Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Darfur - Mass murder continues unchecked (Daily Telegraph)

Daily Telegraph:

It is probably true to say that the [Sudanese] government did not embark on operations in the western region with the intention of eliminating its sedentary population.

It was, rather, doing what it has done in many other parts of the country: seeking to crush an insurgency through terror tactics. Yet each day the line between that brutal campaign and genocide becomes thinner. Despite numerous appeals for peace, Khartoum is stepping up an offensive aimed not so much at the two rebel groups as the civilian population. Studying data from various sources, Jan Coebergh, a doctor who has worked in Darfur, estimates that the death toll there is about 300,000, well above the commonly quoted figure of 70,000. Whatever the truth, the escalation of the conflict is rapidly pushing up the total. Sudan's Islamist government may not have sized up its victims with the same chilling method displayed by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994, but that is a distinction likely to be lost on those in Darfur subjected to bombing, murder, rape and loot.

Likewise, the disagreement over what constitutes genocide seems academic in the absence of effective outside intervention. It is piously said that this is a problem for Africa to sort out. Yet the African Union force in Darfur is both tardy in deployment and ill equipped to bring order to such a vast area. Western logistical help is overdue. Beyond that, the enforcement of a no-fly zone and the dispatch of a small ground force under a UN mandate should be enough to blunt Khartoum's offensive.


Africa Action:

Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said this morning, "The UN Commission Report masks the truth and contradicts itself. It concludes that the Sudanese government "has not pursued a policy of genocide", while it admits that the government and its militias are responsible for widespread and systematic crimes against civilians, which "may be no less serious and heinous than genocide." In effect, it is punting to the International Criminal Court, which it says should make a determination on genocidal intent. Just as happened in Rwanda a decade ago, the international community is splitting hairs as a genocide unfolds in Africa." [....]
As the UN Report recommends that the International Criminal Court be invited to pursue the prosecution of those suspected of war crimes in Darfur, and as the U.S. proposes the creation of a new and separate tribunal in Tanzania, Colgan warned this morning, "This debate over the location and composition of a war crimes tribunal for Darfur diverts attention from the immediate priority, which must be ending the ongoing genocide. It is certainly important to ensure that those responsible are held accountable and brought to justice for their crimes, but people are still dying in Darfur at a rate estimated to be 35,000 deaths per month, and ending this violence must be the first order of business for the international community."

--Jeff Weintraub

======================
Daily Telegraph
February 2, 2005

Sudan's shame

The American Congress and State Department and the European Parliament have declared that the Sudanese government's military campaign in Darfur amounts to genocide. The United Nations begs to disagree, accusing Khartoum and its allied militias of atrocities that fall short of that crime as defined by the 1948 convention. It is probably true to say that the government did not embark on operations in the western region with the intention of eliminating its sedentary population.

It was, rather, doing what it has done in many other parts of the country: seeking to crush an insurgency through terror tactics. Yet each day the line between that brutal campaign and genocide becomes thinner. Despite numerous appeals for peace, Khartoum is stepping up an offensive aimed not so much at the two rebel groups as the civilian population. Studying data from various sources, Jan Coebergh, a doctor who has worked in Darfur, estimates that the death toll there is about 300,000, well above the commonly quoted figure of 70,000. Whatever the truth, the escalation of the conflict is rapidly pushing up the total. Sudan's Islamist government may not have sized up its victims with the same chilling method displayed by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994, but that is a distinction likely to be lost on those in Darfur subjected to bombing, murder, rape and loot.

Likewise, the disagreement over what constitutes genocide seems academic in the absence of effective outside intervention. It is piously said that this is a problem for Africa to sort out. Yet the African Union force in Darfur is both tardy in deployment and ill equipped to bring order to such a vast area. Western logistical help is overdue. Beyond that, the enforcement of a no-fly zone and the dispatch of a small ground force under a UN mandate should be enough to blunt Khartoum's offensive.

That is not happening because Darfur is regarded as a sideshow to the north-south peace agreement between Khartoum and Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, which was signed in January and ratified by the Sudanese parliament yesterday. Yet what confidence can there be that a government oblivious to outside appeals over Darfur will not renege on its agreements with the south? The truth is that Omar al-Bashir's National Congress is determined to crush any form of dissent. In a country of such political, ethnic and religious diversity, that is no recipe for long-term stability.

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http://www.passionofthepresent.com/
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Africa Action
February 1, 2005

Africa Action Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ann-Louise Colgan (202) 546-7961

Africa Action Rejects Conclusion of UN Report on Darfur

Urges Immediate Action to Address Ongoing Atrocities against Civilians;
Warns Against Shift of Focus to Debate over Tribunals while Genocide Continues


Tuesday, February 1, 2005 (Washington, DC) - Africa Action today rejected the conclusion of a United Nations (UN) Special Commission report, which this week declares that a pattern of government-sponsored killings, displacement and other forms of violence in Darfur, Sudan, does not constitute genocide. The report, which acknowledges that abuses carried out by government and militia forces in Darfur may constitute "crimes against humanity", comes just one week after UN and African Union (AU) troops confirmed new attacks against civilians by the Sudanese Air Force, killing at least 105 people, most of these women and children.

Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said this morning, "The UN Commission Report masks the truth and contradicts itself. It concludes that the Sudanese government "has not pursued a policy of genocide", while it admits that the government and its militias are responsible for widespread and systematic crimes against civilians, which "may be no less serious and heinous than genocide." In effect, it is punting to the International Criminal Court, which it says should make a determination on genocidal intent. Just as happened in Rwanda a decade ago, the international community is splitting hairs as a genocide unfolds in Africa."

Africa Action notes that the genocidal intent of the Sudanese government is clear from extensive documentary evidence gathered by human rights groups, as well as by the U.S. government in its earlier investigation. Moreover, international legal precedent holds that genocidal intent can be inferred from the context and pattern of abuses when they are systematically directed against a group. The UN report finds that "the vast majority of the victims of these violations have been from the Fur, Zaghawa, Massalit" and other ethnic groups in Darfur.

Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis and Communications at Africa Action, stated that, "The UN report confirms the gravity of crimes perpetrated by the government and militias in Darfur, and must make it all the more urgent for the international community to act immediately to stop the violence. As the government-sponsored killings, rapes, displacements and destruction of villages continues, the top priority must be to take action to provide protection to the displaced and vulnerable communities of Darfur."

As the UN Report recommends that the International Criminal Court be invited to pursue the prosecution of those suspected of war crimes in Darfur, and as the U.S. proposes the creation of a new and separate tribunal in Tanzania, Colgan warned this morning, "This debate over the location and composition of a war crimes tribunal for Darfur diverts attention from the immediate priority, which must be ending the ongoing genocide. It is certainly important to ensure that those responsible are held accountable and brought to justice for their crimes, but people are still dying in Darfur at a rate estimated to be 35,000 deaths per month, and ending this violence must be the first order of business for the international community."

Booker added, "Just one week after UN ceremonies commemorated the Holocaust, the international community must respond to the ongoing crisis in Darfur with the urgency that it requires. The U.S. declared five months ago that genocide is happening in Darfur, but it has failed to live up to the obligation this carries. The UN this week has failed to act again. This is not the first time that the U.S. and the international community have failed the victims of genocide in Africa. Nor is it the first time that the government in Khartoum has pursued genocide as a preferred method of counterinsurgency."

Africa Action notes the Security Council will this week consider the UN Commission report, and will debate possible sanctions or other punitive measures. But Booker emphasizes, "International leadership is still missing to stop a genocide that has already killed 400,000 Sudanese and that still continues."

Africa Action today reiterated its call on the U.S. to do everything necessary to secure a UN Security Council Resolution invoking Chapter 7, which would authorize a multinational intervention force to stop the genocide in Darfur.
Africa Action calls on the Security Council to: (1) Provide the African Union force with a Chapter 7 mandate under the UN Charter to protect the civilians of Darfur and to enforce a cease-fire; (2) Expand this force by soliciting military personnel and logistical, communications & financial support from UN member nations to form a UN peacekeeping operation to incorporate and support the AU troops under Chapter 7; (3) Enforce the no-fly zone over Darfur; (4) Impose an immediate arms embargo on the government of Sudan

The UN Commission Report released this week was requested by Secretary General Kofi Annan last October to investigate whether acts of genocide had occurred in the Darfur region of Sudan. The question of international action on the ongoing genocide in Darfur is also dealt with in Africa Action’s new "Africa Policy Outlook 2005", available at http://www.africaaction.org/

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