Thursday, July 29, 2004

The African Union ...

... has begun to shift toward taking the Darfur atrocity seriously, which is potentially an important development. Any useful response to the crisis would probably have to include significant intervention by forces from sub-Saharan African countries (Nigeria and Rwanda have already expressed an interest), financed and logistically supported by the US and the Europeans, and probably stiffened by small contingents from western armies (which has proved to be a decisive factor in places like Liberia and Sierra Leone). Ideally, any such intervention should be authorized by the UN--an outcome that is more likely if black African countries support it rather than obstructing it.

What I find especially interesting is the fact that some of the key African countries represented at the Addis Ababa conference have made noises about intervening, if necessary, even without the consent of the Sudanese government ... which has definitely caught the attention of the government in Khartoum.

An effective response to the Darfur atrocity remains very much a long shot. This is all the more true because, as Alex de Waal points out in his piece, achieving any real political solution in western Sudan will be, at best, a very difficult, very messy, very complex, and very long-term process--but on the other hand, stopping the ongoing atrocity and preventing up to a million deaths will require very rapid, urgent, and forceful intervention. It's still seems more likely than not that the second won't happen before it's too late, but perhaps it's not entirely impossible. There has already been some movement in the last 3 months--so far, mostly at the level of talk, public attention, diplomatic activity, and Congressional resolutions ... but maybe that's a start.

Jeff Weintraub

ABC News Online
July 29, 2004

Intervention considered: The African Union says the Sudanese Government has failed to stop the bloodshed.

Intervention considered: The African Union says the Sudanese Government has failed to stop the bloodshed. (Reuters)

African Union considers Sudan peacekeeping mission

The African Union has announced it is preparing plans to send a peacekeeping force to the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.

The union has strongly criticised the Sudanese Government for failing to stop the bloodshed, which has killed more than 30,000 people.

Union delegates meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, have decided to prepare plans for the mission.

However, no final decision has been made.

The African Union is calling on the Sudanese Government stop Arab militias known as the Janjaweed from terrorising civilians.

More than 1 million people have been forced from their homes during the unrest.

Aid organisations are struggling to deal with the situation in Darfur, which the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

In other developments:

  • UN secretary-general Kofi Annan is pressing governments for more aid for the troubled Darfur region, as the Security Council considers threatening the Sudanese Government with sanctions over its role in the humanitarian crisis in the region. (Full Story)
  • A report by African observers in the Sudanese region of Darfur says civilians were chained and burned alive during an attack by Arab Janjaweed militia earlier this month. (Full Story)
  • The United States has presented a new version of its draft resolution on Sudan to the United Nations Security Council and is hoping for a vote by the end of the week. (Full Story)

Daily Telegraph
July 29, 2004

African Union plan peace force for Darfur

By David Blair, Africa Correspondent
(Filed: 29/07/2004)

The prospect of foreign troops deploying in Darfur moved closer yesterday when the African Union announced that it was planning to send peacekeepers to Sudan's war-torn region.

But the Khartoum regime rejected any outside military presence on its soil and vowed to fight if attacked.

The AU, a regional grouping of the continent's 53 countries, has broken with the tradition of solidarity between African governments by strongly criticising human rights abuses in Darfur, where up to one million people have been displaced and 50,000 killed.

Its observer team in the region has already documented numerous atrocities, including the burning alive of villagers by Arab gunmen from the Janjaweed militia.

But the AU's Peace and Security Council went further yesterday by asking the organisation's chairman to prepare a "comprehensive plan" that would "enhance the effectiveness" of its mission in Darfur.

An official statement added: "This includes the possibility of turning the mission into a full-fledged peacekeeping mission, with the requisite mandate and size."

The statement also brings the deployment of British and other western troops closer. African armies are poorly equipped and will almost certainly need foreign assistance.

No western power has promised any soldiers, although Tony Blair has not ruled out British involvement and the Army says a 5,000-strong brigade could be sent at short notice. President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria currently holds the AU's chairmanship. He has sent Gen Abdusalami Abubakar, a former Nigerian military ruler, to Sudan as his personal envoy.

Speaking in El Fasher, the capital of Northern Darfur, Gen Abubakar emphasised the responsibility of the AU, which was created last year to replace the discredited Organisation of African Unity, to deal with the crisis.

He described the conflict as "purely an African one" that "has to be resolved by the African Union".

But the Nigerian army, together with those of South Africa and Kenya, are the only forces in Africa capable of carrying out even the smallest peacekeeping mission. Western military and logistical help would still be needed if any African intervention in Darfur were to succeed.

The objective of peacekeeping troops would be to enforce agreements already made by Sudan's regime and two black African rebel groups fighting in Darfur.

They have concluded a shaky ceasefire and Khartoum pledged last month to disarm the Janjaweed and protect Darfur's civilian population.

But the rebels have walked out of more recent peace talks, calculating that the possibility of outside intervention has brought heavy pressure to bear on their enemy.

Sudan's regime gave an explicit warning that it would retaliate if foreign troops were sent. An extraordinary cabinet meeting held in Khartoum issued a statement "expressing its absolute denunciation of the deployment of [foreign] troops in Darfur".

The cabinet added: "Sudan is capable of solving its conflicts by itself."

Mustapha Osman Ismail, Sudan's foreign minister, said renewed fighting would erupt if foreign troops arrived.

But the AU already plans to deploy 300 troops to protect its observer mission in Darfur. Sudan's regime has consented to this move.

Sudan's sabre rattling is also likely to fade if peacekeepers are given United Nations backing, which is likely.

28 July 2004: Villagers burned alive in Sudan atrocity
27 July 2004: Sudan leaflets vow revenge on foreign troops


The Observer (London)
July 25, 2004

Darfur's deep grievances defy all hopes for an easy solution

The world is waking to the human disaster in Sudan. But, argues writer and world authority on the country, Alex de Waal, the crisis is far more complex than some claim - and cannot be resolved by a quick fix

· Alex de Waal is director of Justice Africa (London). An updated version of his book, Famine that Kills: Darfur, Sudan, 1984-5, is published by Oxford University Press this autumn.

Sunday July 25, 2004
The Observer

Darfur, the war-torn province in western Sudan where a terrible humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding, has yet more awful secrets to divulge.

In addition to 1.2 million displaced people living and dying in refugee camps in the region and across the border in neighbouring Chad, there are hundreds of thousands more struggling to survive in their homes in the vast areas held by the rebel movements fighting against the Khartoum government.

They are far from any TV cameras, and far from the comfort of aid agencies. They are surviving as their parents and grandparents did, through hardiness and skill.

They, not us, are the proven experts in surviving famine. Where a foreigner sees a wasteland of sand and mountain, a rural woman sees landscape replete with wild grasses, berries and roots.

The most ubiquitous of these is a berry known as mukheit, which grows on a small bush. It looks like a big pale pea, it's toxic and needs to be soaked in water for three days before it's edible, and even then it tastes sour. But it's nutritious, and it's in season now.

During the drought-famine of 1984-85, perhaps two million people survived on mukheit, often for months. It was a far bigger factor in survival than food aid, and it was common to see women foraging on the remotest hills, children strapped to their backs, gathering this unappetising but life-preserving crop. Then there's difra, a wild grass that grows across the desert-edge plateaux, which can be harvested in August, and up to 80 more species known to every grandmother.

Mukheit keeps adults alive, but it isn't enough for children. During the 1980s famine, infectious diseases and lack of weaning foods killed an estimated 75,000 children. As the world becomes aware of this as-yet-invisible disaster, aid agencies will demand access across the front lines. And those aid convoys will need an international protection force.

The Darfur war erupted early last year, when two armed movements - Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement - began a rebellion against a government in Khartoum that had neglected their region.

In response, the government mobilised, armed and directed a militia, known as Janjaweed ('rabble' or 'outlaws' in local dialect), using scorched earth, massacre and starvation as cheap counter-insurgency weapons. The UN has described Darfur as 'the world's worst humanitarian crisis'. On Friday, the US Congress described it as 'genocide'. The British government is considering sending in 5,000 troops.

Characterising the Darfur war as 'Arabs' versus 'Africans' obscures the reality. Darfur's Arabs are black, indigenous, African and Muslim - just like Darfur's non-Arabs, who hail from the Fur, Masalit, Zaghawa and a dozen smaller tribes.

Until recently, Darfurians used the term 'Arab' in its ancient sense of 'bedouin'. These Arabic-speaking nomads are distinct from the inheritors of the Arab culture of the Nile and the Fertile Crescent.

'Arabism' in Darfur is a political ideology, recently imported, after Colonel Gadaffi nurtured dreams of an 'Arab belt' across Africa, and recruited Chadian Arabs, Darfurians and west African Tuaregs to spearhead his invasion of Chad in the 1980s. He failed, but the legacy of arms, militia organisation and Arab supremacist ideology lives on.

Many Janjaweed hail from the Chadian Arab groups mobilised during those days. Most of Darfur's Arabs remain uninvolved in the conflict, but racist ideology appeals to many poor and frustrated young men.

Since 1987 there have been recurrent clashes between the Arab militias and village self-defence groups. Their roots were local conflicts over land and water, especially in the wake of droughts, made worse by the absence of an effective police force in the region for 20 years.

The last intertribal conference met in 1989, but its recommendations were never implemented. Year by year, law and order has broken down, and the government has done nothing but play a game of divide-and-rule, usually favouring the better-armed Arabs.

In response, the non-Arab groups (some of them bedouins too - there's a clan related to the Zaghawa that even has the name Bedeyaat) have mobilised, adopting the label 'African', which helps to gain solidarity with the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Army, and is a ticket to sympathy in the West.

The Darfur conflict erupted just as protracted peace negotiations between Khartoum and the SPLA on an end to the 20-year-old war in southern Sudan entered their final stage. Some observers have speculated that the rebellion was launched because the SPLA won its concessions by dint of armed struggle, thereby encouraging other discontented Sudanese regions to try the same.

There's an element of truth in that, and a danger that the Beja of eastern Sudan will also re-ignite their dormant insurrection. But Darfur has long-standing grievances. Even more than southern Sudan, the province has been neglected. It has the fewest schools and hospitals in the country. Promises of development came to nothing.

Darfurian radicals have long tried to start a liberation war. In 1991, the SPLA sent an armed force to Darfur to foment resistance: it failed, and an entire cadre of leftist leadership was arrested or neutralised as a result. The young SLA leaders have emerged from the shadow of this debacle.

Meanwhile, the Islamic government tried to neutralise complaints of neglect by playing the religion card. Darfur's Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes are well-known for their Muslim piety, and were attracted by the idea of being enfranchised through their Muslim faith. But this proved another hollow promise, and when the Sudanese Islamist movement split four years ago, most Darfurian Islamists went into opposition, some of them forming the JEM.

There is no quick fix in Darfur. But after the first round of mediation by the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a week ago, the elements of a settlement are coming into focus. The first of these is removing obstacles to relief operations. The second is enforcing the ceasefire, agreed by the parties in the Chadian capital of Ndjamena in April, but flouted - far more egregiously by the government and Janjaweed. For hungry villagers, the ceasefire is a survival issue, as their skill at harvesting wild foods has no value if they are confined to camps by fear of rape, mutilation or murder.

The African Union - headed by its energetic leader, the, former Malian President Alpha Konare - has put 24 ceasefire monitors on the ground so far to oversee the Ndjamena agreement. Three hundred African troops are also on their way, to ensure that the monitors can move in safety.

Providing security to civilians will need a far larger and more robust force. Even before the insurrection, Darfur was a province in arms. Every village or nomadic clan possessed automatic weapons - a necessity given that there has been no effective police force there for the past 20 years.

Last month, President Omer al-Bashir promised to disarm the Janjaweed. In doing so, he has put himself in a corner. There's overwhelming evidence, circumstantial and documentary, that Khartoum supplied the militia with arms, logistics and air support. But it doesn't follow that it can so easily rein them in. Darfur cannot be disarmed by force.

The principal Janjaweed camps can be identified and the militiamen cantonised there. This demands a tough surveillance regime, overseen by international forces. But the armed Bedouin cannot be encamped: they rely on their herds for livelihood and hence need to move, and they are too numerous and scattered to disarm. In fact, 'disarmament' is a misnomer. What will work is community-based regulation of armaments, gradually squeezing out bandits and criminals.

What to do with the Chadian Arabs will be one tricky issue. Another will be the fact that all Darfurians - Arab and non-Arab alike - profoundly distrust a government in Khartoum that has brought them nothing but trouble. Arms control can be made to work only when the scaffolding of a provincial administration and political settlement is in place.

Another issue is human rights: investigating claims of genocide and who's responsible. This issue is best parked with an international commission - perhaps a special investigator from the International Criminal Court.

A political solution can be framed as these immediate issues are tackled. At the moment the sides are far apart, their public language one of mutual recrimination.

In theory, a settlement of Darfur's provincial issues should not be too difficult. The rebels - who drop their simplistic 'African' versus 'Arab' terminology as soon as they get into details - have no desire to purge Darfur of its indigenous black Arabs.

They do not seek self-determination or separation. Their demands, for equitable development, land rights, schools and clinics, and local democracy are perfectly reasonable. Formulae for provincial autonomy are also negotiable.

The national issues are more difficult. Settling Darfur's grievances will mean revisiting many of the Naivasha formulae, which were drafted on a simplified north-south dichotomy. For example, senior government jobs have been divided between the ruling Congress Party and the SPLA: who is going to make concessions to allow Darfur its fair share?

Nonetheless, the Darfur process can be speeded up by implementing the Naivasha agreement and bringing SPLA leader John Garang to Khartoum as vice president. Garang aspires to represent a coalition of all Sudan's non-Arab peoples, including Darfurians, and it will be politically impossible for him to endorse a war in Darfur.

The African Union, with UN support, is applying lessons learned from the Naivasha negotiation. If this is to work, the US, Britain and the EU will need to use their leverage in support of the AU formula. The next meeting is scheduled for a month's time.

The immediate life and death needs of Darfur's people cannot wait for these negotiations to mature. A British brigade could make a formidable difference to the situation. It could escort aid supplies into rebel-held areas, and provide aerial surveillance, logistics and back-up to ceasefire monitoring, helping to give Darfurian villagers the confidence to return to their homes and pick up their lives.

Special report
Archived articles
More on Sudan
News guide
20.12.2001: Sudan media sources
Useful sites
Sudan News Agency
Sudan Tribune
Norwegian Council for Africa: Sudan


The Independent (London)
July 26, 2004

Richard Dowden: Darfur can best be resolved by Africans

Pushed by the growing disillusionment of their people, Africa's rulers have begun to address Africa's deeper problems

The writer is Director of the Royal African Society

26 July 2004

The last time there was a disaster in Africa on the scale of Darfur - in Rwanda and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the mid-1990s - it seemed that most of Africa was descending into mayhem and murder. Every country from Somalia on the north-east tip of the continent to Namibia in the south-west was caught up, directly or indirectly, in wars - mostly small, nasty and very lethal. Few fighters die in Africa's wars; the biggest killers are hunger and disease, when millions of poor people are driven from their homes with nothing to support themselves. Meanwhile in West Africa, Sierra Leone, Liberia and great swaths of Nigeria were embroiled in vicious local conflicts.

Today, Darfur in western Sudan is the only full-scale war in Africa. Indeed the "main" conflict in Sudan - the five-decade war between north and south - is close to resolution. A ceasefire has been maintained more or less for over a year and final agreement is close. Conflicts flicker on in Congo and Somalia, Côte d'Ivoire could explode again at any minute and parts of Nigeria seem constantly on the brink of catastrophe, but elsewhere, compared to a decade ago, millions more Africans are able to get on with their lives without fear of attack. Whether a momentary pause or real peace, Africa is calmer now than it has been for decades.

This change - I would hesitate to call it transformation - has come about partly because the rest of the world is taking Africa more seriously. Thanks to America's need for West African oil, Tony Blair's determination to push Africa up the political agenda, and fears that an impoverished chaotic Africa may produce or harbour anti-Western Islamists, Western countries have become more engaged in Africa. And on the African side, its governments have become more engaged in issues outside their own countries.

The old Organisation of African Unity had become a club where Africa's boss men met, slapped each other on the back, passed fatuous resolutions and returned home to wreck their countries. Prompted by Libya and led by South Africa, African states formed a new pan-African organisation, the African Union, and gave it a vision and remit far greater than the OAU.

The old principle of non-interference in internal affairs has been superseded by demands for investigation and intervention in other countries' governance. Pushed by the growing disillusionment and anger of their own peoples and stung by the shame of Africa's global image as "a scar on the conscience of the world" or "the hopeless continent", Africa's rulers have begun to address Africa's deeper problems. That includes bringing peace to trouble spots like Darfur.

The Chairman of the AU Commission, its driving body, is Alpha Oumar Konaré, a former president of Mali, who talks reality, not rhetoric, and treats African heads of state as equals. At the AU summit earlier this month, he bluntly told Sudan's president, Omar el-Bashir, that he knew that his government was arming militias and bombing civilians. He did not want denials, he wanted it stopped. Furthermore, the summit agreed to send peacekeeping troops to back up AU observers on the ground in Darfur - even though the Sudan government opposed the idea. That would have been unthinkable five years ago. Darfur will be the test of Africa's determination to deal with its own problems. The AU's credibility depends on making peace there.

Darfur's war has its roots in a centuries-old conflict - essentially the competition for land between settled farmers and the cattle-herding pastoralists who bring their cattle south in the dry season to graze. Where once growing and grazing areas were agreed and disputes settled with a few spears and swords, today the competition for land and the alarming spread of automatic rifles means that such disputes end quickly in total war.

In Darfur, the pastoralists are Arabised Bedouin of the semi-desert zones and the settled farmers are from black African - but Muslim - ethnic groups. Although distinguished as Arab and African, outsiders would be pushed to tell the difference in looks. Intermarriage is common, making "Arab" and "African" political rather than racial labels.

Locally everyone knows who is who and whose side they are on. Now the local land disputes and rivalries are subsumed in a larger and more significant war and when there is an overall ceasefire, there will need to be hundreds of local agreements renegotiated on land rights. It will be a nightmare task.

The rebels started the war because they realised that peace was imminent in the war that has divided Sudan on and off for 50 years. Peace between the Khartoum Arab clique and the southern rebels, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army, led by John Garang, looked like a stitch-up to the rest of Sudan. Areas such as Darfur, neglected and marginalised like the South, saw they would be cut off from power and the new oil wealth by this new deal. They also saw that war had got Garang into government so they copied him. In turn Bashir saw that if he even began to negotiate with them, he would be sending a message to the rest of Sudan too - war gets you a slice of power and wealth. The Darfur rebellion had to be stopped dead.

Darfur may be a remote province but its politics link directly into the government in Khartoum. What happens here may lead to a fragmentation of the whole country. A settlement on terms too favourable to the rebels could spark revolts among other marginalised peoples. The president is weaker than he looks.

It is against this tricky background that a ceasefire must be negotiated and agreement secured to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need. Then there must be peace making and reconstruction. The lead player in all of this must be the AU. In the short term, African peacekeeping soldiers must be sent to protect the refugee camps and get food convoys across battle lines.

Tony Blair has already hinted British troops should be sent. Maybe, but only in close co-operation with the AU. This is its war and unilateral action by outsiders trying to save Africa will cause resentment and undermine this new organisation's role. British troops should certainly be kept away from the front line, not just for their own safety, but because, as British, they could be a target for Islamists. Darfur is no Sierra Leone. There, British troops were welcomed and trusted, but Darfur is one of the areas in Africa where British troops would not be welcomed because of their role in Iraq. That is an added complication Darfur does not need. The same goes for the Americans.

Britain's role should be to provide logistics and perhaps airborne surveillance. It could also provide help for a rapid reaction group that could respond quickly to hotspots. Even more important, it should support the laborious and long-term process of bringing leaders of the myriad small communities together to negotiate the competition for land and water.

Successful humanitarian aid missions can be only judged against what might have been and that is hard to quantify. This time, we see what is happening on television every night. If we are still looking at the same pictures in a month, it will not just be a humanitarian mission that failed. It will demonstrate that Africa's new bid to fix its own problems has failed, too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Darfur: All they are saying is, "give genocide a chance" (Ami Isseroff)

July 28, 2004

Darfur: All they are saying is, "give genocide a chance."
Ami Isseroff

Believe it or not, the conflict in Sudan has really been going on for at least 15 years . It claimed 2 million lives before it was officially declared to be "over" in May of 1994. As many as 40,000 have died in Darfur alone, where rape camps are established for the purpose of ethnic cleansing.

If this were happening in Europe, the whole world would be up in arms. When it happened in Bangladesh, artists organized a "Save the people" campaign. They sang "All we are saying, is give peace a chance." If Israelis were murdering Palestinians in this way, there would long ago have been a ruling by the ICJ about the genocide and ethnic cleansing, there would be UN Security council resolutions, sanctions and worse. When it happened in Kossovo, Nato intervened.

But the Sudan is not in Europe, but in Africa. The conflict began as a struggle for a secular society (the same secular society that is so beloved of some Palestinians for Israel) in Sudan. Ahmed Ibrahim Diriage, a Muslim leader of the opposition, said in 1989 :
And then we from Darfur with all Muslims came with our brothers from the south and formed the New Forces Congress. We did not care whether they were Muslims or not. So, I think, if we look at the issue in this way - true, I am a Muslim myself, but I don't agree with the National Islamic Front. I think the Sudan should be a secular country and I would fight for that and would like the people to do it. So it is not only the southerners, who are Christians, that have to fight for their rights. There are Muslims who would fight for their rights as well.
Apparently, there were not enough people willing to fight for a secular Sudan. That battle was lost long ago. Now the issue is one of simple survival, but even that is not to be allowed.

Understand, that because this is occuring in Africa, and perhaps because it is Arab Muslims who are committing genocide, nobody is in a big hurry to do anything about it. There is no doubt at all of what is happening. Hair-raising reports pour in every day. For example:
Sudanese militias have burned civilians alive in the Darfur region, say African Union military observers.Men rode into a village on horseback, looted the market and chained people up before setting them on fire, they say.
They are "believed to be Janjaweed" - the pro-government militias accused of ethnic cleansing against non-Arabs.
It is nothing new. It has been going on for years, whether it was done officially by the government, or unofficially by the militias, whether it was done in Darfur or in South Sudan. Here is a report from 1998, when the US was busy saving lives in Kosovo. If it has gone on for so long, then it is no wonder that nobody is in a hurry to do anything about it, is it?
Aside from a few righteous people who cry out about the silence ( eg here and here ) nobody cares. You don't really care, either, do you? Or perhaps you do care, but not enough to get anyone to do anything about it.
Here is another example of what we are condoning by our silence:
In the past 16 months, the conflict opposing the Sudan government and its
militia allies to the rebels of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice
and Equality Movement (JEM), has killed at least 10,000 people and displaced
more than one million across the large western Sudanese region.
appears to be a feature of most attacks in Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa areas of
Darfur," says the latest Human Rights Watch report on the Darfur conflict.
Many witnesses say the population of Kaileck was held hostage by the
Janjaweed for two months, despite repeated appeals to the commissioner of Kass.
Men were also picked up daily and killed.
If you are indifferent, you are in good company. US Secretary of State Colin Powell isn't in a hurry to do anything about the Sudan either: "Powell, too, cautioned against "premature" military intervention in Darfur."
Good for you Colin. We mustn't be hasty. Fifteen years is not enough time time for Sudanese to finish their genocide program. True, the Nazis had much less time, but the Germans had better organization. Good old Colin was agreeing with the Arab League, who also want to give the Sudanese government more time:
The Arab League has urged the UN Security Council to "avoid precipitate action" in the Darfur crisis.
The 22-member bloc on Tuesday also said the UN should give the Sudanese government time to honour its commitments.
All they are saying, is give genocide a chance. Very good. We mustn't be hasty. Fifteen years is not enough time to stop the murders. More time is needed, because the rapes and murders are not complete. But don't worry, they are hurrying up the job. According to the UN , the security situation is deteriorating:
The United Nations' top emergency relief official has warned that the security situation in Sudan's Darfur region is becoming more difficult.
Jan Egeland, who has just visited Darfur, said relief supplies had been looted and humanitarian workers attacked by militia.
More than one million people have been forced from their homes and thousands more killed by Arab militia since 2003.
So you see, for their part, the Janjaweed militia are doing their best to expedite matters, and the Arab League wants to help them also:
The bloc also distanced itself from international condemnation of the Janjawid, calling on the ethnic minority rebels in Darfur to take the initiative.
Presumably, when all the men are dead or enslaved, and there are no non-Muslim virgins over the age of eight in all of Sudan, the Arab League and the UN and Mr. Powell and the EU people will declare that their intervention was a big success, and the matter is now completely resolved. So you understand, there really is no hurry at all. Give genocide a chance.

Peter Verney, "Darfur's Manmade Disaster" (Middle East Report Online)

This piece offers some brief but useful background on the crisis in Darfur. I don't pretend to be any sort of expert on western Sudan (or even especially well informed), but the author of this piece appears to be well regarded, and the main outlines of what he says accord with what I have read in other reputable reports.

Incidentally, one feature of the Darfur catastrophe that this piece brings out is the complexity of ethnic conflicts, which can be obscured both by over-simplification and by over-"sophistication." In so far as the news media and political figures in the US have been discussing the situation in Darfur, they tend to portray it (with various complications and qualifications) as an assault by "Arabs"--that is, the Janjaweed militias and the Arab-dominated Islamist government in Khartoum--on "blacks" or "Africans." In some ways, these political and journalistic shorthands are misleading, and even odd. Yes, Sudan is an self-declared Arab country and member of the Arab league (though the population in the southern part of the country is largely Christian or animist). But as a number of people have pointed out, most Sudanese "Arabs" are pretty dark-skinned, and in the US would probably be classified racially as "black." In western Sudan, where both sides in the current conflict are overwhelmingly Muslim, I gather that the "racial" differences between the different groups are actually not very sharp, and there has been a fair amount of intermarriage between them in the past.

On the other hand, there is also a danger that emphasizing these complexities can be used as a way to ignore or explain away (rather than explain) a real social and political phenomenon. According to all serious accounts I have read, however fluid the differences between these groups might be, the socio-historical reality is that IN THE SUDAN these differences are often described and understood as differences between "Arabs" and "blacks"--and, furthermore, that the sharpness of these divisions has been increasing rather than eroding in recent decades. As the sociologist W.I. Thomas famously observed, if actual people in an actual society define something as true (whether or not you happen to think it makes any sense), then it is true in its effects ... or, as Durkheim would have said, it is a social fact that has to be taken seriously and understood, rather than simply ignored or explained away. In the western Sudan, recent decades have apparently seen a process of ethnic polarization (resulting from a complex interplay of economic, political, and cultural reasons) which, unfortunately, is not at all rare or incomprehensible:

The region's people include farmers growing sorghum, millet, groundnuts and tomatoes who are mostly of black African stock and outlook, and nomadic pastoralists (raising camels in the north and cattle further south) who mostly regard themselves as ethnic Arabs.

[ .... ]

Though originating in resource competition, the war is now heavily overlaid by race. Rape as a weapon of deracination, increasingly widespread in Darfur, has been accompanied by racist verbal abuse of the "African" women victims. Ethnic identities, once somewhat fluid, have hardened as the regime promotes its favored groups. Pastoralists and farmers have a long history of economic interdependence, as well as intermarriage. Baggara, the term for Arab pastoralists, means "cattle herder," and it was once possible for members of the Fur and other ethnic groups with sizable numbers of cattle to assimilate into Baggara clans. Now the ethnic lines are drawn more sharply. For over a decade, two dozen tribes, "Arabized" by the regime's conscious encouragement of that identity, have been engaged in what they call a "war on the blacks."

Yours in struggle,
Jeff Weintraub

Middle East Report Online
July 22, 2004

Darfur's Manmade Disaster

Peter Verney

(Peter Verney is editor of Sudan Update, based in London.)

July 22, 2004

At last, the catastrophe in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, a quarter of whose six million people are now displaced by war and whose lives are at serious risk, has gained some international attention. In July, Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited Darfuri refugee camps to pressure the regime in Khartoum into stopping what has become a frenzy of destruction. Their pressure has so far failed. Moreover, the promises of humanitarian aid for internally displaced and refuge-seeking Darfuris come desperately late. As the Sudanese government places obstacles in the way of the international relief organizations, the death toll from deliberate, war-induced famine is headed for the hundreds of thousands.

For well over a year, with all eyes on peace talks between Khartoum and the mainly southern Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), the long-simmering conflict in Darfur has been at a boil. After Darfuri militants, mostly under the new banner of their own "Sudan Liberation Army," announced their rebellion in February 2003, the government embarked upon a scorched-earth campaign reminiscent of its assaults on the southern Sudan and the Nuba mountains during the 1990s. Deploying bombers, helicopter gunships, "People's Defense Force" paramilitaries and regular armed forces, the regime also encouraged raids led by local tribal militias known as the janjaweed. These irregulars have now been linked directly to Sudanese security services by documents publicized on July 20 by Human Rights Watch. The scorched-earth campaign produced the greatest single exodus of refugees in the world in 2003, and is sustaining the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today.

Estimates of the human cost in Darfur vary greatly. But even the most conservative tallies state that at least 10,000 villagers are dead, with the expectation, voiced by Andrew Natsios of the US Agency for International Development, that 350,000 more people could die even if adequate humanitarian aid arrives. In addition, there are perhaps 1.2 million internally displaced persons and upwards of 200,000 refugees in Chad as a result of the war. Meanwhile, the international response is characterized by a collective reluctance to acknowledge the severity of the crisis. Washington's ambassador-at-large for war crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper, has said that there are "indicators of genocide" in Darfur. Visiting Sudan in July, Powell warned that events were "moving towards a genocidal conclusion." Yet no action commensurate with these dire warnings has been taken, due partly to the disquiet of the US and other powers over the implications of using the word "genocide" to describe what is occurring in Darfur. As the disaster deepens, the Security Council is again dallying over a US draft resolution calling for mild intervention.


Darfur, a region the size of France, was an independent sultanate until 1916. It stretches from desert in the north to savannah in the south, interrupted midway by the Jebel Marra volcanic plateau, which boasts more rainfall and more fertile soil than the other areas. The region's people include farmers growing sorghum, millet, groundnuts and tomatoes who are mostly of black African stock and outlook, and nomadic pastoralists (raising camels in the north and cattle further south) who mostly regard themselves as ethnic Arabs. Since the 1970s, climate change has accelerated desertification, adding pressure on northerners to move southward. The tribes who now supply fighters to the janjaweed were once known as the murahilin (migrants).

Conflicts in Darfur between settled farmers and nomads migrating in search of water and pastures have been commonplace for centuries, but traditionally solutions were reached by negotiation. During the 1980s and 1990s, however, these conflicts intensified, aggravated by drought and the government policy of selectively arming tribesmen while removing the weapons of the farmers, the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa. Because livestock is Darfur's main export, the pastoralists have more influence in this region than in places where Khartoum favors settled communities.

Though originating in resource competition, the war is now heavily overlaid by race. Rape as a weapon of deracination, increasingly widespread in Darfur, has been accompanied by racist verbal abuse of the "African" women victims. Ethnic identities, once somewhat fluid, have hardened as the regime promotes its favored groups. Pastoralists and farmers have a long history of economic interdependence, as well as intermarriage. Baggara, the term for Arab pastoralists, means "cattle herder," and it was once possible for members of the Fur and other ethnic groups with sizable numbers of cattle to assimilate into Baggara clans. Now the ethnic lines are drawn more sharply. For over a decade, two dozen tribes, "Arabized" by the regime's conscious encouragement of that identity, have been engaged in what they call a "war on the blacks."

Darfur's people are all Muslim, but the settled communities such as the Fur and Masalit have cultural idiosyncrasies that reflect their African roots. For example, like the southern Sudanese and Nuba, they brew marissa, a beer high in B vitamins and protein that in various strengths forms a staple part of the diet. The farmers did not consider that marissa was serious alcohol forbidden by Islam until the advent of Islamist politics brought by regimes in Khartoum. The first post-independence attempt to ban alcohol in Sudan was in south Darfur in the mid-1970s. The governor appointed by then-President Jaafar Nimeiri tried to set an example a decade before Nimeiri's embrace of Islamist ideology led to countrywide imposition of a crude version of shari`a law. "African" Darfuris, devout Muslims already, did not accept being told how to follow their religion. Darfuri women, too, have traditionally been less constrained, and can be seen carrying loads of bricks and building houses, a sight inconceivable in parts of central Sudan.


Darfur has long been a reservoir of cheap male labor for the agricultural and industrial projects of central Sudan, and the major source of lower-ranking soldiers in the army. In response to their peripheral status, like the inhabitants of other regions of the country where successive governments have been embroiled in civil war, Darfuris have called for greater autonomy from the central government in local administration, education, tax systems and resources. But successive governments in Khartoum have played the ethnic card as one tactic for dividing their multiple opponents on the periphery. Starting with the elected government of Sadiq al-Mahdi which lasted from 1986-1989, the authorities in Khartoum have armed proxy militias -- often from the "Arab" Baggara and Rizeigat of Darfur -- as a low-cost way to fight not just the mainly southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), but also a number of "African" Sudanese outside the south, such as the Nuba in southern Kordofan.

The National Islamic Front, which seized power in a 1989 military coup, made political inroads into Darfur by promising to end the marginalization and exploitation that had so far been the region's lot. After the 1989 coup, the Islamist regime first attempted to recruit the Fur and other non-Arab tribesmen before deciding to continue arming groups of Arabized people in Darfur, mainly to keep on fighting the southerners but also to break the remaining political opposition in the region.

From early on, these regime tactics had dire consequences. Suleiman Baldo and Ushari Mahmoud, two Sudanese researchers who produced a landmark report on the 1987 al-Daein massacre, were detained and interrogated by security forces when their book was published in Khartoum. The researchers had uncovered the reemergence of slavery, which was linked with the freedom given to the unpaid Arabized tribal militia to seize human "war booty" in their raids on southern villages. "Arab tribal groups were also armed in Darfur against the Fur and Zaghawa, of whom thousands have been killed," the Sudan Human Rights Organisation Workshop, based in Cairo, pointed out in November 1992. Throughout the 1990s, there were reports of armed militias -- the now notorious janjaweed -- raiding villages of "African" tribes in Darfur, causing thousands of people to cross the border into Chad. The dehumanization thus encouraged by regime policies now appears in the form of the killings, expulsions, rapes and abductions being reported in Darfur.

The current government has exacerbated matters by assigning land ownership to Arab occupiers of properties whose original owners had been killed or driven away by the janjaweed. In early 1998, Abd al-Rahim Muhammad Hussein, Sudan's interior minister, told the media that "fifth columnists" had killed all the Arab chieftains in western Darfur. This untrue and inflammatory remark provoked many more Arab tribesmen in the region to join in the conflict than might otherwise have done so.


Since 2001, Darfur has been governed under central government decree, with special courts to try people suspected of illegal possession or smuggling of weapons, murder and armed robbery. The security forces have misused these powers for arbitrary and indefinite detention. Anyone suspected of criticizing the government can be and often is arrested without charge for months.

These factors, coupled with ethnic conflict, an increase in armed attacks and despair at Darfur's continuing marginalization, led to the formation of two resistance movements, the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the smaller Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The former, born out of an earlier Darfur Liberation Front, is secular, while the latter seems to be led by, if not composed of, Darfuri Islamists disillusioned by the continuing lack of a fair deal from the regime. JEM members are believed to have authored a survey of inequality of distribution of Sudan's wealth, known as the "Black Book," which was published in 1999. In the late winter of 2003, frustrated at the exclusion of Darfur (as well as other center-periphery conflicts) from the US-sponsored negotiations between Khartoum and the SPLA, the two movements took up arms. The regime responded by unleashing the janjaweed, as well as its own forces, on the whole of the rebellious region.


For months, Khartoum deflected international attention to the increasingly grim news from Darfur by claiming that the militias were rogue elements outside its control. Eyewitnesses have long reported, however, that government helicopters are involved in supplying militias and that security and military chiefs are directing their activities. The involvement of the air force would be clear evidence of high-level approval. Human Rights Watch has obtained what appear to be Sudanese government documents that confirm the regime's deep complicity in the militias' activities. The documents, which have been seen by Middle East Report, support the eyewitness accounts. One directive from February 2004, evoking the authority of President Omar Bashir, calls upon Darfur security heads to step up "the process of mobilizing loyalist tribes and providing them with sufficient armory to secure the areas." Another document from the same month instructs local officers to "allow the activities of the mujahideen and the volunteers under the command of Sheikh Musa Hilal [an identified militia leader] to proceed in the areas of [North Darfur] and to secure their vital needs."

As with the ongoing war in southern Sudan, Darfur's manmade disaster reflects a combination of high-level planning by the Sudanese authorities, and the consequences of using as a retaliatory force a militia whose commanders have been given freedom to do as they see fit on the ground as long as they get rid of the target villages. The Sudanese security apparatus is the real source of power in the country, and is notorious for its role in setting massacres in train. Now its fingerprints are on the Darfur operation, to the extent that some senior army and air force officers have reportedly refused to take part, for example, in the aerial bombings.

Several ceasefires have been announced and promptly breached by the government, and peace negotiations -- moved from neighboring Chad to Ethiopia in July 2004 -- have gotten nowhere. In June 2004, the government was finalizing the "modalities" of a peace deal with the mainly southern SPLA. It was also due to take delivery of eight MiG-29 attack aircraft, completing a total of 12 bought with as much as $370 million of oil revenue. The first of these MiG-29s was seen in the skies of Darfur in January, augmenting the Antonov bombers and Mi-24 helicopters whose aerial raids on villages in western Sudan are coordinated with attacks by the janjaweed militia. Meanwhile, the international community was struggling to raise an equivalent sum for relief for the people displaced by those raids.

The regime protests that there is no danger of famine and that they have curtailed the militias' rampages -- claims both roundly denounced as prevarications by UN officials on the ground in Sudan. On July 20, the government announced that it would repatriate thousands of Darfuri displaced persons to their villages, where they could fall victim to still more janjaweed raids. Still, the first US draft resolution at the Security Council diverted blame from Khartoum, for instance "welcoming the commitment by the government of Sudan to investigate the atrocities and prosecute those responsible." The resolution would have imposed sanctions only on janjaweed figures. A second draft resolution, reportedly somewhat stronger, is being discussed -- but the willingness of the Security Council to implement effective measures remains to be seen.


The definition of genocide in Article II of the 1948 Geneva Convention is "acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (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." All of these definitions seem to fit the situation in Darfur. The number of killings is less important than the repetition and intent, and the wholesale elimination of a particular ethnic group is not necessary for a crime to count as genocide.

Effective and timely action in Darfur, however, requires the broadest possible international coalition applying pressure upon the Sudanese government, and there is a danger of fatal delay in hair-splitting arguments over semantics, as happened in Rwanda and Bosnia. The official label of genocide, while it may be correct, may be too difficult to establish as a legal matter in the time available. It is also not an essential prerequisite for urgent measures. The evidence of crimes against humanity in Darfur is already sufficiently strong to provide the basis for the UN to authorize, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, armed units of peacekeepers to protect the civilian population and aid convoys, supplied by airlifts from Europe and the US. This step is achievable.

On July 22, Kofi Annan said that "the Sudanese government doesn't have forever" to rein in the janjaweed, but declined to set an "artificial deadline" for Khartoum to comply with his demands. So far, the international community's excuse for such a muted and dilatory response has been that nothing should jeopardize the peace talks with the SPLA. But if the regime in Khartoum gets away with politically motivated massacre on the staggering scale of Darfur, what value will there be in its promises over southern Sudan?

Sudan - Talking points that suggest a line of action (Passion of the Present)

Mostly on target (in my opinion), with a lot of food for thought. --Jeff Weintraub

Jim Moore on his (very useful) website, "Passion of the Present"
July 23, 2004

Talking points that suggest a line of action

Several people have suggested that we need to write clear talking points to share with others and to summarize what we are learning as a community. So I've taken a shot at it below. Your comments are encouraged--as well as alternative or improved versions. Thanks.

In Darfur, a region in western Sudan approximately the size of Texas, over a million people are threatened with torture and death at the hands of marauding militia and a genocidal government. We are bringing our creativity together and finding ways to help.

1. With the US Congress having declared the situation in Sudan a "genocide," action shifts full force to the United Nations Security Council.

2. What is needed by the UN Security Council is approval of an intervention that does not depend upon the cooperation of the Sudanese government, because the government of Sudan cannot be trusted. Sudan needs an action stronger than the sanctions resolution that the US is currently putting forward. UN sanctions could help pave the way for further action later, but are not likely to be adequate.

3. In the end, most observers believe that an independent peacekeeping force needs to be inserted into Darfur in order to protect the genocide victims and the aid workers--and stop the government of Sudan from continuing to wage the war against its people.

4. Both Nigeria and Rwanda have offered to staff such a force, under the auspices of the African Union. This force would be accepted by the people it needs to protect--and could be assembled soon. The peacekeepers could be funded by the industrialized countries that are already pouring in money for assistance, including the US, UK, Germany, France and others

5. The problem is the mandate, and the blocker of a mandate is China. Sudan is even more than a major source of oil for China. Sudan is the center and headquarters of China's oil activities in Africa. China has oil service staging areas in Sudan that serve operations in many other countries. China expects to expand its African operations dramatically. Indeed, one of the strange experiences of reading day after day about Sudan is seeing the size in dollars of the oil exploration and transport contracts that are being let. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in Sudanese oil.

One would hope China would put pressure on Sudan to stop the genocide and respect human rights. Unfortunately, China does not respect human rights for its own people, let along Sudan's. So it is not very plausible to imagine Chinese leaders risking their relationships with the leaders of the regime in Sudan, in order to stop a genocide designed to put down a rebellion and eliminate a troublesome population. China has done the same in its recent history.

China then, poses the central problem at the United Nations. And Kofi Annan and Colin Powell of course know this, but they are not talking about it. They are not publicly pressing hard on China, even though it is China that might have some leverage in Khartoum, and it is China that is funding the regime and the genocide.

In a very real sense, the stalemate in the UN is a result of a problem in US/Chinese relations. The US is a great help to the Chinese, and China is becoming the second superpower of the world economy. Unfortunately, the US has not made its relationship with China contingent on Chinese respect for human rights, and/or Chinese willingness to work with the US, the EU, and the UN to solve human rights issues.

This, again, is not so surprising because China is neither a democracy nor a human rights respecter. On the other hand, the weakness of the US' hand with China underscores a severe problem in our relationship with China. We are helping China become a world economic power, but we are not asking in return that it become a positive moral force.

6. A second player blocking action in the UN is Russia, which is the arms dealer to Sudan. The Chinese oil payments are funneled to Russia for aircraft, including helicopters, bombers, and MIG fighters--twelve of which were delivered to Sudan just this week--in a rush order that arrived five months early.

A number of us are working on tactical ideas. I invite you to join with us, by blog comments or email.

7. We need to find fast, effective ways to expose China's and Russia's root involvement in supporting this genocide. We need to band with others to put pressure on both to help stop the genocide rather than tacitly support it. Or at least China and Russia must step out of the way of other nations that want to help.

Update: one more talking point, after a day of conversations with people with knowledge of the UN Security Council situation:

8. There is strong case that as US President, George Bush needs to become even more personally involved in the next two weeks. This in turn suggests that we, as activists, need to keep our emails and calls coming, and direct them at the White House. Bush could, some feel, convince Putin and the Russians to join appropriate action against the Sudanese government, or at least--as indicated above--convince Russia to abstain from using its veto.

Similarly, it would help to have more administration focus on Pakistan--our erstwhile partner in the war on terror.

Russia and Pakistan are seen by some insiders as the most important swing votes. China, according to one source, does not like to use its veto and be seen as obstructing the international process. This, plus the specter of Russia abstaining, might cause China to allow a strong UN action plan to be passed.

Finally, there is work for Bush to do with the African leaders, helping them see that an intervention by the AU in Sudan would be an expression of their strength and political maturity as a group. It would reinforce their collective sovereignty--even as it demonstrates that the sovereignty of an individual government will be suspended when it acts criminally against its own people. This would be a very good precedent to set in within the African Union, and perhaps only Bush himself can sell this idea to the leaders involved.

Resource: excellent current summary from The Scotsman.

Update: strong, comprehensive CNN piece on Congress declaring a genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

July 23, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

Friday, July 23, 2004

African-American political figures protest Darfur atrocity

Since the beginning of July, mainstream African-American organizations and elected officials have increasingly begun to agitate for urgent action to stop the ongoing atrocity in western Sudan (which contrasts with the pussyfooting by most of them regarding Sudan over the past several decades--but better late than never, for sure). This development has not received nearly as much press attention as it should have, but it strikes me as potentially quite important. US diplomatic initiatives in such matters are driven to a considerable extent by considerations of domestic politics and public opinion, and the outspoken involvement of black political forces in these protests strengthens the political constituency pressing for a serious response to the Darfur atrocity.

(What is missing up to now, as far as I can tell, is any comparable mobilization in western European public opinion. Given the hard realities of international politics and diplomacy, that will probably turn out to be a crucial factor in determining whether or not any serious action is taken before most of the black population of Darfur has died from murder and/or starvation.)

I was also struck by one formulation in Congressman Charles Rangel's speech (quoted below, and available in full on his Congressional website). Rangel criticized Colin Powell for "constructively engaging" the Sudanese government, and expression that may not have rung a bell with all readers (and may even have struck some as puzzling). In black American politics, this is a powerful set of code words. "Constructive engagement" was the phrase used by the Reagan administration back in the 1980s to describe their policy toward South Africa, which was denounced by opponents of the apartheid regime. Rangel is a shrewd and intelligent politician, and his use of this phrase in connection with Sudan was almost certainly no accident. Instead, framing the issue in these terms sends an important signal.

Jeff Weintraub

====================== (US Dept. of State news release)

Congressman Arrested Protesting Sudan Regime's Actions in Darfur

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)
July 13, 2004
Posted to the web July 14, 2004

By Jim Fisher-Thompson
Washington, DC

Rangel compares "genocide" to Jewish Holocaust, vows further action

Representative Charles Rangel (Democrat of New York) was arrested July 13 as he blocked the entrance to the Sudanese Embassy to protest the Khartoum government's support for militia groups that have killed between 15,000 and 30,000 people in Sudan's Darfur region while making a mockery of international efforts to stop what the lawmaker termed "genocide."

Standing with crossed arms in front of the embassy's door on Washington's Massachusetts Avenue at high noon, Rangel and a band of about 50 protesters sang the defiant civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome," evoking similar protests against racism in America during the 1960s and against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s.

The protesters, joined by Armenian-Americans who claim their people suffered a similar genocide under the Turks last century, also unfurled a large banner that proclaimed: "Slavery & Genocide = Sudan" while they chanted: "Stop the Genocide. Free Darfur Now" and "Every Life Is Precious. Stop the Genocide in Sudan."

Rangel told the crowd: "I am protesting today to urge the United States government and the United Nations to take immediate action to stop the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan."

Showing impatience at recent efforts by the United Nations and a "troika" of nations including the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia to rein in the Khartoum regime's support for the Jingaweit militias, Rangel said, "While I applaud Secretary [of State Colin] Powell for his efforts, I am worried that our government is constructively engaging a government who has, by almost all accounts, been the primary sponsor of genocide in Sudan."

According to the influential lawmaker: "The situation in Sudan has clearly reached the level of a genocide. U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Andrew Natsios has declared that at least 300,000 people will be dead by year's end in the best-case scenario, and over a million will perish if things continue on their present course. We must take immediate actions to condemn the government of Sudan for their complicity and save the lives of these innocent people."

Rangel warned: "We acted too late to save million of Jews during World War II. We didn't act at all when hundreds of thousands of innocents were slaughtered in Rwanda. We have the opportunity now to stop a genocide and we must act."

After being asked several times by uniformed members of the Secret Service to step aside, Rangel declined to do so and was handcuffed and carried away in a police van. It was almost 20 years ago to the day that the congressman was arrested down the street at the South African Embassy while protesting against the apartheid regime.

The Reverend Walter Fauntroy, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, vowed to continue the protests, with more arrests of prominent African-Americans in the offing. "We will prick the conscience of the American people and their elected officials to declare it what it is and then go in to stop the genocide," he declared.

Fellow protester, radio talk show host and social activist Joe Madison said he would begin a hunger strike that would not end until the Sudanese government stops its obstruction of humanitarian aid to the stricken Darfur region.

The crisis in Sudan has become a hot foreign policy issue in a humid and steamy Washington. While Rangel was being arrested on Embassy Row, across town on Capitol Hill Senator Sam Brownback (Republican of Kansas) told a news conference that Congress would introduce resolutions that day declaring the Khartoum government's actions in Darfur to be genocide.

Meanwhile, at a White House ceremony in which he signed the latest African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA III) earlier in the day as Congressman Rangel looked on, President Bush said: "I'm deeply concerned about the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur, Sudan. For the sake of peace and basic humanity, I echo the sentiments of the secretary of state. I call upon the government of Sudan to stop the Jingaweit violence."

The president added: "I call on all parties of the conflict to respect the cease-fire, to respect human rights, and to allow for the free movement of humanitarian workers and aid. The United States and the United Nations and the leadership of the African Union are working to bring relief to the suffering people of that region. America will continue to strongly support these efforts for peace."

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:


Sudan Tribune
July 13, 2004

US Congressman Charles Rangel Arrested at Sudanese Embassy in Washington

Tuesday July 13th, 2004.

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2004 (ruthout) -- Congressman Rangel, along with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), are calling for an end to the genocide in Sudan. The CBC is demanding sanctions against the government of Sudan. Many of the protesters are planning to get arrested. In addition to being arrested, radio talk show host and civil rights leader, Joe Madison, will launch a hunger strike.

Madison demands an immediate end to the Sudanese government's obstruction of humanitarian aid to victims of the Sudanese genocide. Madison says if trucks filled with food and medicines are not allowed through to the victims before rainy season begins hundreds of thousands of people could die needlessly.

Sudan Campaign organizers pledge to continue demonstrations until the Sudanese government stops the genocide and returns over one million displaced civilians to their homes. Demonstrations are also planned in Boston, New York City, San Antonio, San Diego, and Toronto.

On Wednesday, July 14 the Hon. Robert Edgar, former Member of Congress and current President of the National Council of Churches will be arrested in front of the Sudanese Embassy at noon.

The Sudan Campaign calls on the Security Council of the United Nations to adopt Chapter 7 sanctions on Sudan, to suspend the membership of the government for Sudan on the U. N. Human Rights Commission, and to enable slave and other victims of the Sudanese government's declared jihad against Black Africans to return to their homes.

The Sudan Campaign is the direct action effort of a coalition of organizations working on behalf black Africans in Sudan that have suffered violence and slavery at the hands of their government.

Partner organizations include The Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, the American Anti-slavery group, the Wilberforce Project, Christian Solidarity International and others.

Christian Solidarity International (CSI) is a Christian human rights organization for religious liberty helping victims of religious repression, victimized children and victims of disaster.

CSI was founded by Rev. Hans St 5/8ckelberger, following silent demonstrations in Switzerland in support of persecuted Christians in 1977. It is based in Zurich, Switzerland but has office in several countries, including the U.S.

========================== (Africa Action press release)

Congressional Black Caucus Joins Africa Action in Call for US Intervention to Stop Genocide in Darfur

Africa Action (Washington, DC)
June 23, 2004
Posted to the web June 23, 2004

Press Conference Highlights Urgency of Crisis; Promotes Petition targeting Secretary Powell, Calls for 10,000 Signatures

Leading Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) joined Africa Action today for a press conference on Capitol Hill, where they called attention to the genocide taking place in Darfur and urged the US to lead an immediate intervention to stop the killing. Speakers at the press conference included eight members of the CBC, among them: Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chair of the Caucus, Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on International Relations and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), Caucus Whip and Africa Action Board member. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also spoke at the press conference.

Africa Action's Executive Salih Booker said today, "Pressure is building on US officials, as they consider whether what's happening in Darfur meets the legal definition of 'genocide'. As was the case a decade ago during the genocide in Rwanda, the US refuses to say the word. If we fail to act, a million people could die before the end of this year. We urge Secretary of State Powell to support an immediate intervention to stop the killing."

The Congressional Black Caucus supports the petition, launched by Africa Action last week, calling on US Secretary of State Colin Powell to use the word 'genocide' to describe the crisis in Darfur and to support an urgent intervention. Also today, members of the Congressional Black Caucus will add their names to Africa Action's petition in a signing ceremony at 5:30pm. The petition has already gathered more than 3,000 signatures, and is being circulated widely in the US and internationally. Africa Action aims to collect more than 10,000 signatures by the end of June.

Booker continued, "The Congressional Black Caucus has long been known as the 'Conscience of Congress', and their support for this petition drive makes this a powerful force that Colin Powell cannot ignore. Already thousands of people around the country have signed on, because they understand that genocide is a crime in international law and they believe that the US has an obligation to respond to the crisis in Darfur."

CBC Chairman Cummings said, "We choose to stand up and speak out when others choose to sit down and remain silent. We are the voice for the voiceless."

Representative Donald Payne, who has been deeply involved in US relations with Sudan for more than a decade, has accused the Sudan government of pursuing a "scorched earth" policy in Darfur. Payne asked, "What good is it to sign a peace agreement in the South if you engage in ethnic cleansing in Darfur?"

Representative Barbara Lee said, "I stand in solidarity with the people struggling for survival in Darfur. The United States and others in the international community must make Darfur a priority and act immediately to stop the atrocities taking place."

To sign the petition, visit Africa Action's website at

Darfur - urgency & inaction (Washington Post)

So far, as this Washington Post editorial points out, the so-called "international community" is mostly flunking the challenge posed by Darfur. If this doesn't change soon, it will be too late.

--Jeff Weintraub


Washington Post
July 22, 2004

The Stakes in Darfur

Thursday, July 22, 2004; Page A20

THREE WEEKS AGO Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan visited Darfur, the western Sudanese province where Arab militiamen backed by an Arab government are exterminating people with black skin. Both visits aimed to send a signal to Sudan's government that genocide would not be tolerated, but progress so far has been murderously modest. Civilians are still dying as a result of militia attacks, and the militias' systematic destruction of wells, agriculture and villages has left more than 2 million people in need of food aid. Only a handful of foreign troops have been deployed; civilian protection has been entrusted, grotesquely, to a police force consisting partly of ex-militiamen; and food shipments are reaching only a third of those in need. It is as though, in the wake of the West's failure to prevent Rwanda's genocide, the gods of history are asking, okay, if we give you a second chance and months of warning, will you do better? So far the prospect that 300,000 to 1 million people may perish -- an estimate offered more than a month ago by Andrew S. Natsios, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development -- is failing to galvanize serious action.

Neither Mr. Powell nor Mr. Annan is getting the help that is needed from other leaders. The U.N. Security Council, which could pressure Sudan's government into reining in the militia by passing a resolution imposing sanctions and authorizing armed humanitarian intervention, is moving at a glacial pace. The United States has drafted a resolution, but council members such as China, Pakistan and Brazil value the principle of sovereignty more highly than the human purpose that sovereignty is meant to serve: a stable international order that allows people to live in peace. Other council members, notably France, do not oppose a resolution but show little enthusiasm for it either, thereby making inertia a key ally of the resolution's opponents. As Mr. Annan knows, the United Nations will be marginal to global security if it can't respond to clear catastrophes such as Darfur. If countries -- such as France -- that frequently scold the United States for unilateralism want the United Nations to be taken seriously, they need to push the Security Council toward sanctions and humanitarian intervention.

Even in the absence of a U.N. resolution, the world must act. Again, France is well-placed to lead such an effort: It has a military base in Chad, Sudan's western neighbor, and another in Djibouti to the east; it could offer airlift and other logistical support for delivery of relief. So far, however, France has offered only to help pay for one contract aircraft; it has offered no helicopters, even though the United Nations relief team appealed for six in March and has so far received none. The United Nations is short of food and other supplies also: It has appealed for $349 million worth of materials, but donors have come forward with a pitiful $145 million or so. Tightfistedness from France, Japan, Italy, Spain and Germany is the main reason for the shortfall. For example, France has donated just over $6 million to Darfur, according to the United Nations, whereas the United States has given $130 million and committed to an additional $170 million. African countries have offered troops to help ensure that the relief gets to the right people. But they need money and encouragement if they are to deploy quickly and in sufficient numbers.

If Europeans and other rich donors won't act, then the United States will have to do so. This would add to the unfairness with which the world's burdens are shared -- American taxpayers already pay most of the bills for global security. But if nobody else will act to save up to 1 million civilians, questions about sharing the burden must be put aside. So must inhibitions caused by the operation in Iraq. One generation ago, after another much-criticized war, the United States was for a long time unwilling to project force. But if the nation is to avoid succumbing to an Iraq syndrome to match the Vietnam syndrome of the past, it must prove its continuing readiness to lead in the world. There could scarcely be a more compelling cause than Darfur.

US House of Representatives Calls Darfur 'genocide' (BBC News)

Overall, I think this is a very welcome and potentially significant development, that ought to be applauded.

However, life is complicated, so ...

... I feel compelled to add that, all things considered, I am not really sure that the term "genocide" is appropriate in this case--yet. There is no question that what is going on is an overwhelming atrocity, involving ethnically-targeted mass murder, mass rape, ethnic cleansing, and other crimes. This constitutes more than sufficient justification for urgent action--and, as I've noted before, this is not ONLY a humanitarian crisis requiring large-scale relief work, but even more fundamentally a massive crime requiring a political solution.

However, I happen to think that we should be very careful about using the term "genocide," to avoid having it get cheapened by rhetorical inflation. (During the past century, unfortunately, there have been all too many cases where it clearly fit.) And so far, it's not clear that what is going on in Darfur adds up to full-scale genocide--which is, of course, a very high standard.

On the other hand, this COULD turn into something like genocide, with estimates of over a million deaths in the near future, if serious action is not taken VERY quickly. (If so, this would accord with the pattern of the Armenian genocide during WWI, which was carried out not by industrialized extermination--as with the Nazis--or by rapid mass executions--as in Rwanda--, but through an accumulation of small-scale massacres, deportations, and mass .starvation These added up to a systematic policy of genocide, at the end of which, according to what the Turkish leader Talaat Bey is supposed to have said to a German diplomat, "The Armenian problem no longer exists." The agenda of the Sudanese government in Darfur is clearly similar.) Given this possibility, and given the scale of the atrocity, I guess I find it hard to be entirely unsympathetic to people who want to mobilize the word "genocide" to convey the urgency of the situation (and to use the legal leverage of the Genocide Convention to force governments to take action)..

Jeff Weintraub

(P.S. If anyone thinks I'm wrong concerning one or more of these judgments, I am open to counter-arguments.)

BBC News
Last Updated: Friday, 23 July, 2004, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK

US House calls Darfur 'genocide'
Genocide is being committed in Sudan's Darfur region, the US House of Representatives says in a resolution.

Pro-government Arab militias have forced more than one million black Africans from their homes and killed thousands, human rights groups say.

The US is proposing a UN resolution threatening Sudan with sanctions. Congress urged the Bush administration to seek a strong document.

The UN is obliged to take action if it accepts genocide is occurring.

Speaking later on Friday, President George Bush said: "We made our position very clear to the Sudanese government - they must stop Janjaweed (militia) violence, they must provide access to humanitarian relief for the people who suffer".

He said the US was working with the UN and African Union "to bring relief to the suffering people in that region".

US to lead an international effort to prevent genocide in Darfur
US to consider multilateral or even unilateral intervention
Impose targeted sanctions
Establish a resettlement and rehabilitation fund

Both US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan have previously said they have not seen enough evidence to convince them there is a genocide in Darfur.

Sudan denies backing the militias, and has warned the US and UK not to get involved in another Iraq-style crisis.

'Mass graves'

The US Congress says the government must seek a UN resolution to authorise a multinational force to protect the displaced civilians and aid workers in Darfur.

The resolution of the US House of Representatives - adopted unanimously by 422 votes and 12 abstentions - says the Bush adminstration should call the atrocities in Darfur "by its rightful name: 'genocide'."

It urges the Bush administration to consider "multilateral or even unilateral intervention to prevent genocide should the United Nations Security Council fail to act".

Many of those who have fled their homes say Janjaweed militiamen patrol outside the camps, killing men and raping women who go in search of food or firewood.

Photographer Marcus Bleasdale says he has taken pictures of between 30 and 40 mass graves in Darfur, in which up to 100 people had been buried.

"As we looked along the horizon, we could see hands and heads sticking out of the trenches," he told the BBC.

Sanctions threat

"While the world debates, people die in Darfur," Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

"We actually could save some lives instead of lamenting afterward that we should have done something."

But Mr Powell again accused the Sudan government of backing the militias and said bomb attacks were continuing.

"Since they turned it on, they can turn it off," he added. "We made it clear to them that there will be consequences if it is not turned off."

The draft US resolution calls on Khartoum to crack down on the Janjaweed militia, which are accused of carrying out thousands of rapes and killings in Darfur, or face further action, including possible sanctions.

Mr Annan said he believed the Security Council would back the US-sponsored draft resolution.

"The reactions are quite positive... My sense is that it will be successful," he said at a joint press conference with Mr Powell.

Police feared

Sudanese officials warned against any meddling in the country's internal affairs.

"We don't need any [UN] resolutions. Any resolutions from the Security Council will complicate things," said Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail.

He likened US and British pressure on Sudan as similar to that put on Iraq before the war there.

Some 6,000 policemen have been sent to restore peace in Darfur but the BBC's Hilary Andersson says those who have fled their homes are afraid of "uniformed men of any kind".

They fear the policemen could be used to force them to return home and accuse Sudan's security forces of working closely with the militias.

Sudan has also promised to disarm the Janjaweed, but the US says this has not yet started.

Sudan blames the conflict on rebels who took up arms last year, demanding greater rights for Darfur's non-Arab groups.