Subjects: farming in Darfur, Nyala
Subjects: Khartoum, taxes, hunger, changes in weather, father's work
Subjects: colonization by the British, attending primary school, learning Arabic and English
Hyperlink: British imperialism in Sudan
Subjects: neighborhood in Khartoum, moving on into high school, father drawing the British in art, father working in the market, Libya, challenges living in the city
Keywords: "So at that time I began to feel something is wrong in the life of Sudan."
Subjects: hunger, poverty, learning about the war between Arab and Fur, Biblical inspiration
Hyperlink: history surrounding Sudan's independence
Subjects: Writing instead of protesting the government, Alnada Culture Association, teaching, creating a history fair for Sudan, GOAL, and Red Crescent, connecting with extended family, travelling to Zalingei
Subjects: working with political officials and royalty to discover documents about Darfur, publishing a documentary
Hyperlink: King Fahd of Saudi Arabia
Subjects: conflict rising in 1998, beginning of genocide
Hyperlink: origins of genocide in Sudan
Subjects: writing about attacks from the Janjaweed militia, developing neighborhood project in Nyala
Hyperlink: Janjaweed militia
Subjects: documenting how people were attacked, struggle between Arab and African, sending information to America and Europe, connecting with the Fur tribe of Darfur, UNHCR
Subjects: government targeting intellectuals and political leaders, being poisoned, helping political minister escape, international community getting involved in the crisis
Hyperlink: Mr. Ibrahim Diraige
Subjects: Minister Adraman, massacre in Soba, Nyala, President Bush, Colin Powell, representative from University of Texas coming in 2006
Hyperlink: Colin Powell
Subjects: Attacks on Al-Fashir and Southern villages, government orders to destroy camps cause people to flee to cities
Hyperlink: Port Sudan
Subjects: Kutum, Yabassi, Shoba, Janjaweed killing all men and raping all women, starvation
Segment Synopsis: President Al Gaddafi
Hyperlink: President Al Gaddafi
SLOAN: This is Stephen Sloan. The date is December 21, 2015. This is aninterview with Ibrahim Mohamed Ishag at his apartment in Houston, Texas. This is an interview with the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission's Survivors of Genocide Oral History Project. Thank you, Ibrahim, for sitting down with us today. You as a journalist have gathered a lot of stories about your country, about your region, about Darfur. I know you've been very good at gathering other people's stories. Today, we would like to gather your story and your experiences there in Darfur. We are about the same age, so you have a long history before war came to your country this century. Could you tell me about your life in Darfur as a young man?
ISHAG: Thank you Mr. Sloan--Stephen. Welcome to you in my apartment. I'm very1:00glad you are visiting me here. My name is Ibrahim Mohamed Ishag. I was born on January 30, 1963 in South Darfur--in north South Darfur, an area called Ein Siro. The village named Nyala is very oldest village in Darfur, so an historical village near the Emfara(??), the historical area. It was a civilization of Darfur was raised up there. When I was about two years old, I lived in there with nice life on our farm. You have many farms there, a very nice area in Darfur. 2:00
SLOAN: Your father was a farmer? What did he grow on the farm? What did you growthere on the farm?
ISHAG: Yeah, he had like some fruit trees.
SLOAN: Fruit trees?
ISHAG: Yeah, orange, also we have many trees, land for planting seeds, like mango.
SLOAN: Did you work on the farm?
ISHAG: At that time, I was younger, so I was about two or three years [old]. Weleft Darfur with my family. We came to the area Khartoum, to stay in Khartoum.
SLOAN: I see. You went to the city?
ISHAG: Yeah, to the city.
SLOAN: What led your family to leave and go to the city?
ISHAG: At that time, I think, some problems like Arab attacks at that time.3:00Also, their anger about the change of the way that Darfur became changing. The desert began to cover Darfur, so my family is make trip. My father said that he needs to educate us, so he went to Khartoum. He said, "I will take my family. I let my children enter to the school." At that time, we have no school.
SLOAN: In Darfur--no school?
ISHAG: No school--yeah.
SLOAN: So there is more opportunity in Khartoum for the family and for him? Whatsort of work did he take when he came to the city?
ISHAG: He said that at that time it was very nice in Khartoum. It's a verymodern city of out of all of the African [cities] at that time. We are colonized 4:00by British, and they build good buildings like these, and everything is easy. He start to work at the market, and he sent us in 1970 to the primary school.
SLOAN: How did you like school?
ISHAG: It's very nice, so it's good. We are starting to learn new ideas, how to[begin to learn] Arabic. Our local language [was] Fur language. We [begin to learn to write] Arabic, start letters. At that time, the government took over the care of the teachings of people to try to transfer them to another culture. They support the children who approach to the primary school as well. They give 5:00them some food and some materials for education. If you are very intelligent, they give you some prize. At that time, I'm very [intelligent]. We are from Darfur. There are people from Darfur [who are] very intelligent. They come from the village. Their minds [are] very wide, and for this reason, they take care about us. We get very good degrees on the mathematics, on the science. I feel the--to enter to the secondary school--because the system of learning in Sudan is the system of the UK at that time.
SLOAN: I see.
ISHAG: So, we are getting educated. When you enter at the secondary school, westart English--another language. We are step to step [further] from our home 6:00language--Fur to Arabic to English. This is many changes in my life, so I'm wandering [because of] that.
SLOAN: What tribal group are you associated with in Darfur?
ISHAG: The Fur. The Fur is a big, big tribe, like a nation, so it has very bigbranches--many branches, like Keira. Keira is like a governor of Darfur. They are governor, sultan, sultanate. The governor of Darfur is called sultan, and their system is good. They are like a federal system, and Darfur is one of the four regions at that time--North, and South, and East, and West. Every region 7:00has its governor. Its governor is called Shartai, like sheriff here. This is the same, like the system here.
SLOAN: So in the period you're talking about there is good representation?
SLOAN: When you were living in Khartoum, were you in a community of Darfurians?Were people that lived in your neighborhood in Khartoum from Darfur?
ISHAG: The area where we live in [was] called Khartoum North. At that time,there are many families living with us from Darfur. We come and find different people came from Nuba Mountains from South--from North. You get a picture about how this country was that big at that time--Sudan country. After that, we leave 8:00Khartoum North to a city called Kober. At that time, I enter to secondary school. I finished secondary school and tried to enter to high school called Khartoum North High School. After that, we leave to area called Haj Yousif.
SLOAN: Did you have to take exams to progress into the next school?
SLOAN: You did well on your exams?
ISHAG: From elementary to high school, I did well, so I get above 10 percent forall the students of Sudan. I'm the second in my primary school over the region of Khartoum, so that gave me good motivation to try to get good education. 9:00
SLOAN: What subjects did you like the most in school?
ISHAG: At that time, I liked science. I like science, and also I like historyand geography. Also we have drawing.
ISHAG: Art--yeah. I like art. My father is art minded. He's also--if he sees--wedon't show the British people the past history. He draws the British. You saw in his drawing that he's very art minded, but he transferred his experience to us since we are children. 10:00
SLOAN: You said he was working in the market in Khartoum?
ISHAG: He's working in the market.
SLOAN: So, the family did well in Khartoum?
ISHAG: Yeah, at that time, we are like everybody, living like everybody. He came[to Khartoum] to educate us. His brother travelled to Libya. At that time, Libya became a neighbor of Darfur. It's a very rich country, and all Darfurians are travelling to change their lives, to get money. He said, "No, I try to educate my children." He stayed in Khartoum.
SLOAN: I see. That was when the oil came in in Libya?
SLOAN: Did you like living in the city?
ISHAG: Yeah, the city wasn't bad. City make you like someone who didn't know11:00what's around you. It's best to live in the city. I go to see the village. It gives you a good experience. You can also know where you come from, what is your civilization, so it's good not to stay for long time at cities.
SLOAN: You can lose your history a little bit, right?
ISHAG: You can lose many things over the life, like how the people live in ahard way to produce their vegetables and things you eat. You don't know how these things come when you are in the city. You eat, but when you saw the village, you see how these people are suffering to do jobs and something comes to you. It's good for us to know about the village.
SLOAN: Well, as you went through school, I know you knew you didn't want to be a12:00farmer, so did you have an idea of what you would like to do? When did you know you'd like to be a journalist or a teacher, which I know those are both things that you've done?
ISHAG: Yeah. The first time I would like to say that I became like this, Ientered to science to be a doctor, but when I entered in high school, the demonstrations rise up. Gafaar Nimeiry, he was a governor of Sudan at that time. We are enter suddenly in the problem with demonstration, so I [was] stopped by the government at that time when I was in high school. They put me in the prison without any reason. They said you are politically making demonstrations. [They] said I wrote on the wall beside the road. They put me with some students who are 13:00demonstrating, so I get new ideas I must learn about the history and I must learn about the political life. There is so much change. My life changed when I was arrested by the government security at that time in 1979.
SLOAN: So, you were very young.
ISHAG: Yeah, very young. I was sixteen years old.
SLOAN: So how long did they keep you in prison?
ISHAG: Fifteen days without any reason, without any crime. You see that if it'sfirst time, I went around at the jail. I said, "Why you put me in the jail?" They said, "We don't know. We keep you only." I said, "I am a young man, and I'm 14:00a student. Why you put me here?" They said, "Are you from Darfur?" I said yes. Some general said, "Do you think that the Darfurians [will be able to] become governor of Sudan [in] the future?" I said, "No, I don't know, but maybe." He knocked me and throw me down. (laughs) At that time, [I felt like I was suffering]. Why [did] he knock me [down] like this? To his soldier he said, "Take him to the prison." I said to him, "Why do you think that [Darfurians] are not [able to] become governor?" I answered only. At that time, I began to feel something is wrong in the life of Sudan, so I began to think. Thinking let me [begin to] write some notes and try to read more books, more stories. I became 15:00aware about what is Sudan going from early times.
SLOAN: Tell me a little bit about that. I know since independence in the 1950s,there had been a lot of trouble. It never had been stable for a long period of time, so as you began to study and learn more about Sudan, what did you learn? What did you discover?
ISHAG: I discovered that there is some areas like southern Sudan. They have aproblem with the government. At that time, I saw the southern people who come are [very poor]. They are very hungry. How they're living like in a trash in town, like some bad [part] of the town, you see. Some villages build their 16:00houses like tents. I think, Why [are] these people living like this while they are Sudanese also? After a few years later on, in 1984, it became awareness that it's something wrong happening in Darfur. A war between Arab and Fur start at that year, 1984, so our family push us to speak our local language, Fur. We it for us to keep our culture. My mother, my father say, "You must speak your own language." At that time, I began to speak my local language, Fur language. Also, 17:00at that time, we tried to be involved and to support our people in their society. And so, we are educated like this. We create a Fur Sudan Association in area called Haj Yousif to help our people and to educate them.
SLOAN: That time in prison changed your life.
ISHAG: Yeah, when I was in prison, I remembered the history of the prophetJoseph. Daily, that picture come to me. I said, "Why do the people put their brother in the jail like this? How does God help him to become very famous?" I said, "Someday, maybe God will also help me like a prophet." My grandfather [was] also called Joseph, so the last name [of] our family [is] Joseph. Tt that 18:00time, I give myself good feelings that I will stay a few days and get out. When I get out, I became as a Fur [who is involved in the] thinking world only. I'm not involved to enter as a political. Until last year, I don't like to enter at the political way, because I know this is a dirty game. Also, I'm thinking while writing like this. I [realize] that the best way to live is to think and give the people your ideas of your experience, but [that's] a few years later.
pause in recording
SLOAN: Before we stopped, you said you decided to write and think instead ofprotest. Can you tell us a little about as you began to write some, what you saw 19:00in your country?
ISHAG: Before that, I start to create some organizations to keep our culture. In1988, I created a society called Alnhada Culture Association to keep our culture and to get awareness to our people.
SLOAN: How did you begin to do that, to gather and to document it?
ISHAG: At that time, first [I had to] become well-known to create thisAssociation. I became a teacher first. We created a dual school for English and 20:00for Arabic who didn't know how to write Arabic well and didn't know how to write English well. We start these classes in bad town of Khartoum, some area called Haj Yousif. We created another culture association at that time. We [gave] our people awareness about their histories, their civilization. From 1988 until 1991, the government didn't want to see what we can do, but in 1991 we make a big exhibition, like a big fair to show the people our history. Many people come south around our area like some square in Haj Yousif. About two thousand people 21:00come and we make lecture. Some people come from different countries. Saudi Arabia also send their organization to see what are Darfurian people. We start to talk about the history of Darfur, when Saudi Arabia was sovereign. We were a very strong kingdom, and we enter under the colonization of the British. We became very suffering after that. We need to have people help us as we helped them. Some time after that, they give us many funds, so we try to organize trip to the Darfur and caravan to Darfur in 1992. We organize big caravan to see 22:00Darfur. That time is first time I go back to Darfur since I was a child.
SLOAN: I see.
ISHAG: I'm very glad I see all the Darfur. S with the caravan, I arrive atFashir city. I start from Fashir, at the capital.
SLOAN: Did you drive from Khartoum to Fashir?
ISHAG: Yeah, I rent. I have big money at that time. They leave me big money likeabout [$]500,000. Many organizations and also the organization called GOAL and Red Crescent helped support me. At the time, I was volunteer with the Red Cross. I work as a volunteer, so they know me well. They gave me help and medicine. I take some doctors, some people, some bant(??) for the culture pan(??), so I make 23:00this trip a reality and go to Darfur. At that time, I wanted to know what was the picture of Darfur in my mind. I reached Darfur and I find the people [are] very nice. Their lives [are] very good. You see, what's [funny] is that I have money, but when I reached Darfur, I didn't pay [for] anything. All the people give me something. Darfur, at that time, was [a] very, very good area, and the people [were] very kind, like here in [the] US. They respect you. They smile. After that, my trip goes through North Darfur to Kutum. So, I reached the areas where I was born. 24:00
SLOAN: Did you still have family in that area?
ISHAG: Yeah, so we are limited family. We are very precious, so I find myuncles, my father's brothers. They said, "Yeah, you are come to place that you are born here." I make very big party in the north in that city. I give some funds to this school, about 1,500 to any school. I give them some food, some medicine. I went to the Zalingei. From North Darfur to Zalingei is like from north to west. After that, I come to south. This whole period takes about two 25:00months, and then I came to Fashir--came to Khartoum. The security stopped me, arrested me [in] 1992, the first of January or February, at Wadi Salih.
SLOAN: On your way back to Khartoum?
ISHAG: When I was in Darfur, they arrested me one day. When I come back, theyarrest me about five days.
SLOAN: Why did they arrest you in Darfur?
ISHAG: They said that, "You are come with this governor to separate to Darfur."This means you would like to separate from the [country of] Sudan. I said, "No, this is the history, and this history [is] for all the humans." At that time, we 26:00[were] independent, and now we are a part of Sudan. My people don't know their history. They don't know who [they are], so I want to tell them to become aware, to get knowledge to their people. After that, some people make demonstrations in Wadi Salih and they left me. After that, when I came to Khartoum [for] a few days, they arrested me about five days, and they investigated me [for] many things. They said, "You must stop this culture reservation." So, I stopped it in 1993. The people of Darfur come to my home. They said to me loudly, "The association will elect someone who can [bring] awareness to us all around 27:00Khartoum." I said to them, "You can't organize yourself as a Darfurian in Khartoum. I was arrested and suffering for this happening to me. It made me lose my life. You're educated more than me, you have resources more than me, you can do this job." They said, "What we can do?" I said to them, "You can make a meeting all over the people here and create a leader for yourself. A leader is important to help you. You agree who is the one to lead all of us for our rights." They said, "Okay, this is a good idea. You can come. You're the leader. You organize this meeting?" I said, "No, I'm little. I am not young enough for you. How can I give you when I am older than you are?" They said, "No, the knowledge is not younger or not older. Not like this. You have good ideas. We 28:00need these ideas. You're respected."
SLOAN: They wanted you to do it?
ISHAG: Yeah. [They said,] "You do it." So, I make them letters, and I call themto come at their meeting. I make journey for them. I told them, "You are good nation. You may build a new leadership. Forget the history, you are just now alive in the nineteenth century. You must develop yourself, and if you have no leader, you can't develop yourself. You must know that." They said, "We want to know the sort of leader you need." I said, "I don't need a political leader. I need the historical leader. As a political [leader] you enter [into] a problem with the governor. Only as a historical leader can the government respect you--all the nations can respect you beside your history." So, they said, 29:00"Great, what do you think?" I said, "I think the son of Ali Dinar. He's called--Hussein Ali B. Ali Dinar(??). You can put him as a leader as a first step. At this period, you can organize yourself. You can support yourself with your history. No one [will] ask you. The government try to come near you to give you something to solve your problem after that. When you become stronger, you can change Hussein with someone who get knowledge. You develop yourself. So you do that." Since that time, they organize. I became like anyone, so I decide to make a trip to Saudi Arabia in 1995. 30:00
SLOAN: Can I ask one question before you tell me about your trip to Libya?
ISHAG: To Saudi Arabia.
SLOAN: When you went back on the tour, when you took the group back to Darfurfor the first time when, what was the situation like in Darfur? What were the conditions like?
ISHAG: The people are very active. All people work on their farm. They havetheir cattle. The nation is very nice. You see all the people in their village as they start to do their schools and their projects to develop their country. Over all of Darfur, they build the cities. They develop and they enter into civilization. Since 1916, Darfur didn't enter into civilization. They are out of that date, so they start to educate their children. It's very nice life at that time. 31:00
SLOAN: So, you were impressed at how much it had modernized.
ISHAG: Yeah, they tried to enter [civilization], but I think [a few years] afterthat, they enter in the war again. I will tell you later about this.
SLOAN: Okay, now tell me about the trip in 1995.
ISHAG: In 1995, I told [you earlier about] Mr. Hussein Ali B. Ali Dinar. Hebecame sultan. The government said to him, "You became a leader of your group, the Fur tribe. You became a sultan." They give him some support, so he asked them to put some of our people in the ministries. He said to me, "What can I do, Mr. Ibrahim?" I said to him, "You ask the government. You [aren't] allowed to be one of the officers of the government. All you are is sultan, like you have some father feeling to your people. Don't enter in any politic role. So the 32:00government ask you to educate people, and they put them in some living." After that, the government called him and said to him, "We tried to solve the Darfur problem. Do you have any great people?" They come to them in the government. We enter many ministries in the government. At that time, someone told me, "Mr. Ibrahim, you are in danger. You can't keep yourself [safe], if you travel in Sudan, anywhere. This government will kill you. You are very dangerous to this government. You give your pupils some good ideas." So, I tried to escape to Saudi Arabia. I left Sudan to Saudi Arabia in 1995.
SLOAN: Because of the danger?
ISHAG: Yeah, of my life.
ISHAG: To keep my life away from these people.33:00
SLOAN: I know you intended it to be historical and cultural, but did youencounter any of the political movement in Darfur, any of the growing resistance against the government, when you went back on your tour?
ISHAG: When I was in Saudi Arabia or come back--?
SLOAN: Just as you saw in the 1990s. I know you are focused on the culturalheritage and historical, but I know there are political elements in Darfur that are pushing for change. Did you have any interaction with those groups or encounters with those groups?
ISHAG: No, only transfer of ideas. I don't have any links with them, so Idefended my ideas. If I linked with them, the government [would] have evidence that I'm involved in something. At that time, my experience was I was in jail 34:00and that I don't like to involve in anything politically.
SLOAN: Think and write.
ISHAG: Yeah, think and write. Give them ideas. When I was in Saudi Arabia, Italked to Mr. Sultani. I said, "You come to meet me at Madina Malnanawara." He said, "Why?" I said, "I think we maybe find some documents there." [He said,] "How do you think this? The kingdom was finished in 1916. We cannot find any document about Darfur, and this is past history. You know that Saudi Arabia is very strong kingdom with very rich people. If we talk like this, they may be angry." I said some to him, "Come and see. I can go, and you can follow me." After that, he thinks [he will] come. I met with him at Madina Malnanawara. We got to the Prophet Muhammad Mosque. I asked about some Darfurian who came very 35:00early, so we get someone about ninety years. He was come since we had a kingdom. He was servant at the mosque. He became a Saudi Arabian national. I said to him, "You are from Darfur." He said, "Okay, I'm from Darfur. How you know that?" I said, "I know my history well." He invite us in his home.
I said to him, "So--" He said, "Ask me. Do you need money? I can give yousupport money." I said to him that I didn't like money. "Why? This is very surpris[ing]. All the people in the world like money." I said to him, "No, I need documents that you have about the history." He became suddenly shocked. He 36:00said, "This is very strange. Since I was here from 1920, no one asked me this question." He said to his brother's son--[the old man] is like his uncle. He gives the key [and says], "Open this safe." He opens the safe, and a map dropped out from his safe--like historical map. His son very wonderful, said "Why didn't my father allow me to see this, and this man comes and [you] show [him] this map?" He said, "He's come to take his right, so his rights [are] in these maps, how the Darfurian was living here since three hundred years ago. They are 37:00neighbor of Madina. They have their villages, lands, neighbor the mosque, and became like one of the part of mosques. They have rights in the government of Saudi Arabia, so he come to take the rights. And dispenses(??) our money. He's not thinking about money, he's thinking about rights, and the rights have the money." He says, "Okay." So, I began to write history about this document.
SLOAN: I see--yeah.
ISHAG: So you see the prince of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia tried to havesomeone come and begin to look for the [documentation] of Darfur. They began to look for me, so they sent me a message, [saying], "We'd like to meet you at your home." They sent some prince called Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. He's a brother 38:00of King Fahd [King of Saudi Arabia, Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud]. He invite me at the last of 1995 in his palace. He said, "Mr. Ibrahim, I invite you, but I'd like to ask you one question. Why you come at this time in our country?" I said, "This is mosque of Allah. We are created by Allah. We are all Muslim. We come [to] this land to visit." He said, "No, you come to do other things." I said, "What other things that you think I came for?" He said, "You come to say that you have rights here in this country." I said yes. [He said], "Do you have evidence?" I get some paper from my pocket. He saw this paper. He became 39:00wondering, "Where'd you get these papers? This is for security of our country. How you get these papers?" I said, "From the Madina Malnanawara--some servant of Darfur who serves at the Mosque of Prophet Muhammad gave me this." He said, "Oh. You are getted(??). You are well. You know my brother, King Fahd? He's back(??)--library that's [where we keep] all your kingdom documents. At that time, you are very rich kingdom. You help us. We are grateful. We don't forget that, so you are here, and you are safe. If you need anything, we can help you. We can protect you. This is a great job you are doing."
ISHAG: At that time, I trained a program to write about this book. I get this40:00document to publish. I come back in 1997 to Sudan.
SLOAN: Had the situation changed?
ISHAG: In 1997?
SLOAN: Since when you left before, was it still as dangerous in '97?
ISHAG: Yeah, it became dangerous when I came. It became dangerous in 1998. Theproblem of Darfur started in 1998, some area called Dar Masalit. Dar Masalit, yeah, so this is your beginning of genocide. It start from there. He said to me, "Mr. Ibrahim, I'd like you to come. Just now, you are lucky. I would like you to go with me to Darfur. We have some conference of peace agreement of the security." I said to him, "Okay, I will go in beginning of 1998." At that time, 41:00I attended this conference. Besides the conference, the attacks of the militia and of the Arabs began at the same time we are in conference. They attack the village neighbor of Nyala. Some people become injured. Someone stood up and said, "We are very suffering. We have no reliable security. You do conference, you talk for nothing, and the Janjaweed attack the people's neighbor of Nyala city. What do you do after that?"
Someone stood up--he's a sultan of Dar Masalit. He called his name Sultan AbdulRahman Bahraddin--he's a very educated man. He says, "Please, all people--I invite you to see what's happening in Dar Masalit." So, it became attention at 42:00what he said. He said, "You see, the government send Arab people from Chad, tried to take our land, kill our people. We are very suffering. You come and demonstrate what you see there and tell the government to don't do like this, so Sudan will be one country if they do like this." So, we prepare to go with his envoy to Al-Junaynah, on the border between Chad and Sudan.
We stopped [in] Darfur. He fed us and when I arrive there, he asked me, "What isyour name?" I said to him that my name is like this--this. [And he said], "And what is your father's, what is your grandfather's name?" I said to him like this--this. [He said,] "Oh, you're grandfather [taught] me when I was a child." 43:00[I asked,] "Really?" He said, "Really. Also, when we are there, he's leading the school. He gave to my brother his daughter, so you have some uncles from Dar Masalit neighbor here. You can visit them also." I said, "Great!" He said to the governor of west of Darfur, "This is Ibrahim from my family. He is to stay in my home. So, I host him in my home not from government." He prepared some room in his home and said, "You stay here." So, I visit some people, I began to write some note [about] what's happened there.
SLOAN: You were writing about the current situation?
ISHAG: The current situation as it was.
SLOAN: The attacks were increasing from the nomads, from Janjaweed attacks on villages.44:00
ISHAG: Yeah, we find many people. They told us their history, and they said,"The militia Arab come from Chad from neighborhood, and they kill us in our farm, they try to [take] all our land, and this what's happened." We find also some people of the government that told me the same history.
When we go back, I tried to transfer some project to Saudi Arabia. I said tothem, "I'd like to develop my homeland. I have projects there." He said, "What are the projects you have?" I said, "I'd like to make a sample village--modern village with schools like mosquesto let the people develop." They said, "Okay, 45:00make a project and send it to us." So I make a project called Pre (??) Community, and the government give us authority. I said to them, "Our land home. We can develop this land home." We choose some area very nice, about three thousand kilometers around. I invite all the administration of this local area. I said to them what we need to do. They agree with me--Masai. I said to them, "This is not belong to government land. This is belong to you, historically." They said, "Okay." I said to them, "Sign. You must authorize that you need to make a project here." They gave me authorized. I take this to the government at Al Fashir, and he give me also agreement--a document. I sent this to Saudi 46:00Arabia. At that time, I make a study by an engineer. He make a budget, about one-hundred-and-fifty- million pound Sudanese. I sent it to Saudi Arabia. They agree--the second day they agree. They sent the money and everything. They sent about $500,000 in our account. The government became very wondering, [asking], "How you do this? How do you have this relation?" I said, "This is some charitable people. You can go to see them. They give this money to develop our area. We'd like to be able to finish [for] the people. This is your job as a government, but I do it as a charitable thing. You can help me also." I start to do this project. At that time, the attacks of militia around the nearby began, 47:00so I also went.
SLOAN: Where was this project--this model project that you were doing?
ISHAG: At my village, Nyala. I tried to make something to put them at the site.When this village, maybe something happened to them, then we have another village. At that time, the people helped me, and they changed their lives. We do building. Some people have something in their homes. They have donkeys. They put the water. We give them money. Some people would have the wood. We give them money. The land became changing. The money was coming to change their lives. All the neighbors heard about this project. They start to do their projects like us. 48:00
SLOAN: So the work was going?
ISHAG: Yeah, the work was going--the development [was] going well, but at thesame time, we heard about the attacks [in] neighborhood areas. So, I went [to] Kabkabiya--the first attack in 2002 on April 24th. The second attack on July 24th. This is a connector. I was in Fashir at the same time. The governor of Al Fashir, called Ibrahim Suliman, he's a big general. He left to Khartoum, but he advised the government and said, "Mr. Ibrahim, you're coming back. We are facing many problems." You see, some area near Al Fashir [were] attacked [by] 49:00Janjaweed. What is strange [about] that? Why a governor? Before this attack, all the officials, all the leaders--Abdul Aziz, the governor of Darfur--the government invite them to the capital. [He said], "No one here can help the people. No one can do anything. I am the one. You are a leader. You are educated. You can go and see what's happened." So, we held a meeting with our community in Al Fashir. We prepare for our trip. We hear about the massacre happening, and we leave there at morning next day.
At that time, we find the village where it happened, the people who are killed,the cattle who are killed. We got everything that happened. We make notes to ask 50:00the people what's happening, like this. They told us very bad history with the (unintelligible). The attack began very early morning, about five o'clock, when the people are sleeping. This attack, when it start, they burn around the village, and they surround the village, and the cattle, with the weapons. The families, with the ladies, with everything, are in the villages. You are sleeping. When you [wake up], you find that they are everywhere. You try to escape. You help yourself. When you're lucky, you can escape. If you are not lucky, you'll find other people will kill you [with] weapons. 51:00
I recall that I asked them, "What's the role of the government here?" They havelike camp of military area nearby, about five minutes. They heard what happened. They saw the fires. These military camps didn't come and help the people. If they did, then they failed there. They're massacred. They died. Some ladies are pregnant and in the tent. Some cattle--they destroy all the seeds with the fire. At that time, the Darfur governor sent someone with video. We are very lucky that someone with video come with us, and he spoke with the governor. I said to him, "I will pay you some money. I give you two hundred pounds. You keep this 52:00video [for] me. When I come to Fashir, give [it] to me. No one [will] know." He said, "Okay." After that, I went back, and he give me the video.
SLOAN: So he was able to video after the attack?
ISHAG: After attack there--yeah. He said, "I have another one. When the attackhappened, we come directly and saw what's happening." He said, "Some ladies--I take picture and they are die with the fire. You can't show that lady with child while burning in the fire." I have the CD you can see. You see, after that, when I came at Khartoum, we held a meeting. I said to them, "The problem is very dangerous. We face many problems with the government support to pull our people from their land." 53:00
pause in recording
SLOAN: All right Ibrahim, when we left off, you were telling us about ShobaVillage and the interviews that you did there to begin to document what had happened. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?
ISHAG: So, you know that, since I was getting to get to know that our country isvery important thing in the world. For this reason, I need to [document] after every attack. I very awareness that to get that accident, how it's happened, how these people were attacked, who has died, how the village was burned, and why this government camp--about five minutes [away] didn't come to help the 54:00civilians. It's many questions behind this. The system of the way the attacks happened--the people are sleeping, and the fire at about five o'clock, the ladies, the children, the cattle, the animals. What is the reason of this? What's happened? What's behind [it]? What's going on? Many questions need to [be asked] to everyone who saw it. We can [ask] many questions like, "Where is the government?" If these [are] the citizens of the government, they must protect them. What's going on? [If] the struggle is between Arab and African, and the Sudan is African in an African country, and we are African, and the Arab have their whole land--Saudi Arabia and the lands, [then] what's going [on] in Sudan? 55:00How has this people allowed the militia to have authority to kill the people in their land? Many questions start there, so they're lucky to get that video.
When I came at that time, I make some meeting with some people with my group,that the problem in Darfur is going to be permanent over the Darfur. You must talk with the government. Tell some people what we can do. I said to them, "Media is the solution--the media." We have evidence, but some people said to the government, if they catch us with this evidence maybe [they] kill us. I say to them, "No, we can send to our people out of the area, in Europe, in America. 56:00We can send them. We can find some way to send them out." So, I make many copies, like, CD, video, and cassette. I send it through three ways--this video. One to Saudi Arabia to someone who work with us to send them. We have many people who work with the kingdom family, so they can make trip to Europe. We send one video to them. We send one to Egypt. At that time, Mr. Victor Adam--he's a leader of our community, we create some committee to organize this problem, or to solve it, or to connect the people. Victor Adam is the former 57:00governor at the direch(??) period [in] 1994. He's a former governor of Darfur, so he get this video also when I come to Cairo.
While there, I stay as a refugee in Cairo. We create [a] memorandum about thegenocide. The first memorandum I have here, the picture I can give you. In this community, we start to collect all of the accidents [that] happen in the area of Fur tribe [all] over Darfur. We create community in the committee in south of Darfur, north of Darfur, west of Darfur. We connected with these people [and asked] what happened today, yesterday. At that time, cell telephone start, and they sent the call. We have some people work with our organization, people who 58:00worked for programs like UNHCR. We say to send them. You can use the Internet to deliver this information to media and to international governments to see what's going on in the land of Darfur.
The government didn't know we do this. It keeps on its plan to support themilitia. It [began] targeting intellectual or intelligent people. They began to kill the people who are leadership. We heard that some [are] planning to start killing all the leadership, so we are suffering that we miss Dictor Kalamadeen Abdamulah(??). He was a minister of international relations. The government 59:00posted him, so he's very educated. He's intelligent. He knows [how] to communicate with international. He has many friends--like Colin Powell is his friend. He tried to transfer his data to him and invite him to visit Darfur to see historical area [and] how the civilization start. The government of Sudan start to target people who [are] active, who have information. At that time, I told Mr. Dictor Kalamadeen(??). He invite me at his home. He lived at Mine(??)--area called Mine(??) near Khartoum. He said, "Mr. Ibrahim, I am very tired. I am poisoned." I said to him, "What's happened to you?" He says, "I was 60:00in my office as a minister of international relations. I sit on the seat and I feel a pin on my seat. After that, I tried to get up. I fell down. Since that time, I'm not feeling well. I have pain in my stomach. What do you think?" He invite me and someone [else] as a witness. He said, "What do you think, Mr. Ibrahim? You have any ideas of how this happened?" I said to him, "Maybe [they are] targeting you?" He said, "Yes. Exactly, so I went to Nyala. We have traditional doctor."
SLOAN: Traditional medicine?
ISGHA: Medicine. [He said], "Someone saw me--my eyes. He said, 'Your eyes is61:00very red. Your eyes--maybe some red blood in your eyes. This is poison. Who poisoned you?'" The traditional doctor said to him, "I give you some medicine to stop this poison in you. You're mind, your body will like this." [Kalamadeen(??) said,] "So he give me that potion, and he took this and I drink. So my body became one, but I feel pain." Mr. Kalamadeen(??) said to me, "So what do you think?" I said to him, "Mr. Kalamadeen(??), you are in danger. You are still minister of this government?" "Yes," he said. [I asked him], "You can travel out of this country?" He said yes. I said to him, "Tomorrow, you take a trip to Europe or to US. You have authority. You are a minister to save your people, not yourself. You are just now in the way, but we tried to save our people." He 62:00said, "You are right, Mr. Ibrahim. So, what you can give me? What's the message that you'd like transferred to people." I said to him, "Take this with you. When you go there, you make conference, you show the world what has happened, so maybe [you] can help your people. You are one of us." He said, "That's great idea, okay. Where is your books that you wrote?" I said to him, "I have it." He said, "I send a driver. He take your books." I say, "This guy love me to talk about history, and after that I can't talk about the massacre and genocide happening in Darfur."
So, the next day, he traveled to UK--didn't tell anyone. When he arrive there,63:00he met someone called Mr. Ibrahim Diraige(??). He was a governor of Darfur in 1984. He told them what happened, he held a meeting with Darfurians. He said the problem is this plan for the government to make a genocide in Darfur. It became aware to organize yourself, to talk about the governor. He make also interview with some media. After that finished, the international community became involved in Darfur crisis as genocide. When he finished his meeting, his all things, he became very bad in his health. Mr. Ibrahim Diraige(??) called to us at Khartoum, "Stay, be ready to respect Mr. Dictor Kalamadeen(??). He may not be 64:00alive more." After five days, he passed away. He come after two days, he stayed and he passed away. When he come, he met me. He said, "Did I do well? I hope to do remember our people. That's what I'd like to say to you. Don't forget this. So this government--but as soon as some people can, you help other people." So, he passed away, and we see. We do some big. After that, Mr. Hussein(??) also passed away.
SLOAN: But his trip was very important.
ISHAG: Yeah. You see, many important people we're losing in the same period bydifference(??). So you have also someone who work like a general--a just man. 65:00He's called Ahamed Drahman(??). Ahamed Drahman(??), before I went to Darfur to see that massacre in Shoba, I met him. He's the one who is in the minister of justice of Sudan. He's from Darfur, from Nyala. He asked me to come to his office. I was, at that time, very famous. I communicate with the people. He said, "Mr. Ibrahim, I have problems. I work as a minister of justice. There are some problems [that] happen here, and this government is very criminal government." I said to him, "How? You work as the big boss in the justice ministry." He said, "No, Mr. Ibrahim, this government--Omar Bashir--he stole the money of Darfur by the project called Engaz Road. Also, he sent the militia to 66:00steal the Nyala city. I have the evidence." He gets the two files and showed me. He says, "This is the evidence told about this. What can I do? If you open record, they will kill me. This is criminal government." I said to him, "Okay, what do you need to me?" He said, "No records--it's not. You are right. Maybe someday, remember what's happened to me." I said to him, "What would you like to do?" He said, "I will open the record to the president and everyone here. It's not matter if I pass away. I will put myself in the history that I'm an honorable man." I said to him, "Okay." I went to the Darfur. 67:00
He opened the investigation about the Engaz Road from Khartoum to Darfur--how isthis money. He called to the president to come to the investigation and many ministers. He find the media start to talk about what's happened wrong in Sudan, so he goes to the UN, to Geneva--some summit about justice on human rights. When he come back, they had the meeting of the ministers. The government invite him. He died at the meeting. They give him some drink and he died. His wife [and] his children did not see him after that. No one see him forever. We lose someone--a big one in the government. At that time, all Darfurian intelligent--we talk with 68:00them. This is governor. We talk with them politely. We don't like to lose anyone. [We] also let our people who are [overseas] talk about issue. The issue became out of support very big sound of Darfur. The people [are] all like a group. Their friends here in US, in the UK, in every continent talk about Darfur. The UN sent the people to investigate about the massacre. And the President Bush, we are very grateful about him. He take care about Darfur issue also.
SLOAN: Colin Powell--yeah.
ISHAG: Colin Powell--he sent Colin Powell and sent someone who just now wasworking with the Texas university. He's called Mr. Andrew Matthews--Senator 69:00Andrew Matthews. He come in 2006. I met him. He held some names of the people. In the same names, my name is with them. He asked me, he said, "Mr. Ibrahim, you are there at that time?" He come and said, "Mr. Ibrahim, send me to your people. This problem is very dangerous over the world. We try to help you." In 2003, when the rebels movement start, at the same time, the plan of government to destroy all the villages before this attack [began]. You see some information transferred to the rapid movement. There are some planning. Some planes at the 70:00airport have chemical weapons to try to destroy Darfur area. These young people come and attack this airplane in the airport, destroyed all of them. The plan of the government failed. The world discovered what's happened. The world began to see the evidence and some weapons come from Syria, from Iran, from Iraq. President Bush said that this is a genocide, so the evidence is very clear.
SLOAN: I know there were Janjaweed attacks that were also using the air force.
ISHAG: The air force support the Janjaweed. Same like my wife, she's one of thevictims, she and her children too, Abughazi and Manazma. Her previous husband 71:00passed away. [What] you see, like [the] attack of Shoba, is a system all over Darfur. Many southern villages are destroyed, many people killed, and after the attack of Al Fashir also, the government policy is very clear. They use the Janjaweed. For years before the attack, they said this is a criminal. They put big leadership called Musa Hilal in jail [in] Port Sudan--some area called Port Sudan. He sent him to Port Sudan. Governor Ibrahim Suleiman also make some [criminal court], and they kill about ninety--they are crimes. They kill him in Fashir, a famous accident. After that, this criminal, after attacks of Al 72:00Fashir, became a friend of the government. They put Musa Hilal as the leader and give him some position in the government, and also, all the criminals. They said to them, "Kill all these Africans." The world have many evidence of what's happened after 2000 and from 2004 until 2006. Until 2006, it is a government policy to destroy the camp. It started [when] the people [demonstrating] came to the big cities like Fashir and Nyala.
In 2003, September, I was there in Nyala for one trip. I make some73:00recommendations documenting, also I get some documentary from the people who come from area called Wadi Salih--Mukjar. Some young man tell me, "The government militia attack our area. They destroyed about twenty-four villages, about two hundred thousand make them displaced, about ten thousand passed away." They give me the name by writing. He said, "Please, Ibrahim, send this to the community of our people in Khartoum and send them out of country." I came to Fashir. At the same time, I find the people, women, children are very suffering in some area called Zuafir Al Gaba(??), near Al Fashir. So, I find them. They 74:00are very suffering. We come with with a governor. I said to the doctors, "There are some people who are suffering. Please come." She did. We are about three journalists at the same time. Someone from Alayam Newspaper, someone from Mashaba, and me, so we began to make records. [We ask] what's happened. [They would say], "The attack began like this in our area north of Darfur. We are come from Kutum," or "We are come from Abeche." Some say, "We are come from Shoba." We find different areas and how is this people. There are many soldiers. There 75:00are Janjaweed supported by the government. At the same time, the airplanes come to cover these attacks in their villages. If you are man and you are scared, they find you, kill you. You are child, men, they kill you. You are women, they rape you, or you are youngest girl, they rape you. Just now we have come suffering. They have no food at the same time. The picture is very bad at that time when I saw it.
Before I write all this, I come to Khartoum. I met someone called Dictor AllesCinta Adeem(??). He's from Saleh. He's worked as an advisor of the government of Bashir [President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir]. I said to him, "I need you. I have some evidence. You are welcome here." He said, "I know that Mr. Ibrahim. This 76:00government is against Africans, and we are African. We must do something. You are here to see what this government do. We have no power, but we can talk with the international community." So after that in 2004, the President Al Gaddafi--he sent some message to Darfurians to hold a meeting in [Tripoli] enter on 2000 October. I went there with the delegation of Darfur.
SLOAN: In Libya?
ISHAG: In Libya. So it was the time we talked with President Gaddafi. He saidthat the international community give [him] authority to solve this problem. [He 77:00said,] "So I want to hear about your ideas. What do you think?" Everyone talk like this in the meeting. I told him, "Mr. President, please, I have something to tell you. This struggle you see here in Darfur is very dangerous struggle. It is between Arab and African, and you are the governor of Arab, and you are in Africa. If you will not solve this problem, this crisis may be very bad crisis over the world. I need you to invite many Darfurian people [who are] in trouble, from different parts, from different areas, from different tribes, to come here to sit together to talk about this. Even [if only five hundred of] these people 78:00arrive, five hundred is good. You have money, you have oil, you have everything. You are rich man. It's better to solve this problem than you lose everything."
After that, his security council meeting finished, he called me [and said], "Mr.Ibrahim, can I talk with you?" I said, "Okay." [He said,] "What do you think about [what is] going [on in] Darfur? I think you all have a hand in what's going [on] in Darfur [because] you are Arab, and you are African. You have no importance. You have no state. You [don't] have anything. You need to make genocide to end us from this life. You think that we have another power? God have another power. Once you leave for us, they will leave for you." I said, 79:00"No, we are not involved with this problem. We do not support the Arab in Darfur." [He said], "I like to talk with you and with the president, for your ideas that you said." I said to him, "If you do that, you can get solved your problem." He said, "I invite you at the supper with the president."
As the evening come, all the Darfurians are there. At the end of the supper,President Gaddafi said, "I hear some voice. I think that is the wisdom voice that I am very rich man. I can invite all Darfurians, and this is your country. I don't forget the history of Darfur, what the Darfurian people said to Libya when Omar Al-Mukhtar was struggling with the colonialism and the Darfurians 80:00supported him. Just now, I get the ruling from the international community, support by them to solve this problem. Okay, you can come by month. After months about five hundred people from all over the world. I have money, I sent airplane everywhere. The Darfurians come here and talk together to solve their problem. That's good job." And he take supper with us.
After that, I tried to go back to Sudan. When I go back, the general of securitycome to my home at the evening. At that time, my wife come from Darfur. About middle of night, they took me with the weapons and separate her with the weapons. She tried to protect me, and the force have our weapons. At that time, 81:00she pregnant with my daughter, Nor(??). She tried to lose her life for me, so I said, "These people don't like [you] to fight them. I can delegate with them easily. Don't care about me, I will go with them now." That time, they took me with the car. They make this investigation [on] me. "Why you wrote this book? Why you write this article? Why you are thinking more? Why are you active? You're travelling to countries. What [is] behind you? Who support you?" I said to them, "No one support me. This is my heart to help the Sudan people. You are government. I tried to help you. If you need ideas, I will help you to solve this problem. You are keepers of the people. You are [government]. I am one citizen. [That is] my duty." He became wondering how I deal with him like this, 82:00by polite wisdom. He says, "Mr. Ibrahim, if I said to you I became one against the government, you speak very [wisely]. Your ideas [are] very logical, so I agree with you for all the ideas. But, after I agree with you, I became against the government. I don't like to investigate you, but you [must] stay." So, I stay many times. They took me to [my] home to look all over my home. They threaten my wife. They come behind me.
After one month, they release me. I went to Libya again. I find invitation. Atthat time, my vision [was] that all the people came to Libya from Europe, from America, from Cairo, from everywhere. Darfurian leaders here who are in the 83:00rebel movement from SLM [Sudan Liberation Movement], Abdul Wahid al Nur [founder of Darfur Liberation Front], Khalil Ibrahim [leader of the Justice and Equality Movement], all come to Libya. When I reach [Libya], they put me in the hotel. After that, we heard some people, "Oh, Mr. Ibrahim, you are come to home." Hilal said, "I'd like to talk with you as a civil community in Darfur. We are representatives. We don't ask you to take the fire and put you in bad situation. It was just now time to talk together."
So, we have that meeting between civil society, the revolution movement, and theleader of Janjaweed in the same home. Everyone talk, talk, talk, like this. After that, I said to Abdul Wahid al Nur, Khalil, and Musa Hilal, "We must sit 84:00together. This land can let us live very comfortable, as well. Since Darfur start, we are all different tribes. It's not good to use force to fight together, to kill together, to let another people come and take our lands." So Mr. Del (??) said, "Okay, Ibrahim, Mr. Halil sent us, so what you can do?" I said to them, "You can make one leader and one agreement with the civil society and make agreement with the government. Or, if you'd like to fight, you can fight in one part, not different parts. Just now, we fight together, we fight the government, the people. The government use policy to divide us. [If] 85:00the crisis goes on, everything will [be] destroy[ed]."
After that, we held a meeting. The government hears that [we] are near to making[an] agreement, so they sent the plane and took all leader of Janjaweed back to Sudan to divide us between leader Janjaweed and rebel movement. The liberation movement also tried to go back and also civil community. We don't know what we say. That was it. They're all [saying], "Okay, you can go to Sudan and come back." What we don't know [is] why government said this. We [were] nearer to get a solution, so we prepared papers to solve the problem of land, to solve the struggle between tribes, everything [scientifically]. When we went back, 86:00everything is changed. The government is continuing to do his policy to divide the people, to change the people. If you are talk like me, they threaten you, they put you in jail, or kill you. They sent another people. They said, "This is a Darfurian," and just like this, they make dirt again. After that, we didn't try to involve in any activity of peace agreement. I prepared to get out to save my life. I saw how they took me from the home. At that time, if I'm not lucky, they will kill you.
SLOAN: So how did you get out? I know you had connections in other countries.87:00
ISHAG: Remember that we [are] invited again to travel in 2006, December. Afterthey tried many things and everything is not solved, they call us. The ambassador of Libya come and said, "Mr. Ibrahim. You must go travel to meet Al Gaddafi, so he needs your ideas." So he said, "You must go there." I said, "Give me the invitation," and like this. So I went with many Darfurians and go in 2006 [as part of] the agreement between Abul Gassim Imam and the government. When we are over there, the security man of the Sudanese took my passport from the 88:00hotel. After the meeting, [from the airplane, they call my name]. The Minister of Interior of Libyan government said, "Mr. Ibrahim, we need you to meet up with some leaders of [the] community to meet President Al Gaddafi, to tell him what is the reality, what he can do really to solve this problem."
So, the government said, "Ibrahim has no passport." [The Minister of Interior]said, "How he has no passport? How you let him come here without any passport?" The security man of Libya said that someone took [my] passport from the hotel. "We don't know either, [but he] doesn't have any passport. We cannot allow him to stay here without any passport. He must go back to Sudan." That man became very suffering. At that time, the ambassador of Sudan was in the airport. He 89:00said to him, "Come, you are ambassador of Sudan. You can issue new passport to him just now. He wants to stay here." He said, "I have no authority to give him a passport." They make some fighting together. I said to him, "Okay, let me go back home." Someone [who was a] leader of community called--he's from Wadi Salih. Sorry, I can't remember his name. He told me that he [would] stay and meet President Gaddafi. I said to him, "Okay." I went back to airplane and stay.
Abul Gassim Imam, he's a leader of rebels, come to me. He said, "Mr. Ibrahim,you are in danger. You know that?" I said to him, "No." He said, "I listened to 90:00someone. If you drove to Khartoum, they will kill you." I said to him, "Really? What can I do?" He said, "When the airplane land on Nyala, you go with me, so let the airplane go without you. You stay [for a] few days and you can see what's behind this trick. I will keep you with my force and keep you alive until we solve this problem." So, when I landed in the Nyala, I go with him. Also, at the same time, the SPLA [Sudan People's Liberation Army] is a partner of the government. The minister of culture from Darfur, he's from Fur tribe. He said to me, "Mr. Ibrahim, you are in danger, so also I give you my guard to keep you in 91:00safety. We heard that these people would like to kill you. Take care of your life." I said to them, "Yes, they took my passport like this from Libya." They said, "You are very intelligent, so we don't like this government killing you. If you go to Khartoum, try to get out of Sudan."
I reached Khartoum after fifteen days. I take fifteen days in Nyala. I went toKhartoum in 2006. When I arrive there, I talked to some people. Some people told me that some lady can help [me]. She is working as an officer at ministry of interior in Sudan. I go to her and she said, "Mr. Ibrahim, you come to me?" She's from North Darfur. I said yes. [She said,] "Don't talk or tell anyone. 92:00[Just] get out.'" I said, "Okay." She said, "So you are writer, you are thinker, I help you. If these people kill me, I help you. You helped many people, so it's the time to help you." She gets some passport from her desk table and filled it [out]. She get the stamp, and she said, "This is your passport. Don't tell anyone. If you'd like to get to make external, come to me. Don't go to anyone." "Okay," I said to her, "Yes, I'll do it."
After that, I went to the embassy of Egypt, and I organize to see what countryis best for me. I see Saudi Arabia--it's not good for me, I cannot do anything. 93:00I can stay comfortable, but I cannot help anyone. If I go to Libya, I know that Libya's not good. They have some relation between Sudanese government, and also Gadaffi play dirty games with Sudan's government. He supports the rebels by heart and supports the militia by his hand, I know that. I choose to go to Egypt. Some friend has good relation. I give him my passport. He do a stamp to travel to Egypt. After that, I went to the interior and give my passport to that lady. She do a stamp to me also. "When you travel, don't tell anyone. Don't travel by airplane. Travel by train," she said. I told my wife I will try to 94:00leave Sudan. She said, "I know you are in danger. God save you and bless you, and if you reach there, we can follow you." So, I don't tell anyone and travel to Egypt. I reach on 15 March, 2007. This was my trip.
SLOAN: It was really the failure of that peace process that made you decide thatthings weren't going to change quickly.
ISHAG: Yeah, it's not easy to change. I knew that. This is a policy of thegovernment, and I know that the government do dirty games, [while] we [were] in Libya, to change the people. The people come is not going to solve the problem. 95:00Also, they tried to divide us. I understand that. I read the future of these things. I saw [there is no] light in this situation, so I choose to leave.
SLOAN: Was your family able to join you in Egypt soon after?
ISHAG: Yeah, after one year. My wife tried to follow me and reach Egypt also.Her trip is very hard. When she reached [Wadi] Halfa by train, the security catch her also. They said to her, "Where are you going?" She said, "I'm going to Egypt." [They asked,] "Who is your husband?" [She said,] "Ibrahim Ishag." [They said,] "Okay, don't take these children to Egypt. You must go back to Khartoum." 96:00They sent her back from [Wadi] Halfa to Khartoum again. It's very long trip by train. Put her in jail one day without any food, and after second day, they sent her back. She asked them, "Why you put me in jail? I have no crime." They said to her, "You have a problem in documents. You're documents is not complete. You must complete your document." She come very suffering. She knows that if she stay more, she maybe face problem. She go direct to the interior. She met some relative in the interior ministry. He helped her. He said to her, "Your documents is alright. You have not missed anything. Why they drove you back?" 97:00After that, she [was] able to come. On 2008 September she reached Egypt. That's what happened to her.
SLOAN: I know in Egypt there was also a peace process for Darfur, right? Therewas an opportunity when you were in Egypt to continue to work for peace in Darfur.
SLOAN: Yes, you had the opportunity to testify or to give witness of what wasgoing on in Darfur when you were in Egypt?
ISHAG: Yeah, that is in March when I arrive there. Some conference about Arabmedia covers the crisis of Darfur. Some channel called Al Arabiya make some conference at the Semiramis Intercontinental [InterContinental Cairo Semiramis 98:00Hotel] near the embassy of the USA in Cairo. They invite me. I find my name in the people who are invited. Before that, the ICC called me--ICC, International Criminal Court. The secretary of Mr. Ocampo telephoned. She said, "I'm Mrs. Jennifer. Are you Ibrahim Ishag?" I said yes. "Okay, we would like you to come to Egypt. We heard about you, so we have some questions to ask you. Do you have some documents that you come with? You wrote many things about the crisis. You find some [of your] papers. We need the original of these papers, not that publication [from the] UK. We need the paper that you wrote, the original [in] Arabic. [Because] some changes happened, we need the original one. We will send 99:00someone to take this document from you in Cairo." After that, they sent someone. I give him the original documents, and he took these documents as evidence. He said, "We will talk with the UN to protect you. You are a witness."
Many conferences I attended--they invite me. I was in the conference of Arabmedia in March and also the ICC made a conference about Darfur in 2008. I attended. I talked many things about what's happening to Darfurians. The media start to focus in on my speech. The channel called Alhurra--it's an American 100:00channel--it's TV by Arabic, they make interview with me in Cairo, so I create some organization to help the refugees and [get] involved in these activities to help the people. After that, BBC (unintelligible) come and make interview with me. Many channels and many journalists come. Someone come from Netherlands--for Mr. (??) and Mr. Edward Wor (??)--he's a journalist from [the] Netherlands. His uncle is called Edward (??). Let me remember, his uncle is a big one in the UN. He's [with] a delegation of UN at the same time the crisis 101:00was happening in Darfur. I asked him, "[Where] did you get my name?" He said, "My uncle works at UN. He gave me your name. I come with his address to you." He said to me, "You are come here wrong way. You don't come this Arab country. You know that the struggle is between African and Arab, and you don't come in here." I said to him, "No way. I cannot come to Europe directly. I can come here to Egypt and stay." He said, "They will not let you go out of this country." Ah, his uncle is called Yamboron(??)--his uncle. He said, "My uncle, Yamboron(??), told me about you, and has ideas like you also about this crisis not solved." 102:00
From 2008 until 2015, I stay there and [am the] leader of Civil Society ofDarfurians. I [was] involved in many activities to help the people--to help the refugees. I make many conferences, so the government target me when I was in Egypt, also. They tried to kill me many times--sent some people in my center. They attacked me, beat my wife, push her brother, and threaten him until he escaped on boat to Israel. He feared for his life. Also, they tried to threaten her. They punish her, and when I came, also, they beat me with some heavy things 103:00on my back. At the same time, the government of Egypt tried to keep me [in] safety. They said, "We are wondering why these people try to kill you in our country. It's very strange thing that happened." I said to them, "I'm a writer." They said, "We know that you came here in 2002. You give. You do good job. You talk about the history. We know your CV, but we are strange why the government try to kill you here." I said to them, "I don't know. They kill anyone who talk about the issue of Darfur."
So in 2011, after the revolution, I faced many problems. Some days they comewith a pistol--some people. I don't know them. They tried to fire in all my 104:00apartment. So you see, I call to the security outside. I have the secret number. I call to them for help. They said, "What happened, Mr. Ibrahim, to your apartment? We [are] hearing something." I said, "All my apartment is people firing. I don't know who these people are--they set some ambush in my apartment, so I put my children under the bed." The man said, "What is your road?" I said, "My road--I'm near of Dictor Robutir(??)--apartment number--" They said, "Okay, keep hold. After few minutes, we come and help you." After five minutes exactly, the Egyptian security come and cover all the area. They are firing with the 105:00people, and I find someone killed in my apartment door. I don't know who is he. After that, I went to the police. I tried to [give an] official report. The police said, "Mr. Ibrahim, you are safety. You can go back to home. We cannot do anything. This is Egyptian. They are fighting together and no one. Someone injure your wife or your kids?" I said no. [They said,] "So we kept you [safe]. You take care for yourself. Nothing you can do. You cannot open that report here." It's very strange how they are not like me to open the report.
Also, Mr. President Obama visit Egypt. Before that, before Obama, someone called106:00Mr. Bernard(??)--he's worked at the bureau of the migrant(??) here at US--come and meet me, and he invite me at the embassy of US. He said, "Mr. Ibrahim, we heard about you. President [Obama] now know about you, and also I know about you, but I need you to help us [with] what we can do [for] the Darfurian people here in Egypt." So I said to him, "You can help these families here. Talk to the president. The US government is very strong and God will help you. You need to help us to save these families. They are suffering. No one talks about them. They are hungry and the government oppresses. If you talk about them, they will kill you here." [And they said,] "This we already knew, so what are your ideas?" 107:00I said to them, "You can make a decision. You talk about [this] with the UN. You fund the UN about 75 percent amount [of] the budget every year. You can say we need to resettle about two thousand families to worldwide, [to the] US maybe take five hundred houses and this will change their lives [and] save these people." They said, "Okay." He's right some, and he's not. Someone--I am very appreciative of him, Mr. Todd Watson. He's a general and the secretary, in term just a few years. He's my friend. There he come and talk with me. He introduced me to the people here. After that, the decision come from the UN to take two 108:00thousand people from Egypt [and resettle them] all over the world. We are very glad that he do a good job, Mr. Todd and his officers that worked at the US embassy. After that, he called me. Mr. Bernard said, "Our government do what you give us as idea. The two thousand will resettle, and most of them will settle at US."
But, unfortunately, the crisis began to [affect] Libya. Libya began to destroy,and many refugees come from Darfur to Egypt on boat. The government make some come. We make [an] announcement through our association to Red Cross and 109:00International community to help these people. They are [being] target[ed] by the government and the import(??) in very bad situation. So, with IM [Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston] and with many organizations, we create this camp. About three thousand people are there, and the decision came from UN to resettle the people. They're starting from what we call Salloum Camp [Salloum Refugee Camp in Cairo, Egypt]. Many people settling from 2011 until 2013, and this camp was finishing. They are settling most of them at US and some in Europe. After that, the resettling program began to [resettle] the families. Many people also in Cairo neighborhoods are sent to many countries. 110:00
After that, we talk with the people of the US Embassy to help our people. Theysaid, "Okay, but you can go to another country. We make appointment with UK Embassy." We met the ambassador of [UK], and he said to me, "What do you like, Mr. Ibrahim? You are come to our office. You are at our embassy. What would you have [from] our government?" I said to them, "You are humanitarian. You are international community. You are involved in the crisis of Darfur. You colonized us before. We are suffering from that coloniz[ation] until now." He said, "That's sounds very strange." I said, "Yes, so you must keep us. This is a humanity. You have right to keep us. If you [had] not colonized us, we can solve 111:00this problem. So, we come in the good way." He said, "Do write some messages like this?" I said, "Yes, we have message." He said, "This is very wondering. First time the Darfurian come to our embassy over the world and talk like this, so today I will send it to my government." Me--myself--I wrote it by e-mail, and you can see after three days what UK do about the crisis of Darfur. [He said], "We support you. You are right, so we respect the Muslim people." He give me some books [and said], "We have mosques. We have Islamic centers. The pictures that the media told you is not right. If you go and resettle at UK, you will find good life. I will give your ideas to our government, and you see after 112:00tomorrow." So, after tomorrow, we find international community council. The UK give some decision that must [be made] in Darfur to help the people. After a few months, they make order to resettle about five hundred families from Egypt to UK. We find suddenly all the Darfurians transfer to--they fly to UK, and so create a big community just now at Manchester.
ISHAG: Yeah, Manchester. The government said to them, "This is the role of theorganization of Darfur in Egypt. So we, the government, create your organization to help your people, to keep your culture--everything--give you funds to educate 113:00your people. This is our duty." They became very happy and very glad. They sent me some gifts.
That's what happened. After that, I was resettled at the US and very glad thatthe government of US resettled me here. Also, I [am] very grateful for the government of US, around the people of US that respect the people of Darfurian to keep them. I hope that Europe help them as well to develop their life, to be in contact to their homeland families and to develop Darfur. We hope that we create a good relation at the future generation between US and government. You give us life twice. When Mr. Reagan was president, the hunger come. You saved 114:00our life as a Darfurian. When Mr. President Bashir kill us and genocide us, you keep us. That's what I like to say. So, God bless this country, this government. Also, thanks for you Mr. Nathan.
pause in recording
SLOAN: All right, I should've mentioned earlier that Nathan Roberts and MelissaSloan are also with us here, and they've been here for the interview. Nate, you mentioned some questions that you would like to ask to Ibrahim.
ROBERTS: First, thank you for allowing us to come into your home. You've beenvery welcoming, and we are so glad you're here as well. I have a few questions. 115:00All the work that you did for your people, all the writing and thinking that you did in Darfur and also in Egypt, you obviously have a lot of love for Darfur and for your people. What are your hopes for Darfur? What do you want for Darfur?
ISHAG: First, great thing, I will say thank you for you Mr. Nathan and Melissaand brother Stephen. It's great thing for you--all of you. I hope that when we come here to develop our communities, we know that the US respects every people. 116:00I find how they are very nice people--smile to the people. They are educated. Everything is good. We need to get some civilization from you to transfer it to our people there and create good relation between us, as a community, and the American people, to learn from them to develop our communities like this and also try to help the families here. Some families didn't know how to speak English. It's very important. They must be like one unity with division from area, so it is suitable to people to have some. This is escape from being massacred from genocide. They must be like a community. Some planning to help 117:00them to find [one area in which to live would be] good. So that, in the future, if some here organize [the] Darfurians here, we can make project to let them have good life here and to live as a community to develop their skills of training or educating so the new generation can become [well] educated and try to be in contact and to create organizations or companies when they become American. Also, they have their relatives here. They may be everything--relatives from Darfur. They can make some companies to develop so 118:00that we are rich. I think that as the future. I hope to support this country as they support us now. We are suffering and they support us. We hope that we can become like a good ally at the future.
You know why you're writing this history and why I appreciate your interview isto transfer this data to the people. Everything [about] when the crisis happened in Darfur went into the history. The people are resettled in the US and the UK after one hundred years. Maybe the weather has changed. Also, our new generation [will not] forget this happened to us. This happened to all the nations. So I hope many things, but the things that we really need just now [are] to educate 119:00and to develop our lives. We are very suffering. You know that our people there in Darfur are very suffering. You see, Darfur like here--Texas--has everything, really, everything, but we are live [like we are] in the eighteenth century. We are living life like before--two hundred years ago. [We don't have] anything, no schools, no projects. If you have another question, I'm ready.
ROBERTS: Thank you. Your youngest daughter--what will you tell her aboutgenocide in Darfur? When will you tell her about these terrible things that happened and that continue to happen? 120:00
ROBERTS: Your youngest daughter?
MELISSA SLOAN: Hannah.
ROBERTS: Hannah--when will you tell her about those things?
ISHAG: When she get educated, she became educated here. She [has] learnedEnglish [better] than me. Also, she knows that she came from Darfur. Why? By the trip--by airplane trip she gets her history. She knows that. She also makes records. She might find my books. I leave them everywhere. She knows that. Also, if she's lucky and I'm still alive, I will tell her how we came, what she can do, like this. I will tell her to do something [for] the people like I'm now doing. This is a message of their life, so you can transfer your ideas, your experience, to another generation. So, that she can do best. She's very clever 121:00also--Hannah and Nor, both.
MELISSA SLOAN: She is.
ROBERTS: Last question--what do you want people to know? What's the thing youwant them to know most or want them to do once they see this video and read your story? What do you want out of these people?
ISHAG: I want them to know that the problem in Darfur is big problem. It is howthe Arab or Muslim thinks. This is very serious message. They are thinking very wrong ideas in the world. You are Arab, you are Muslim--that means other people are not human. They have feelings that their god gives them that power, but 122:00that's not right. [To be] Islam [is] to be alive and safe, to give your life to another people, to cooperate with the more nations. This is Islam, but this is the wrong Islam. This is not Islam. Also, the Arab thinking [even] more strongly [in the] wrong way. They destroyed their countries by war. They destroyed Africans. They destroyed all over the world. This is the feeling of Arab. They must change their feeling, their thinking of their lives. I want to tell [people] that this struggle in Darfur is not easy. Also, the same things happened to the South Sudan people, and they became a state. Maybe Darfur [will] become a state in the future. That's what Mr. Robert Zoellick [US Deputy Secretary of State] said when I was a journalist in 2006 when he came to Sudan. 123:00We met him and made interview with him. He said, "When we see this crisis go like this, we do as the same what the British do to Darfur. Once the British enter, we find the Darfurian are very suffering. They give them their state. At the future, maybe we keep these people. They are human. They must live in their land."
So, just now the crime is very dangerous, so the government called to Arabs fromall over the world to come and live in Darfur, to come and live in Sudan, to drive out the original people. This is very big crisis--not easy. We need to make calling to help these people--help the people in Syria, in Libya--like 124:00this. No one knows that three million are displaced. About sixty thousand villages were burned. About five hundred thousand people are passed away in this genocide. [It is] not happening in anywhere [else] over the world. [It has] not happened in the history, how the world keeps lying [about] what has happened. We are human and the land is for all the humans--not [just] for the Arab. Even Arab can live in Darfur. Everyone can live in Darfur. This resource does not belong to [just the] Darfurian; it belongs to all the people over the world. We have no educat[ion]. We have no materials to use this resource, so let us develop our 125:00country so another people [can] get use from this resource. We are not against Arab. We are not against anyone. Why is Arab let their country come and kill us? You go back to the history, we find Africans sell [gum arabic] to Arab countries, to Saudi Arabia, to help them, like just now, you just helped all the countries. So, this is our life. This is what reality is.
We need USA government to take action--real action for what's happening toDarfurian people. They are suffering just now, yesterday, [and] for [the past] two weeks, we see what's happening in Jordan to return to Darfur. They came and seek out the protection. The government--I don't know--it then kills the people, 126:00little children and women, and beat them, drove them out of their country, and forced them to go back. What are they faced [with]? They are [to] die deaths in Darfur and Sudan. [That is] what's happening in Egypt, also. When we are in Egypt, we see what's happening to our people in 2006 or 2005. We are very appreciative for the US government to keep ourselves and our people alive here. We don't forget that you help us as an African. But the African leader and African people must change their ideas, how to solve their problems, how to [become] dedicated to themselves. They are not thinking about the communities. 127:00They are thinking about the self. If you become a governor like Omar Bashir, you're serving your family. If you destroy all of Sudan, it doesn't matter.
ROBERTS: Thank you very much. Thank you for your time.
SLOAN: Thank you Ibrahim for sitting down. I want to make sure--is thereanything else you would like to add that you didn't get to say?
ISHAG: No, thank you for you, Mr. Stephen, Mr. Nathan, Mrs. Melissa. I am veryappreciative for you, Melissa. You are coming and tired, take long trip to come to my home to talk with me. I hope you are editing this to be useful to the students for the future and for now. I hope to create a good relation with you. If you need me any time, I can give you any materials from this session for 128:00ideas. I am under demand of you anytime.
SLOAN: Thank you so much Ibrahim, and we're honored to be here. Thank you forsharing your story.
ISHAG: Thank you.
end of interview