It has been a pretty bad last few weeks if you’re black in Darfur Province in Sudan. If you weren’t murdered, you may have simply had your village burned to the ground. If you escaped the murderous Arab/Muslim Khartoum regime and their Janjaweed militia’s death sentence, you may have escaped into Chad. Or worse, you may have ended up in what many are calling concentration camps (1).
But if you think those folks have been in a fix, consider poor Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations. He’s had a barrel full of troubles. He’s neck deep, of course, in trying to cover up the UN Oil-for-Food scandal. And with the current ten-year anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, he has been obliged to address and make speeches about genocide.
Before a Human Rights Commission Memorial marking the anniversary remembering the 800,000 dead in Rwanda (when he was head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Agency), in which the UN famously stood idly by, the top man at the UN opined, referring to the Sudan, “the International Community cannot stand idle,” even as he does just that.
Annan then got more specific moving from one to the other of the two terms that those closely following Sudan use when talking of Darfur Province in western Sudan. First, he said that military forces might be needed in Darfur Province to stop “ethnic cleansing.” He then explained further: “by action in such situations, I mean a continuum of steps which may include military action.” And then he added, “The risk of genocide remains frighteningly real” (Tom Atkins, “Annan Says Force may be needed in West Sudan”, Reuters Net Alert, April 7, 2004). He cannot, he will not, against all evidence, actually admit genocide is taking place, because even he cannot stand idle in the face of such atrocity (2). So he contents himself with talking about this frightening reality in the conditional, as if it were merely an idea and not a terrible actuality affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan.
Under his stewardship, the UN can talk of ethnic cleansing¾problematic, but not bad enough to demand serious action¾or the risk of genocide, even more problematic, but still not bad enough to demand the most serious response. Of course, they can form all sorts of committees, make all sorts of studies, issue all sorts of declarations, but whatever he says, Annan cannot use the term “genocide” in a simple declarative sentence, such as “Genocide is taking place.” That simple statement will either force the UN to admit its impotence, or force it to act with military force.
Kofi Annan has become like a mad scientist constantly filling a “death cup” halfway to prove that the cup can never be filled to the top. He can pour murdered blacks from Sudan into it about one thousand times a week (the number of innocent people that Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, who reported from the Chad-Sudan border in late April and early May, estimates to have been murdered each week by Khartoum and its surrogates), 52 weeks a year, but the cup will never quite get filled, although in fact this cup is spilling over with the murders of thousands upon thousands of innocent people. The Annan-headed UN can move closer and closer to the top, but it can never actually reach it. So the bright red light declaring “GENOCIDE” never switches on.
In ten years time no doubt, Annan and some of the other UN bigwigs will be living on their rather large UN pensions, tucked away at some bureaucratic well-known peace institute, having by then worked out a few answers absolving themselves of any responsibility for the first genocide of the Twenty First Century.
(1) A State Dept. spokesperson scoffed at the term “concentration camp” during a phone conversation in April. Well-known Sudan expert Eric Reeves uses that nomenclature in an April 20th email alert, as does the African Society of International and Comparative Law, which testified to the UN Commission on Human Rights on April 19 in Geneva. Two such camps cited specifically by the Society were the Al-Intifada Camp in South Nyala, with approximately 9,000 prisoners, and the Belail Camp in East Nyala, with approximately 11,000 prisoners. There are said to be hundreds of thousands of other prisoners in camps throughout Darfur. The National Islamic Government of Sudan denies this, but as they are either denying or limiting access (depending on the situation) into Darfur to humanitarian and monitoring groups, it is impossible to verify the situation in many locations. There is a great fear that these camps could be become extermination sites to prevent the inmates from being witnesses at a later date to what they have seen and heard. There are also reports of a lack of food, water, and adequate hygienic facilities.
(2) Article 2, Clause (c) of the United Nations Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948, states that genocide includes not only killing members of a racial or ethnic group, in whole or in part, but deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. It takes an enormous level of denial to ignore that that this is what is taking place. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times uses the label “genocide” to describe what he has observed taking place in the Chad-Sudan border region.