Thursday, July 01, 2004

Sudan - Stop the Atrocity

There is increasing recognition that for the past year a massive atrocity has been unfolding in Darfur in western Sudan, a systematic and highly successful campaign of ethnically-targeted mass murder, mass rape, and ethnic cleansing against the black population. According to the UN and international relief agencies, this has generated the most urgent large-scale humanitarian catastrophe in the world today. Almost the entire (surviving) population--well over a million people--have been driven from their homes into refugee camps in Sudan and Chad, where they are already starting to die of hunger and disease in large numbers. (This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Sudanese government is severely restricting efforts by humanitarian relief organizations and outside observers to operate in Darfur.) If the projections of the relief agencies are at all correct (and while their predictions are not always reliable, they seem plausible in this case), this could turn into a full-scale genocide, with over a million people dying very quickly.

I assume that most of you know this already, so that's just a reminder for background. The appalling fact is that practically no one with any clout in the so-called "international community" is doing anything serious to stop this. To their credit, UN officials from Kofi Annan on down have sounded the alarm (and Annan has even publicly raised the possibility of outside intervention). But in practice, the UN is powerless to act except on the initiative of member states, particularly the most powerful member states, which has not been forthcoming. In fact, this unpleasantness in Darfur did not prevent Sudan from being re-appointed to its seat on the UN Human Rights Commission (on the nomination, believe it or not, of the African regional bloc, apparently untroubled by the Sudanese government's mass murders of black Africans over the years in the southern and now western Sudan). (This is also, by far, the largest mass atrocity being committed against Muslims anywhere in the world--though by other Muslims--but I am not aware of any serious responses from the wider Islamic world, governmental or otherwise. The lack of even verbal condemnation by the Arab League is, of course, not surprising.)

Again, to give credit where credit is due: The US government (for complex reasons of US domestic politics and long-term diplomatic involvement in Sudan) has begun to play a significant constructive role. (The mobilization of an unusual coalition linking African-American groups, Christian groups from right and left, and Jewish groups opposed to the genocidal mass murder of ethnic minorities, has had a significant impact in this respect.) It has openly condemned the campaign of ethnic cleansing and ethnic cleansing in Darfur, explicitly recognizing that it is not only a humanitarian crisis requiring massive relief aid, but also--and fundamentally--a deliberate crime requiring a political solution. The US delegation at the UN strongly protested Sudan's reappointment to the UN Human Rights Commission . The US sent the Secretary of State to Darfur, a significant gesture, and while Powell was in Sudan he said forthrightly to the Sudanese government that the Janjaweed (the government-backed Arab militias who play the main role in this atrocity) "must be broken." And the US is attempting to coordinate more international pressure on the Sudanese government (so far without many visible results).

The US government should be pressed to do more, as the articles by Siegle and Moore (below) correctly urge. But the larger situation is that, as far as I know, at this point the US government is the ONLY one that has undertaken ANY serious initiatives to stop this atrocity and to prevent a gigantic, entirely foreseeable, humanitarian catastrophe in the coming months. This is a scandal. Those of you who are citizens of European countries, in particular, should do what you can to urge your governments to do something serious (in terms of diplomacy, political pressure, and urgent humanitarian relief, at the very least) ... or, at the minimum, not to obstruct a serious response. Obviously, only a JOINT response by some significant segment of the "international community" can address this crisis in any constructive way.

In the meantime, humanitarian relief organizations like Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, and so on have played a very useful role, not only though their directly humanitarian efforts, but also because their people on the spot have been in the forefront of bringing news about this atrocity to the world. (The Sudanese government understands this, which is a major reason why they are trying to prevent people from relief and human-rights organizations from getting into Darfur.) Contributions to them would, therefore, indirectly help to promote a political solution, which is the fundamental necessity.

Cordially but urgently,
Jeff Weintraub

Washington Post
July 1, 2004

Crisis in Sudan

By Ed O'Keefe and Jeffrey Marcus Staff Writers
Thursday, July 1, 2004; 2:23 PM

What Is the Situation in Sudan?

An increasingly dire situation in Darfur in western Sudan has devolved into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to international observers. Human Rights Watch reports that more than 1 million people have been displaced from their homes and are living in disease-ridden camps. Another 110,000 have fled to neighboring Chad. Hundreds of thousands of people are threatened by starvation, and as many as 30,000 people have already died in Darfur in the past 16 months.

Aid workers warn that the U.N. World Food Program will only be able to reach 800,000 displaced people. If the situation persists, the U.S. Agency for International Development estimates that at least 350,000 people will die of disease and malnutrition.
In Sudan, Death and Denial (The Washington Post, June 27, 2004)
Eyewitnesses to Atrocities Along Frontier of Chad and Sudan (The Washington Post, June 29, 2004)

How Did This Happen?

Tensions between Arabs and Africans competing for scarce natural resources in Darfur first surfaced during the 1970s. In February 2003, rebel groups of African Muslims, fed up with chronic inequalities between Africans and the ruling Arab elite (who are also Muslim), struck out against the Khartoum government. The government responded by arming local militias to crack down on mainly three ethnic groups -- the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.

The government-backed groups are known in Arabic as "Janjaweed," which means "men who ride horses and carry G3 guns." The Janjaweed terrorize Africans, destroying villages, killing and maiming men, ransacking food supplies and blocking international assistance. The Washington Post's Emily Wax reports that the Janjaweed also carry out systematic campaigns of rape against African women in an attempt to humiliate the women and their families and weaken tribal ethnic lines. By funding the Janjaweed militants, human rights groups say the government is carrying out an ethnic cleansing campaign.

A U.N. report accuses local government leaders of instituting a policy of "forced starvation" that simultaneously has government officials denying problems with food distribution while militias prevent food delivery. Aid workers and journalists have been kept from visiting some affected areas since government-backed militias have blocked access to 31 of the approximately 130 camps in Darfur.
'We Want to Make a Light Baby' (The Washington Post, June 30, 2004)

How Does This Relate to Sudan's Civil War?

Sudan has been wracked by a 21-year civil war between the Arab Muslims in the north, who dominate the government, and black Africans in the south, represented by the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, who are mostly animist or Christian. More than 2 million people have been killed, mostly due to starvation. A U.S.-backed peace deal, signed in May in Naivasha, Kenya, paved the way for a power-sharing agreement designed to end the continent's longest-running civil war.

What Is the International Community Doing?

The U.N. was slow to act in Darfur, according to Jan Egeland, U.N. emergency relief coordinator. But in May, the Security Council adopted a U.S.-sponsored statement of concern over the humanitarian situation. Reuters reported that Sudanese officials would only allow Sudanese trucks to transport aid, and only Sudanese charities or agencies could distribute supplies. But the U.N. has pressed the Sudanese government to allow international relief agencies access to Darfur. Egeland says the U.N. has doubled its effort in Darfur in the past five weeks, and he vows to double it again in the next five weeks.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan visited Darfur this week to survey the humanitarian situation for themselves. It was the first high-level U.S. visit in 25 years. According to The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, who traveled with Powell in Sudan, the secretary called on the Sudanese government to clamp down on the brutal Janjaweed and to lift restrictions hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The United States is circulating a draft U.N. resolution that would ban the Sudanese government from equipping and training the Janjaweed. It also demands the government halt militia activities and allow unfettered access for relief officials. According to the draft, sanctions would be applied to "any other individuals or groups responsible for the atrocities in Darfur."
Powell, in Sudan, Presses for Action (The Washington Post, June 30, 2004)
Sudan Accused of Blocking Darfur Relief (The Washington Post, May 28, 2004)
Annan Assures Darfur of No Force Return (Reuters, July 1, 2004)

Based on reporting by Washington Post reporters Emily Wax, Colum Lynch and Glenn Kessler, as well as the Associated Press and Reuters.

Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA)
June 30, 2004, Wednesday

LENGTH: 1191 words

In Sudan's Darfur: Action, Not Just Aid
By Joseph Siegle


The Sudanese government's genocidal campaign to expunge African tribes from its western provinces ripples with impunity. More than 1 million people have been uprooted from their homes, 30,000 have been killed, women have been systematically raped, children kidnapped to be used as slaves, farms burned, villages looted, and water sources contaminated with decomposing corpses. The brutality punctuates the unmistakable message: Don't come back.

The situation is going to get worse. The approaching rainy season threatens to strand large numbers of the displaced without access to food, medical supplies, and other basic necessities in a barren land soon to be an impassable slop. Aid agencies estimate that 350,000 to 1 million people could die from starvation and disease, conveniently advancing the government's aims while masking culpability - a technique Khartoum has perfected from its decades-long conflict in the south. Besides, time is on the unelected government's side: A prolonged displacement of black Africansprovides the opening for Darfur to be Arabized, as nomadic Arab tribes move into the area.

Obviously, there is cause for international action. But let's be clear about the goal: This crisis is entirely politically generated - and demands a political solution.

Much effort has focused on getting emergency supplies to refugees in the desolate border area with Chad. While meritorious, this is, in effect, treating the symptom. The objective of international engagement on Darfur should be to get the displaced back home - immediately. An early return provides them with a better chance of survival. It gives them access to their salvageable crops, wild foods, jobs, and repairable water and sanitation systems; traditional social and trading networks can also be recreated. Extended exposure to the overcrowded, unhygienic, and insecure conditions in centers for refugees and displaced persons is a recipe for death and despair - not to mention a Herculean challenge for humanitarian organizations. Moreover, once Arab settlers have moved in, resolution becomes far more difficult.

The US and other international actors have called on Sudan to rein in the Arab "Janjaweed" militias responsible and to provide security for the displaced. This is the political equivalent of imploring the fox to guard the henhouse. The Sudanese government has been directly involved in the killings. And it has a long history of sponsoring local militias to destabilize regions of the country and, for that matter, neighboring African countries, with which it is at odds. This "outsourcing" of military operations provides the government a low-cost and plausibly deniable device for advancing its political aims. Counting on the government to ensure the security of a population it wants to exterminate is reminiscent of recent government-sponsored pogroms in Kosovo, Kurdish northern Iraq after the Gulf War, and East Timor.

The upshot: by the predatory and abusive violation of its citizens, the dictatorial government of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, like those of Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, has relinquished its claims of sovereignty in Darfur.

So international efforts should aim at compelling the government to vacate the region, making Darfur a UN protectorate for the moment. A "no-fly zone" should be declared for the region. World leaders have done this in other cases of forced mass displacement - and a less vigorous response in Sudan raises questions of why they turn a blind eye to genocide only in Africa.

The Bashir government has one advantage over the likes of Milosevic and Hussein, however. Khartoum knows how to read the writing on the wall: In the face of overwhelming international condemnation, Khartoum has a history of adapting its egregious behavior. It expelled an increasingly notorious Osama bin Laden in the mid-1990s, made amends with its neighbors when its complicity in the assassination attempt of Hosni Mubarak in 1995 was publicized, and has positioned itself on the side of the US in the war on terror following the Sept. 11 attacks.

The key for the international community, therefore, is to make sure the writing on the wall is clear in the case of Darfur. Secretary of State Colin Powell's planned visit to Darfur Wednesday is a vital opportunity to drive home this point.

As with the other instances of the international community rolling back ethnic cleansing, decisive action is required: Action from the US - and, indispensably, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the European Union, and the African Union (AU). Politically, all of these actors must unambiguously and forcefully condemn the ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Having violated the terms of membership, Sudan should be prevented from voting in the UN. And its leaders must be held personally accountable. International travel by senior government officials and their families should be barred, their personal assets frozen, and the prospect of war-crimes charges against General Bashir and his ruling clique brandished.

The two black African rebel groups against whom the Sudanese government ostensibly launched its campaign must also be compelled to desist completely from any further aggression - which Khartoum has used as a pretext for their mass murder.

Economically, pending resolution of war-crimes charges, claims can be made against Sudan's oil exports for compensation to the victims in Darfur - as well as to reimburse the international community for the humanitarian resources expended to ameliorate this manufactured crisis. Simultaneously, sanctions against Sudan's oil exports can be instituted. Shippers caught transporting Sudanese oil would lose their tankers and cargo. The skyrocketing premiums on insurance and freight charges would surely add pressure on Sudan's primary customers - China, Malaysia, and South Korea - to curtail these purchases even if moral suasion alone would not.

Security, of course, is the major issue in returning displaced populations. While the AU has 120 peace monitors on the ground, this is inadequate to cover a region the size of France. Closer to 20,000 peacekeepers are required - backed by a UN resolution. Most could come from Africa. However, contributions from other regions would also be needed - ideal candidates being India, Britain, Canada, Australia, and the EU. The US, currently absorbed in Iraq and Afghanistan, should still provide logistical and financial support.

"Never again," is the mandate forever etched into our collective consciousness by the Holocaust. Yet, without an established international protocol for responding to genocide, honoring this mandate is never automatic - as we saw in Rwanda. Preventing it this time depends on a quorum of global leaders acting in unison. By so doing, they can prevent this disaster from becoming a catastrophe and forever staining their places in history.

* Joseph Siegle is the Douglas Dillon fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is coauthor of the forthcoming book, 'The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace.'

Jim Moore's Journal (Harvard Law School)
July 1, 2004

On Darfur and Sudan: Labels do matter. We need to trigger a positive cascade by recognizing our genocide for what it is.

1. The last few days have seen new and powerful political communities joining the fight for Darfur and Sudan. has mobilized its mailing list. The Congressional Black Caucus has become much more visible and intent, and Nancy Pelosi and the DCCC are taking action. This is good, and they join the long-time coalition of communities that have kept Sudan alive--African-American leaders, midwestern and western conservative Christians, and Jews who have a deep concern for stopping Holocaust-like genocides. We are now seeing a coalition the likes of which seldom emerge. Friends are being made across traditional political lines. This is good for Darfur and Sudan and, if I may say so, this sort of thing is good for America and the American political culture. It happens too rarely. We need to keep it up. We are tackling a task so difficult that we need all the power of shared purpose we can muster.

2. In biology and complexity theory there is great power in "cascades." Cascades are actions that if taken trigger others, which in turn trigger more, and so on. Some of the most advanced work in drug evaluation is in modeling drug-induced cascades. Epidemiology is essentially the practive of anticipating and intervening to stop epidemics cascading through societies.

Genocide is a cascade. As Samantha Power wrote in her book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (which won the Pullitzer Prize for non-fiction this year), Samantha explains that genocide is a cascade--where the hate crimes based in racism and ethnocentrism, fed by political leadership, take on societal scale. America has never intervened to stop a genocide.

I would like this time, our time, "our genocide"--the Darfur genocide of 2004--to be the first time America intervenes. This would be a historic accomplishment for the people of the world. Intervention can be triggered by a single event: the labeling of the Darfur situation a genocide. Colin Powell and Kofi Annan both keep saying "we will take care of the problem and worry about labels later" as if the label doesn't matter. But under international law the label does matter. If this is a genocide, most of the world's major nations are bound by treaty to protect the innocents--bound by treaty to intervene with whatever means are necessary.

This is why we need to insist that "our genocide" be called what it is. The Darfur genocide needs to be recognized as such now; not--like the genocide in Rwanda--only in retrospect.

[More information is available at]
Posted by James Moore on 7/1/04; 8:48:30 AM from the Economics and cybenetics dept.