A dam that has been proposed for the Nile River has been at the roots of a bloody confrontation between the Sudanese government and the ethnic minority of Nubians who are fearful of losing what has remained of their traditional lands. Four people were killed and 19 were injured when the police fired at villagers protesting against the project.
The Nubians are an ethnic minority in Egypt and Sudan whose history dates back to 2300 BC. The construction the Aswan High Dam in Egypt in the 1960s has affected the cultural continuity of the Nubians and has been the source of painful memories as the dam flooded Nubian villages on both the sides of the border (Egypt-Sudan border) and forced some 90 000 people to settlements -- most of which were located in Sudan's eastern desert. The construction of the dam submerged Wadi Halfa, the Nubian city in Sudan, and 50 000 people were relocated to a new city where many died from malaria and other diseases.
It is no wonder, therefore, that the Nubians are protesting against the new dam. It should not come as a surprise also if the government of Sudan responds to their concerns by firing squads.
Today in international circles it is often said that it is appropriate, before planning a major infrastructure development, for a government to consult with the communities affected (right to information, right to participation and access to justice in environmental matters). This requirement would probably amuse many government officials in Sudan. When consult with them if you can just kill them?
News Source: Dan Morrison, Four Killed Over Nile Dam Project that Threatens Nubian Towns, National Geographic News, June 15, 2007