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Sudan: More Reports, Little Action
May 10, 2004 (040510)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
The United Nations Security Council met on Friday in private
session and heard a report from the UN Commissioner for Human
Rights documenting a "scorched earth policy" and "repeated crimes
against humanity" by Sudanese militia and troops in Darfur, western
Sudan. But they failed to take any collective action other than
pledging to "monitor developments."
Also on Friday, Human Rights Watch issued its latest report on
Darfur, concluding that "the response of the international
community to the events in Sudan has been nothing short of
The U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee
also held hearings in full session last week on Sudan. Despite
recent statements by U.S. officials critical of Sudan, John
Prendergast of the International Crisis Group told the House
Committee that the Sudan government does not believe "the U.S. will
apply significant or meaningful pressure in response to its
actions, allowing Khartoum to act with virtual impunity." The
committee unanimously passed a resolution urging President Bush to
impose additional sanctions on Sudanese leaders.
European governments have been largely silent, failing to match
stronger statements by UN and U.S. officials. African governments,
for their part, have not only failed to speak out, but have
actively worked to undermine action by the UN Human Rights
Commission. The election of Sudan as one of the African members on
the Human Rights Commission itself, moreover, sent a strong message
to Sudan of international indifference to the killings.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from Prendergast's
testimony to the House International Affairs Committee, and from
another presentation by Omer Ismail of Darfur Peace and
Development. Each made specific proposals for actions on Darfur by
the U.S. and the international community.
The web version of this bulletin contains two other recent
* Excerpts from the May 7 report on Darfur presented by the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights to the UN Security Council, at
* An op-ed I wrote for the Providence Journal (May 6) entitled
"Global Inertia Means Death in Sudan," at
An article by Charles Cobb Jr. of allafrica.com provides a fuller
report on the House Committee hearing and on the political roots of
Sudanese government policy
Other presentations made at the hearing are available at:
For previous bulletins and other background links on Sudan, see:
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++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Special Advisor to the President of the International Crisis Group
May 6, 2004: "Ethnic Cleansing In Darfur"
[first section only: for full text, including background, see:
Thank you, Mr Chairman, for the invitation to testify at this
hearing, and for the Committee's unflagging interest in the
multi-faceted crisis in Sudan.
My first opportunity to testify to a Congressional committee
occurred nearly fifteen years ago, when I spoke of a government in
Khartoum that was using ethnic-based militias to undertake ethnic
cleansing in south-western Sudan. So it is almost surreal to be
back again, with many visits here in between, talking about the
very same tactics being deployed by the very same government with
the very same result of displacement, destruction and death. This
time, though, the victims are Muslim, and from the North. More than
anything else, this should demonstrate to anyone that hasn't paid
sufficient attention that Sudan's war never was simply between
North and South, or between Muslim and Christian. Rather, this is
a national war, in which a small group from the center of the
country maintains power by any means necessary.
Ten years after the Rwandan genocide, the world still frets about
what it should have or could have done during that 90-day
slaughter. In Sudan, three times as many people have died, spread
over a twenty year period. We are still fretting, still wringing
our hands, still wondering if our aid workers will be granted
travel permits to clean up after another bout of ethnic cleansing
has occurred. Sudan is Rwanda in slow motion.
At some point, culpability must enter into the equation. Through
its military tactics, the government in Khartoum is responsible for
creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world (Darfur), the
second largest death toll since World War II (the conflict with the
SPLA), and the world's largest forgotten emergency (northern
Uganda, courtesy of the Lord's Resistance Army). If we keep
treating the symptoms without squarely identifying the cause, we
will be here again in another fifteen years discussing these very
same issues, still wringing our hands.
I. ACTION NEEDED NOW
There are five priorities that must be addressed immediately and
simultaneously if we are to have any impact in ameliorating the
current emergency and addressing the roots of the crisis.
1. Prevent Famine in Darfur
The international community acted too slowly to prevent ethnic
cleansing from occurring in Darfur. The policy of constructive
engagement that was pursued throughout 2003 in pursuit of an IGAD
peace deal compromised the international response to Darfur's
killing fields. The White House did not weigh in publicly until
March 2004, after Khartoum's campaign was completed. Ironically,
this was nearly ten years to the day after the Rwandan genocide had
begun. Even UN representatives spoke out publicly before we heard
from the President on this issue.
Despite being too late to stop the ethnic cleansing campaign, the
international community still has a chance to prevent a major
famine from killing hundreds of thousands more Darfurians. At the
middle levels of USAID up through to Roger Winter and Andrew
Natsios, with some mid-level State Department support, the U.S. is
engaging in this famine prevention effort. But much more must be
done at the highest level to get the Ceasefire Commission stood up,
get international monitors into Darfur, open up access to the OTHER
half million internally displaced persons through road and rail
options, and begin a process leading to the disarmament of the
Janjaweed. Rather than waiting to see if access is granted, much
more assertive planning must be done, in cooperation with Secretary
General Annan on alternative access modalities, such as cross
border operations from Libya, Chad or even southern Sudan, and/or
options for Chapter VII armed protection of emergency aid
2. Address Darfur's Political Roots
It would be a grave mistake if the international community limited
its involvement in Darfur to humanitarian band-aids. This is
exactly what happened for most of the last fifteen years in
southern Sudan, while over two million people perished as the aid
faucet was turned off and on at the whim of the government in
Khartoum. There must be a corresponding push to get a credible,
internationally supported peace process established quickly for
Darfur, as soon as the ceasefire is operational. Venue, structure
and substance for the talks all need to become the subject of
immediate international interest. ICG will have a report on these
critical questions in the next couple of weeks.
A negotiated political solution between the government and the
Darfur rebels is, ultimately, the only option for restoring peace
and stability to Darfur. This is also the best way to deal with the
devastating humanitarian situation in Darfur and the massive
displacement in a manner that can be sustained.
3. Close the IGAD Deal in Naivasha
The other casualty of the international community's policy of
constructive engagement with Khartoum on the IGAD peace process has
been the delay in finalizing the deal in Naivasha. Constructive
engagement and quiet diplomacy in the IGAD talks emboldened the
Sudan government to continue bombing in Darfur and delaying in
Naivasha. The lesson should not be that engagement is wrong, but
rather that engagement needs to be backed up by more serious and
multilateral pressure, as outlined below.
I just returned from Naivasha, where all of the major issues have
now been ironed out. All that remains is for the parties to take
the political decision to sign. If the government decides to sign
the framework deal, we must understand it is only that - a
framework - and that work will have to continue to finalize a
comprehensive peace agreement, which provides yet another
opportunity for delay and obfuscation.
A major push is needed to finish this process and begin
implementing the deal. Such closure will lay the groundwork for
resolution of the Darfur crisis as well.
4. Multilateralize the Sudan Crisis
When the international community has been united on Sudan and used
pressures and incentives in a coordinated way, we have seen
progress on a number of issues. But unfortunately, that has not
usually been the case. The U.S. must work much more intently
through the UN Security Council to convince others to counter the
threat to international peace and security that the Sudan crisis
represents, given the major spillover effects in Chad, Uganda and
When the UN World Food Programme and UN Human Rights Commission
brief the UN Security Council on Friday, the U.S. must be prepared
to press forward with a resolution that provides Chapter VII
authority for further action in Sudan. That authority should be
used for contingency planning for the protection of emergency aid
deliveries as well as for the establishment of a high level panel
to investigate the commission of war crimes in Darfur, as a
precursor to the possible establishment of further mechanisms of
Chapter VII authority remains a pipe dream unless key Security
Council members, starting with the U.S., begin to urgently campaign
for such authority. Sources within the Security Council and the UN
Secretariat believe that if the U.S. is willing to seriously engage
on behalf of Chapter VII authority, the dynamic of debate could
change. Leadership is required. At present, the U.S. mission
remains fixated on getting humanitarian workers into Darfur, a
worthy but insufficient objective.
5. Build Leverage
The Sudan government no longer believes the U.S. will apply
significant or meaningful pressure in response to its actions,
allowing Khartoum to act with virtual impunity. This results from
three years of a policy of constructive engagement that has
witnessed, but not reacted to, a human rights crisis without
parallel in Africa. Not delivering promised incentives related to
normalization of relations is the current form of pressure being
utilized by the U.S. This is again insufficient.
It has to be understood that regime survival has been the principal
impetus for movement in the IGAD peace process. Khartoum was forced
to recalculate after 9/11 because of concern about possible U.S.
action. Khartoum now believes it has effectively neutralized the
post-9/11 threat of U.S. action, and has called the U.S. bluff.
This renewed confidence could lead to non-implementation of any
IGAD agreement, and continued intransigence in Darfur.
To alter this damaging calculation, the existing set of sanctions
and pressures should be enhanced by the following U.S.-led actions:
- Apply targeted sanctions against specific members of the regime
that are most directly responsible for the human rights violations
in Darfur. This would include travel bans and asset freezes. All
efforts should be made to multilateralize these targeted sanctions
through engagement with the European Union and the United Nations.
The most important point is to create individual culpability for
the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- Impose a UN arms embargo through the UN Security Council, banning
the importation of arms by any party to the conflict, including the
- Lay the foundation for the possible creation of further
mechanisms for accountability for war crimes and crimes against
humanity by pressing for the establishment and deployment of a UN
high level panel to conduct an investigation and report to the
Council and the Secretary General.
- Undertake much more concerted and multilateral planning and
diplomacy in pursuit of cross border emergency aid operations,
looking at Chad, Libya and southern Sudan as possible staging
- Revive discussion of capital market sanctions, with the new
caveat that such a provision would only apply if the government of
Sudan were found by the UN to be responsible for ethnic cleansing
or genocide. Thus, a high bar would be set which would not open the
door to the indiscriminate use of this policy instrument, but would
be reserved for only the most heinous of crimes against humanity.
Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
Omer G. Ismail Program Director,
Darfur Peace and Development
May 6, 2004: "Ethnic Cleansing In Darfur"
[excerpts: for full text see:
In the wake of the tenth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, the
world that had said "never again" several times in the past, has
come face to face with another human catastrophe. The present
crisis in Darfur, far Western Sudan, is of different character, yet
has too much the same blue print. ... words are hardly enough to
curb the cruel determination of the regime in Khartoum.
The current humanitarian and the human rights situation in Darfur
Many experts, diplomats, journalists and politicians are describing
the humanitarian situation in Darfur with words like catastrophe,
calamity, the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today,
10,000 to 30,000 are already dead; one million people have been
displaced, of which 110,000 have crossed the border to live as
refugees in neighboring Chad. Their livelihood has been destroyed
and their terrible destitution is evident. Roger Winter of the
USAID has estimated that 100,000 more will perish before we can
catch up with the situation. ... Mr. Gerard Galucci, the Charge
D'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, spoke recently of a
looming famine, a sentiment echoed by experts in the UN, USAID and
several international NGO"s working in Darfur. ...
The human rights violations registered in Darfur are unprecedented.
The marauding Janjaweed militia, aided by the army, has gone on a
rampage of killings, pillaging livestock, burning villages and
gang-raping women. Many hundreds of villages have been destroyed
and their inhabitants displaced. Women were branded on the forehead
or hands after they were raped, to live with the shame and become
stigmatized for life. ...
The scorch-earth policy of the Government that has led to the
demise of two million people in south Sudan, and hundreds of
thousands in the Nuba Mountains continues in Darfur. The government
of Sudan ---which has perfected the art of stalling and deceit ---
has also taken several measures to conceal the evidence of ethnic
cleansing, and human rights violations in the area by:
# Delaying issuing visas to the human rights as well as the
humanitarian staff of the U.N. and other NGO's in order to
"clean-up" before their arrival.
# Even when visas are issued, the delegations will be delayed in
Khartoum for weeks because of "lack of security" in the areas they
intend to visit, or will be denied those permits to travel and work
# The Government has started to absorb its savage militia allies --
"the Janjaweed" -- into the regular army and is in the process of
removing them from Darfur under the guise of redeployment.
# The Government of Sudan issued death certificates to the known
leaders of the Janjaweed and removed them from the area to avoid
future trials or becoming witnesses to implicate the Government.
# The Government is using military marked trucks to remove corpses
from mass graves and rebury them away from the identified sites.
Large sums of money were also paid to some local leaders to deny
the atrocities, and with the help of security forces, intimidate
The US government response, North-South v. North-West
The involvement of the US government in Sudan is vital to the peace
and stability of the country. The Machackos protocol that was
signed in July of 2002 between the GOS and the Sudan People's
Liberation Movement/Army ( SPLM/A) has paved the road to a
comprehensive settlement to the North-South issue. With the
negotiations in Naivasha inching towards fruition, the US
government is wary of undermining that process by pushing too hard
on the GOS. Hence, its official response to the crisis in Darfur
has been that of hesitation to commit to more than strong words for
the regime in Khartoum, denouncing the atrocities of the GOS and
its Janjaweed allies.
The conflict in Darfur emphasizes the political failure of the
successive governments in Sudan to address the issues of
power-sharing and equal distribution of wealth. It is a political
problem and demands a political solution. The US government -- in
the words of Mr. Gerard Galucci -- seems to consider the problem to
be merely humanitarian in nature and capable of being solved solely
in these terms. But the humanitarian catastrophe, and the massive
human rights abuses that have produced the catastrophe, are
symptoms of the much larger political problem. ... It fits all too
well into the overall GOS scheme of Arabization and Islamization of
the entire country. The manifestation of this policy was evident in
declaring Jihad (religious war) against the South. The Nuba
Mountains was the next site for the ethnic cleansing and forced
depopulation, and Darfur is the culmination of the previous
The role of the US and the International community
In the face of Khartoum's relentless bad faith and these deplorable
actions, the international community, led by the U.S., should do
- Work to pass a resolution in the Security Council rebuking the
Government of Sudan in the strongest terms, with the threat of
military intervention if complete humanitarian access is not
granted to all of Darfur.
- A no fly zone over Greater Darfur should be imposed.
- A delegation from the U.S. Congress should visit Khartoum and
tell the Government of Sudan in unambiguous language that it will
face dire consequences if unfettered access was not granted to
humanitarian aid to Darfur, as well as demanding that the GOS stop
its reign of terror and disband and dismantle the Janjaweed
- Encourage President Bush and the leaders of the European troika
involved in the North-South peace talks to speak of the importance
of a peaceful settlement in Darfur as an integral part to the
overall peace in Sudan.
- The international community should move the North-West peace
talks from Chad, which has demonstrated its inability to remain
impartial and an honest broker of peace. The rebels have lost faith
in Chad after they were intimidated and by the virtue of the fact
that Chad knowingly allowed unauthorized individuals that do not
represent the rebels to sign an agreement on political issue with
Khartoum. The European countries or the US should be the host to
any coming negotiations especially after what has happened in
Geneva and the shameless position of the African countries.
While the North-South negotiations should continue, the leverage of
the US government over the GOS should be used to send a clear
message that the GOS must expedite the peace process by negotiating
in good faith and stop its stalling tactics. On the North-West
front, the international community should stand firm and demand of
the GOS unfettered access for humanitarian aid and access for as
many teams as are required, and to work for as long as necessary to
unearth the crimes against humanity and demand that the
perpetrators stand trial for their heinous crimes.
The conflict in Darfur, if not addressed properly will not only
undermine whatever peace may be desired for Sudan, but will
significantly contribute to the instability of the whole
sub-region. With the lessons of Rwanda still fresh in our memories,
we owe it to coming generations to prevent another genocide from
Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Situation of human rights in the Darfur region of the Sudan
7 May 2004
[excerpts: full text available in Word format on site of UNHCHR, at
5. Today, the people of Darfur continue to endure armed conflict
and a severe human rights and humanitarian crisis. From early 2003
fighting intensified in the region following the emergence of two
armed groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and later the Justice
and Equality Movement (JEM), and the commencement by them of
hostilities against the Government. Broadly speaking the SLA and
JEM share an ethnic background [Zaghawa, Fur and Masaalit] They
also appear to share similar political demands, which are
essentially for the Khartoum authorities to address the
marginalisation and underdevelopment of the region.
6. It is the manner of the response to this rebellion by the
Government of Sudan which has led to the current crisis in Darfur.
Following a string of SLA victories in the first months of 2003,
the Government of Sudan appears to have sponsored a militia
composed of a loose collection of fighters of apparently Arab
background, mainly from Darfur, known as the "Janjaweed". ... In
certain areas of Darfur, the Janjaweed have supported the regular
armed forces in attacking and targeting civilian populations
suspected of supporting the rebellion, while in other locations it
appears that the Janjaweed have played the primary role in such
attacks with the military in support. ...
9. On 8-13 April, the mission visited the northern portion of the
Chad border with Sudan. ...
11. On 24-30 April, the mission visited Darfur. It travelled to the
three regional capitals: Nyala (South Darfur), El Fasher (North
Darfur) and El Geneina (West Darfur). From each of these towns, the
mission travelled to outlying locations to meet with, and
interview, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). ,,,
13. The humanitarian consequences of the situation in Darfur, and
by extension the border regions of Chad contiguous with Darfur,
should not be underestimated. Inside Darfur, it is now estimated
that there are just over one million IDPs, as compared to 250,000
in September 2003. Over half of these (c.570,000) are located in
West Darfur, with the rest divided between North and South Darfur
(c.290,000 and 140,000 respectively). ,,,
II. OVERVIEW OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN DARFUR
21. The mission met and spoke with many IDPs and refugees in all
sites and camps that it visited in both Sudan and Chad. These
discussions either took place in the form of individual interviews
or group meetings. The two missions were complementary of each
other building up what is, in effect, a broad map outlining the
main patterns of human rights violations that appear to be being
perpetrated in Darfur. ...
25. Nonetheless, there was a remarkable consistency in the witness
testimony received by OHCHR in all places visited on both sides of
the Sudan/Chad border, from among individuals throughout Darfur and
who had been displaced both many months ago and more recently. ...
29. Attacks on villages appear often to have taken place at night
or in the early morning. Where there were alleged air raids, land
attacks invariably shortly followed. These were carried out either
by Janjaweed or Government of Sudan soldiers or a combination of
both. The chief visible distinction between these two forces
appears to be in their method of transport: Janjaweed were
invariably said to use horses and camels, while Government soldiers
were described as travelling in military vehicles. Both were
dressed in combat fatigues and both were well armed (AK-47s, G3s
and rockets were often mentioned). From some descriptions it
appears that the Janjaweed were more active in attacks on villages
with the military more prominent in attacks on towns, though the
primary operational distinction appears to be that the military
were significantly more active in the north and the Janjaweed in
30. Attacks in the main involved the destruction of property, often
through burning, as well as the destruction of essential supplies
such as flour, millet and other crops; in certain instances, these
supplies were fed to livestock. Also, and frequently, these
livestock were stolen. In a number of cases, it was reported that
attacks continued even as people were fleeing.
31. There were frequent reports - often eyewitness accounts - of
killings. More specifically, a number of testimonies alleged that
men, and even boys, were particular targets; those who were not
able to flee - the disabled and elderly - also appear to have been
at particular risk. Many witnesses were able to name individuals
who had been killed. Some reported seeing dead bodies and some
reported family members or other acquaintances as having
disappeared. In many instances those with whom the mission met
stated that they did not have the time to bury the dead before
fleeing. A sizeable number reported having heard of killings and it
was the fear of this - rather than actually having witnessed it -
that seems to have triggered flight in many cases.
32. Other violations frequently reported to the mission both by
refugees in Chad and even more so by IDPs in Darfur, included
sexual violence, and particularly rape. In the opinion of the
mission, these allegations of rape were credible. ...
36. It is clear from the findings of the mission that a climate of
impunity has prevailed, and continues today to prevail, in Darfur.
While the Government of Sudan maintained that it was making a
concerted effort to re-establish law and order and effective
accountability in the region but that it was being undermined in
these efforts by the actions of the rebels, this was not, in the
opinion of the mission, borne out by realities on the ground. ...
54. The Government of Sudan is responsible not only for the actions
of its regular armed forces and law enforcement officials, but also
for the actions of all irregular forces that it sponsors and
supports. The responsibility of the Government for the actions of
the Janjaweed, also sometimes referred to as the "Fursan" or
"Peshmerga", deserves particular attention.
55. Many with whom the mission spoke, including senior Government
officials, stated that the Government had recruited, uniformed,
armed, supported, and sponsored militias. ...
56. At one IDP location, the mission interviewed a number of
individuals who referred to themselves as Fursan. They were
uniformed in military fatigues and were on horses. The Fursan said
that they were all Arabs and that they had been armed and were paid
by the Government. They said that they acted upon Government
instructions. Significantly, the mission met the Fursan, a group
totalling 17, in the local police station. They outnumbered the
three police present. They were also better equipped than the
police who had no means of communication or transportation. In the
opinion of the mission the police were visibly intimidated by the
presence of the Fursan. ...
65. There are consistent reports among refugee and IDP women from
various locations that "men in uniform" raped and abused women and
young girls. Most allegations were against the Janjaweed. While
there is no doubt that rape is widespread, because of the trauma
and stigma associated with rape and other forms of sexual violence,
it was not possible for the mission to establish the full extent of
66. The mission interviewed tens of refugee and IDP women who said
they had been raped. Many more suspected cases were brought to the
mission's attention. Rape was often multiple, carried out by more
than one man, and it was associated with additional severe violence
including beating with guns, and whipping. Rape often appears to
have taken place while victims were restrained, often at gunpoint,
and at times in front of family members. The mission was informed
that several women have become pregnant as a result of rape.
67. Rape and other forms of sexual abuse by the Janjaweed was
widely alleged to be continuing inside and around IDP sites. Women
often reported that they would be kidnapped and raped if they went
any further than one and a half kilometres away from their camp to
collect wood or to tend their vegetable gardens in their home
village. Rape represents a policy that is employed to intimidate
and humiliate the IDP population and to prevent them from leaving
the vicinity of the IDP sites. ...
72. The mission visited a number of villages in Darfur that had
been burned. Those living in these villages had fled. In two
locations, however, the mission was able to find a few individuals
who had stayed on; they were either too elderly to leave or, in one
case, were compelled to return to their village to irrigate those
crops which constituted their families' only means of sustenance.
Those interviewed told a consistent story of attacks by a large
number of uniformed men on horses or camels, who killed, destroyed,
and looted. ...
76. Particularly worrying to the mission was that reports of
attacks on IDPs and, to a lesser extent, of cross-border raids on
refugees, were ongoing suggesting that the violence was continuing
largely unabated. In several locations, IDPs particularly reported
that uniformed armed men continued to loot and attack individuals,
particularly at night. In several IDP locations, the mission
witnessed what clearly appeared to be armed militia, either on foot
or riding a camel. Women universally feared leaving the vicinity of
their camps because of the risk of abduction and rape. ...
91. While the mandate of the OHCHR mission was to focus on the
human rights situation in Darfur rarely can human rights be looked
at in isolation from the pervading political context; the situation
in Darfur is no exception. It is clear to the mission that a
resolution to the crisis in Darfur will be unlikely for as long as
the basic demands of its people for justice, equality and
development - refrains the mission heard often from the displaced
- are not met. ...
97. The Government of Sudan should, at the highest levels, publicly
and unequivocally condemn all actions and crimes committed by the
Janjaweed and ensure that all militias are immediately disarmed and
disbanded. Violations of human rights and international
humanitarian law must be thoroughly and swiftly investigated and
perpetrators must be brought to justice.
98. Humanitarian workers must be given full and unimpeded access to
Darfur in order to ensure that there is no blockage in the delivery
of much needed humanitarian assistance. Such measures are urgent
given the fact that the rainy season is approaching. The
international community should ensure that the Consolidated Appeal
for Chad (2004), aimed at assisting this country in facing the
crisis in Darfur, is met in full and on time.
99. The Government of Sudan should pursue a policy of national
reconciliation for Darfur, end impunity and promote the rule of law
based on non-discrimination, the effective protection of minorities
and indigenous populations, as well as the participation of all in
public life and the active promotion of development programmes for
Darfur. Although officials in Khartoum stated that more prosecutors
and police were being deployed to Darfur, the mission saw little
evidence that this was the case. It is important that such
officials, well-trained and properly empowered, are deployed as
soon as possible. It is particularly important that the police are
publicly empowered to carry out their responsibilities in
maintaining law and order, including by bringing other armed
elements to justice. ...
103. An international Commission of inquiry is required given the
gravity of the allegations of human rights violations in Darfur,
and the failure of the national legal system to address the
problem. To be credible, such a Commission must be, and must be
seen to be, independent. The Government of Sudan should cooperate
with this Commission. ...
105. There is a need for continuous monitoring of the human rights
situation in Darfur. To this end, the Government of Sudan should
permit the deployment by the United Nations, and the African Union
if desired, of human rights monitors in Darfur. ...
William Minter: Global inertia means death in Sudan
Providence Journal (http://www.projo.com)
May 6, 2004
In a part of the world little known to most Americans, a tragedy is
unfolding. In December a top United Nations official called the
situation in western Sudan's Darfur region "the world's worst
Ten years after the genocide in Rwanda, another scenario of
extermination -- thousands of civilians killed and more than a
million people forcibly displaced -- is playing out, while the
world pays slight attention.
Diplomats and relief agencies are now stepping up their response.
But even these efforts are half-hearted. Diplomatic reluctance to
challenge the Sudanese government is part of the problem: There has
been no clear international message demanding a stop to the
campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Whether or not the killings in Darfur meet the formal definition of
genocide, it's clear that a business-as-usual response can result
only in tens of thousands more deaths.
Researchers from Human Rights Watch spoke in March to some of the
100,000 refugees who had fled across Sudan's western border to
Chad. They document a clear pattern: Government troops have joined
with government-supported militia in razing villages and killing
their inhabitants, or forcing them to flee. The rights organization
confirmed two massacres in early March, in which more than 200 men
were executed after their villages were destroyed. Other reports
estimate that thousands of villages in Darfur had been similarly
The Darfur region is an area the size of France, with a population
of some 7 million. It is both ethnically diverse and marginalized
by the central government, based in Khartoum. All groups in the
region are dark-skinned and Muslim, but some identify culturally as
Arabs, while others do not.
The government has created, armed, and directed militias among the
Arab-identified groups, while rebel movements opposing the
government have gained support among the non-Arab-identified
groups. The Sudanese military government has long practiced this
strategy of divide and rule. It has also promoted ethnic militias
and instigated atrocities against civilians elsewhere in the
country, particularly in southern Sudan, which has been at war for
The conflict in the south has different ethnic outlines from the
fighting in Darfur. For one thing, much of the southern population
is Christian, or else follows traditional non-Muslim practices. But
the patterns of violence are similar.
In all cases, the Sudanese government attempts to evade
responsibility by claiming that it has no control over its
surrogates. Yet Sudanese church sources report that in the last few
weeks, several hundred villagers have been killed, and as many as
120,000 people displaced near the southern town of Malakal.
According to Bishop Kevin Dowling, of the Sudan Ecumenical Forum,
those responsible were militias under government control, supported
by regular Sudanese troops.
In recent years, East African countries, led by Kenya -- and
supported by Britain, Norway and the United States -- have pressed
negotiations on southern Sudan. By late last year the peace talks
had nearly reached an agreement between Khartoum and the main rebel
group in the south, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army.
But failure to deal with fundamental issues of democracy and power
sharing among all the groups in the country could cause that
agreement to unravel and fuel conflict in other regions.
Rhode Island College Prof. Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, a leading scholar
on Sudan, says that any comprehensive peace settlement must cover
the crisis in Darfur. "A separate peace with the south alone," she
says, "would work against the goal of national unity to which
virtually all parties to the decades-long peace process have
The Bush administration has energetically backed the negotiations
between Khartoum and the southern Sudan People's Liberation
Movement/Army. An agreement including shared oil revenues from that
area could simultaneously please U.S. Christian groups and allow
closer U.S. cooperation with Khartoum against global terrorists.
But the peace process in western Sudan has suffered from U.S. and
Neighboring Chad, acting as mediator between the Sudanese
government and the rebel groups in Darfur, brokered a cease-fire
agreement last month. Chadians are sharing their limited resources
with the refugees pouring over the border. But the Chadian
government has neither the influence nor the independence to
monitor the cease-fire or compel the Sudanese government to
Late last month, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell demanded that
the Sudanese government allow relief workers into Darfur
immediately -- before the mid-May rainy season blocks overland
convoys. A U.N. aid assessment team also visited the region. The
African Union is planning a peacekeeping observer mission.
But even delivering relief supplies will require more money,
high-level attention, and pressure, to overcome stalling in
Khartoum. Deterring further ethnic "cleansing" and fostering
genuine negotiations will require determination and sustained
engagement from Washington and other world capitals.
The U.N. Human Rights Commission, which last month passed a
watered-down resolution on Darfur, must insist on follow-up after
a more comprehensive fact-finding report. President Bush -- who has
deferred sanctions against Sudan, saying that Khartoum and the
southern rebels are negotiating "in good faith" -- must be willing
to threaten sanctions to protect the Sudanese in Darfur from
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