|ARMING THE MILITIAS||AD-DA'EIN
More than a thousand Dinka men, women and children were killed, some burned,to death, by inhabitants of the town of Ad-Da'ein, in western Sudan in March 1987.
Ad-Da'ein is linked by railway to the regional capital Nyala and to Khartoum, and serving as a major commercial centre for the region, including the grain and cattle trade.
Its population of 60,000 is largely from the Rezeigat ethnic group, with others from the Dinka, Fur, Zaghawa, Jur, Berti and Hausa, and it is an Umma party centre of influence.
The Dinka began migrating to Ad-Da'ein during the first civil war, but many returned south after the 1972 Addis Ababa peace accord.
When the second civil war broke out in the mid-1980s and their villages were repeatedly attacked by militias, many Dinka fled again to Ad-Da'ein in search of food and work. Most were employed as temporary labourers in agriculture and building: carrying water, digging latrines and bricklaying. Out of some 17,000 adults, only a handful were employed by the government. Top
In the 1960s the Dinka in Ad-Da'ein built a church on land given by one of the Rezeigat sheikhs, and attempted to develop good relations with the Muslirn community. In the climate of hostility of the 1980s, however, some 400 hundred Muslims petitioned the local judge to remove the church. Even the church's roof-top solar heating system apparatus aroused suspicions of "espionage". Top
On the evening of 27 March, 1987, an armed Rezeigat group attacked the church, where 25 Dinka had congregated after evening prayers. The attackers went on to the homes of Dinka families in the neighbourhood and burned them down, killing at least five people. Top
That night, some Dinka fled; some hid with families in town, and others gathered, under police protection, in Hillat Sikka Hadid, a neighbourhood beside the railway station. Next morning, government officials moved them to the railway station itself, and put them into eight railway wagons, as well as the station police compound, intending to move them out of town for their own safety. Top
A mob of townspeople, mainly Rezeigat, descended upon the railway station and began attacking the southerners: by sunset more than a thousand Dinka had been killed, many burned alive in the railway wagons. Some children were abducted from the site. The train eventually set off, taking the survivors to Nyala. Top
Two lecturers from the University of Khartoum, Dr Ushari Mahmoud and Dr Suleiman Baldo, learning of the massacre and the civilian government's attempts to cover it up, set out to investigate. They concluded that the various official accounts were contradictory, and the claims of "provocation" that were offered were too flimsy to explain the scale of the killings. Awkward questions arose about how much the massacre was planned or anticipated by government officials, and the disappearance of individuals such as the local Christian priest. Top
In gathering information from eye-witnesses and survivors, Dr Mahmoud and Dr Baldo also uncovered evidence of slavery. . They presented testirnonies which outlined the patterns of Rezeigat militia behaviour in seizing slaves, the role of government policy in the civil war in distorting inter-ethnic relations, and the government's lack of action against the practice of slavery. Top
Further investigation of the massacre at Ad-Da'ein was blocked by a majority vote in the parliament during Sadiq al-Mahdi's premiership. The university lecturers who had reported the massacre and the slavery were harassed and detained by the authorities on several occasions.Top