Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Numb in the face of genocide

By Gabe Bradley
November 29, 2005

Acts of genocide are routinely described as “incomprehensible.” This descriptor may be more accurate then we know.

In the last several years, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been murdered in the Darfur region of Sudan. It has been underreported in the American media and underrepresented on the American foreign policy agenda. The rest of the world has been just as reluctant to take action. Now, a University psychology professor seems to have found an answer: Our brains just can’t understand genocide.

Professor Paul Slovic recently delivered a paper in which he claims the emotional side of the human brain numbs in response to mass murder, according to an article in Monday’s Register-Guard.

Slovic says this is a “fundamental deficiency in our humanity,” because the numbing effect prevents a person from feeling empathy and taking action. This could help explain why people across America and the world have yet to formulate a substantial response to the genocide in Darfur.

“The only reason to know how many have died is to have a number to report when we memorialize another genocide 10 years after the fact,” said Slovic in the article.

What does this say about our humanity? Do we, as Slovic says, have a fundamental deficiency? I believe the answer is yes. Moving away from the physiological and psychological science of the issue and into the realm of philosophy, the fact that we are virtually unable to respond to acts of genocide is a serious problem.

Certainly the fact that humans have organized for the purpose of exterminating one another since the dawn of recorded history suggests that there is something fundamentally corrupt, or at least corruptible, in our nature. However, a small minority of the world’s population actually plan and participate in genocide. For every country in the world where genocide is taking place, there are hundreds where there is currently no genocide.

So it’s easy for us to ignore genocide, especially when it’s on the other side of the world, because the refugees rarely end up here. But in this era of information technology, there’s nothing keeping us in the dark except for our own unwillingness to care.

I say the American media have underreported the Darfur genocide. The media, though, are only giving the people what they want. If average American viewers gave even a slight inkling that they cared about the situation in Darfur, we would be bombarded with information about Darfur 24/7.

Can you imagine the ratings on genocide coverage? There’s no need to sensationalize that story. The problem is, people across the country and the world are so totally apathetic that the media have no incentive to provide substantial coverage.

Both the media and our government are affected by the same forces that shape our markets: supply and demand. Until there is significant demand for information and action with regard to genocide throughout the world, the powers that be will have no incentive to supply any solutions; right now, there just isn’t the demand.

For those of us who believe that being complacent in the face of genocide is a breach of our obligations to one another as humans, this is a problem.

Slovic’s finding that we are paralyzed to the point of inaction by genocide is interesting because it presents us with a situation wherein the right thing to do is to struggle against our natural inclinations — to do the right thing despite how we’re wired.

Most people would agree that we’re not perfect the way we are. That’s why so many of us seek to change, learn and grow. For many of us, this means living the beautiful life, the good life, the excellent life.

So perhaps it’s not breaking news that in our struggle to live life in the best way we can, our biggest obstacles come not from our circumstances or from others, but from ourselves. This fact has been so well-documented in the realm of exercise and sport that it has become a cliché. However, in the realm of moral philosophy, this point is very much in dispute.

Irish philosopher Edmund Burke is often quoted as having said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We now know that it’s incredibly easy for good people to do nothing.

I don’t particularly care for the movie “Schindler’s List.” However, the final scene is one of the most emotionally powerful scenes I have ever watched in any movie. Though Liam Neeson’s character has risked his life and livelihood to save Jews from the death camps and sabotage the Nazi war effort, he still breaks down in tears, bemoaning the fact that he could have done more. The implication here is not merely that he could have done more but that he should have done more.

Now we are faced with yet another genocide. Most of us could do more. Most of us should do more.

Slovic will be one of the speakers at a forum tomorrow night on how local residents can help stop the Darfur genocide. The forum, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council, will take place at 7 p.m. at Temple Beth Israel.


source: dailyemerald.com

Monday, November 28, 2005

"Why Time is Running out in Darfur"

The New Republic (on-line), November 28, 2005

By Eric Reeves

WHAT will happen after humanitarian organizations leave Darfur? The question grows more relevant daily. For much of 2004, humanitarian groups ramped up their operations in Darfur. These efforts temporarily blocked the genocidal aims of the Sudanese government from coming to full fruition. Throughout 2003 and 2004, government-backed militias terrorized Darfur's African tribal populations, evicting them from their villages and cutting them off from their livelihoods. Many ended up in refugee camps, where only the efforts of humanitarian groups have allowed them to stay alive. Sudan's leaders would like nothing more than to see these groups leave the country, so that disease and malnutrition can finish the work the militias started three years ago.

They may soon get their wish. There is considerable evidence that many humanitarian organizations are on the brink of withdrawing from Darfur--or at least suspending operations. An upsurge in violence against humanitarian workers has pushed many groups to the very limit of tolerable risk. The consequences of such a withdrawal will be stark: hundreds of thousands dead. As a result, the reality facing America and its allies is simple: If we really believe that something should be done to save Darfur, then we have to do it now. Soon, it will be too late to do anything at all.

HOW likely is humanitarian evacuation? For one thing, withdrawals have already begun in West Darfur. Kofi Annan reports that the United Nations withdrew "non-essential" staff from the region in October and that some international humanitarian organizations did so as well. Aid workers have told me of subsequent quiet withdrawals from West Darfur and elsewhere. Sometimes these evacuations are also noted publicly, as in a recent Darfur report by Refugees International:

"According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, due to rising insecurity ... on September 25, 2005 three NGOs evacuated their staff from Shangil Tobayi, North Darfur, reportedly leaving the town without an international humanitarian presence. A week earlier Refugees International (RI) had witnessed the site director for one of the NGOs sending three of her staff home to Europe."

Eighty-one NGOs and thirteen U.N. agencies currently operate in Darfur, according to the latest U.N. data. These groups have evacuation plans defined by varying contingencies and thresholds for implementation. A year ago, for example, Save the Children UK withdrew its non-Sudanese staff and suspended all operations in Darfur following the deaths of several workers in two different incidents (one was a land-mine detonation). But no matter what the threshold for evacuation, the precipitating scenarios are daily becoming more likely.

Attacks on humanitarian workers and their convoys have been most frequent in West Darfur, and this is the region Annan explicitly invoked when he warned the U.N. Security Council in his November report on Darfur that "the looming threat of complete lawlessness and anarchy draws nearer." All roads leading out of the regional capital Geneina are off-limits to U.N. humanitarian personnel. Independent aid organizations use these roads only occasionally and on a highly selective basis. Humanitarian groups simply cannot be expected to operate in such an environment, even as their skills and oversight are critical for the work of saving civilian lives.

Meanwhile the Janjaweed have been appearing in ever more brazen and threatening fashion inside Geneina itself. Fighting has been reported within the city, as well as between Arab militia groups immediately northeast of town. Geneina airport, the only significant airport in West Darfur, is being actively used by helicopter gunships of the Khartoum government, evidently in support of its escalating military offensive against insurgents in the Jebel Moun area to the northeast.

More ominously, sources on the ground report that the Geneina airport has been surrounded by dug-in mortars and artillery. Geneina is only about 10 miles from the Chad-Darfur border; and as tensions between Chad and Sudan escalate, there is speculation that in the event of a significant military confrontation, the Sudanese government will either seize the airport or destroy it by shelling to prevent its seizure by Chad's army. Either way, this would leave humanitarian groups without a means of getting out. Facing the possibility that they will soon be stranded, it's no surprise that humanitarian organizations are considering a preemptive departure.

Across Darfur, humanitarian access is more restricted than it has been since April 2004, well before aid groups ramped up their operations following the July 2004 U.N. agreements with Khartoum. There are simply more and more places humanitarian workers can't go, forcing many residents either to flee toward already overcrowded camps or go without aid. The African Union force in Darfur, which has no mandate to protect civilians or humanitarian workers, can neither secure humanitarian corridors nor provide adequate military escorts to humanitarian convoys. The growing number of attacks on aid workers, even those of the International Committee of the Red Cross, reflect the understandable belief by all combatants that the international community does not care enough about its humanitarian operations to protect them appropriately.

On top of this, relief efforts in Darfur are beginning to suffer from donor fatigue, providing those who wish to exit a ready excuse for withdrawing international staff and operations. According to Reuters, "donors are becoming more reluctant to pay for a never-ending emergency and are starting to reduce aid[.] ... Narinder Sharma, a U.N. official in Darfur, said aid agencies were already phasing out their activities and any decrease in funding would spell disaster for millions of people."

THE evacuation of humanitarian workers essentially means the withdrawal of international staff; very few of the Sudanese nationals who make up approximately 90 percent of the more than 12,000 aid workers in Darfur would be withdrawn. But many of the Sudanese left behind would be intensely, and rightly, fearful for their physical security: The Khartoum government has made no secret of its contempt for international aid efforts, and reprisals against the Sudanese humanitarian workers who have assisted in these efforts would probably be brutal. As a result, they are likely to stop working in the event that their organizations withdraw; and humanitarian operations would almost certainly come to a standstill.

Even if Sudanese nationals were able to courageously continue some operations, health care in Darfur would be crippled. Medical supplies could no longer get through to clinics, and treatment of complicated medical conditions and injuries would cease. (The doctors capable of performing such procedures are virtually all foreigners.) In the crowded camps, maintenance of latrines, which are quite alien to most Darfuris, would end, as would other aggressive steps that have been taken to avert outbreaks of cholera and dysentery; we would almost certainly see outbreaks of these destructive diseases sooner rather than later. Other diseases, such as malaria and measles, that humanitarian groups have managed to keep under control in the camps would similarly go undetected and untreated. In a short time disease would become a devastating source of human destruction.

Further, many of the pumps that supply water to dense concentrations of displaced people, in areas that do not have sufficient water for a fraction of these populations, depend upon diesel-powered engines. If humanitarian workers withdraw, it is unlikely that fuel would reach the pumps to keep water flowing. One humanitarian group reports that it recently came within two days of running out of fuel at one large camp; and this is with highly resourceful international workers and communications abilities still in place. Water is critical to life in this extremely hot and arid region (it is currently the dry season). Thousands of people would quickly perish for lack of water in the event of evacuation, and those who drink untreated surface water near the camps would be exposed to a fearsome range of diseases. Those leaving the camps in search of water--or food, or medical assistance--would become vulnerable to the relentlessly marauding Janjaweed.

The first to die will be malnourished children under five years of age, especially those who presently require the assistance of specialized feeding centers. But these casualties will only be harbingers of greater death, both in the overcrowded camps, which are again swelling because of new violence, and throughout the vulnerable rural areas where people are increasingly unable to feed themselves. The United Nations currently estimates that there are almost 3.5 million conflict-affected civilians in Darfur, nearly all of them in need of food assistance. And while the United Nation's World Food Program has performed impressively, moving 57,000 metric tons of food into the area in October, this food simply cannot be delivered to areas that humanitarian workers cannot reach. Indeed, if humanitarian operations disintegrate, it is difficult to see how food will be delivered at all.

TWO months ago Jan Egeland, head of U.N. humanitarian operations, warned that if insecurity "continues to escalate, if it continues to be so dangerous on humanitarian work, we may not be able to sustain our operation[.] ... It could all end tomorrow--it's as serious as that." A year ago, when there were a million fewer conflict-affected people in Darfur, Egeland warned that in the event of humanitarian evacuation as many as 100,000 could die every month. Privately there was much scorn for this estimate. But as humanitarian withdrawal begins in Darfur, with surging violence that might at any moment spur full-scale evacuation, there can be no scorn for Egeland's estimate now. Hundreds of thousands of people are already beyond humanitarian relief, and the population is weakened by almost three years of intense conflict. The number without assistance may climb to over a million by year's end.

As humanitarian evacuation becomes more likely, the day draws near when the West will have to make its final decision on Darfur. African Union forces have failed to secure the region; and without security, there can be no humanitarian relief. Either America and its western allies put troops on the ground in Darfur soon, or the time to act will have passed. Perhaps 400,000 people have died in Darfur already, but after humanitarian workers leave, those numbers will swell quickly and considerably. After all, while humanitarian workers have an evacuation option, Darfur's residents do not.

[Eric Reeves is a professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and has written extensively on Sudan.]

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063


Saturday, November 26, 2005

African Union Warned Against Letting Sudan Lead

Thalif Deen

Sudan, which has been lambasted for human rights violations and genocide in the beleaguered province of Darfur, is expected to be elected chair of the 53-member African Union (AU) next year following a summit meeting of African heads of state in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum in late January.

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 25 (IPS) - The possibility of Sudan leading the AU, the largest gathering of African states, has evoked strong protests from human rights organisations and African activist groups in the United States.

"The African Union has shown important leadership on the crisis in Darfur -- brokering the initial ceasefire between the government and the rebels, hosting ongoing peace talks, and deploying up to 7,000 troops to the region," Ann-Louise Colgan of the Washington-based Africa Action told IPS.

But the next AU Summit is scheduled to be held in Sudan in January and the world is now watching to see whether the Sudanese government, accused of authoring the human rights abuses in Darfur, will be elected to chair the AU next year, she added.

"This is a matter for the African Union member states. But it is to be hoped that African governments will choose not to ignore the ongoing crimes being perpetrated in Darfur, even as they may wish to acknowledge the progress toward North-South peace in Sudan in the past year," Colgan said.

She pointed out that it is important the international community also not lose its focus on the crisis in Darfur, and not continue to hide behind the AU and abdicate the broader responsibility to take action to protect the civilians of Darfur, the victims of crimes against humanity.

According to U.N. figures, more than 180,000 people have died and over two million people have been robbed and burnt out of their homes in Darfur since 2003. The attacks and killings have been attributed to the government-backed Janjaweed militias.

Asked whether Sudan should be the head of the AU under these circumstances, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan diplomatically side-stepped the question by telling a reporter: "That is for the African Union to decide, my dear friend."

Dr. Kwame Akonor, director of the African Development Institute, focused his criticism on the AU for its role in the ongoing Darfur crisis.

"Thus far, the AU's leadership on the Sudan question leaves much to be desired," he told IPS.

Earlier, it mistakenly declared that the killings in the Darfur region did not amount to genocide, though all documented evidence pointed to a systematic campaign to physically destroy particular groups of people, he said.

"Just last month, the AU allowed Sudan to chair its Peace and Security Council meeting in Ethiopia, muting any discussions of that country's grave and constant human rights violations. Now, the collective AU body brazenly wants to take a resolution condemning the well-documented atrocities in that region off the table," Akonor said.

"Does the AU want to be viewed as a protector or accomplice on this issue?" he asked.

"The AU needs to get tough on any African government complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity such as the Sudanese regime. The AU's legitimacy and moral authority will be irreparably damaged if it assigns special privileges to Sudan," he added.

He also warned that the AU should avoid going down the same ill-fated path as its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), "which in 1975 awarded the Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, the OAU's chairmanship, despite his abominable human rights record."

Last week, the AU also collectively stood by Sudan, helping to adopt a "no-action" motion on a U.N. resolution aimed at condemning the Sudanese government for human rights violations.

The no-action motion, which was sponsored by the current AU chair Nigeria, was adopted by 84 votes in favour and 79 against, with 12 abstentions. As a result, Sudan was spared condemnation by the General Assembly's Third Committee.

In defence of the action, Nigeria told delegates that any condemnation of Sudan would endanger the ongoing peace talks.

Yvonne Terlingen, Amnesty International's representative at the United Nations, said her organisation "deeply regrets that a 'no-action motion' on the draft resolution on Sudan was adopted, thereby preventing the Third Committee from considering how to address one of the most serious human rights situations facing the international community today".

In a statement released here, she said that "grave and widespread human rights violations continue in Sudan and sweeping impunity applies to government officials".

Last week, Annan warned of a further deterioration of the situation in the Darfur region, highlighting increased violence against civilian populations, especially affecting children, and observed significant violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The strongest criticism of the impending AU decision on Sudan came from Human Rights Watch.

"By allowing Khartoum to host its summit in January, the African Union would tarnish its credibility and condone the Sudanese government's complicity in crimes against humanity in Darfur," HRW said in a letter to African heads of state last week.

The AU has played an important role in Darfur, sending a ceasefire-monitoring force, the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which now numbers almost 7,000 personnel and includes civilian protection among its tasks.

HRW said the AU has also taken the lead in mediating between the Sudanese government and two Darfur rebel groups. A seventh round of peace negotiations is scheduled to resume in the Nigerian capital Abuja later this month, with Sudan's international donors pushing for a peace settlement before the end of the year.

"The African Union's efforts in Darfur have been met with constant obstruction by a government that refuses to change its abusive policies," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

The AU "should not reward the sponsors of crimes against humanity with the honour of hosting the AU summit or ascending to its presidency", he added, pointing out that Sudanese President Omar El Bashir is apparently one of the candidates for the African Union presidency, which this year will rotate to East Africa.

Although Sudan is also scheduled to host the AU summit, the two are no longer linked, he said. Previously, Sudan had been slated to host the AU summit in July and take over the presidency at that time.

But the AU changed the venue to Libya due to concern over the Sudanese government's continuing human rights abuses and ceasefire violations in Darfur. Since then, Nigeria has continued to hold the AU presidency. Under the AU's new procedure, the president will be elected by the member countries at the Khartoum summit on Jan. 23-24.

"How can the AU be seen as a credible mediator in Darfur if one of the warring parties hosts it's summit and becomes the head of the organisation as well?" asked Takirambudde. "It's not too late for the AU to hold its summit elsewhere, or for African leaders to encourage a better candidate to run for the presidency."

He also said that the government-backed Janjaweed militias continue to operate with impunity from prosecution -- despite demands from the U.N. Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council that the Sudanese government disarm these groups. (FIN/2005)

source: ipsnews.net

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Holocaust Lessons To Learn

Thursday 24th of November 2005

Germany is holding a series of events this month marking the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, where its Nazi leaders were convicted of crimes against humanity.

The media is currently awash with news stories, plays and articles about the end of the Second World War and the War Crimes trial which exposed Germany’s leaders at their worst. Children are taught about the Holocaust at schools, religious and political leaders remind the world about the evils of Nazism, the dangers of being a passive bystander on the sidelines of evil and the perils of the new right in Europe. And yet. And yet . . .

And yet, there remain those who question the need to remember the past – specifically, the destruction of European Jewry. We’ve heard it all before, they opine. We all know about it. Why do you need to keep reminding us?
It looks like a fair comment, indeed; are we in Holocaust remembrance overkill? After all, it did happen a very long time ago, most of the people concerned are dead and we really do have to look to the future. Why do we need the Lord Janners of the world telling us about their part in the Nuremberg trials? We are sure he is a first class chap, but that’s the past – there’s a new generation, isn’t there?

Yes, there is a new generation – nearly two, in fact – which has grown up in the shadow of Germany’s Nazi past.

It is precisely because of men like David Irving that people like Lord Janner and the late Simon Wiesenthal continued to fight to keep it in the public memory. For when a revisionist and proven Holocaust-denier like Irving continues to pursue his own fantasy agenda, in the very country of Austria that was arguably the birthplace of Nazism, we know we must continue to remember.

As Lord Janner writes: “What then have we learned from the Nazi crimes and the Nuremberg trials? Not enough. From the former Yugoslavia to Rwanda, from Sierra Leone to Darfur, mass murders have continued. We must remember the evil past, both to recognise it in the present and to strive to prevent it in the future. At least the Nuremberg trials brought justice for a few – and lessons to be learnt by us all.”

source: totallyjewish.com


23.11.2005. 10:16:07

A monthly UN report on the situation in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region shows that in October there was an increase in the number of rapes and civilian killings, including children.

The report by UN chief Kofi Annan, said despite government pledges to launch joint military and police patrols on highways to improve security, "lawlessness and banditry have reached dangerous levels".

It said the upsurge in violence against civilians seriously affected children, with several killed or abducted in the region.

The violence also hampered the delivery of humanitarian aid and initially reduced prospects for the return of internally displaced people in some areas.

The report said the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS) continued to document cases of sexual violence against women and girls on a weekly basis, particularly in western Darfur where 21 cases - nine rapes, four attempted rape and eight assaults - were reported.

The violence also targeted the African Union mission in Sudan (AMIS), with five AMIS troops killed in a firefight with an armed group - the mission's first such deaths.

"Armed clashes and banditry in western Darfur have placed severe limitations on the movement of the humanitarian community in Geneina (western Darfur)," the report said.

"All roads out of the town are restricted for humanitarian traffic and non-essential United Nations (personnel), and some staff of international non-governmental organisations have been relocated."

The security situation was also reported to be very tense in parts of southern Darfur, with incidents of banditry occurring daily.

Mr Annan made it clear a political solution was "paramount" and required coordination between the Sudanese and the international community to pave the way for a successful conclusion to the forthcoming seventh round of peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria.

"It should be made clear to all parties that the AU-facilitated peace talks in Abuja are the only vehicle for achieving a viable solution," the report said.

An African Union spokesman said on Sunday in Khartoum the seventh round of peace talks had been postponed for "logistical reasons" amid a rift between Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) founder Abdel Wahed Mohammed Nur and the head of the military wing, Mani Arko Minawi.

Those talks between the SLM, Darfur's other rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and Khartoum, were due to begin in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Monday.

The African Union has threatened to impose sanctions against the SLM, which it said was hindering peace efforts.

The AU Peace and Security Council said divisions in the leadership of the SLM were hurting efforts to resolve the 33-month-old Darfur conflict that had claimed hundreds of thousands lives.

SOURCE: World News

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Corzine’s Darfur bill passes Senate


With the killings continuing and international relief efforts faltering, the Senate last week passed the Darfur Accountability Act, which calls for international sanctions against the Sudanese government.

The measure — sponsored by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) — was actively supported by a broad spectrum of Jewish groups, including the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the American Jewish World Service.

The government in Khartoum is widely seen as responsible for fomenting killings in the Darfur region that Washington has officially labeled “genocide.” The measure calls for a variety of U.S. sanctions, including freezing the assets of those accused of responsibility for the widespread atrocities and denying them visas.

The measure also beefs up the arms embargo against Sudan, calls for a special presidential envoy to the region, and demands “accelerated and expanded assistance to the African Union, whose peacekeeping troops patrol the region.”

In a region the size of Texas, Corzine said in a statement, the AU’s contingent of 5,600 troops is “grossly inadequate.”

In an electrifying speech at last week’s Union for Reform Judaism biennial in Houston, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright referred to the situation in Sudan as “volcanic genocide,” different from the “rolling genocide” that led to an ineffective U.S. and world response during the Rwanda massacres during the 1990s.

“In Rwanda, we didn’t do the right thing, and President [Bill] Clinton and I apologized for that,” she told the group. Albright argued for “more pressure on the government of Sudan” and more involvement by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

But she also said America’s ability to act in Sudan has been impaired by the ongoing war in Iraq. “Iraq has sucked our ability to do more” in Sudan, she told the Reform group.

Darfur activists see the Corzine-Brownback legislation as an important, if limited, step to increase the pressure on the rogue government in Khartoum.

“This legislation is crucial because it provides a number of responses that are urgently needed to deal with the ongoing atrocities in Darfur,” said Richard Foltin, legislative director for the American Jewish Committee.

Foltin conceded that the situation in the Sudanese region may be getting worse and that sanctions are unlikely to force a quick change in policy by the Sudanese government, but said that “we have to start somewhere. We believe the administration and Congress together can take effective steps to start that process.”

Corzine, in a statement, said the bill is “an important step toward helping the people of Darfur. The House of Representatives must take the next step. The situation in Sudan continues to be dire. Brutal killers continue to terrorize the people of the region with impunity. When genocide is taking place, we have a duty to act.”

“Sixty years after the end of World War II and the creation of a new word, ‘genocide,’ thousands and thousands of human beings are being destroyed simply because of who and where they are,” said Jeffrey Maas, executive director of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations. “Any congressional action is important because ‘Never Again’ is happening all over again.”

A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ, Dist. 10) and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.)

“We feel gratified that this unanimous vote was in part attributable to advocacy efforts we and other groups have spent on the issue,” said Stephen M. Flatow, chair of the Community Relations Committee of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ, which in August 2004 helped forge a broad-based coalition to raise awareness about Darfur. “As Jews, with our unique history, we have felt compelled to continually involve ourselves in protesting this genocide.”

Chuck Grossman, vice chair of the CRC, agreed. “We will continue to make the appropriate noise — and put pressure on our congressional leaders to pass the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act in the House after the Thanksgiving break,” he said. “We also feel good that the leadership on this issue has come from two of our own — Senator Jon Corzine and Congressman Donald Payne,” the Newark Democrat who has been active in efforts to halt the Darfur genocide.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Never Again, Again?

20 November 2005
The New York Times

TAMA, Sudan -- So who killed 2-year-old Zahra Abdullah for belonging
to the Fur tribe?

At one level, the answer is simple: The murderers were members of the
janjaweed militia that stormed into this mud-brick village in the
South Darfur region at dawn four weeks ago on horses, camels and
trucks. Zahra's mother, Fatima Omar Adam, woke to gunfire and smoke
and knew at once what was happening.

She jumped up from her sleeping mat and put Zahra on her back, then
grabbed the hands of her two older children and raced out of her
thatch-roof hut with her husband.

Some of the marauders were right outside. They yanked Zahra from Ms.
Fatima's back and began bludgeoning her on the ground in front of her
shrieking mother and sister. Then the men began beating Ms. Fatima and
the other two children, so she grabbed them and fled -- and the men
returned to beating the life out of Zahra.

At another level, responsibility belongs to the Sudanese government,
which armed the janjaweed and gave them license to slaughter and rape
members of several African tribes, including the Fur.

Then some responsibility attaches to the rebels in Darfur. They claim
to be representing the tribes being ethnically cleansed, but they have
been fighting each other instead of negotiating a peace with the
government that would end the bloodbath.

And finally, responsibility belongs to the international community --
to you and me -- for acquiescing in yet another genocide.

Tama is just the latest of many hundreds of villages that have been
methodically destroyed in the killing fields of Darfur over the last
two years. Ms. Fatima sat on the ground and told me her story -- which
was confirmed by other eyewitnesses -- in a dull, choked monotone, as
she described her guilt at leaving her child to die.

''Zahra was on the ground, and they were beating her with sticks, but
I ran away,'' she said. Her 4-year-old son, Adam, was also beaten
badly but survived. A 9-year-old daughter, Khadija, has only minor
injuries but she told me that she had constant nightmares about the

At least Ms. Fatima knows what happened to her daughter. A neighbor,
Aisha Yagoub Abdurahman, is beside herself because she says she saw
her 10-year-old son Adil carried off by the janjaweed. He is still
missing, and everyone knows that the janjaweed regularly enslave
children like him, using them as servants or sexual playthings. In
all, 37 people were killed in Tama, and another 12 are missing.

The survivors fled five miles to another village that had been
abandoned after being attacked by the janjaweed a year earlier. Now
the survivors are terrified, and they surrounded me to ask for advice
about how to stay alive.

None of them dared accompany me back to Tama, which is an eerie ghost
town, doors hanging off hinges and pots and sandals strewn about. The
only inhabitants I saw in Tama were camels, which are now using the
village as a pasture -- and which the villagers say belong to the
janjaweed. On the road back, I saw a group of six janjaweed, one
displaying his rifle.

Darfur is just the latest chapter in a sorry history of repeated
inaction in the face of genocide, from that of Armenians, through the
Holocaust, to the slaughter of Cambodians, Bosnians and Rwandans. If
we had acted more resolutely last year, then Zahra would probably
still be alive.

Attacks on villages like Tama occur regularly. Over the last week, one
tribe called the Falata, backed and armed by the Sudanese government,
has burned villages belonging to the Masalit tribe south of here.
Dozens of bodies are said to be lying unclaimed on the ground.

President Bush, where are you? You emphasize your willingness to speak
bluntly about evil, but you barely let the word Darfur pass your lips.
The central lesson of the history of genocide is that the essential
starting point of any response is to bellow moral outrage -- but
instead, Mr. President, you're whispering.

In a later column, I'll talk more specifically about actions we should
take, and it's true that this is a complex mess without easy
solutions. But for starters we need a dose of moral clarity. For all
the myriad complexities of Darfur, what history will remember is that
this is where little girls were bashed to death in front of their
parents because of their tribe -- and because the world couldn't be
bothered to notice.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Contact: Ivan Boothe, Communications Director, Genocide Intervention Network
(202) 557-1636, Boothe@GenocideIntervention.net, www.GenocideIntervention.net

Individuals from Around the World will Be Able to Communicate with Activists in Darfur

Broadcast Beginning Monday and Continuing Through Dec. 11

N’djamena, CHAD — Beginning Monday, Nov. 21, people around the world will be able to view a web broadcast directly from refugee camps in Darfur, Sudan, and the Chad border. Individuals will also be able to communicate directly with American activists on the ground. The 21-day webcast and blog, Interactive Activism (I-Act), is sponsored by the Genocide Intervention Network and StopGenocideNow.org.

The I-Act team will travel to the refugee camps of Eastern Chad and the destroyed villages of the Darfur region of Sudan. They will use the power of the Internet to put a face to the mind-numbing counts of the dead, dying and displaced in the Darfur genocide.

Unlike traditional news broadcasts or other reports from the region, visitors to GenocideIntervention.net and StopGenocideNow.org will be able to track individual stories of families who have lost everything while fleeing their homes in fear of annihilation.

“This project is absolutely essential to helping the world community understand what is going on in Darfur and why the civilians there need our help,” says Rajaa Shakir, Education Director of the Genocide Intervention Network. “We must tune in, we must tell our families and friends to tune in and, most importantly, we must act.”

The Genocide Intervention Network equips its members with the tools to pressure the U.S. Congress to pass legislation supporting the African Union peacekeepers in Darfur.

I-Act will be interviewing officials from the African Union in addition to the refugees, and will also speak with representatives of MŽdecins Sans Frontires/Doctors Without Borders, the World Food Program, International Medical Corps, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other NGOs.

But I-Act is not only about observing the atrocities in Darfur — it is about working to build a peaceful future. The I-Act team will formulate and pose questions for the international community about the process of peace and reconciliation in Darfur.

Simply by visiting the websites of the GenocideIntervention.net and StopGenocideNow.org, visitors will see the human face of this ongoing crisis as well as receiving daily updates from Darfur and Eastern Chad with real-time security information about the villages and refugees. Viewers are invited to make comments, ask questions and post suggestions on the websites’ interactive blog feature.

Anyone can be a part of this unique, educational and powerful project and help bring anti-genocide activism to a new and even more effective level. Millions of Internet users around the world will follow the daily plight of innocent victims in this preventable tragedy — putting a human face on an ongoing genocide and using on-the-ground reports to facilitate both awareness and action.

“Each person has the ability — and the unfortunate responsibility — to bear witness to the utter failure of the international community to stop genocide,” Shakir said. “Ten thousand innocent civilians continue to die each month, waiting for assistance and security that is shamefully slow in coming. Perhaps hearing this cry directly from the trenches of Darfur will prompt politicians in Washington and around the world to finally take action.”

The Genocide Intervention Network works to mobilize an anti-genocide constituency in the United States and Canada to raise the costs for inaction by politicians in the face of genocide. Accessible online at GenocideIntervention.net, GI-Net empowers its members with the tools to support initiatives that prevent and stop genocidal violence, in particular by protecting civilians in Darfur, Sudan.

StopGenocideNow.org is a global community of dedicated volunteers working to protect populations in grave danger of violence, death and displacement resulting from genocide. Through active education, advocacy and policy change, StopGenocideNow.org resolves to change the way the world responds to genocide. The organization is currently focused on creating awareness and action to stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and deal appropriately with its aftermath.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Darfur action urged


We urge members of the community to take immediate action regarding the ongoing genocide in Sudan.

Government-supported troops have displaced 2.5 million people in the past two years; hundreds of thousands have been murdered in attacks and have died from disease and starvation. It is estimated that 500 men, women and children continue to die every day.

President Bush and the United States Congress have recognized the situation in Darfur as “genocide.” Critical legislation (“The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act” n H.R. 3127 in the House, S. 1462 in the Senate) needs to be passed before Congress adjourns for the year.

You can help end the atrocities by putting pressure on our national leaders to take immediate action! Please join us in calling for immediate attention to Darfur and more robust action on behalf of the U.S. to support security efforts in the region. Please visit http://www.jewishcleveland.org for more information.

Eric E. Bell, chair, Community Relations Committee Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland

Robert A. Zimmerman, chair, Government Relations Committee Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Death in Darfur

November 17, 2005

From the Miami Herald

The situation in the forlorn Darfur region of Sudan has gotten so bad that even unflappable diplomats are losing their etiquette. Last week, Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick engaged in a red-faced shouting match with a local leader who wasn't coming clean about a raid that killed scores of villagers.

As a rule, such behavior should be frowned on, but Zoellick was right to be angry. Sudanese officials have been lying, dissembling and hiding the truth about the goings-on in Darfur for so long that it's pointless to engage in polite diplomacy.

The State Department must keep up the pressure and should make it clear that see-no-evil act isn't fooling anyone.

Women decry impunity for rape in Darfur

17 Nov 2005 17:19:00 GMT
Source: Reuters

By Opheera McDoom

AL-BILEEL CAMP, Sudan, Nov 17 (Reuters) - A culture of impunity for rape in Sudan's Darfur region means women like Mariam, assaulted and left for dead, say they don't even bother to report the attacks to police, aid workers and officials said.

Mariam, who was too afraid to give her full name because she was worried about reprisals for discussing the taboo subject, says women are most at risk when they leave the refugee camps that house around 2 million mostly women and children.

She arrived at the al-Bileel camp near the state capital Nyala after fleeing her home in South Darfur state six months ago. She says she watched as her 12-year-old cousin was raped, and then was subjected to the same assault.

"I was out looking for firewood not far from here when this man dressed in green khaki grabbed me and started beating me with his gun," she said. Mariam was then raped and beaten for an hour. She lost the sight in her right eye for more than a month.

"The police don't investigate anything so we don't even bother to report it anymore," she said.

Unravelling her long green and yellow covering, a tiny baby emerged from the folds of the fabric. "This is my youngest -- I have six," she said, after relating the story told by so many Darfur women struggling to keep their families alive on scant provisions while also trying to fend off the violence aid workers say is systematic.

Canada's special envoy for peace in Sudan, Mobina Jaffer, said the government needed to find and prosecute those who have sexually assaulted hundreds of women in Darfur to stop the crime, otherwise it would continue unchecked.

All sides of the conflict have committed the crime, she said -- the main rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), and the Arab militias, known locally as Janjaweed.

"One woman said first the Janjaweed came and raped her village. Then the SLA came and raped," she said. "Rape is a weapon of war here."

"There is absolute impunity," she added.

The government in Khartoum had routinely denied or dismissed reports of rape since the rebel uprising began in February 2003 and punished groups reporting the attacks.

The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) aid agency felt the full brunt of the government's censure after it published a report earlier this year detailing hundreds of attacks.

Authorities arrested two senior MSF officials for spying and publishing false information, although the charges were eventually dropped weeks later.

Since then Jaffer, on a visit to Darfur this week, said there were some positive steps on the part of the government in recognising that rape occurs.

"We are not hearing now as before 'Good Muslim boys don't rape'," she said.

But aid agencies heard the government's message and many are still too afraid to let outsiders enter their trauma centres for women or release figures for how many rape victims they treat.

"I'm worried that this has caused a silencing ... a silencing of the voices of the women," Jaffer said.

"The government punished the messenger rather than dealing with the message."

Non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 saying the government monopolised power and wealth. The United Nations says Khartoum responded by arming militia who are accused of a widespread campaign of rape, looting and killing.

The United States called the violence genocide, a charge Khartoum denies. But the International Criminal Court is investigating suspected war crimes in the remote region.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bush Should Urge China to End Darfur Genocide, Coalition States

A coalition of Evangelical, mainline Protestant, Jewish and other faith-based leaders called on President Bush to take ''historic opportunity

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005

A coalition of Evangelical, mainline Protestant, Jewish and other faith-based leaders called on President Bush this week to take the “historic opportunity to rehabilitate his human rights credentials” by challenging China’s President to do his part in ending the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

The letter, drafted by the Save Darfur Coalition and backed by a spectrum of religious figures such as the National Association of Evangelicals’ Richard Cizik and Reform Judaism’s David Saperstein, highlighted the important role China can play in pressing the Sudanese government to end the violence.

“As Sudan's largest customer for oil, one of its largest suppliers of arms, and one of its staunchest allies on the U.N. Security Council, China is uniquely positioned to press the Sudanese government for real action to halt the carnage in Darfur,” stated the letter sent out on the eve of President Bush’s visit to China.

According to the Coalition, China imports 60 percent of Sudan’s exports, including 40 percent of Sudan’s oil – an industry that generates a lucrative $1 billion each year.

Such economic leverage gives China the opportunity to engage with the Sudanese government, the letter stated.

To date, the Sudanese Government and its paramilitary allies have killed at least 180,000 people and driven 2.5 million people from their homes in Darfur.

“It is therefore vital that the U.S. and the international community explore every avenue available to end the violence in Darfur by engaging China,” the broad coalition stated. “President Bush should make clear during his visit it is in China's best interest to see a stable and secure Sudan, which cannot exist until Darfur is stabilized and the killing is stopped.”>

Elaine Spencer

Copyright © 2004 The Christian Post

Combating genocide requires activism

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
By Tamar Hallerman

Blacksburg High School
In the past two years, the death toll from genocide in Sudan has risen to a staggering 400,000.

"Sudan... is that in Africa?" a confused Blacksburg High School junior said when I asked her thoughts on the situation in Darfur. Sadly, this wasn't the response of an ignorant, pink-wearing, bubble-gum-chewing valley girl. This was an honors student with an A average.

For more than two years, human rights organizations from around the globe have been reporting on the genocide in western Sudan. Their numbers have quickly been rising; 3,000 dead ... 10,000 ... 20,000 ... and today, a staggering 400,000 have been killed due to murder, disease, hunger and lack of proper sanitation, according to www.savedarfur.org. Countless others have fallen victim to the government-sponsored Janjaweed rebels' crusade of murder, rape, arson and violence.

Yet when asked, very few high school students have ever even heard of Darfur, and they can seldom point out its location on a map.

Considered the worst human rights crisis facing the world today by the United Nations and Congress, international response and aid has been less than steady, and with 2.5 million displaced people and 3.5 million hungry, the situation is not getting any better.

"[Darfur is] a situation the world has not fully faced," former Secretary of State Colin Powell said at the annual Africare dinner in October.

This lack of aid has led to a loss of hope among Darfur's displaced tribes. More than 300,000 have fled the western border into Chad, while others in refugee camps predict they will never return to their home villages.

Even with the passing of numerous U.N. resolutions, little has happened to stop the genocide. In the past, the Janjaweed have stolen aid money and supplies, and no one knows how to effectively stop the Janjaweed by force.

All of this chaos and massive displacement has followed the end of Sudan's 20-year civil war between the government in the north and the rebels in the south. In 2003, the Janjaweed were commissioned to clear any areas that weren't loyal to the government: the nerve center of this opposition being Darfur, an area that had often been neglected of government attention.

A cease-fire was finally signed in 2004, and a formal treaty, backed by the U.S., was signed by both sides in early 2005. But mass killings have commenced at an even steadier rate, and the African Union and the U.N. fear another civil war is on the brink.

As for us here in Southwest Virginia, we need to spend a little less energy focusing on our homecoming dresses; a little less time obsessing over those Bowl Championship Series polls; and instead become more aware of the world around us and even take an active roll in it. From signing a petition to Congress, to buying a green wristband, donating money, or organizing a bake sale or car wash to help raise aid, even the smallest gestures can make a world of difference.

Go to www.savedarfur.org or www.hrw.org for additional information about Darfur and more ways you can help.

(C)2005 The Roanoke Times

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Students call for Darfur action

Seven hundred students signed postcards to ask for progress in Sudan.
by Addi GistNovember 14, 2005
Armed with leaflets, poster boards, and booming voices, student demonstrators marched through the South Oval Monday to raise awareness of the genocide taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan in northeastern Africa.
Students were shouting “Save Darfur” and “Don’t hide the genocide” and holding signs saying “Make love, not genocide!” As the group approached the Bizzell statue, they were gaining fervor and a tangle of curious pedestrians.
The group, Students for Action in Darfur, had a clear purpose — raising campus awareness about the genocide. Hossein Maymani, the group’s leader, is aware of the worsening conditions and is quick to explain the desperate need for action.
“History has shown us that if we don’t take a stand, we’ll end up looking back at the situation and regret not taking action,” he said. “We’re trying to promote action through action — we want students and congress to get involved.”
Carlo Romero, letters senior, used a loudspeaker to relay facts and statistics, making an appeal for student involvement.
“Over 300,000 have been killed by their own government,” he said “We must stop the genocide, and we need your help.”
According to savedarfur.org, the movement’s national Web site, the nation’s conflicts are becoming increasingly violent. In the past year, the Janjaweed militias — armed Arab tribal militias on horseback — have received support from the Sudanese government to exterminate any civilians who are not wholly loyal to the government.
Lack of humanitarian aid has bred malnutrition, disease and rape. The Janjaweed often intercepts the aid that comes to the region. Despite the United Nations’ knowledge of these conditions, the international community is in gridlock about how to handle the situation.
Students for Action in Darfur’s primary goal is to pressure senators and representatives to pass Senate bill 1462 and House of Representatives bill 3127. Both give President Bush permission to provide assistance to the African Union Mission in Sudan and call for the suspension of Sudan’s membership in the United Nations.
Similarly, on the state level, the Oklahoma state legislature is considering Senate bill 495, which would attempt to prosecute those responsible for the genocide in Darfur as well as encouraging humanitarian aid and a presidential-appointed envoy to the region.
The purpose of Monday’s protest was not only to raise awareness about Darfur, but also to encourage students to write to government officials.
Their efforts are working. Earlier this year, Romero sent a letter to 4th district Rep. Tom Cole. Cole not only wrote back, but also assured Romero that he would be listened to.
“I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind,” Cole said in the letter. “We have much to do to reduce suffering in this troubled region.”
At the Bizzell statue, students huddled around a table where Students for Action in Darfur members passed out postcards to be sent to representatives asking them to consider the legislation concerning Darfur. Seven hundred students took the time to sign a postcard.
Barry Goepfert, junior aerospace engineering major, was one of many who decided to contact government officials.
“I had some friends in [Students for Action in Darfur] who educated me about the genocide,” he said, “We don’t want what happened in Rwanda to happen again. Hopefully something will change this time around.”
Ryan Zwilling, mechanical engineering senior, did some research before committing to the cause. After looking at the current legislation, he decided to contact his representatives and join Students for Action in Darfur.
“This is a complicated situation, but with some effort, we could make a difference,” Zwilling said. “The legislation shows that we don’t approve of the Sudanese slaughtering their own people.”
Students for Action in Darfur’s biggest obstacle is student apathy and ignorance.
One student was heard talking on his cell phone saying, “I don’t even know who Darfur is.”
Russell Whitney, industrial engineering freshman, admitted that he isn’t really educated on the issue.
“I’d like to hear more, but Africa is really remote,” he said. “It’s not that easy to relate to.”
However, at least one student not involved in the demonstration was aware of and passionate about the cause. James Cooper, film and video studies senior, said he believes there is an unknown and inexcusable reason for the lack of U.S. involvement in Darfur.
Cooper also believes that the United States is using a weak excuse to explain its inability to aid the region.
“It’s a shame that we’ve actually labeled this genocide, yet we still do nothing about it,” he said. “The excuse is that we’re waiting for U.N. permission to go in, but we didn’t have U.N. permission to go into Iraq, so what’s stopping us from going into Darfur? What’s the difference?”
Maymani and Romero believe demonstrations and a grassroots campaign are the keys to combating the lack of awareness.
“We have to show students that it’s OK to care about something that doesn’t directly affect them,” said Maymani.
He said he has never encountered a person who remains apathetic after understanding the atrocity in Darfur.
Chris Schafer, math, philosophy and Spanish senior, said he believes that the strength of the Students for Action in Darfur movement lies in its diversity. The group of protester is indeed a mixture — many different ethnic groups and religions are represented.
“The great thing about this is that we’re all different people,” said Schafer. “We’re all of different nationalities and political persuasions, but we’re here to unite in this one cause.”
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© 2005 The OU Daily

Darfur crisis continues

Source: Trócaire
Date: 14 Nov 2005

The ethnic cleansing which caused so many people to flee their homes started to receive world attention about 18 months ago but has now all but disappeared from the headlines. Since that time, however, the number of displaced people has actually doubled. Two million people have fled their homes and another harvest has been missed in many places because crops could not be planted.

Many lives have been saved by the massive international relief effort, and the numbers dying each month has fallen. But the insecurity that caused people to flee is still there. Attacks and harassment by various groups prevent them from returning home and hinder the relief effort. In September, the authorities detained one of Trócaire’s partner organisations that worked in Darfur while it held a human rights workshop. Another partner organisation had staff members abducted by a rebel group who wanted their vehicle and cash.

There can be no solution to Darfur’s suffering until the protection of civilians is addressed. That will take combined action by all sides. The UN Secretary General has repeatedly highlighted the fact that the Government of Sudan has failed to carry out its promise to disarm and control the Janjaweed - militias which it backs and which continue to attack civilians. Meanwhile the rebel groups in Darfur have also attacked relief workers: as they go down the road of fragmentation, banditry and indiscipline, it is civilians who suffer.

The international community too bears responsibility: the United Nations Security Council has carefully documented the continuing abuses in Darfur and asked for those responsible to desist, but refuses to take any real action. China has considerable oil interests in Sudan, and its threat of a veto of any mention of economic sanctions looms large - as do Western fears about upsetting Beijing.

Last March, after months of negotiations, the Security Council finally created a mechanism to impose a travel ban or assets freeze on individuals responsible for atrocities in Darfur. But the committee it set up to deal with this has not reported back, many months after the deadline for doing so. The message this sends to Khartoum is clear: you can do what you want as the international community’s attention span has been exceeded.

The deployment of international observers in Darfur by the African Union has made a difference to the attacks on civilians in many places where they are present. But there are still too few of them, without sufficient support, and with a mandate that doesn’t give them enough powers for civilian protection. AU observers were killed last month in an ambush while dozens of others were abducted in a separate incident.

Khartoum, meanwhile, continues to block the importation of most of the 105 armoured personnel carriers offered to the AU by Canada. While the government plays games with the African Union mission in Darfur, it prepares to host the AU summit in Khartoum in January and take over the presidency of the organisation. An effective peacekeeping force is essential, and that means enough people on the ground, with backup and resources from the richer countries, and a firm mandate to protect civilians.

Sudan is at a crossroads. The peace deal signed last January to end the war in the South is an opportunity to create a more representative regime throughout the country and to turn away from war and exploitation. But it cannot succeed if a new war against the people in Darfur is being waged and while other peripheral areas of Sudan suffer neglect. It is the responsibility of the international community to make this clear to all parties.

source relief web

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sudan Crisis Requires Attention

by: Jacob Beizer

Genocide and mass murder have become topics relegated to academics and people whose ancestors were victims of these crimes. It is no wonder that most Americans have little knowledge of the events taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan.

It is not widely known that the Sudanese government is sponsoring Arab militias called “Janjaweed,” who target Sudanese farmers because of their dark complexion.

Nor does most of the public have any idea that the international community has done little in response, despite assurances after previous genocides that such events will be prevented.

Most Americans probably could not point out Sudan on a map.

I don’t hold them accountable for their ignorance, as the only real information published on the topic is tucked away in Sunday Op-Ed sections.

I don’t blame people for having little interest in events that they do not understand. I have never seen someone murdered with my own eyes; it is difficult to fathom how it would affect me. Furthermore, I don’t know anyone from Darfur, and I probably never will.

I cannot preach to anyone about inaction, because I have done nothing about this tragedy.

I haven’t written to politicians, donated funds to Public Action Committees or attended demonstrations. But I can change my mind very, very easily.

It is unfortunate that people think letters, money and yelling are the only methods for effectively influencing policy. There is nothing wrong with any of these, and they should certainly be continued. But how many people, at this university and others, attend rock concerts? How many students are in bands?

How many professors teach courses in which they lecture to hundreds? How many of these professors teach anthropology, history, psychology and law, where genocide and politics are highly relevant?

How many journalism majors write for collegiate newspapers that are not only distributed among thousands, but uploaded to the Internet?

Simply telling a friend about what the Janjaweed militias and the Sudanese government are doing is far more productive than ignoring the problem entirely.

I cannot and will not criticize someone for feeling insecure about these issues. They are difficult to discuss and even more so to do something about them.

I’m not asking bands to devote all of their songwriting to the Sudanese farmers who have been driven from their homes. Nor do I expect lecturers to forfeit their curriculum entirely.

But we all have talents, and we all have ways of reaching the ears and eyes of others.

I chose to write an editorial. It’s not inventive or profound, but it’s what I do best.

This country declared freedom for all its citizens 229 years ago. But it took another 89 years to free African-American slaves. It took 144 years to give women the right to vote.

The Darfur genocide effectively started in 2003. The international community has been arguing for two years, and doesn’t appear to be reaching any clear resolution.

Imagine if something had been done two years ago. Thousands of lives could have been saved.

Imagine if this disaster continues for another two years, and an entire people are destroyed.

Possibly the greatest tragedy of the Darfur conflict is the sacrifice that many of the Sudanese farmers have made to let the world know of their plight.

When leaders visit the region, which is not very often, the refugees are threatened if they disclose any details about the Janjaweed militias and their actions. They still talk, but the world does not seem to listen.

It is an insult to the memory of 1.5 million Armenians, 6 million Jews, 1.7 million Cambodians, and 800,000 Rwandans that genocide still occurs in this world, after so many promises that it would never take place.

I am very, very tired of hearing the phrase “never again” uttered by people who have no real intention of preventing mass murder.

It is time for everyone to take action, not just human rights organizations and discreet politicians.

The Holocaust continued because Allied leaders did nothing to stop it. The Rwandan genocide was only met with complacency and apology.

It is time for humans to learn from past mistakes. What better place to do that than a university?

Jacob Beizer is a second-year English major.

©2004 New University Newspaper

Divestment Strategies

Monday, November 14, 2005

In the greatest human rights crisis of our day, African tribal groups in the Darfur region of Sudan are undergoing a brutal genocide. Moreover, the Sudanese government in Khartoum supports the Janjaweed militias responsible for the violence. About 400,000 people have already been killed and some 2.5 million more displaced by the militias.
Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, a national organization with a presence at UC Berkeley, has been mobilizing university students against the genocide. Last month, they coordinated a daylong fast, encouraging students to donate their lunch money to the relief effort. Their broader goals, however, included a petition for the UC Board of Regents to divest from companies operating in Sudan.

Now after years of protesting for UC to divest from Israel, that campaign seems to have lost much of its momentum. For good reason, focus has shifted toward Sudan.

In fact, one of the nicest things about this year has been the relative silence of the "divest from Israel" movement. Shockingly, the success of incremental, moderate policies has convinced radicals on both sides of the campus conflict to back down, at least for the time being. Not that everything has been perfect, but the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority's gradual assertion of control therein has been generally beneficial for both sides.

As much as some abroad would like to claim responsibility for Ariel Sharon's decision to withdraw, it was largely self-motivated. Though some may argue it strengthened his ability to control the West Bank, the withdrawal showed a willingness to cede ground and gave the Palestinian Authority an opportunity to assert its legitimacy. Both of these, however, could hinder Israel's continued occupation of the West Bank.

So why was there a necessity to divest from Israel, or indeed from anywhere? The classic case for divestment comes from Berkeley's pioneering role in the campaign against South Africa. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, the anti-apartheid movement "would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure-in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s."

If Israel's regime could change on its own, why could South Africa's not? To be targeted for divestment, a government should be so far beyond the pale that internal change is anathema to it. The government of South Africa, which subjugated the majority of the country for no reasons other than blind racism and political control, was such an instance.

While Israel has undoubtedly employed abhorrent tactics in its conflict with the Palestinians, this alone might not justify the comparison to South Africa. First, Israeli policies originated from very different causes, most notably reciprocal security threats. But more importantly, the government has been subject to internal moderation and change in its policies, even before the withdrawal. That Israel has ceded land for peace, negotiated with the Palestinian Authority and adhered to domestic court rulings on its practices makes it qualitatively different from South Africa.

Of course, advocates would claim that change could have been brought on more quickly with divestment, or that further change should be encouraged. These attitudes, however, can be counterproductive in that they create enemies out of allies and discourage domestic reformers. Without these supporters, whose successes should be applauded and internal efforts encouraged, lasting change will be impossible.

Sudan, however, is an ideal target for a divestment campaign. Though the United States and United Nations have imposed sanctions, they will not be strong enough to succeed. Unlike that of Israel, the government in Khartoum has given no sign that it will act from within to end the genocide. Also, divestment doesn't risk harming nonexistent internal movements for change. By divesting, organizations abroad can show companies operating in Sudan that supporting genocidal regimes is not only unethical, but unprofitable as well.

While divesting from Sudan may be a difficult task with UC's diversified and indexed portfolio, it would be worth the effort. Not only would the UC system no longer be complicit in the genocide by way of monetary support, but it could leverage its considerable financial clout to help end it.

Withdraw your support, financial or otherwise, from darryl@dailycal.org.

Call for UN to take over in Darfur from African Union

Mon 14 Nov 2005

THE United Nations should take over responsibility for peacekeeping in Sudan's western region of Darfur because African Union troops are not up to the job, according to a report by a humanitarian watchdog.

Refugees International said the AU lacked the resources to monitor an often-ignored ceasefire and has been unable to prevent the area sliding further into anarchy.

"With the recent upsurge in violence over the past two months, the AU's shortcomings have come into full focus. The AU is hobbled by a weak mandate, too few weapons and fewer than 7,000 troops to cover an area the size of Texas," the report said. It calls on donor countries to provide more weaponry to the AU mission and on the UN to step in.

In two and a half years of conflict between government-backed militias and Darfur rebels, two million people have been forced to shelter in camps; an estimated 180,000 have died.

The AU deployed its mission last year partly in response to UN calls for an "African response for an African problem".

But 15 months after their arrival, Darfur is in flames again. In north Darfur, thousands of people have been forced from their villages in recent weeks as Janjaweed militia and government troops flex their muscles.

And the AU force has itself become a target. Five Nigerian soldiers and two civilian contractors were killed as they tried to intervene in an attack last month.

Senior officers say morale is low. "We came here to monitor and now we find ourselves ducking bullets," said one general. "It seems the warring parties no longer recognise us."

Their concerns are matched by international observers. Nicki Bennett, spokeswoman for Oxfam in Sudan, said: "The African Union Mission in Sudan is at a critical turning point: if it does not receive the financial and logistical means to fully implement its mandate and take its troops to their full strength, the international community is setting the AU up for failure and turning its back on Darfur."

Nowhere is the AU's limited ability to protect civilians more obvious than the village of Tawilla, in north Darfur. When nine government landcruisers, mounted with 12.7mm canon, arrived, the villagers knew the AU soldiers stationed nearby would not come to the rescue. They ran to the gates of the AU base, where they hoped the 241 Rwandan troops would not turn them away.

After a tense stand-off, the Sudanese government soldiers gave up and went home, but not before they had killed four people in the village and burned dozens of flimsy homes, according to confidential AU reports.

Fatima Mohamed Adam, who now lives on the outskirts of the AU base with her five children and many other villagers, said: " We have no confidence now in the government, but we believe that being near the African Union we will be safe."

Baba Kingibe, the AU special representative, said: "What we can do depends on the co-operation and willingness of the parties. If they decide not to abide by their commitment, then there is a limit to what we can do, given our mandate and our means."

source: scotsman.com

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sudanese in Egypt stage hunger strike at UN office

Sun Nov 13, 2005
By Mohammed Abbas

CAIRO (Reuters) - About 750 Sudanese exiles went on hunger strike outside U.N. offices in Cairo on Saturday to back demands to receive assistance, rather than be repatriated.

The strikers were among about 1,500 Sudanese who have camped for over a month near the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in the Egyptian capital's affluent Mohendiseen district.

"We started a hunger strike so the U.N. will hear our demands. We demand to stay here, and not be returned to Sudan. We want them to help us with health and security," said Mohamed Hussein, 31, a student from Darfur in western Sudan.

Clothes lines criss-crossed the camp, in which Sudanese of all ages sat among heaps of blankets and rubbish. They said five people, including three children, had died in the camp and that many suffered from malnutrition and disease.

The UNHCR said in a statement that Sudanese in Egypt were generally not fleeing persecution or violence, but were economic migrants hoping for resettlement in the West.

"UNHCR considers that the situation of most Sudanese present in or coming to Egypt today should be approached primarily as an economic migration and development challenge," it said.

Fighting between mostly non-Arab rebels and Sudan's Islamist government has forced two million people from their homes in Darfur and left tens of thousands dead since early 2003.

The protesters said those in the camp were not all from Darfur and some had fled Sudan before the Darfur troubles began. They complained of discrimination and ill-treatment in Egypt.

"The UN has been saying it will help us for a long time, but it doesn't. There are racists and thugs who attack us and the police don't do a thing. Some Egyptians ... have taken advantage of Sudanese women," said Bahel Eldin Adam, 35, also from Darfur.

The UNHCR said it was not in its power to solve underlying issues of discrimination and deprivation, and that having left Sudan, economic migrants try to pass themselves off as refugees from Darfur to gain easier passage to richer nations.

The agency targets those genuinely facing violence and human rights abuses. It said it had resettled 17,000 Sudanese refugees in Egypt or in Western countries in the last seven years.

Before Darfur, a north-south civil war in Sudan which lasted more than 20 years caused about 2 million deaths and displaced an estimated 4 million people. But a peace deal ended that conflict in January, allowing many Sudanese to return home.

source: Reuters

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sudan slow to let Canadian vehicles into Darfur

CBC News
Dozens of Canadian armoured vehicles are sitting idle in Senegal, three months after they were delivered to help African Union soldiers stop human rights abuses in Sudan.

"It's been very frustrating dealing with the Sudanese government," Defence Minister Bill Graham acknowledged Wednesday.

"It's obviously very frustrating to have that equipment there that could enhance the performance of the African Union troops and their inability to get them."

The 105 vehicles were supposed to be a big part of Canada's contribution to peacekeeping efforts in Sudan, a loan to troops trying to police the ethnic conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in Darfur and left two million homeless.

"The African Union has the troops, it has the responsibility, it has the political desire to manage this crisis," Graham said in July when he announced the vehicles would be sent. "But it needs our help."

But the Sudanese government has been slow to allow the vehicles into the country.

FROM MARCH 24, 2005: UN peacekeepers headed to Sudan, but not Darfur

Retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie is not surprised by the delay, which he said underlines the need for a more robust military presence in Darfur.

The African Union presence alone isn't enough, he said.

"If their mandate doesn't permit them to kill the bad guys, when you get bad guys who are doing the raping and murdering, the presence of vehicles will just enhance the movement capability. It won't stop the killing," said MacKenzie.

The Department of National Defence said that once Khartoum grants final permission to allow the vehicles in, it will move the Grizzlies and Huskies into the country using leased aircraft.

Even when they get there, Independent member of Parliament David Kilgour says the vehicles won't be able to do much to stop violent acts being committed in Darfur by government-backed janjaweed militia.

"All they do is wait for the Grizzlies to drive by and then go and do their appalling atrocities. You can see these things a long way away. The people in the Grizzlies have no mandate to do anything."

Kilgour, a former Liberal, has been a vocal critic of the Canadian government's actions with regard to the Sudanese conflict.

Copyright ©2005 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - All Rights Reserved

SUDAN: Killings reported in South Darfur, says UN

11 Nov 2005 12:26:12 GMT

Source: IRIN

NAIROBI, 11 November (IRIN) - The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said on Thursday that it had received an unconfirmed report that some 1,500 armed men had attacked and burned six villages in South Darfur, killing 18 people earlier this week.

UNMIS said the report indicated that on Sunday and Monday, the armed group travelling on camels, horses and in vehicles killed the 18 victims, wounded 16 others, and attacked and burned the villages of Dar es Salam, Jamali, Funfo, Tabeldyad, Um Djantara and Um Putrum in the Gereida area of South Darfur.

The UN mission said that the African Union (AU) had been notified of those reports and intended to investigate them, the UN News Service reported.

In another development, Jan Pronk, the UN Secretary-General's special representative in Sudan, said he had informed the Sudanese government that a UN expert panel monitoring the arms embargo was mishandled last weekend.

Pronk reported that he had sent a diplomatic protest to the Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs over the incident on Saturday, in which two members of the panel had been manhandled, forcibly restrained and suffered abrasions, despite the fact that they had clearly identified themselves and their capacity.

He said that on Thursday he met Sudan's state minister of foreign affairs, who said the behaviour of Sudanese military intelligence "had been wrong" and promised that the panel's mission would not be hindered any further.

Sudan's western region of Darfur has been ravaged by a conflict that erupted in February 2003 when rebels took up arms to fight what they said was discrimination and oppression of the area by the Sudanese government.

The government stands accused of unleashing militia - known as the Janjawid - on civilians in an attempt to quash the rebellion. Some 3.3 million people continue to be affected by the conflict, according to the UN, of whom 1.8 million are internally displaced and 200,000 have fled to neighbouring Chad.

IRIN news

Thursday, November 10, 2005

U.S. envoy shouts at Darfur official

'I can't trust your government'

SHEK EN NIL, Sudan (AP) -- A shouting match Thursday between a senior U.S. envoy and a Darfur government official illustrated the difficulties of peacemaking in the restive region of western Sudan.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick had listened to African Union military observers describe a recent outbreak of violence that had turned southern Darfur's Shek en Nil into a ghost village of burned out homes, and heard local leaders profess their commitment to peace.

Regional commissioner Sadiek Abdel Nabi followed as Zoellick stepped away for what was to have been a private additional AU briefing in the remnants of a village home. An angry Zoellick ordered Nabi out, saying: "I want to hear a straight story ... and I can't trust your government."

When Nabi refused, Zoellick said he would protest to President Omar el-Bashir.

"I am Bashir here!" Nabi, who had previously relied on an Arabic translator, shouted three times in English, standing inches (centimeters) from Zoellick.

An AU officer persuaded Nabi to back off, and Zoellick heard details of three attacks on Shek en Nil in late September -- all violations of a tattered cease-fire.

In the first attack, Sudan Liberation Movement rebels took the area. Days later, government troops retook it and were in control when so-called Janjaweed militiamen swept in for the third attack on Shek en Nil, burning and looting the homes of civilians and raping women, according to AU observers.

Nabi and other local officials did not address the implication that the army and the Janjaweed had colluded. The government has repeatedly denied accusations it unleashed the ethnic Arab tribal militias known as Janjaweed as a tactic in the war.

After decades of clashes over land and water in Darfur that often pitted the region's ethnic Arab tribes against its ethnic African tribes, conflict erupted on a wider scale in February 2003. Then, the Sudan Liberation Movement and the other major rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, took up arms against the Sudanese government amid accusations of repression and unfair distribution of wealth.

The United Nations estimates that 180,000 people have died, mainly through famine and disease. No firm figures exist on the number killed in fighting. Several million more have either fled into neighboring Chad or been displaced inside Sudan.

Zoellick later Thursday visited one of the camps for the displaced, where rape and other violence against women is common. The Janjaweed sometimes attack the camps.

Four hours before Zoellick arrived at Kalma camp, some 50 Arab men on horseback reportedly went in and shot one man dead while searching for cattle they claimed were stolen.

The presence of smaller, armed groups and a split within the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement has made the situation even more volatile.

Zoellick has pressed the rebels to resolve their feud. His deputy, Jendayi Frazer, left his delegation Thursday for a previously unannounced trip to meet elsewhere in Darfur with Minni Minnawi, leader of one of the rebel factions, according to an African Union officer who identified himself only as Ajumbo. U.S. officials did not immediately comment on Frazer's sudden departure from the planned schedule.

Some 7,000 African Union peacekeepers deployed to stabilize Darfur have been unable to stem the spike in violence, because they do not have enough troops, proper military hardware and means for rapid movement in the region the size of France, Jan Pronk, the special U.N. envoy to Sudan, said after meeting with Zoellick Wednesday in Khartoum.

There are also reports that the peacekeepers are running short of ammunition, Zoellick said late Wednesday.

The African Union has repeatedly asked for more money and logistical support from the West for its Darfur operations.

New York-based Refugees International, which provides humanitarian assistance and protection to displaced persons around the world, said Wednesday that donor governments have failed to provide adequate support for the AU, while the Sudanese government places "innumerable obstacles in its path."

The British charity Oxfam said Wednesday that the AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur needed help from the international community.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Realist Genocide in Sudan

By Christopher Hitchens
November 9, 2005

It looks as if the realists have won the day in the matter of Darfur. Or, to phrase it in another way, it looks as if the ethnic cleansers of that province have made good use of the "negotiation" and "mediation" period to complete their self-appointed task. As my friend Johann Hari put it recently in the London Independent: "At last, some good news from Darfur: the genocide in western Sudan is nearly over. There's only one problem—it's drawing to an end only because there are no black people left to cleanse or kill."
By some reliable estimates, the Sudanese government or "National Islamic Front" has slain as many as 400,000 of its black co-religionists—known contemptuously as zurga ("niggers")—and expelled perhaps 2 million more. This appalling achievement has been made possible by a very simple tactic: The actual killers and cleansers, the Arab janjaweed militias, are a "deniable" arm of the Sudanese authorities. Those authorities pretend to negotiate with the United Nations, the United States, and the African Union, and their negotiating "card" is the control that they can or might exercise over said militias. While this tap is turned on and off, according to different applications of carrot and stick, the militias pretend to go out of control and carry on with their slaughter and deportation. By the time the clock has been run out, the job is done.

If it were not for the efforts of a few brave journalists and humanitarian workers, and at least one American soldier attached to the African Union "peacekeepers" who went public in disgust at what he had seen, the Sudanese government might have gotten away with the whole thing. But we have more than enough filmed and photographic evidence of Sudanese planes and helicopters, flying close support to janjaweed operations, to say with certainty that the relationship between the two is the same as between the Rwandan authorities and the "Hutu Power" mobs who destroyed the Tutsi population. In other words, a Rwanda in slow motion, and in front of the cameras and the diplomats. What was all that garbage about "never again"? What was the meaning of Clinton's apology to the Rwandans? What did Colin Powell mean when he finally used the word "genocide" to describe the events in Darfur, just before resigning as secretary of state and becoming an advocate for more realism all round?

And what on earth was I thinking when I employed that "carrot and stick" cliché a couple of paragraphs above? Carrots there have been. Only the other day, according to the New York Times, the Bush administration granted a waiver to the sanctions ostensibly in place against the Khartoum government in order to allow it to spend $530,000 on a lobbyist in Washington. Well, one would not want to deny a government indicted for genocide the right to make its case. That would hardly be fair. Meanwhile, the State Department has upgraded Sudan's status on the chart that shows "cooperation" in the matter of slave-trafficking. Apparently, you can be on this list and still be awarded points for good behavior. A hundred-plus congressmen recently signed a statement accusing the administration of "appeasement," which seems the only appropriate word for it.

But that's about the extent of the protest. How can this be? Surely the administration did everything that could have been asked of it. Abandoning any sort of "unilateralism," it pedantically followed the Kofi Annan script of multiparty negotiations and patient diplomacy. It allowed the inspectors more time. It exhausted all avenues short of war and never even threatened the use of force. By the use of sanctions, it kept Sudan "in its box." And it has got exactly what anyone might have predicted for such a strategy. Perhaps that's why there is so little protest. After all, we know that "war is not the answer." And now Sudan has Darfur province in its box. It has taken the land and gotten rid of the people.

Any critique of realism has to begin with a sober assessment of the horrors of peace. Everybody now wishes, or at least says they wish, that we had not made ourselves complicit spectators in Rwanda. But what if it had been decided to take action? Only one member state of the U.N. Security Council would have had the capacity to act with speed to deploy pre-emptive force (and that would have been very necessary, given the weight of the French state, and the French veto, on the side of the genocidaires). It is a certainty that at some stage, American troops would have had to open fire on the "Hutu Power" mobs and militias, actually killing people and very probably getting killed in return. Body bags would have been involved. It is not an absolute certainty that all detained members of those militias would have been treated with unfailing tenderness. It is probable that some of the military contractors would have overcharged, and that some locals would have engaged in profiteering and even in tribal politics. It is impossible that any child of any member of the Clinton administration would have been an enlisted soldier. But we never had to suffer any of these wrenching experiences, so that we can continue to wish, in some parallel Utopian universe, that we had done something instead of nothing.

Or not exactly nothing. The United States ended up supporting the French military intervention in Rwanda, which was mounted in an attempt not to remove the genocidaires but to save them. Nonintervention does not mean that nothing happens. It means that something else happens. Our policy in Darfur has not just failed to rescue a stricken black African population: It has actually assisted the Sudanese Islamists in completing their policy of racist murder. Thank heaven that we are tough enough to bear the shame of this, and strong enough to forgive ourselves.

source: Frontpagemag.com

Deterioration in Darfur Brings Calls for Stronger Force

Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (IPS) - Increased fighting and instability in Sudan's western region of Darfur are spurring renewed calls for the United States, NATO and the U.N. to urgently provide more support to the African Union's peace mission (AMIS) there and strengthen its mandate to effectively defend innocent civilians against the violence.

In a new report released here Wednesday, Refugees International (RI) charged that the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, who himself labeled the violence by Khartoum and Arab militias against the African residents of Darfur as "genocide", has so far failed to provide adequate diplomatic and military support to stop the killing.

"If the U.S. is serious about preventing more civilian casualties in Darfur," RI said, "it and its NATO allies, in partnership with the AU, need to move quickly to strengthen AMIS' mandate, provide more troops, greatly increase logistical and organisational assistance to AMIS, and bring pressure to bear the government of Sudan to disarm the Janjaweed (militias) and allow AMIS to perform its job unhindered."

RI is also calling for the administration to reinstate 50 million dollars to support the AU operation next year, which a Congressional conference committee last week stripped out of the foreign aid bill. The United States is the biggest financial backer of the AU mission.

The group's plea was joined by Africa Action, a grassroots activist group, whose director, Salih Booker, accused "the U.S. and the international community (of) continuing to hide behind the AU mission, abdicating their own responsibility to take action to stop genocide".

"Unless there is a robust international intervention in Darfur, to reinforce the AU operation, the security situation will continue to worsen and the death toll will continue to rise," he added.

The appeals come amid growing outrage here over the administration's perceived failure to act more decisively against Khartoum to stop the violence, which has displaced some two million people from their homes and is estimated to have taken as many as 400,000 lives since early 2003.

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week, 109 Republican and Democratic lawmakers accused the administration of "engaging in a policy of appeasement" toward the National Islamic Front (NIF) government "...when the violence in Darfur grows worse and the plight of its victims more terrible".

The lawmakers cited in particular the administration's decision to permit -- and indeed encourage -- Khartoum to hire a former foreign-service officer, Robert Cabelly, to serve as a lobbyist on Sudan's behalf and to remove Khartoum from a State Department list of countries under sanctions for their complicity in human trafficking.

Critics have argued that Washington is eager to normalise ties with Sudan, an emerging oil exporter and a key potential ally in the administration's "war on terror". Last spring, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) secretly brought the head of Khartoum's main intelligence service, a man widely accused of masterminding the attacks in Darfur, to Washington for talks.

Activists are also furious over recent remarks, which they see a deliberate effort to play down the current spate of violence in Darfur, by Jendayi Frazer, the new assistant secretary of state for African Affairs. When asked about recent attacks reportedly carried out by the government-backed Janjaweed, she insisted, "That's just a snapshot of the moment. You can't take a snapshot and get a full picture."

Rice's deputy, Robert Zoellick, arrived in Kenya Tuesday for his fourth trip to the region in seven months in a renewed effort both to calm the situation in Darfur and to shore up a peace agreement between Khartoum and southern rebels that ended a 22-year civil war earlier this year.

Shortly after the accord took formal effect in July, the rebel leader, John Garang, was killed in a helicopter crash, but fears that the peace would break down have so far proved unfounded.

Speaking of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, Zoellick said Tuesday after meeting with various parties to the conflict, "I would urge them to unify in the most inclusive fashion as possible."

"Since we've got to make sure that we're stopping the violence, returning to the cease-fire, I'm also going to be pressing them about how their military structure relates to their political structure," he said.

"The problems of Darfur will not be solved by more violence," he added. "We need to conclude a peace negotiation within the framework of the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement]."

Washington has offered a range of diplomatic and financial rewards to Khartoum for its adherence to the peace accord. It has made the delivery of most of them conditional on stopping the violence in Darfur and disarming the Janjaweed in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions, and reaching a peace agreement, currently being negotiated in Abuja, Nigeria, with rebel groups in Darfur.

As part of the effort to stop the violence, the Security Council, at Washington's urging, authorised the deployment of several thousand armed and unarmed AMIS observers to Darfur, which is roughly the size of France, in 2004. While the Council subsequently increased the authorised number to 12,500, the AU has been able so far to muster and deploy only about 6,700 units.

Moreover, under the mandate given it by the Security Council, AMIS units cannot use their arms to defend anyone but themselves, a weakness which activists claim further reduces the mission's effectiveness.

While international observers, including Zoellick himself, voiced confidence last summer that the violence was indeed winding down, the last six weeks have seen an upsurge in deadly attacks both by the Janjaweed and by rebel forces who themselves appear increasingly divided.

As noted in the RI report, humanitarian convoys have been attacked, including one in which aid workers were stripped and beaten; Janjaweed raids in North Darfur displaced nearly 7,000 people; another attack by Janjaweed forces on a refugee camp killed 29 residents; nearly 40 AMIS forces were abducted by one rebel group; and four AMIS soldiers were killed during another attack, reportedly by a second rebel group.

"People are dying and dying in large numbers," Antonio Gutterres, the U.N.'s refugee chief, said last week.

"(The) rising violence shows what can happen when there aren't enough troops on the ground, and when these troops are hamstrung by a weak mandate and logistical and organisational constraints," the RI report noted.

It added that because "the U.S. has shown little interest in sending its own or NATO troops in response to a human emergency that it has declared to constitute genocide, the U.S. has an enormous responsibility to make sure that AMIS is a success."

In addition to more equipment, including arms, training, and logistical support, Washington and its allies should ensure that AMIS' mandate is strengthened. This will require the deployment of more troops and actively preparing the deployment, in coordination with the AU, of a U.N. peacekeeping mission if an accord is reached in Abuja, according to the report.

U.S. officials have suggested that the renewed fighting represents jockeying for the best possible position before a final deal in Abuja is struck, but the violence is in danger of spiraling out of control, as Zoellick himself noted last week. "Any spark could set off a wildfire, so all of the key parties have important work to do to keep things on track." (END/2005)

source: ips