Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Campaign to stop Nile Dam

Religious Intelligence (George Conger)

Sudanese democracy advocates have launched a campaign in Washington to generate pressure upon the National Islamic Front government in Khartoum to stop construction of the Merowe dam at the fourth cataract of the Nile.

“After attacking Christians in Southern Sudan and their fellow Muslims in Darfur, the Khartoum government is continuing its ceaseless campaign of arabization, this time against the Nubians,” Faith McDonnell, the director of the Religious Liberty Program at Washington’s Institute on Religion and Democracy, said on March 7.

The Chinese-built dam will flood the Nile valley between the 4th and 5th cataracts to create a lake to support a 1,250 megawatt hydroelectric station. While UNESCO undertook an extensive campaign to rescue and record over 1,000 archeological sites in the 1960s before the Egypt began construction of the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser, no such campaign is being waged to preserve the remains of the ancient kingdom of Nubia, which will be covered by the man-made lake. Over 70,000 Nubians will be displaced by the flooding, and critics charge little provision is being made for their physical welfare or their cultural heritage. “Completion of these dams is going to wipe out an ancient civilization. The Nubians have a rich cultural tradition as ancestors of both the Black Pharaohs and the ancient Christian church. Their disappearance is a tragedy that we’re trying to prevent from happening,” Ms McDonnell said.

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