Sunday, November 30, 2008

Genocide's harrowing cost

Hal Boedeker | Sentinel Columnist

Christiane Amanpour is a passionate teacher who picks difficult topics. She is so commanding that you want to enroll.

In CNN's Scream Bloody Murder, she takes up perhaps the hardest subject of all: genocide. In this two-hour documentary, which debuts at 9 p.m. Thursday, Amanpour examines how the world has frequently fallen short since the Holocaust.

This program looks at atrocities in Cambodia, Iraq, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. She balances the horror by focusing on stirring figures who spoke out.

Father Francois Ponchaud told of the Khmer Rouge's mass executions in Cambodia. Peter Galbraith, then a staffer in the U.S. Senate, tried -- and failed -- to get Congress to punish Iraq after Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds.

Richard Holbrooke, then a private citizen, pushed the Clinton administration to halt the Bosnian Serbs. The United States acted three years later.

Romeo Dallaire, commander of United Nations peace-keeping troops in Rwanda, warned of disaster. He didn't receive help, and still seems shaken by the tragedy.

Mukesh Kapila, formerly the U.N.'s top official in Sudan, took the Darfur disaster to the media. Professor Eric Reeves has rallied the world via the Internet. Read more >>>>>

Darfur aid groups face harassment - UN officials

By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Humanitarian aid groups are facing growing harassment in South Darfur where government officials have forced staff to hand over confidential emails and files, United Nations officials said on Sunday.

But the head of Sudan's state Humanitarian Aid Commission in the region denied the accusations, saying his office was doing all it could to assist development groups.

The U.N. officers, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters that Sudanese officials had ordered a crackdown on aid groups they suspected of supplying evidence to the International Criminal Court for a war crimes case against Sudan's president. Read more >>>>

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Genocide in Darfur? Let the court decide

By Philip Heymann and Martha Minow

IS THERE a legal basis for the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan for genocide?

The crime of genocide has been widely accepted as the most heinous offense against human dignity. Although the term can sometimes be used loosely in political debates, it has a very precise and narrow legal definition. And rightly so.

According to the Genocide Convention of 1948, the crime of genocide is "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

These definitional requirements are more than mere legal formalities. If the crime of genocide is deemed to occur, the Convention triggers mandatory prosecution requirements. The particular opprobrium that is attached to genocide should be reserved for those who have unquestionably violated its terms. Meanwhile, mass atrocities that do not satisfy the precise definition of genocide can still be prosecuted as crimes against humanity or war crimes. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Remember Darfur genocide? It hasn't stopped

Of all the world's dictators, Sudan's Gen. Omar Al-Bashir is the most unfailingly duplicitous and murderously arrogant. His government was one of the first to welcome our new president with the hope that the slogan of President-elect Barack Obama – "change" – "would (bring) some real change between Sudan and the United States."

Obama knows better. As the Paris-based Sudan Tribune website reports (Nov. 6): "During his campaign, Senator Obama pledged 'unstinting resolve' to end the crisis in Darfur, and stated 'there can be no doubt that the Sudanese government is chiefly responsible for the violence and is able to end it.'"

In what Bashir assumed Obama would consider a welcome move, Sudan's genocide president, on Nov. 12, announced "our immediate unconditional cease-fire" that would include the disarmament (which he has often pledged) of his most ruthless killers and rapists, the Janjaweed militia.

As is Bashir's custom, he followed the cease-fire by two days of multiple attacks by his army and Russian antonov gunships and bombers on rebel forces (Sudan Tribune, Nov. 15).

The blame for the continuing atrocities against Darfur's black African Muslims is not only Bashir's; but, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice belatedly said in a New York Times Sunday Magazine interview (Nov. 16), the United Nations Security Council has continually failed to impose strong enough sanctions on Bashir. Read more >>>>>

Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama, Darfur, and ICC justice

Northampton, Mass. - Of all the issues President-elect Barack Obama faces before he takes office, none is of greater moral urgency than changing the tenor of the US response to what he has repeatedly described as "genocide in Darfur."

That's because, before Inauguration Day, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is very likely to issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, charging him with crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

These charges are amply justified by the evidence. Mr. Obama's clear and effective response is needed, because the Khartoum regime has threatened aggressive violence in a calculated campaign to fend off the arrest.

Indeed, its threats are as shocking as they are underreported.

In August, the UN head of mission in Sudan declared to the Security Council: "The government has conveyed to me that the issuance of an arrest warrant against President Bashir could have serious consequences for UN staff and infrastructure in Sudan." Translation: Seek to arrest our president and we'll unleash further hell on the aid personnel who protect Darfur's vulnerable civilian populations.

Also in August, Bashir declared, "We are ready to go through war with the great power" to forestall ICC actions. Such threats against UN personnel and operations are unprecedented – and they must be fully registered by the Security Council, both for Darfur and for future peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

As if to make clear just how high the stakes have become, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mulet recently stressed that a warrant for Bashir could "derail the [north/south] Comprehensive Peace Agreement," which in January 2005 ended more than 20 years of catastrophic civil war.

Sudan's unambiguous threat – which also poses grave regional dangers – means the international community has no excuse not to act forcefully now. And yet, to date, Khartoum's threats stand unrebuked. The UN Secretariat has acquiesced: Despite Secretary-General Moon's tepid and abstract support for the ICC, he refuses to challenge Khartoum directly over its recent dangerous pronouncements. Read more >>>>

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sudanese officers to testify at ICC

Dozens of Sudanese soldiers, some of them high-ranking officers, are in The Hague to testify before the International Criminal Court. Radio Netherlands Worldwide learned of the soldiers' role in the trial from a well-informed source today.

The court is trying Sudan's government and rebel leaders on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, including the bombing of civilians. Relatives of the witnesses have also been taken to The Hague to protect them against possible retaliation by the Sudanese government. ICC officials declined to comment on the matter, saying this would violate the court's commitment to protect witnesses and victims.

In April 2007, the ICC issued arrest warrants for two Sudanese nationals, Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Haroun and local militia leader Ali Kushib. In July 2008, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo presented evidence against President Omar al-Bashir to support charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur. A preliminary hearing is currently considering whether to issue an arrest warrant for Mr al-Bashir. Read more >>>>>>>>>

The Hypocrisy in the Arab and Muslim World Regarding the Darfur Conflict

By Savo Heleta ,

When Muslims suffer around the world in the hands of Americans, Russians, Serbs, or Israelis, the Arab and Muslim countries are very active in condemning the attacks and violence. Their governments complain and raise funds, diplomats protest, the media report, and the citizens demonstrate against "crusaders and infidels."

But when Muslims suffer in the hands of an Arab regime, then there is barely any condemnation of the violence and crimes in the Arab and Muslim world.

Since 2003, Sudan's western province of Darfur is an epicenter of a conflict between the mainly "African" rebels and the Arab-controlled Sudanese government and their proxy militias. It is estimated that about 200,000 people have died in the conflict from fighting, disease, and starvation. The UN and aid agencies estimate that over two million Darfurians, out of a population of about six million, are living in refugee camps in Darfur and neighboring countries.

The Sudan's ruling elite portrays itself as an "Arab" regime both at home and abroad. Some would say that this explains the lack of concern for the Darfur conflict in the Arab world. But things change when we consider the fact that both sides in the Darfur conflict are Muslim and that the Darfurians, both Arabs and Africans, are Sudan's most devout Muslims.

Even though Muslims are the victims in Darfur, the fact that they are the victims of an Arab regime prevents Arab and Muslim countries from acknowledging the humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur, let alone speaking against the horrendous crimes committed against innocent civilians in this Sudanese province. Read more >>>>>>

Monday, November 17, 2008

Darfur refugees demand genocide trial for al-Bashir

KALMA CAMP, Sudan–Refugees in this crowded camp – where mass graves hold the victims of Sudanese government attacks against them – see little hope in the latest effort to end the war in Darfur.

What they want is justice.

And for many, getting justice means putting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on trial for genocide.

Khalthoum Adam, a 50-year-old woman in Kalma Camp, says even if a peace deal is reached, she will not return to her home village near Kalma unless there is a trial. She fears violence by Arab camel herders she says are holding the land she and her family were driven out of by attack planes and government militia five years ago.

"They will be sending us to another danger" if camp residents are forced to return home under a peace agreement, she said. "If (al-Bashir) doesn't go to trial, we will stay in the camps."

This week, prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is to present details to The Hague-based International Criminal Court outlining what he says is al-Bashir's role in overseeing the systematic targeting of Darfur's main Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes. Read more >>>>>>>>

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Darfur refugees seek justice over peace

KALMA CAMP, Sudan (AP) — Refugees in this crowded camp — where mass graves hold the victims of one of the bloodiest Sudanese government attacks against them — see little hope in a new drive for peace aimed at ending the nearly six-year war in Darfur. What they want is justice.

For many of the refugees, that means putting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on trial for genocide.

Khalthoum Adam, a 50-year-old woman in Kalma Camp, says that peace deal or no, without a trial she won't return to her home village not far from Kalma. She fears violence by Arab camel herders she says are still holding the land she and her family were driven out of by attacking planes and government militia five years ago.

"They will be sending us to another danger" if camp residents are forced to return home as part of a peace agreement, she said. "If (al-Bashir) doesn't go to trial, we will stay in the camps."

Adam spoke as she emerged from Kalma with a group of women to collect grain from nearby fields, guarded by U.N. peacekeepers to prevent the frequent attacks on women who dare step out of the camps.

Distrust of al-Bashir and his Arab-led government is deep and bitter among the 2.7 million mostly ethnic Africans driven from their homes. Some observers say their fears must be taken into account amid new, still struggling efforts to get Darfur rebel leaders and the government back to the negotiating table. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Friday, November 14, 2008

If peace comes to Darfur, thank the International Criminal Court

By David Blair

When Sudan's military dictator declared a unilateral ceasefire in Darfur this week, he was conducting the biggest plea bargain in history. President Omar al-Bashir, who seized power in a coup in 1989 and leads one of Africa's most ruthless regimes, did not try to halt Darfur's bloodshed out of the kindness of his heart. On the contrary, for the past five years, his armed forces and their associated militias, popularly known as the janjaweed or "devils on horseback", have pillaged villages at will, waging a ruthless war that has claimed some 300,000 lives, either from violence, starvation or disease.

Instead, Mr Bashir called the ceasefire because he faces a little legal difficulty. In July, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, asked for Sudan's leader to be formally charged with three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes.

At present, the ICC's "pre-trial chamber" is considering this request. So far, Mr Bashir has not been formally charged and no arrest warrant exists in his name. But this could change quite soon. Early next year, the judges will probably decide whether to uphold Mr Moreno-Ocampo's accusations. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Obama and Darfur

The crisis in Darfur is the most pressing humanitarian issue for President-elect Barack Obama. He can leverage the goodwill and pride in his recent electoral success to pressure the parties in Sudan to uphold the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005 -- sending a powerful signal.

At least 250,000 people -- some estimates range as high as 500,000 -- have died and approximately 2.2 million have been displaced since 2003. In turn, the Sudanese militia, in tandem with an Arab militia known as the janjaweed ("devils on horseback"), waged a brutal campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing against men, women and children.

An Obama administration needs to uphold the cornerstones of American policy established during the Bush administrations. Since 2003, the United States has placed Sudan on its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and since 2007 has imposed economic sanctions. Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq told Agence France-Presse after Mr. Obama's victory that Khartoum "would like to see some real change between Sudan and the United States." "Real change" does not mean relaxing the pressure on Sudanese President, Lt. Gen. Omar Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. Read more >>>>>>

Friday, November 07, 2008

Student documents Darfur genocide

Remnants of slaughtered people are shown as a reminder to what happened during Rwanda's civil war.

Rows of human skulls and heaps of bones filled the Ntarama Genocide Memorial in Uganda, surrounded by the remnants of clothes, I.D. cards and homework assignments that commemorated the people slaughtered at the site.

For U student Sheldon Wardwell, a junior in political science, the image he saw in his trip to Uganda and Rwanda in 2007 has resonated in his mind.

"When you're going to school, working and living life, it's easy to put this off like it's nothing," Wardwell said. "But when you've seen firsthand how they're every bit a person as you's hard to let it go."

Wardwell will return to Africa in December to interview Darfurian refugees in eastern Chad-a research expedition to document the impacts of the Sudanese genocide.Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Kristallnacht remembered at Barry University in Miami Shores

Seventy years ago this week, one of the first coordinated campaigns of the Holocaust began in Germany and Austria.

It was the night of Nov. 9, and the Nazi regime had alerted police officers and firefighters to stand by for two nights as more than 1,000 synagogues were burned or damaged, thousands of Jewish businesses were looted, and at least 91 Jews were killed, while 30,000 were arrested and later sent to concentration camps.

Thursday afternoon, more than 100 students and faculty members at Barry University in Miami Shores gathered around candlelit tables to observe the massacre that came to be called Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass.

''Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it,'' said Rabbi Solomon Schiff of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami, flanked by Israeli and American flags. ''Hopefully, we've learned our lesson.'' He reminded the audience of history's parallels to today, citing genocide in places such as Darfur, as well as racial and religious discrimination in the United States. He wasn't speaking only to the uninitiated. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama: A Peace Surge for Sudan

By John Prendergast, John Norris, Jerry Fowler

This is the first in a series of letters to the next president spelling out a practical roadmap to end the crisis in Sudan.

The message of Sudan activists all over The United States is clear:

Don’t try to contain the damage from the war in Darfur—end the war.
Don’t just declare that genocide is taking place—end the genocide.
Don’t just manage the consequences of crisis after crisis in Sudan—end these crises.
In short, President-Elect Obama must lead a concerted international peace surge for Sudan, and diplomacy must be backed by well-conceived and consistently escalating pressure on Khartoum and other combatants to create the proper conditions for a lasting peace. More effective protection of civilians and continued steps toward accountability for crimes against humanity, which are vital in their own right, will help advance this peace surge.

Five-and-a-half years into Darfur’s crisis, and three-and-a-half years after the signing of a peace deal for southern Sudan (the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA), there is no prospect of a peace deal for Darfur and no coherent effort to ensure that the CPA gets implemented. This is a damning indictment of U.S. and international efforts in Sudan to date. Despite an abundance of rhetoric, it is clear to all parties, including the Sudanese government, that the United States government and its international partners are content simply to manage the consequences of the crisis in Sudan, rather than resolve the situation. Read more >>>>>>>>

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Two Darfur girls raped: peace force

KHARTOUM: Two girls aged 11 and 12 and three women were raped by men wearing military uniforms in Sudan’s Darfur region, peacekeepers said yesterday.
The joint UN/African Union Unamid peacekeeping force said it would not release details of the date or place of the sex attacks because of high sensitivity over the issue.
But force spokesman Noureddine Mezni said the crimes had been “documented” over the past week.
Activists and Western governments have accused government-backed militias and other armed groups of carrying out widespread rapes during the five-year conflict, which international experts say has killed more than 200,000 people.
Khartoum denies there has been any organised campaign of rape, while allowing that individual cases may have occurred >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The people of Darfur support The Chief Prosecutor of The International Criminal Court Mr. Moreno-Ocampo in the indictment of Sudanese president Omar H

His Excellency Luis Moreno-Ocampo
The Chief Prosecutor of The International Criminal Court

The Hague, October 31st, 2008

The people of Darfur support The Chief Prosecutor of The International Criminal Court Mr. Moreno-Ocampo in the indictment of Sudanese president Omar Hassan el Bashir

Your Excellency The Chief Prosecutor,

The signatories to this letter are representatives of the people of Darfur in Diaspora. The few who have assembled here today, from different parts of the globe, would like to express their utmost gratitude and emphatic support to the work of the International Criminal Court in pursuit for justice particularly for the innocent Darfuris who have endured a bitter experience of state sponsored atrocities for quite a long time. We do not only represent the voice of the oppressed masses of Darfur in their all walks of life but also express the feelings of the silent peace-loving masses of our globe.

Life offers very little to cherish in the absence of peace and peace can never be realized without justice. Peace and justice can not and shall not be traded with each other. Humanity has had enough of tyrannies and rouge regimes that do not only devalue human life but intend to destroy humanity. Grave crimes against humanity and impunity under the guise of sovereignty should not be unaccounted for. The credit goes to International Criminal Court with you as its Chief Prosecutor to render an unprecedented service to humanity.

The innocent civilian population of Darfur, as you are aware, has been victim of the worst criminal acts in the 21st century for no reason other than the revolt of some of their sons against the persistent injustices they have been enduring for decades. The regime in Khartoum is directly and solely responsible for all the mass killings, rape, torture, and forced displacement of our people. We genuinely value the efforts of The Chief Prosecutor of ICC and his team to have indicted the president of the Sudan Omar Hassan el Bashir for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Genocide and other grave atrocities in Darfur have been, as are still being, orchestrated, financed and systematically carried out under direct supervision of Omar el Bashir

Justice and peace in Darfur and the Sudan will prevail only when the principal perpetrators of the crimes against humanity and war crimes are held accountable. What happened in Darfur is directly attributable to the regime’s similar outrageous practices in South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains with complete impunity. Only law and international justice can deter the repetition of the same sad human tragedies. If the international community in fact believes in “never again”, they should unconditionally and robustly support the exertion of the International Criminal Court and its Chief Prosecutor to bring the perpetrators of gross human atrocities to justice.

Peace-loving people of Darfur fully and categorically support your endeavours to end genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur and the rest of the world.

We are confident in your unshakeable determination to proceed in the quest for justice against all odds.

Sincerely yours,


Ahmed M. Mohamedain, The Hague
Darfur Union, The Netherlands

Khatir M. Kayabil
Darfur People’s Union in UK and Northern Ireland

Abdelbagi Jibril
Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre, Geneva

Gamal Adam
Darfur Association of Canada
Calgary Branch

Abdelhadi Abbakar
Darfur Call, Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Niemat Ahmadi
Darfuri Leaders Network
United States

Hafiz Bassy
Darfur Community Association of Australia Inc.

Darfur Australia Network
Hafiz Bassy

Mohamadain Ishag
Darfur For culture And Documentation Organization

Mansour Ahmed
The Fur Cultural Revival
Portland, Maine, USA

Darfur Uninon

Najmaldin Musa Abdul karim
Darfur Internally Displaced Peoples and Refugees Union

De. Nagib Nagmeldin
Amel Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation, Khartoum

Mr. Abdelmageed Salih Abker
Peace Youth Association; Khartoum

Abdelraheem Haroun
Darfur Democratic Forum, Khartoum

Abdelrahman Algasim
Darfur Bar Association, Khartoum

Drar Adam
Darfur Call Organization, Khartoum