Saturday, December 29, 2007

Statement from SLA/M command of North Darfur

Statement from SLA/M command of North Darfur
Air Siro


We, the leadership of Ain Siro command post, do neither tolerate any forward advance by, nor willing to engage in any talks with, the group that is heading to Ain Seiro under the leadership of Yousif Kurjukola and Tarrada prior to releasing all our political and military personnel who are currently under their custody. Kurjukola and his team put Ali Haroun and his team under custody for almost a week now. Their lives are under imminent threat.

We urge international community to interfere to secure the release of the detainees.


Joint Chiefs of Staffs of North Darfur
Ain Siro
December 28th, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hillary Roberts: Darfur action is possible

By BDN Staff

"We must be a leader and voice of reason and hope in this terrible crisis."

We are lucky to live in our close-knit, "Mainers take care of Mainers" communities. I am reminded of this on a daily basis. Despite occasional unsettling stories of crime and tragedy, positives prevail here. This can make it easy to overlook the world’s ugliness, that side of humanity that I never saw growing up in a small Piscataquis County town of 300 people.

In 2003, the first genocide of the 21st century began in Western Sudan in a place called Darfur. An Arab militia called the Janjaweed, aided by the Sudanese government, began what can only be looked at as a campaign of terror and genocide. The victims of this genocide are mainly non-Arab or African tribal groups, primarily the Fur, Massaleit, and Zaghawa.

The ethnic cleansing by the Janjaweed sounds more like a fictional horror movie than a reality that continues to plague Darfur and other parts of Africa. The militia groups have killed civilians, burned villages, raped women and young girls, abducted children, poisoned water supplies and destroyed food sources. In 2005, an estimated 15,000 people were being killed every month. Since 2003, when the killing began, an estimated 400,000 people have perished. More than one million people have been forced from their villages and homes to refugee camps in other parts of Africa.

The U.S. government officially declared the crisis in Darfur a genocide in July of 2004. Since 2005, both the U.S. House and Senate have had opportunities to support several important pieces of legislation that would help to end the genocide. The first piece that was introduced, a bill called the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act, did not pass. However, that initial bill sent a powerful message that action from every level of government was needed in order to support an end to the tragedies taking place in Africa. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Hillary Roberts: Darfur action is possible

By BDN Staff

"We must be a leader and voice of reason and hope in this terrible crisis."

We are lucky to live in our close-knit, "Mainers take care of Mainers" communities. I am reminded of this on a daily basis. Despite occasional unsettling stories of crime and tragedy, positives prevail here. This can make it easy to overlook the world’s ugliness, that side of humanity that I never saw growing up in a small Piscataquis County town of 300 people.

In 2003, the first genocide of the 21st century began in Western Sudan in a place called Darfur. An Arab militia called the Janjaweed, aided by the Sudanese government, began what can only be looked at as a campaign of terror and genocide. The victims of this genocide are mainly non-Arab or African tribal groups, primarily the Fur, Massaleit, and Zaghawa.

The ethnic cleansing by the Janjaweed sounds more like a fictional horror movie than a reality that continues to plague Darfur and other parts of Africa. The militia groups have killed civilians, burned villages, raped women and young girls, abducted children, poisoned water supplies and destroyed food sources. In 2005, an estimated 15,000 people were being killed every month. Since 2003, when the killing began, an estimated 400,000 people have perished. More than one million people have been forced from their villages and homes to refugee camps in other parts of Africa.

The U.S. government officially declared the crisis in Darfur a genocide in July of 2004. Since 2005, both the U.S. House and Senate have had opportunities to support several important pieces of legislation that would help to end the genocide. The first piece that was introduced, a bill called the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act, did not pass. However, that initial bill sent a powerful message that action from every level of government was needed in order to support an end to the tragedies taking place in Africa. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Bakhita’s performative hope

By Rene Q. Bas

Continuing my effort to get you to read Pope Benedict’s latest encyclical Spe Salvi by giving you excerpts from it, here now is his answer to the question “In what does this hope consist, which, as hope, is ‘redemption’ ”?

“3. … The essence of the answer is given in the phrase from the Letter to the Ephesians quoted above: the Ephesians, before their encounter with Christ, were without hope because they were ‘without God in the world.’ To come to know God—the true God—means to receive hope. We who have always lived with the Christian concept of God, and have grown accustomed to it, have almost ceased to notice that we possess the hope that ensues from a real encounter with this God.

“The example of a saint of our time can to some degree help us understand what it means to have a real encounter with this God for the first time. I am thinking of the African Josephine Bakhita, canonized by Pope John Paul II. She was born around 1869—she herself did not know the precise date—in Darfur in Sudan. At the age of nine, she was kidnapped by slave-traders, beaten till she bled, and sold five times in the slave-markets of Sudan. Eventually she found herself working as a slave for the mother and the wife of a general, and there she was flogged every day till she bled; as a result of this she bore 144 scars throughout her life.

“Finally, in 1882, she was bought by an Italian merchant for the Italian consul Callisto Legnani, who returned to Italy as the Mahdists advanced. Here, after the terrifying ‘masters’ who had owned her up to that point. Bakhita came to know a totally different kind of ‘master’—in Venetian dialect, which she was now learning, she used the name ‘paron’ for the living God, the God of Jesus Christ. Up to that time she had known only masters who despised and maltreated her, or at best considered her a useful slave. Now, however, she heard that there is a ‘paron’ above all masters, the Lord of all lords, and that this Lord is good, goodness in person. She came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her— that he actually loved her. She too was loved, and by none other than the supreme ‘Paron’ before whom all other masters are themselves no more than lowly servants. She was known and loved and she was awaited. What is more, this master had himself accepted the destiny of being flogged and now he was waiting for her ‘at the Father’s right hand.’ Now she had ‘hope’—no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: ‘I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.’ Through the knowledge of this hope she was ‘redeemed,’ no longer a slave, but a free child of God. She understood what Paul meant when he reminded the Ephesians that previously they were without hope and without God in the world—without hope because without God. Hence, when she was about to be taken back to Sudan, Bakhita refused; she did not wish to be separated again from her ‘Paron.’ Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, December 24, 2007

Failure looms in Darfur

Three years after the United States accused Sudan of committing genocide in Darfur and a full year after the United Nations began pushing to deploy its own peacekeeping force there, the conflict remains one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

There will be only about 6,500 UN peacekeepers in Darfur 10 days from now, when a new joint UN-African Union force (UNAMID) is scheduled to take over in western Sudan.

That's barely a quarter of the promised force of 26,000 peacekeepers who were supposed to replace 7,000 under-equipped, dejected and ineffective African Union troops who have been struggling to stop a conflict that has raged for nearly five years.

Before the UN even sets foot in Darfur, critics are predicting the mission could become the world's biggest peacekeeping failure.

It's too big, too disorganized and has no strategic plan. It lacks critical international support and is being hamstrung by the deliberate obstruction of the Sudanese government.

Last week, a coalition of 35 foreign aid groups working in Darfur issued a report that predicted "the deployment of this force is in danger of failing" and accused the government in Khartoum of "actively undermining the ability of the force to protect civilians."

"Sudan is saying 'yes' and then doing everything in its power to obstruct and undermine the hybrid force," said Steve Crawshaw of Human Rights Watch.

"The Security Council has responded to this defiance with hand-wringing but nothing more."

"If it continues, the UN's hands will be tied as much as the African Union's have been, spelling disaster for the UN and more importantly for the Darfuri people," said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International's Africa director.

The new UN-led force is not expected to reach half-strength until March and UN negotiators are still unable to plan even the most basic elements of the Darfur peacekeeping operation.

General Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan's President, has thrown as many roadblocks in the way of a UN deployment as possible. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Friday, December 14, 2007

UN rights council drops Darfur expert group

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday dissolved a group of experts tasked with monitoring abuses in Darfur after demands from African countries to ease the political pressure on Sudan.

The unanimous decision to halt the mission of the seven rights experts comes a week after the group accused Sudan of failing to protect civilians in Darfur from rape, torture and other forms of violence.

The task of overseeing Khartoum's progress in protecting human rights in Darfur will now fall to the UN's special envoy to Sudan, Simar Samar, whose mandate was unanimously extended for a year. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

Spielberg urges China again to help end Darfur 'genocide'

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Legendary film director Steven Spielberg has appealed to Chinese President Hu Jintao for a second time to use China's influence over Sudan to end the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

In a November 15 letter to Hu released Thursday, Spielberg, who is serving as an artistic advisor for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said the situation in Darfur had deteriorated since he last wrote him in April.

"So I write to you now with a renewed sense of urgency in the hope that China will redouble its efforts to pressure Sudan to join in a fair peace agreement and, at last, bring an end to the genocide," he wrote.

Spielberg urged China to contribute much needed helicopters and heavy transport vehicles for the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission and to press Sudan to stop delaying the force's deployment.

"China's economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide you with the influence and the obligation to press for change," he wrote. Read more >>>>>

Thursday, December 13, 2007

SOS DARFOUR

UN Rebukes Sudan Over Human Rights Abuses in Darfur

A group of UN experts has criticized the government of Sudan for failing to implement most of the recommendations made by special investigators to the conflict-racked Darfur region. The group presented its report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva from where Lisa Schlein reports for VOA.

This group was set up to work with the government of Sudan to help it implement the recommendations made by previous investigators to Darfur.

Special representative on the human rights situation in Sudan, Sima Samar, says the government cooperated and worked well with the Group in procedural terms. Read more >>>>>>>>

Darfur, & China's Genocide Olympics

Tim Morgan

I've rarely been a big fan of Hollywood-style, lefty social activism. But two cheers for activist-actress Mia Farrow for taking on the continuing genocide in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

The situation in Darfur could be resolved in a matter of days and weeks if the Bashir regime in Khartoum was willing to abide by its commitments. A nation-state loses its legitimacy when it permits its own citizens to be slaughtered at will with no consequences locally, nationally, or internationally.

Here's a recent comment about Darfur from the highly credible International Crisis Group:

The Darfur conflict has changed radically in the past year and not for the better. While there are many fewer deaths than during the high period of fighting in 2003-2004, it has mutated, the parties have splintered, and the confrontations have multiplied. Violence is again increasing, access for humanitarian agencies is decreasing, international peacekeeping is not yet effective and a political settlement remains far off.

The bottom line is that the innocent still die daily inside Darfur as the interagency wrangling and political realities prevent the peace-keeping forces from moving into position with the necessary resources.

There is a student organization in Canada, Dream for Darfur. It's doing good work in raising funds for advocacy and care. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, December 09, 2007

DArfur: What do you know about Darfur?

“Genocide’s Victory,” The Boston Globe, December 8, 2007 and The International Herald Tribune, December 9, 2007

THE BRUTAL REGIME in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, has orchestrated genocidal counter-insurgency war in Darfur for five years, and is now poised for victory in its ghastly assault on the region's African populations.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769, adopted in July, authorized a force of 26,000 troops and civilian police to protect Darfur's civilians and the humanitarian groups serving some 4.2 million desperate people. Without protection, these groups will be forced to withdraw. But Khartoum has obstructed the force authorized by the UN, and final success in these efforts seems within grasp. On Nov. 26, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the UN undersecretary for peacekeeping, raised the prospect that the UN-authorized force for Darfur may have to be aborted because of Khartoum's actions.

Guéhenno asked a question that answered itself: "Do we move ahead with the deployment of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the capability to defend itself and that carries the risk of humiliation of the Security Council and the United Nations and tragic failure for the people of Darfur?"

The unprecedented UN/African Union "hybrid" mission for Darfur (UNAMID) has been badly hurt by the refusal of militarily capable nations to provide the two dozen helicopters required, at the least, for operations in Darfur. No NATO country has offered even one helicopter - a sign that, despite fulsome rhetoric, these nations' real concern for Darfur is minimal. But it is Khartoum's brazen obduracy that threatens to leave the people of Darfur without protection. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Genocide: Darfur

ICC Prosecutor: “Massive crimes continue to be committed in Darfur today, Sudan is not complying with Security Council resolution 1593 and is not coop

Today in New York, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the United Nations Security Council that the Government of The Sudan is not cooperating and asked the Security Council to send today a strong and unanimous message to the Government of the Sudan, requesting compliance with Resolution 1593, requesting the execution of the arrest warrants.

“Sudan has not arrested Harun and Kushayb” the Prosecutor said. In his statement to the Council, the Prosecutor reiterated the fact that the Government of The Sudan, as the territorial state, has a legal duty to arrest and surrender Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb to the ICC.

Massive crimes continue to be committed in Darfur today. All information points not to isolated acts but to a pattern of attacks by Sudanese officials against civilians, in particular the 2.5 million displaced people.

“In Darfur in 2003 - 2004, we witnessed the first phase of the criminal plan coordinated by Ahmad Harun. Millions of people were forced out of their villages and into camps. In the second phase – happening right now in front of our eyes –Ahmad Harun is controlling the victims inside the camps, controlling their access to food, humanitarian aid and security; attacks against the civilians and the displaced in particular take multiple forms; women are raped; emerging local leaders are targeted; the displaced are surrounded by hostile forces; their land and homes are being occupied by new settlers. The rationale is the same as before: target civilians who could be rebel supporters.” Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, December 03, 2007

Stop the Genocide in Darfur

"Darfur’s final chance," from The Guardian on-line, November 30, 2007

by Eric Reeves

On Monday, UN under-secretary for peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guéhenno raised the terrifying prospect that the UN-authorised peacekeeping force for Darfur may well have to be aborted because of obstructionism on the part of the Khartoum regime. Guéhenno declared that because of Khartoum's actions we are fast approaching a moment in which members of the UN security council will have to ask a critical question:

"Do we move ahead with the deployment of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the capability to defend itself and that carries the risk of humiliation of the security council and the United Nations and tragic failure for the people of Darfur? "

The question, of course, answers itself. Privately, Guéhenno and other UN officials suggest an even gloomier picture of a mission that has already largely collapsed and is far behind on deployment benchmarks.

To be sure, the unprecedented UN/African Union "hybrid" mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has been badly compromised by the refusal of militarily capable nations of the world to provide the two dozen transport and tactical helicopters required, at a bare minimum, for security and protection operations in Darfur. Not a single Nato country has offered even one helicopter. Sadly, this serves as too accurate a measure of the real concern for Darfur on the part of those whose rhetoric has been most fulsome. But it is brazen obduracy on the part of the Khartoum regime that has created the deepest threat that the people of Darfur will be left entirely without protection, and that humanitarian operations will have to be suspended throughout the region. The UN estimates that 4.2 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Te paard door Darfur met Netwerk

In Netwerk NCRV zijn er unieke beelden van de gevolgen van een slachtpartij van de gevreesde Arabische Janjaweed-milities in Darfur. Franse journalisten slaagden erin om in het geheim opnamen te maken van de verwoesting van twee dorpen door de Janjaweed eerder dit jaar. Te paard en met steun van lokale milities trekt het camerateam Darfur in om vast te leggen hoe de regering van Soedan de opstandige provincie Darfur etnisch zuivert. Less verder >>>>>>>>>>

No Surprise Sudan Wants to Punish British Teacher afetr Darfur


Ever been to Sudan? I have. It's not a friendly place for Westerners, nor is it embracing of other cultures, religions or beliefs. So it should come as no surprise that the fundamentalist goons who run the country and its powerful hard-line clerics believe that punishment is necessary for Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher who allowed her students to vote to name a teddy bear "Muhammad."

Sudan is run by radical Islamic fundamentalists. Remember, this is the country that gave shelter to bin Laden after his home country of Saudi Arabia kicked him out. He built training camps just outside the capitol and owned a large, luxurious city house down the street from a radical mosque. According to government reports, bin laden plotted attacks on U.S. interests while in Sudan. (Once pressure mounted on Sudan for harboring bin Laden, they eventually kicked him out, too. That’s when he set up shop in Afghanistan.)

In late 2004, FOX sent me there to report on Darfur (long before this became the hip Hollywood cause). Our crew (including 2 guys — a producer and cameraman) and I also visited some of bin Laden's old stomping grounds, including a training camp and his house. We toured the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum that U.S. missiles hit in retaliation for the attack on our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We also visited southern Sudan, a lush and remote area primarily inhabited by black Christians and Animists, people who believe in spirits. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Commander says violence possible if Darfur force delayed

El-FASHER, Sudan (Reuters) - Failure to deploy a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission could push Sudan's Darfur region back into a spiral of violence, the military head of the mission said on Saturday.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno said last week Khartoum had demanded such stringent restrictions on the 26,000-strong force that its deployment was in doubt.

"If people are disappointed this could be expressed in many ways and one of them could be in a violent way and then ... we will go back to square one," force commander Martin Luther Agwai said.

On the possibility the force would not deploy, he said: "As the man on the receiving end I'm disturbed and concerned." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>