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    1. #1
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      Q&A: Sudan's Darfur conflict

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      Q&A: Sudan's Darfur conflict
      The world's worst humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Sudan's western region of Darfur, the United Nations says.
      Some one million people have fled their homes and up to 50,000 people have been killed. Pro-government Arab militias are accused of ethnic cleansing and even genocide against the region's black African population.

      How did the conflict start?

      The conflict began in the arid and impoverished region early in 2003 after a rebel group began attacking government targets, claiming that the region was being neglected by Khartoum.

      The rebels say the government is oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.

      Historically, there has long been tension in Darfur over land and grazing rights between the mostly nomadic Arabs and farmers from the Fur, Massaleet and Zagawa ethnic groups.

      There are two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), which have been linked to senior Sudanese opposition politician Hassan al-Turabi.

      What is the government doing?

      It admits mobilising "self-defence militias" following rebel attacks but denies any links to the Janjaweed, accused of trying to "cleanse" large swathes of territory of black Africans.

      Refugees from Darfur say that following air raids by government aircraft, the Janjaweed ride into villages on horses and camels, slaughtering men, raping women and stealing whatever they can find.

      Many women report being abducted by the Janjaweed and held as sex slaves for more than a week before being released.

      Human rights groups and the US Congress say the Janjaweed are carrying out a genocide.

      If the UN accepts that a genocide is occurring, it is legally obliged to take action to stop it.

      UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Colin Powell have both visited Darfur to see the situation for themselves and to put pressure on the government.

      They said there was a "humanitarian catastrophe" in Darfur but said there was not yet enough evidence to call it a genocide.

      Sudan's government denies being in control of the Janjaweed and President Omar al-Bashir has called them "thieves and gangsters".

      After strong international pressure and the threat of sanctions, the government promised to disarm the Janjaweed. But there is little evidence of this so far.

      The United Nations has given the governemnt until the end of August to quell the violence or face penalties.

      What has happened to the civilians?

      Some one million have fled their homes and up to 50,000 have been killed.

      They have fled their destroyed villages for camps in Darfur's main towns but there is not enough food, water or medicine.

      The Janjaweed patrol outside the camps and Darfurians say the men are killed and the women raped if they venture too far in search of firewood or water.

      Aid workers say that many thousands are at risk of starvation in the camps. The aid operation has become even more difficult now that the rainy season has started, when many parts of Darfur become inaccessible.

      Some children have already died from malnutrition.

      As many as 200,000 have sought safety in neighbouring Chad, but many are camped along a 600km stretch of the border and remain vulnerable to attacks from Sudan.

      Chad is worried that the conflict could spill over the border.

      Its eastern areas have a similar ethnic make-up to Darfur.

      What help are the civilians getting?

      Lots of aid agencies are working in Darfur but they say they have not been given enough money by the international community.

      They also say the government has been blocking their access to Darfur by demanding visas and using other bureaucratic obstacles.

      Sudan says these have now been removed.

      Is anyone trying to stop the fighting?

      The government and the two rebel groups signed a ceasefire in April but this has not held.

      The African Union and other international bodies have been trying to get them to resume talks in Nigeria on 23 August.

      What is the international community doing?

      The UN Security Council passed a US-drafted resolution calling on Sudan's government to halt atrocities by Arab militias within 30 days or face further action.

      The vote was only passed after the US dropped the word "sanctions" and added economic and diplomatic "measures".

      Sudan rejected the resolution, saying it went against previous agreements with the UN.

      China and Pakistan abstained from voting, saying they were dissatisfied with the wording.

      Analysts say that 15-20,000 troops would be needed to secure Darfur and no-one is talking about sending anything like that number. The African Union has sent 150 troops to protect its military observers. Another 150 troops are being sent, but plans for a larger force with a stronger mandate have been resisted by Khartoum.

      So for the moment, the international community is hoping that the threat of further action will be enough to stop the violence.

      Story from BBC NEWS:

      Published: 2004/08/23 09:22:53 GMT

      © BBC MMIV
      "If the enemy is not doing anything against you, you are not doing anything"
      -Ahmed Skou Tour

      "speak truth, do justice, be kind and do not do evil."
      -Baba Orunmila

      "Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular - but one must take it simply because it is right."
      --Dr. Martin L. King

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    2. #2
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      Who Is Janjaweed

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      Sudan's shadowy Arab militia
      More than one million people have fled Sudan's Darfur region, the victims of what UN officials have described as an "ethnic cleansing" campaign by a group of Arab militiamen.
      Many thousands have been killed and human rights groups say there has been a systematic campaign of rape, intended to humiliate and punish non-Arab groups.

      The Janjaweed have attacked black Africans from the Fur, Massaleet and Zagawa ethnic groups with a ruthlessness that has not been seen in the region for some time, report aid agencies and the refugees themselves.

      They have killed, raped, maimed, looted and burned down tens of thousands of village homes, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

      The BBC's Alfred Taban in Khartoum says the number of the Janjaweed is reported to be very small, maybe a few thousand, but they are well armed with automatic weapons and ride well-fed horses and camels.

      Correspondents say that many of the men fighting with the Janjaweed received military training in Libya in the 1980s, when Muammar Gaddafi set up an "Islamic Legion" of mercenaries recruited from across north and west Africa.

      Sanctions threat

      Even before the rebellion erupted in Darfur more than two years ago, the Janjaweed, known then as Arab tribesmen, had been raiding African villages, our correspondent says.

      The objective then, as it is probably still now, is to drive the African tribesmen from their homes and force them to abandon valuable water points and pasture.

      The Janjaweed are nomads and they have been hard hit by desertification, which has greatly diminished water resources and pasture in Darfur.
      Human rights campaigners say the Janjaweed militia were armed and recruited by the Sudan government.

      The government denies these claims but says that self-defence groups were formed following attacks by rebels groups, who took up arms to demand more rights for Darfur's non-Arab groups.

      The United States is threatening to impose sanctions on seven, named alleged Janjaweed leaders.

      One of them, Musa Hilal, vehemently denies taking part in ethnic cleansing.

      "The rebels spread the word Janjaweed as if it were an organisation. As a political group there is no specific concept called Janjaweed... It means nothing, but has been used to mean everything," he told the UK's Guardian newspaper.

      He said that he had responded to a government call to fight back against Darfur's rebels.

      "The government was putting forward a programme of arming for all the people. I called our sons and told them to become armed," he said.


      Following intense international pressure, the government promised to disarm the Janjaweed.

      But, our correspondent says whether that will indeed be done is another question.

      The African tribesmen have supplied the bulk of the fighting forces for both the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), the main rebel groups in Darfur.
      By scuppering the African tribesmen, the Janjaweed are able to disrupt the two movements' recruitment drives.

      This fits well in the government strategy of beating the rebels militarily.

      The Africans of Darfur and relief agencies say that, far from stopping the Janjaweed, the government is providing them with weapons, training and uniforms.

      But the first group of Janjaweed has been found guilty of murder and armed robbery.

      Ten men have been sentenced to have their left hands and right feet amputated, and to spend six years in prison.

      The government says this is proof that it is, finally, taking action to rein in the militia.

      Story from BBC NEWS:

      Published: 2004/04/10 07:10:12 GMT

      © BBC MMIV
      "If the enemy is not doing anything against you, you are not doing anything"
      -Ahmed Skou Tour

      "speak truth, do justice, be kind and do not do evil."
      -Baba Orunmila

      "Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular - but one must take it simply because it is right."
      --Dr. Martin L. King

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    3. #3
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      Who Is Sudan Liberation Army

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      Inside Sudan's rebel army
      By Philip Cox
      BBC Focus On Africa magazine

      Rabu, a rebel fighter, cocks his ageing Kalashnikov and loosens the red bandana on his forehead as he explains to me his unit's combat tactics.
      "When we see the enemy we fight immediately, we rush upon them - there is no attempt at out-flanking or waiting," he says.

      "We must be fast and terrible before their helicopters arrive."

      The Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) has many such guerrilla units, mainly in improvised battle cars, that move across Darfur and raid areas controlled by the Khartoum government whenever they see an opportunity.

      The cars are heavily armed and the young men sport yellow and green turbans, cigarettes and wrap-around shades.

      Rabu is my SLM/A escort as I cross the border from Chad to Darfur. A few days earlier, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan declared the war in Darfur was over and the rebels had been defeated.

      'No peace, only war'

      "If there is peace I want to study mathematics, have camels again and have a TV to watch Liverpool play," Rabu says.

      We have stopped our vehicle and stand under some trees at 0300 in the desert. He pauses and peers out into the darkness, then swings the ragged-looking rocket-propelled grenade off his shoulder. For the past hour we have been followed.

      The car lights in the distance flicker and go out. Rabu crouches down and I follow suit.

      "But with Khartoum there will be no peace, only war," he says. He disappears into the night with my three bodyguards. I am left by the car.
      Then rifle shots go off in the darkness and I hug closer to the car tyre. A little later, three figures are coming towards me in the moonlight. I have no idea whether they are Sudanese army forces or my escorts.

      There is no point running, so I stand up and hold my breath - showing myself in the moonlight.

      The men draw closer, ghostlike out of the darkness. With relief I see Rabu's smile and recognise his easy loping gait.

      We continue on our journey to meet the SLM/A military leader Minni Arkou Minnawi.

      A former English teacher, he is leading the SLM/A rebels in their guerrilla war against the Sudanese government.

      We drive throughout the next day and arrive at a cluster of trees. I see about 20 armed men, thinly spread out, watching our approach.

      Rabu and the others in my car raise their hands and the men step out from behind their cover. Each soldier smiles and grips my hand, and I wonder which one is Minni.

      Rotting corpses

      A carpet is placed in the sand and I remove my shoes and sip hot sweet tea.

      Eventually a man walks slowly towards me in a loose fitting German army coat, with the hood up. I stand up and shake his hand.

      "Mr Philips from London," he says, beaming a smile from under his hood. "I want you to film a message to Mr President of Britain - tell him to come and rescue the people of Darfur."
      I join the rebels in a reconnaissance mission following a government attack.

      In clouds of dust, we speed across the desert, the powerful battle cars moving hard and fast, the soldiers always watching the sky for the government's Antonov planes.

      The cars enter a village, one of the many deserted throughout Darfur, and the young soldiers spill out, cocking their weapons and splitting into small combat groups of five.

      I join one and we run full pelt through the village, Kalashnikovs raised to the shoulders.

      The men are nervous and unsure if the government soldiers are still in the village. But they need not worry - the only residents the village now has are piled corpses: stacked one upon one another, rotting in the sun.

      Philip Cox is a filmmaker based in London. A full version of this article can be found in the April-July issue of BBC Focus On Africa magazine.

      Story from BBC NEWS:

      Published: 2004/04/05 12:14:49 GMT

      © BBC MMIV
      "If the enemy is not doing anything against you, you are not doing anything"
      -Ahmed Skou Tour

      "speak truth, do justice, be kind and do not do evil."
      -Baba Orunmila

      "Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular - but one must take it simply because it is right."
      --Dr. Martin L. King

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    4. #4
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      John Garang: Africa's enduring rebel
      By Gray Phombeah
      BBC News Online

      John Garang was a government army officer sent to quell a mutiny of 500 southern troops who were resisting orders to be shipped north - and never came back.

      John Garang

      Thus began the story of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, which has fought one of Africa's longest-running wars between the Christian and animist South and the Muslim, Arab-speaking North.

      Instead of following his superiors' orders, Mr Garang went on to encourage mutinies in other garrisons and set himself at the head of the rebellion against the Khartoum government.

      He has this cold outlook, giving you this idea that he's above everybody.
      Peter Moszynski

      Since it began in 1983, Sudan's civil war has taken nearly two million lives and left millions more displaced.
      A recent deal between the SPLA and Khartoum has raised hopes that the fighting may soon end.

      Dodging bullets

      With his bulky physique, the jet-black skin of his Dinka ethnic group and a beard, he comes across as one of the most complicated rebels on a continent that has seen every shade of self-proclaimed revolutionaries and liberators.

      This rebel leader with a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the United States has spent his early and middle life in the bush planning to blow up oil wells.

      Despite being at the centre of the Sudan conflict for so long, very little is known about Garang the man.

      He has, at best, been described as a difficult man caught up in a complicated war.

      "It's rather difficult to warm to the man," says Peter Moszynski, a Sudan specialist who has covered the war for many years.

      "He has this cold outlook, giving you this idea that he's above everybody.

      Gill Lusk - deputy editor of Africa Confidential and a Sudan specialist who has interviewed the guerrilla leader several times over the years - describes Mr Garang as a proud man.

      "He's a man with charisma and his leadership qualities are quite obvious," Ms Lusk told News Online.

      "He's very much a professional military man, a man who believes he's clever.

      "He likes grand ideas, and has a great sense of humour - at least among his people."

      Blowing horns

      John Garang was born in 1945 into the southern Dinka group famous for worshipping the sky, playing music on ram's horns and their love of roast meat.

      His family was Christian and he went on to study in the United States.

      He studied at Grinnell College, Iowa, and later returned to the US for military training at Fort Benning, Georgia.

      Mr Garang's first taste of guerrilla warfare was at the start of the civil war with the southern-based Anya Anya movement in 1962.

      Ten years later, the Khartoum government signed a deal with Anya Anya and the south became a self-governing region.

      Mr Garang and others were absorbed in the government army and moved to Khartoum.

      But five years after oil was discovered in southern Sudan in 1978, the civil war erupted again - this time involving the government forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, SPLM, and its military wing, the SPLA.

      The ideological profile of SPLA has been as shadowy as Garang himself.

      John Garang did not tolerate dissent and anyone who disagreed with him was either imprisoned or killed
      Gill Lusk

      He has varied from Marxism to drawing support from Christian fundamentalists in the US.

      There has always been confusion on central issues such as whether the SPLA is fighting for independence for southern Sudan or merely more autonomy.

      Friends and foes alike find the SPLA's human rights record in southern Sudan and Garang's style of governance disturbing.

      Murky world

      "The SPLA has definitely changed quite a lot over the years for the better," says Gill Lusk.

      "But in the past it was guilty of committing serious human rights violations in southern parts of the country.

      "John Garang did not tolerate dissent and anyone who disagreed with him or the leadership was either imprisoned or killed."

      In the murky world of guerrilla warfare, John Garang has survived attempts on his life from those within and outside his movement.

      "He outfoxed everyone else by being cunning, by staying one step ahead," says Peter Verney, editor of Sudan Update and Independent Information Services.

      "You can tell by the type of security around him whenever he travels."

      But he is credited for keeping the movement together through turbulent times.

      By 1986 the SPLA was estimated to have 12,500 armed men, organized into 12 battalions and equipped with small arms and a few mortars, according to Sudan specialists who have been monitoring the war.

      By 1989 the SPLA's strength had reached 20,000 to 30,000 and rose to between 50,000 to 60,000 in 1991.

      Today, Mr Garang's SPLA controls much of the southern third of the country - including pockets of territory in central and eastern Sudan.


      "He has been consistent," argues Peter Verney.

      "He has been carrying the hopes and aspirations of southern Sudanese - and he has known all along that they would ditch him if he didn't deliver."

      Mr Verney sees a new Garang emerging from Sudan's bloody war.

      "He was aloof before, very much to himself.

      "But we are seeing him now becoming more approachable, becoming a politician, even a statesman.

      "There is a new sense of dignity and openness about him - or perhaps just PR."

      And if the latest deal holds, maybe these new statesmanlike qualities will be in demand.

      Story from BBC NEWS:

      Published: 2002/07/25 11:09:55 GMT

      © BBC MMIV
      "If the enemy is not doing anything against you, you are not doing anything"
      -Ahmed Skou Tour

      "speak truth, do justice, be kind and do not do evil."
      -Baba Orunmila

      "Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular - but one must take it simply because it is right."
      --Dr. Martin L. King

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    5. #5
      rebelAfrika's Avatar
      rebelAfrika is offline Pan-Africanism or Perish!

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      Darfur: Seeking the truth - Special Series on Sudan
      By Cedric Muhammad
      Updated Aug 31, 2004, 10:52 pm

      Part I of Special News Series on Sudan

      Rawandan troops get ready, Aug. 15, to board a transport plane at Kigali International Airport that took them to Sudan's troubled western region of Darfur.
      ( - The United Nations has called Darfur the home of the worst humanitarian disaster in the world and the publicized statistics regarding events within the past 18 months in this western region of the Sudan are horrific.

      Amnesty International has estimated that 30,000 people have been killed, 130,000 have been forced to live as refugees in neighboring Chad, and over one million have been displaced inside of Sudan, with 2.2 million affected by violence.

      News coverage of the unfolding situation is almost uniformly described as an ethnic cleansing campaign by light-skinned Arab militias ruthlessly killing dark-skinned African civilians.

      The United Nations estimates that up to 50,000 people have been killed in Darfur and more than a million have fled their homes, 200,000 seeking refuge in neighboring Chad. Pictured here August 1, Sudanese refugees at one refugee camp.
      But, in light of the complex ethnic and economic history of the region, can such descriptions adequately describe the situation?

      Some who describe the situation as genocide, while acknowledging racial and ethnic complexities, believe that the accuracy regarding ethnicity should take a back seat to the recognition of human suffering.

      In an interview with, activist Joe Madison, president of The Sudan Campaign, said, “It really doesn’t make any difference what the ethnicity of the individuals are. The bottom line is that they are all God’s children. The bottom line is that they are human beings. The bottom line is that they are citizens of Sudan and do not and should not be treated like this.”

      On the other hand, journalist Sam Dealey, a former editorial page writer for the Asian Wall St. Journal, asserts that how the conflict is characterized is relevant to how the problem is solved. In an op-ed appearing in the August 8 edition of the New York Times, he wrote, in part, about the lack of a factual connection between media reports and the reality on the ground in Darfur, which exposed “three myths of one of the worst humanitarian crises—that the Janjaweed are the sole source of trouble and are acting only as proxies for Khartoum; that the conflict pits light-skinned Arabs against black Africans; and that the Sudanese government can immediately end the war whenever it wishes. Until the international community puts aside these simplifications, no sustainable solution can emerge.”

      Beyond labels
      Mr. Dealey also wrote of his time spent with a Janjaweed militia leader, Musa Khaber. The Janjaweed are commonly reported to be light-skinned Arabs who are responsible for killing Blacks.

      But Mr. Dealey writes, “Mr. Khaber’s group is made up of Arab and African tribesman. A dark-skinned Berti African, Mr. Khaber describes himself as an Arab.” Interestingly, the Berti people are generally classified by many historians and ethnographers as an Indigenous Black African group.

      Northwestern University and University of Bergen Professor Sean O’Fahey, an expert in Islamic Sudan and Darfur, contends that the Arab vs. Black African characterization of Darfur “is both very recent and very misleading. For example, the use of the term “Zurqa,” (Blacks), to distinguish non-Arab peoples from Arabs has a long history in the region, but only recently has it acquired racial and racist overtones.”

      The pan-African organization Justice Africa has also expressed its concerns regarding the racial characterization of the conflict. In a July 30 special report, “Prospects For Peace In Sudan,” it wrote: “The press coverage and its dichotomization of ‘Arabs’ and ‘Africans’ continues to have the unfortunate side effect of further entrenching the racial component to the war in Darfur.

      “As journalists are finding out when they visit Darfur, it is rarely possible to tell ‘Arab’ from ‘African’ by skin color. Most Darfur Arabs are black, indigenous and African. They are ‘Arab’ in the old sense of being Bedouin, rather than hailing from the Arab homelands of the Nile Valley or Fertile Crescent, and their Arabism is a relatively recent political construct.”

      Ethnic and ecologic roots of tension
      Darfur is the 114,000 sq. mile westernmost province of Sudan, about the size of the country of France. With 6.5 million people, the area is a sparsely populated land marked by large portions of desert. The name “Darfur” has been translated by some as “homeland of the Fur people,” referring to the most populous group in Darfur, who have arguably been the most wealthy in terms of natural resources.

      Darfur, today, is the home of some 80 tribes and ethnic groups divided largely between nomadic grazers and sedentary farmers. Some historians, like S. Harir and A.M. Ahmed, suggest that the population of Darfur can also be divided into four groups: the Baggara (cattle nomads); the Aballa (camel nomads); the Zurga (the local name for non-Arab peasants, derived from the Arabic word for Black); and the urban dwellers.

      All of the people of Darfur are Muslim. Professor O’Fahey believes that Darfur can be divided into three ethnic zones. Because Darfur is Sudan’s least chartered area, the region has never been ethnically homogeneous. Arab and non-Arab, mainly camel nomads, or the Aballa, live in the north; non-Arab sedentary farmers, including the Fur and Masalit people, inhabit the central zone; and a southern area is made up of Arabic-speaking cattle nomads, the Baggara.

      The region has been troubled by ecological degradation and scarcity, marked by long droughts and famine, which have aggravated tensions and strained relations between various groups.

      The Fur, Zaghawa nomads, Masalit, Berti and Meidob ethnic groups exclusively established The Darfur Development Front (DDF) in the mid 1960s for the purpose of protecting and lobbying the interests of the Indigenous Darfurians. The economic pressure on these ethnic groups and their political lobbying intensified with a lengthy drought in 1967 in northern Darfur, which continued almost without interruption through the 1980s. Prolonged droughts accelerated the desertification of northern and central Darfur, and caused a famine and unprecedented displacement as camel nomads were forced to move south, placing pressure on grazing and water resources.

      These tensions intensified conflict along ethnic and tribal lines, due to an increase in the proliferation of guns and the breakdown of kinship systems and the age-old methods of conflict resolution within tribes. This problem was compounded by efforts in the 1980s by both the Sudanese government and the leading opposition group in southern Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), to arm Darfurian tribes and ethnic groups, making the region another front for the broader civil war gripping the country.

      Political strife and stereotypes
      The emergence of the Arab Congregation in the 1980s, a political alliance of pastoralist nomadic tribes and urban merchants and government officials, further increased tensions. The congregation, like the DDF, was a political lobby seeking to influence the central government and gain the support of national political parties.

      Last year, as the Sudanese government and the SPLA reached the final stages of a peace agreement ending over 20 years of civil war, two new armed political movements dramatically arose—the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)—representing themselves as advocates for the marginalized people of Darfur.

      Mainstream media outlets identify both groups as deriving their membership from “Black African” Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit tribes, while the Sudanese government says the SLA is almost exclusively derived from a single group, the Zaghawa; and the JEM, it claims is closely aligned with “extremist Islamic political leaders hostile to the present Sudanese government.”

      In response to the rise of the JEM and SLA, it is widely reported that the Sudanese government, having little interest in directly fighting these groups, supported a counterinsurgency movement by using militias from nomadic tribes, now commonly referred to as the Janjaweed, to put down the rebellion.

      A direct result of the rise of the JEM and SLA and the fighting that ensued has been the stalling of the overall Sudanese peace process between the government in Khartoum and the SPLA.

      Political timetables
      The Security Council has given the Sudanese government a 30-day timetable, which ends Aug. 29, to show progress in disarming the Janjaweed militias. Farhan Haq in the office of the spokesman of the UN Secretary-General, when asked about the role that might be played by the African Union in disarming these militias, said, “The Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan has sent a UN team to the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia to advise on an expanded deployment of African Union troops in Darfur. There are already 300 troops there and there are discussions around the idea of bolstering that number up to several thousand.”

      It is not clear exactly what the consequences would be if the United Nations deems that the Sudanese government is not in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1556. But the United States’ UN Ambassador John Danforth has indicated within UN circles that an intensification of sanctions on Sudan is one option. But there is no clear consensus visible on the matter among the Security Council members who would be responsible for making the final decision.

      There are, however, rumblings that some countries may not wait on the United Nations Security Council to act before they intervene in Darfur. The Guardian newspaper in London has reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has asked his foreign office and advisers to draw up plans for possible military intervention in Sudan. Reportedly, the plans would include British logistical support for the African Union, the delivery of humanitarian services and the protection of refugee camps from armed militias. A British government official is quoted in a July 22 Guardian article as saying, “The prime minister has asked us to look at all options that will save lives and not to rule out the military services.”

      There are projections that the U.S. may also be tempted to intervene. The Bush administration has been consistent in its condemnations of events in the Sudan. In an April 7 presidential statement issued by the White House, President George Bush said, “New fighting in the Darfur region of Sudan has opened a new chapter of tragedy in Sudan’s troubled history. The Sudanese government must immediately stop local militias from committing atrocities against the local population and must provide unrestricted access to humanitarian aid agencies. I condemn these atrocities, which are displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians, and I have expressed my views directly to President Bashir of Sudan.”

      As has been the case for most of this year, critics don’t believe the President’s labeling of “atrocities” in Darfur goes nearly far enough. One of those critics is his major opponent in the general election in November.

      In his address before the NAACP convention in July, Senator John Kerry said, “This administration must stop equivocating. These government sponsored atrocities should be called by their rightful name—genocide.” The Democratic presidential candidate also called for sanctions and international humanitarian intervention.

      Sudanese officials have expressed concern over the nature of the public characterization of what is happening in Darfur and, in particular, comments from U.S. political leaders. Reportedly, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Othman Ismail, in a July interview with the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, criticized Pres. Bush of trying to exploit the crisis in Darfur to win Black votes.

      “The only explanation to this escalation is that it has become part of the American election campaign to attract Black voters,” he said.

      Comments by both Pres. Bush and Sen. Kerry are leading to growing concern among members of the Sudanese leadership that the issue of Darfur will become an issue in the final months of the 2004 presidential campaign. Sudanese officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed concerns to The Final Call in response to the possible scenario that a back-and-forth competition for Black voters could lead to an increasingly aggressive military-oriented posture toward the Sudan by both political parties.

      “I can see President Bush might feel the need to take bold steps in regards to Darfur in order to answer the position of candidate John Kerry, and satisfy Black Americans,” expressed one official.

      International law and humanitarian calls
      A diverse coalition of activists, organizations and institutions have been hurling charges of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Sudanese government for allegedly using the Janjaweed, an Arab tribal militia group, to systematically kill Black Darfurians.

      Both the House of Representatives and Senate have officially declared what is taking place as “genocide.” Human Rights Watch has accused the Sudanese government of directing a militia of “Arab-ethnic origin” known as the Janjaweed to attack “Black African” civilians. A chorus of activists and media outlets has also alleged that the Sudanese government is interfering with the delivery of international humanitarian aid.

      In a release, Mr. Madison, who is on a hunger strike to protest the situation, said, “What is happening in Darfur is nothing short of criminal, the acts of violence and destruction are not random or a result of war. Simply put, they are byproducts of ethnic cleansing and a scorched earth policy.”

      Africa Action Executive Director Salih Booker says, “We believe strongly that the evidence is ample, both of the intent and the physical evidence that what is taking place (in Darfur) is genocide.”

      And, for the first time in its history, the Holocaust Museum declared a “genocide emergency” in regards to Darfur. In an official statement, chair of the museum’s Committee on Conscience, Tom Bernstein said, “We began warning about the threat of genocide in Darfur at the beginning of this year. That threat is now becoming reality.”

      At the exact same time these statements have been made, the African Union, European Commission and Arab League have all stated that they do not believe that what is happening is a clear case of genocide. The United Nations itself has fallen short of labeling Darfur a site of genocide. During a June press conference, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the situation “was bordering on ethnic cleansing.”

      And there has been little clarity on the controversial subject coming from the U.S. Capitol. The government says it is in the process of investigating the matter. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in an August 5 op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, wrote: “A U.S. team is on the ground in Chad interviewing Sudanese refugees from Darfur in order to gather information that will help our government make a determination as to whether the violence and atrocities in Darfur constitute genocide under the International Convention for the Prevention of Genocide.”

      It is widely accepted that the international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1948. Article II describes five types of violence that constitute genocide.

      It reads: “In the present Con-vention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as: [a] Killing members of the group; [b] Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; [c] Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; [d] Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [e] Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

      The emphasis on the label of genocide is strategic in nature, as well as humanitarian. Some organizations are openly campaigning for the United Nations to officially describe the situation as genocide, with the knowledge that such a step would trigger mandatory political, humanitarian and military action from UN members.

      The organization Africa Action has launched a petition drive specifically demanding that the U.S. and UN make the official declaration of genocide. In an official talking point, the group openly argues the label’s importance, stating, “As parties to the Genocide Convention, all permanent members of the UN Security Council—including the U.S.—and more than 130 countries worldwide, are bound to prevent, stop and punish genocide.”

      A weak link
      Most of the activists, government officials and institutions alleging genocide do so primarily on the basis of evidence showing a link between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed; and the testimony of victims and individuals in refugee camps in Chad, or those within Sudan classified as internally displaced peoples (IDPs).

      The two most influential Western organizations compiling such evidence and testimonies are Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Generally speaking, the findings of both organizations are being weaved together to support a case that the government of Sudan is supporting rebel groups of Arab identification who are exclusively targeting Black Africans in Darfur for murder and abuse. Human Rights Watch claims it has documentation of “hand in glove” collaboration between the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed in carrying out attacks on innocent civilians. Amnesty International claims it has testimony of victims of rape and violence at the hands of the Janjaweed.

      Interestingly, neither Amnesty International nor Human Rights Watch officially advocates the characterization of the situation in Darfur as “genocide.” A high-level individual inside of one of these organizations told this writer that they believe the hesitancy to officially advocate the use of the word “genocide” stems from a fear that secure access to conduct research within the countries may be denied.

      It has been argued that this concern persuaded the UN High Commission on Human Rights in April of this year to allegedly suppress a report critical of human rights abuses along the Chad-Sudan border. UN spokesperson Jose Luis Diaz, in an April 29 letter to the Washington Post in response to such charges, indicated factors other than the publication of the truth that impact the issue of reports.

      “Our presence in Darfur may provide a measure of protection to people at risk, protection that would have been unavailable if we had issued the report and provided a rationale for the denial of access,” he wrote.

      Another problem with the allegations of a genocidal link between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed lies in the evidence provided by the primary authority of such a relationship, Human Rights Watch. Although in its July 9, 2004 report, “Darfur Documents Confirm Government Policy of Militia Support,” the group claims to have written documentation of official support between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed, in reality these claims only assert a direct relationship between the Janjaweed and the local Darfur civilian administration. They do not offer any written documentation of collaboration between the Janjaweed and the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

      Also, according to Mr. Dealey, there are members of the Janjaweed on record as denying any alliance with the Sudanese government, belying the assumptions of many, including the United Nations and the United States. Mr. Khaber denies that his Janjaweed are aligned with anyone.

      “We are not with the government, we are not with the rebels,” he told Mr. Dealey. “We are in hell. We want what is due.” For 25 years, he said, he and his group have waged war against a succession of regimes that failed to adequately care for his people.

      One-sided charges in a larger conflict
      A final concern regarding the evidence and testimony used to support charges of genocide is that they are often one-sided in nature. Amnesty International admits in one of its most influential reports, “Darfur: Rape as a weapon of war: sexual violence and its consequences,” that some of the exact allegations against the Janjaweed were brought to their attention regarding the conduct of the rebel groups, the SLA and JEM, but that the human rights fact-finding and advocacy organization was not able to investigate them fully.

      “There have been reports of abuses and torture, including rape, by members of the SLA and JEM, but due to the restrictions on access to the area, including those imposed by lack of security, it is difficult to collect more evidence on the human rights abuses reportedly committed by insurgents,” according to the report.

      Amnesty International’s Africa Director Adotei Akwei acknowledges the shortcomings of his organization’s coverage of atrocities on both sides of the conflict, telling The Final Call, “Our organization has a certain organizational hang-up about going into countries officially, we don’t sneak across borders. But we will have to go back and verify these things and corroborate the testimony that we are getting from the refugee camps (about attacks by rebel groups).”

      Mr. Akwei readily admits that there is evidence to justify greater attention paid to the deeds of those opposing the Sudanese government, as it relates to their respect for humanitarian assistance.

      “Those rebel groups are also not complying in terms of humanitarian law, because they have attacked humanitarian convoys, they have seized stuff. They have disrupted food supplies going in, and we certainly don’t know what is going on in their camps. So, the focus on the Janjaweed and the army and Khartoum is all legitimate, but that does not mean that there is not a larger problem.”

      (This is the first part in a three-part series examining the situation in Darfur.)

      © Copyright 2004 FCN Publishing,

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