The world is starting to notice the gruesome situation in Sudan ... sort of.
In a BBC interview on March 19, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, said of the genocide in Darfur that it is "the world's greatest humanitarian crisis, and I don't know why the world isn't doing more about it. . . . The only difference between Rwanda and Darfur now is the numbers involved."
The Arab killers and rapists in Darfur are Muslims, and so are the victims -- black African farmers. The Arabs are herdsmen, and have been competing for water, forage, and the land itself with the African farmers. Sudan's government is supporting the Arab Janjaweed militia's ferocious intent to make Darfur, in the west of Sudan, "Zurga-free." That term is the equivalent of "nigger" used by white racists. It also echoes the Nazis' mission to make Europe "judenfrei" -- Jew-free. [...] Nicholas Kristof, who interviewed displaced African farmers at the border of Sudan and Chad, reported in The New York Times about the choices that parents still trapped in Darfur have to make "when the Janjaweed seize their children, or gang-rape their daughters.
"Should they resist, knowing they will then be shot at once in front of their children? Or what about the parents described by Human Rights Watch who were allowed by the militia to choose how their children would die, burned alive or shot to death?" [...] Remember the black African parents' choice: You want your children burned alive or shot to death?
Then, on May 4, the primary source of this genocide was elected to serve a three-year term on the U.N. Human Rights Commission!
Walking out in disgust, American ambassador Sichan Siv said: "The United States is perplexed and dismayed by the decision to put forward Sudan—a country that massacres its own African citizens—for election to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights."
Sudan lashes out at NGOs (News24.com, South Africa, 17/05/2004
Sudan is to monitor unnamed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) accused of having supported rebels in west Sudan's Darfur region, where a bitter conflict is raging amid strong criticism of the Sudan government's actions. Interior Minister Abdel Rahim Hussein and Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid told a press conference here Sunday that some of the hundreds of NGOs operating in Darfur region "used humanitarian operations as a cover for carrying out a hidden agenda and proved to have supported the rebellion in the past period". For this reason, "the authorities will be careful in permitting such NGOs to operate in Darfur," Hamid said.
The press conference was called to announce the dispatch of a new police unit to Darfur, where United Nations agencies and rights groups say there is a humanitarian catastrophe. Hussein said the force, whose strength he refrained from disclosing, had a high level of training and was equipped with modern weapons and 130 vehicles. "The police force is going there to enforce law and order and to protect the people of Darfur and their property," he said. Hussein also repeated the Sudanese government line that the problem in Darfur "is not an ethnic problem but an economic one connected with pasture and farming and was politicised by the rebels", who, he said, managed to rally local inhabitants "for their own purposes".
Really? Not an ethnic situation? So the fact that the victims are primarily one ethnic group and the persecutors primarily of another is entirely irrelevant! Well, imagine that.
According to our own acting secretary of state for African Affairs, the situation seems to have started as a suppression of rebellion. This would not, however, explain why the government of Sudan's position would seem to be, "Ethnic cleansing, rah rah rah! Ethnic cleansing, sis boom bah!"
Government 'Scorched Earth' Campaign In Darfur Reflecting Fear And Sudan Power Struggle, Says U.S. Official
Posted to the web May 7, 2004
Rebellion and "effective" military operations in Sudan's western Darfur area by the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) "poses in many respects a greater threat than the activities of the SPLM (Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement) in the south." This explains much of the government's brutal response, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Charles R. Snyder told the House International relations Committee Thursday.
Rarely is the full committee called to discuss an African issue. But the unusual and powerful coalition of conservatives and liberals that keep a watchful eye on that beleagured east African nation is now calling Darfur's conflict "the world's worst humanitarian crisis." According to Snyder, sustained rebel attacks by combined SLM and JEM forces, on and around the regional capital of El Fasher early this year, rang loud alarm bells in Khartoum. At one point this past summer, the rebels appeared about to cut off the roads linking the Sudanese capital of Khartoum with Nyala, the main city in Southern Darfur state. "The SPLM has never threatened the north militarily," said Snyder. This past March, Ted Dagne, an Africa specialist at the Congressional Research Service told the Associated Press: "Darfur has really shaken up this regime. Where do they stop this train? If you give in to the political demands of the Darfur rebels, why not to the Beja (in eastern Sudan), why not to the Nuba (in central Sudan) and a bunch of the other marginalized areas."
As a result, said Snyder, Khartoum's response has been ruthless and what amounts to 'ethnic cleansing' is taking place "on a large scale." The government, he told the committee, has armed Arab 'Jinjaweed' militias to carry out attacks against civilians. Government security forces have also been coordinating Jinjaweed attacks, he says. [...] Estimates of the number of civilians killed so far range between 15,000 and 30,000. More than one million people have been displaced because of bombing, torching, and violence that includes mass rape. Roger Winter, Assistant Administrator for USAID's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, told the committee that in a worst-case senario, by the end of the year the number of deaths could reach 350,000 through gunfire and disease. "We think more than 100,000 people will die no matter what, at this point," he said [...] [Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail] also lashed out at the United States saying, it should back off of Sudan given its actions in Iraq. "What the U.S. soldiers are doing there, torturing people with electric shock punishments, all these have been shown on the TV."
Interesting how this argument pops up in the oddest places, isn't it? One way or another, domestically and abroad, people seem determined to make some sort of moral equivalence argument. That aside, Abu Ghraib does mean that, for a time at least, we've lost whatever effective ability we had to speak out against human rights abuses; people will continually be battering us with the "Do as we say, not as we do" bat. That moral equivalence is the desperately weak argument of cowards doesn't matter; in the realm of human rights, honor and reputation are all, and at the moment, we have neither.
Ethnic Cleansing by Government and Militia Forces in Western Sudan
(Human Rights Watch, May 7, 2004)
he government of Sudan is responsible for “ethnic cleansing” and crimes against humanity in Darfur, one of the world’s poorest and most inaccessible regions, on Sudan’s western border with Chad. The Sudanese government and the Arab “Janjaweed” militias it arms and supports have committed numerous attacks on the civilian populations of the African Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups. Government forces oversaw and directly participated in massacres, summary executions of civilians-including women and children—burnings of towns and villages, and the forcible depopulation of wide swathes of land long inhabited by the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa. The Janjaweed militias, Muslim like the African groups they attack, have destroyed mosques, killed Muslim religious leaders, and desecrated Qorans belonging to their enemies.
The government and its Janjaweed allies have killed thousands of Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa-- often in cold blood, raped women, and destroyed villages, food stocks and other supplies essential to the civilian population. They have driven more than one million civilians, mostly farmers, into camps and settlements in Darfur where they live on the very edge of survival, hostage to Janjaweed abuses. More than 110,000 others have fled to neighbouring Chad but the vast majority of war victims remain trapped in Darfur.
CHAD-SUDAN: Janjawid militia in Darfur appears to be out of control (IRINnews.org, 14 May 2004): The Arabic-speaking Janjawid militia groups fighting alongside Sudanese government forces against rebels in Sudan's western Darfur province have been blamed for a series of ceasefire violations within Darfur and have now begun terrorising villages across the border in eastern Chad.
Diplomats and Chadian government officials say these cattle raiders equipped by the Sudanese government with modern weaponry need to be reigned in quickly if rapidly souring relations between the desert neighbours are to be salvaged.
However, they question how much control Khartoum has over these nomadic horsemen and whether the Sudanese government has the will or the capability to bring them back under government control. [...] One captured Janjaweed fighter who was presented to the press in Chad this week confirmed fears that the militia were operating on their own initiative without necessarily following orders from Khartoum. “Nobody sent us to Chad,” said Abakora Abbo Sakhairoun, who identified himself as a Janjawid fighter captured by the Chadian army. “The Sudanese government equipped us with light weapons - kalachnikovs and bazookas - to fight the rebels in Darfur,” he said as he faced the cameras dressed completely in white. “But we take advantage of this to steal cattle in Chad, though we perfectly know that it is not our mission.”
So, with a little luck, what started as a low-level rebellion in southern Sudan can turn into full fledged border war between Sudan and Chad! Isn't that special?
Any resolution of this disaster will largely wind up being a test of the Organization of African Unity and the UN. The US is desperately overextended and couldn't reasonably contribute troops to a peacekeeping mission; in any event, not only is there no peace to keep, but they likely would not accept us. All we can do at this point is to donate humanitarian aid, and hope that it can go through Chad to reach the people who need it most. Going through Khartoum and parts of Sudan will likely mean that it will be expropriated (to put it kindly) by the Sudanese governmetn and their Janjaweed allies. This, of course, assumes that the Janjawid raiders can be kept away from the humanitarian aid supplies.
Elsewhere: that peace agreement in Somalia I mentioned last month? The one that would allow it to form a government for the first time in decades? It seems to be falling apart:
One of the bloodiest episodes of fighting in the city in the last few years erupted on Sunday morning after a disagreement between two militias of the same clan who are loyal to two business people. It involved forces guarding a hotel in the northern district of Behani, and those loyal to a local businessman from the Warsangeli clan, which reportedly attacked the hotel, the property of a businesswoman from the Wabudan clan.
Business people. Clans are fighting for business people.
In Uganda, rebels are attacking refugee camps, killing and kidnapping: ...
"A group of rebels attacked Pagak displaced people's camp in three prongs: one attacked the camp, a second one attacked the soldiers guarding it and the third one concentrated on the patrol units," Bantariza said. "The group that attacked the camp set ablaze dozens of grass-thatched huts to create confusion, then looted food and abducted people whom they forced to carry their loot for a distance before they killed them along with their babies."
There's also this interesting gem about the war between Western Sahara and Morocco from the very end of last month:
Security Council supports self-determination plan for Western Sahara
(United Nations News Service, 29 April 2003)
The United Nations Security Council today supported a plan that would allow the people of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, to determine their own political future, disallowing both Morocco’s rejection of the plan and its proposal to give Western Saharans limited autonomy under its rule.
The Council also extended the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October, instead of 28 February 2005, as Secretary-General Kofi Annan had recommended in his report on the situation.
The report contained Morocco’s April 2004 letter rejecting the 2003 plan for peace between itself and the Western Saharan Frente POLISARIO (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro), but the Council did not mention it.
One really wonders how exactly the UN plans to "disallow" Morocco's objections to Western Sahara's independence, what with Morocco having an army in the country and all. If Morocco chooses to dissemble, all they need do is withdraw their army until after the peace process has concluded, and then send them in again. More logically, they'll just keep them there.Posted by iain at May 17, 2004 03:05 PM