The peace negotiations held for some two years in Naivasha, Kenya, haven’t stopped the National Islamic Front government from doing what it does best: perpetrating the wholesale slaughter of Sudanese blacks.
The genocidal record of the predator Arab/Islamic government in the north is well-known by now. Examples include the slaughter of two million black Christians and Animists in the south, the massive displacement and exile of a large portion of the black population, the kidnapping and enslavement of black women and children (estimates range as high as two million victims), limb amputation as a common penalty for attempted escape and the appalling rape of women and even boys (see: Maria Sliwa, “Boy Rape in Sudan”, March 11, 2004, Frontpagemag.com).
Dragged into peace negotiations because of the pressure brought to bear by internationally-based humanitarian, religious and activist groups, the U.S. Congress’ passage of the Sudan Peace Act and an involved Bush Administration that actively pushed the process, it appeared that verifiable progress was being made.
But the surprising catastrophe that followed was that just when most observers agreed that some aspects of life in the south had begun to return to something resembling normalcy, the locus of slaughter and its attendant partners of displacement and slavery shifted to the large western province of Darfur, where most of the black Africans happen to be Muslim.
Because Darfur had been previously left alone by the government, it was never included in Sudan’s peace talks. And while perhaps not quite as appealing to the Khartoum regime as murdering, raping and enslaving blacks who are Christians and Animists, they have demonstrated the racialist side of their regime by just as efficiently murdering, raping and enslaving blacks that happen to be Muslim. Khartoum has been using its regular army troops, and as it did in the south, local Arab militia called Janjaweed, to perform what some are now calling “ethnic cleansing” and others “genocide.”
The evidence that this savagery is based on race is overwhelming. In a statement made at the House Subcommittee hearing on Sudan on March 11, 2004, Sudan expert Eric Reeves quoted from two statements by Amnesty International: “A refugee farmer from the village of Kishkish reported...the words used by the militia: ‘You are black and you are opponents. You are our slaves, the Darfur region is in our hands and you are our herders.’” And, “A civilian from Jafal confirmed [he was] told by the Janjaweed: ‘You are opponents to the regime; we must crush you. As you are black, you are like slaves. Then all the Darfur region will be in our hands. The government is on our side. The government plane is on our side to give us ammunition and food.’”
Reeves also noted that on December 11, 2003, the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks, (IRIN), quoted one black tribal leader from al-Geneina as saying, “I believe this is an elimination of the black race.”
Nicholas Kristof, Op-Ed columnist of the New York Times, was recently sent to the Chad – Sudan border where he has seen and heard the same. In his March 24, 2004 column, “Ethnic Cleansing, Again”, he tells of a 26-year old farmer, Idris Abu Moussa, who described Arab militia coming to his village and killing 50 people including his father, grandmother, uncle and two brothers. “They don’t want any blacks left,” Moussa said. Kristof also quotes Halime Ali Souf who fled to Chad with her infant after her husband was killed. “They want to exterminate us blacks,” she related. And in his March 31, 2004 column, “Starved for Safety”, Kristof reported from Andre, Chad, that he had met Moussa Tamadji Yodi, whose story of what happened to his Sudanese village had the all-too-common and depressingly familiar phrase: “[T]hen they kill the men and rape the women and steal everything.” Yodi concluded with the thought that the Sudanese government and their militias have as one of their goals “to wipe out the blacks.” These stories are typical of many of the 100,000 inhabitants who so far have fled into eastern Chad to escape the killing fields of Sudan.
Unlike in the south, where there was virtually no effective military opposition, there are two main groups in Darfur: the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). These groups have been actively fighting against the Khartoum government, the key issue the government points to as the justification for its military action.
This was addressed by Roger Winter, Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at the March 11 House Subcommittee hearing. After detailing the horrors of burning villages, gang rapes of students at a girls school, and the Khartoum having “mounted nothing less than a scorched earth strategy,” he declared, “....rather than negotiating with these forces (SLM/A and GEM), the government has chosen to respond with brutal force against the civilian population, even when there is no evidence of contact with opposition groups.”
An important date approaches. On April 21, the Bush Administration, which has received deserved plaudits for energizing the talks (even having Secretary of State Colin Powell stay in contact with various participants), is required by provisions of the Sudan Peace Act to issue a current report on its findings. Of course what that really means is that the State Department will issue a report. Those findings will help determine whether or not the United States will recommend to various world organizations that they increase diplomatic, and much more importantly, meaningful economic sanctions relating to loans and loan guarantees for oil exploration and development.
There is concern among humanitarian groups and black Sudanese activists that the State Department, which has earned a reputation over the years for being too accommodating, if not downright soft toward Arab states, might use the fact that the SLM/A and JEM are far from choir boys and include some rather unsavory characters in their ranks. Given the current world situation vis-à-vis the fight against terrorism, the fear is that the United States government – with already too much on its plate and not wanting any more headaches – will assert there is some sort of moral equivalency at work here, even though there clearly is not, and will declare a diplomatic stalemate and decide to walk away.
Various media have been noting the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Of interest is the fact that some governments insisted on not using the term “genocide” at the time, choosing to use instead the phrase “ethnic cleansing,” a distinction with a big difference: Genocide is supposed to set in motion actions to stop it.
Kristof has clearly seen and heard enough to unequivocally state, “...Let’s be blunt: Sudan’s behavior...easily meets the definition of genocide in Article 2 of the 1948 Convention against Genocide.” He also wrote, “...Right now, the government of Sudan is engaging in genocide against three large African tribes in its Darfur region here. Some 1,000 people are being killed a week [and] tribeswomen are being systematically raped....” He is calling for the United Nations Security Council to meet to discuss these atrocities.
In an analysis of militarily securing a humanitarian intervention, Eric Reeves has suggested that with an overwhelming firepower advantage arrayed against them, the Khartoum regime and its surrogate militias would be no match and would likely flee from a well-armed, professional international force intent on securing road corridors, air strips and some critical junctions. It should be kept in mind that, according to most accounts, estimates are that a United Nations force of 2,000 personnel would have prevented a good deal of the Rwandan genocide. Also of note is the fact that it was only when the United Nations forces arrayed in Rwanda backed down that the genocidal murderers began and then continued their dirty work.
Regarding the signing of a peace treaty in Sudan, Secretary of State Colin Powell has talked of sending a United Nations force of between 8,000 and 10,000 to police Sudan. Why not then send a force of between 4,000 and 5,000 to secure and police Darfur now, in order to protect an innocent population? Ample evidence exists sufficient to hold a Security Council meeting. And if France, Germany and the rest of Old Europe object to Iraq, what could their objections possibly be here?