mostly non-Muslim population of the southern Sudan, started in 1955 and ended with the 1972 Addis Ababa Accords (Austin & Koppelman, 2004). In 1983, the second Sudanese civil war broke out when the president declared Shari’a law in the south. A ceasefire was eventually declared in 2002. Peace conferences in 2003 produced an agreement under which state revenues from, oil money in particular, would be shared between the government and the southern rebel groups.

The agreement however, did not satisfy Darfur campaigners' demands for a fair deal. Two local rebel groups - the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) - accused the government of oppressing non-Arabs in favor of Arabs. The SLM is generally associated with the Fur and Masalit, while the JEM is associated with the Zaghawa of the northern half of Darfur (Seatlepi, 2005).

Runaway militant groups cause conflict escalation:
In 2004, Chad brokered negotiations in N'Djamena (Austin & Koppelman, 2004), leading to the April 8 Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement between the Sudanese government and JEM and SLA. Due to a conflict in values within the militant groups, a group splintered from the JEM in April - the National Movement for Reform and Development - that did not participate in the April cease-fire talks or agreement. This run away group played, and others like it (Janjaweed and other rebels), played a role in escalating the conflict in Darfur.

Social and ethnic composition as a cause of conflict:
The Darfur region consist of three ethnic zones: the North (includes Arab and non-Arab people, mainly camel nomads – Zaghawa); The central area (largely inhabited by non-Arab farmers such as the Fur and Massalit, who cultivate millet); and the south (Arabic-speaking cattle nomads, the Baggara). However, as mentioned earlier, they are all Muslim. However, the people of Darfur, like other Sudanese, have always identified themselves in ethno-cultural or tribal terms. Further, the people have only recently been perceived as Arab or African. It is suggested that conflict in this region, is largely in response to political and ideological disputes between the groups. The differences are largely due to the difference in the relationships that each holds. However, it has been argued that the cause of the difference in relationships has been due to real differences between the groups, such as repression or financial underdevelopment of the nations secondary regions.

Looking back at history, the region has been inhabited for centuries by both Arab and non-Arab ethnic groups. The Fur, which is the oldest non-Arab group, make up approximately 36 percent of the total population. Arabic, is more likely a second language rather than the primary language at home and the skilled use of Arabic is representative of higher social position (Suliman, 1997). For example, Idris (1999), from the Sudan tribune, asserts that in spite of the extensive social and economic dealings between members of these tribes, it would be difficult to assert that there has developed any “real assimilation” within tribe members (Cited in Sulaiman, 1997). Most of them maintain original languages, customs and traditions. This fact would suggest that the cause of conflict was probably due to ethnic differences.

However, it not logical to remove real differences in resources as a causal factor for conflict. Some of the other reasons are discussed below.
A family of seven sleeps in this makeshift shelter in the Dorti encampment in West Darfur.
©UNHCR/K.McKinsey (July 2004)

Denying or limiting access to natural and social resources as a source of conflict:
Access to natural and social resources such as justice, fairness, equitable sharing of natural resources (e.g. oil), equal development of people from Darfur, equal opportunity to employment, and equal opportunity to do business are examples of some the primary reasons for concern for the peoples of Darfur.

Abuse of natural resources:
Use of environmental resources increased in large proportions by the unprecedented extraction of these resources (DPADO, 2004). This was carried out by members of the northern Sudanese traditional merchant class, (Jellaba), motivated by their inclusion into the world market as miners of these resources (DPADO, 2004). In addition, loan conditions imposed by the World Bank and the IMF resulted in the restructuring of Sudan’s resource utilization towards Darfur (DPADO, 2004). As a result, needs of the people of Darfur was ignored while market needs were satisfied. The condition was made worse by Sudan’s decline in the international market, hence destroying the fragile (if not weak) support system that the government may have hoped to provide to the people of Darfur.

Environmental issues:
In the most remote regions of Sudan such as Darfur, human and animal life depends on the delicate balance between soil, climate, water and vegetation. Since the mid-1970s this equilibrium has been upset, particularly in the vast dry and semi-dry areas of the northern half of the country (University of Khartoum, 2004). In addition to the consistent drought, unsustainable methods of land use (e.g. large-scale rain-fed farming and overgrazing in marginal lands) destroyed the environment in which 70 percent of the population live. Millions of people were forced to migrate and became homeless. So many in fact that the Sudan has the highest proportion of internally displaced people in the world, one in every six. The movement of internally displaced people would result in a set of problems of its own and shall be discussed next.

Problems with migration – security and migration patterns:
In the past, those in distress simply moved to a richer environment nearby. However, this exodus is no more an option due to factors such as an expanding population, large-scale farming, political tensions, and constant ethnic-tensions (Waal, 2005; Suliman, 1997). As the governments’ control of law and order in remote areas decreased people were increasingly motivating to abandon their homes and move to urban city centers where safety and security is relatively better. Further, moving to urban city centers, would also mean, better economic prospects, better shelter, and easy availability of food.

The movement from one drought ridden area to another, which is already occupied by a different ethnic group, is a recipe hostility, and Sudan was no exception. In the past, agreements used to be reached when the need for sharing land was occasional, but now with the need for land becoming more longer in nature (or even for permanent sharing), the strains on ethnic agreement become much greater. These difficulties are particularly prevalent in the South and in the drought-stricken areas of Darfur and Kordofan.

The oil:
Sudan is projected to have nearly 2000-million barrels of crude oil. The governments plan to process the oil for export caused the people in the South (where most of the oil is from) to become suspicious of the governments intentions. The Sudanese People Liberation Army, SPLA, attacked the oil field operations, forcing the oil industry to halt productions (The Epoch Times, 2004). Since then regardless of the pressure subsequent governments had, oil operations in the south-west have been halted. Oil is an expensive commodity that has been fought upon.

The water:

Since the beginning of the century, the idea of constructing a canal to drain the Sudd marshes of the White Nile at Jonglei was debated by developmentalists and environmentalists ICRC (2005). However, an assessment of how the local people, (some 1,700,000 Dinka, Shilluk and Nuer), would be directly and indirectly affected by the project, was ignored by the government.

The Dinka, Shilluk, and Nue feared the drastic changes the canal would interfere with their way of life. They could not accept the prospect of life without migration to the marshes during the dry season, where they would live on fish and other natural resources as a means to survive. Further, they feared the possibility of alien people being settled in their lands, and the eventual possibility of conflict. There was mistrust of the project from the southerners who saw the Northern states and Egypt benefiting while their own lives were irreversibly changed for the worse. By drying out the swamps and taking away the source of survival, the canal would open up the entire Sudd area for farming, the domain of the Jellaba, and also allow the north to move military equipment and troops into the South with greater ease.

The land:

Predictable rain patterns make the savannah plains suitable for the cultivation of sorghum, millet, maize, sesame, groundnuts, and cotton ICRC (2005). This makes the fertile land a source of lively hood for its inhabitants. However, the expansion of large-scale farming, which constantly devours new land, spread into southern Kordofan and the northern parts of Upper Nile Province. The problem however is that, the owners of the farms were the Jellaba merchants. After, exhausting vast areas in the North, they pushed southwards where the Nilotic tribes survived on the cattle market. The Jellaba knew that the draining of the Jonglei canal would open a huge areas for large-scale farming. The military looked forward to the drying of the swamps as well, so that it would be able to have easier access to the south.

Changes in the way of conflict engagement as a cause for conflict:
In the past, problems arising from land and water disputes were resolved at an annual conference of Nuba Mekks and Arab Sheikhs (Waal, 2005; Suliman, 1997). These meetings usually took place on neutral ground, both sides abided by the agreements reached and the Nuba Mountains enjoyed decades of peace and relative prosperity. In recent years, however, the drought has pushed the Arab nomads deep into Nuba territory, sometimes even before the harvest is collected. This has resulted in clashes between Nuba farmers and Arab nomads. On the other hand, more land fell into the hands of absentee landlords, mainly Arab Jellaba. Out of 200 farms supported by the State Agricultural Bank 191were leased to Jellaba landlords, (Jellaba land lords consisted mainly of the rich Jellaba, government officials and retired generals from the North - Suleiman, 1997).

The effect of the advance of the nomads into the mountains on the one hand, and the advance of farming on the other, signaled the Nuba people to the possibility of being squeezed out of their best farming lands into marginal and poor territory. That is why, when the civil war broke out in the South in 1983. as a result, the people have learnt that conflict resolution occurs though the use of force rather than dialogue. The move away from what used to be a cultural practice of dialogue, to a new form of defense, has contributed immensely to the escalation of conflict in Sudan.

The war in southern Sudan:
The return of civil war to the Sudan in 1983 was regarded as a typical ethnic and religious conflict between northern Muslim Arabs and Southern black Africans. Though this categorization was true for the Sudan's first civil war ICRC (2005), ecological degradation over the past three decades (as mentioned above), added a new dimension to the old conflict. It transformed the nature of the conflict from an ethnic strife to a resource struggle triggered by ecological scarcity (Waal, 2005; Suliman, 1998). The quest for land, water and oil in the South to replenish the already degraded northern resource-base has driven some Jellaba and their state to wage war against their own people. The end product of the return of civil was the escalation of conflict to higher levels.

In summery it is important to note that the conflict in Darfur is best described as due to a host of reasons entwined to form a complex mesh that is best understood as a whole. This historical roots and relationships that the region shares with each other is one of the modes of viewing the conflict. Value differences are seen when considering the clash of ideologies between the Muslim and non-Muslim peoples in Darfur. The relationships that preexisted between clans and those that were formed during the course of the conflict provide another angle to the conflict. The moods that were involved largely revolved around those of the people experiencing famine due to the drought, people who felt it unfair that they were treated differently, and among people who were abused. However, it is important to note, that these components did not act in unison. They were expressed as a mixture and experienced under a socio-political and geographic structure that tied them together.

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