Thursday, December 31, 2009

How to solve a problem like Darfur

PALO ALTO — In Darfur, disease, rape, carnage and death have been regular features of life since February, 2003. Now President Obama says he wants to talk to the Sudanese government. All I can say is, that has been tried before.

In October 2004, Tony Blair, then British prime minster, came to Khartoum and climbed the steps of the presidential palace to see Omar Bashir, Sudan’s dictator. On those same steps, in 1885, an Islamic rebel leader beheaded Gen. Charles Gordon, the British administrator of Sudan. This time, Blair reached the second floor without incident, sat with Bashir in his lair and came away with a promise.

Sudan would withdraw its forces from Darfur and reach a peace agreement with the Darfur rebels by the end of that year. At that time, the United Nations estimated that 50,000 people had been killed and at least 1 million others driven from their homes.

After Blair’s visit, a succession of world leaders climbed those steps, sat with Bashir and came away to brag before the microphones about the concessions he had offered. All of it came to naught. Read more >>>>>>>>

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Officials outline new human rights violations in Darfur

Human rights officials are raising concerns about continued attacks on civilians in Darfur, Sudan. Since 2003, some 2 million have been displaced and hundreds of thousands killed. Many say the conflict was directly supported by the government in Khartoum and the massacre of civilians has been called a genocide, including by the US government. Luis Moreno Ocampo is prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. He says they have evidence of new human rights violations.

"Crimes are continuing. There are still indiscriminate bombings of civilians causing casualties and forced displacement; continued imposition of conditions of life to exterminate displaced persons including hindering of humanitarian aid and expelling of assistance providers with the consequence of reducing access to food, water and services; rapes and sexual violence constituting mental and bodily harm; and use of child soldiers. As recently as last week, on 25 November, there were reports of Militia/Janjaweed attacks against Al Harra and Jabel Issa, two villages in North Darfur, in which civlians were captured, villagers beaten and properties looted."

The International Criminal Court has been trying to bring Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to court since March, when the ICC issued an arrest warrant for him and two other officials. Ocampo said President Al Bashir has refused to appear in Court and has refused to appoint a lawyer to represent his position.

"President Al Bashir will face justice. Any leader committing these type of crimes will face justice. Power does not provide immunity. There was no immunity for President Milosevic, there was no immunity for Prime Minister Kambanda; there was no immunity for President Taylor." Listen to the radio news segment and read more >>>>>>>>>>....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We cannot afford to let Darfur slip away

By: ROB CRILLY

THE REBELS gathered their technicals – pickups mounted with machine guns and rocket launchers – before dawn. More than 100, engines revving, surrounded the army base deep in Darfur’s northern desert. There was not much of a fight. The government soldiers simply turned and ran, leaving behind guns, bombs and mugs of steaming tea.

By the time I arrived a few days later, the rebels had taken their pick of the AK-47s and mortar rounds. They left the only fatality rotting in a ditch. The smell of the dead soldier wafted through the town of Kornoi. Unburied and forgotten.

The army returned a few weeks later in force and the rebels gave up their conquest just as easily as they had taken it.

This was the war of 2009: a to and fro between rivals. A series of feints and boasts, all far beyond the gaze of the outside world.

That was my most recent trip to Darfur, slipping across the Chadian border in a rebel column to avoid the bureaucracy, minders and rules that prevent journalists seeing the conflict for themselves. The war I found was at odds with the popular perception.

On a continent of forgotten wars, there was always supposed to be something different about Darfur. This was the first genocide of the 21st century. A slaughter of the innocents. The land’s African farmers were being wiped out by Arab raiders – the dreaded Janjaweed – doing the bidding of an evil Islamist empire in Khartoum.

The timing couldn’t have been more fortunate for the humanitarian agencies desperately trying to raise funds and awareness. Ten years after Rwanda’s genocide, politicians, movie stars and a huge array of activists lined up to do their bit.

Headline after headline urged the world to act: send in peacekeepers, enforce no-fly zones or boycott Sudan’s allies.

Only nothing much changed. The war moved from one act to the next, settling into a low-level insurgency that rumbles on today. Meanwhile, we watched Congo’s complex mishmash of rebellions flare once more. Then Somalia’s pirates dominated the world’s coverage of Africa.

Darfur faded into the background. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time to Take Away Sudan's Credit Card

Omar al-Bashir's brutal Sudanese regime certainly has nerve. On Dec. 14, as Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) thugs violently suppressed the second peaceful demonstration by opposition groups in seven days, the Sudanese minister of finance met with the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration and urged the United States to lift sanctions on Khartoum and cancel Sudan's foreign debt -- in other words, bailing out the government that brought you such atrocities as Darfur and the decades-long civil war with South Sudan that now ominously threatens to reignite.

While no Western country is rushing to hand out money to Bashir, the international community has disagreed over how to persuade Sudan to end its genocidal ways, and the United States is still the only country to impose sanctions. One unlooked-for upside of the global financial crisis may be that it offers new economic leverage with Khartoum. Following the crash, Sudan now holds roughly $36 billion in external sovereign debt that it is struggling to repay. This debt gives the rest of the world a new opportunity to finally affect the course of Sudanese political reform and even end the conflicts in Darfur and South Sudan, if Western countries are willing to act boldly. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Five myths about genocide and violence in Sudan

By John Prendergast


During Sudan's half-century of independence, few spots on Earth have witnessed as much death and destruction, with 2 1/2 million war-related fatalities during the past two decades alone. Although the Darfur genocide that began in 2003 is only one of the conflicts raging in the country, they all stem from the same cause: the abuse of power. The ruling party represses independent voices and supports militias that have used genocide, child soldiers and rape as weapons of war.

Sudan faces a critical new year, with an unfree election coming in April and a referendum on the independence of the south the following January -- tripwires that could provoke a return to full-scale war. In Washington, meanwhile, few challenges have produced a greater chasm between words and deeds. A first step toward closing that gap is debunking the myths about Sudan that persist among policymakers, diplomats and the public:

The genocide in Darfur is largely over.


1.Because the regime's mass burning of villages in Darfur has ended and mortality rates have plummeted, some have concluded that the worst is done. African Union officials have even claimed that the war in Darfur is over, while Scott Gration, President Obama's special envoy for Sudan, referred in June to the ongoing violence in Darfur as "remnants of genocide." But the government is blocking all independent avenues of reporting, so there is no way to know the level of targeted violence or its perpetrators. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sudan heading towards 'violent breakup': think tank

KHARTOUM — Sudan is heading towards 'violent breakup' due to the lack of implementation of peace deals between Khartoum and the west, south and east of the country, the International Crisis Group warned Thursday.

"Sudan is sliding towards violent breakup," the Brussels-based think tank said in a report entitled "Sudan: Preventing Implosion."

"Unless the international community, notably the US, the UN, the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Horn of Africa Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD), cooperate to support (peace deals), return to north-south war and escalation of conflict in Darfur are likely," the ICG said.

"The main mechanisms to end conflicts between the central government and the peripheries -- the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (with the south), the Darfur Peace Agreement and the East Sudan Peace Agreement -- all suffer from lack of implementation, largely due to intrasigence of the National Congress Party," of President Omar al-Beshir, the report said.

"It is essential to move rapidly on a number of fronts, including to negotiate a Darfur peace agreement that allows all Darfuris to vote in national elections," in April 2010, it continued.

The report recommends adding an additional protocol on Darfur to the CPA, which was signed in 2005 to end two decades of war between north and south, in order to "unite the several peace processes." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, December 14, 2009

JOLIE TURNS JOURNALIST TO HELP DARFUR

Hollywood star ANGELINA JOLIE has swapped acting for journalism to urge U.S. President BARACK OBAMA to step up efforts to resolve the Darfur crisis.

The Tomb Raider actress has written an article for America’s Newsweek magazine on the plight of refugees in the war-ravaged Sudan region.

Jolie, who is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations (U.N) refugee agency, put pen to paper to mark Human Rights Day on 10 December (09) and took the opportunity to address the Obama administration, urging the government to intervene in Darfur.

She writes, “Like many Americans, I support the administration’s willingness to engage diplomatically, even with regimes we abhor. I believe President Obama (and his government) will do their best to bring peace to the region. Their policy, though, raises a number of questions. How is the Obama administration’s approach to Sudan an evolution of justice? In addition, when the administration says it intends to work to ‘improve the lives of the people of Darfur,’ I would like to know what that means, besides the obvious point that their lives could hardly get worse. Read more >>>>>>>

Sunday, December 13, 2009

South Sudan backs 'hybrid courts' for Darfur

KHARTOUM — The former rebels of south Sudan on Saturday threw their weight behind the creation of "hybrid courts" for Darfur as proposed by the African Union despite reservations from Khartoum.

"We support the creation of hybrid courts for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur because we do not have confidence in the independence of the Sudanese judiciary," said Pagan Amum, secretary general of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Amum was speaking to journalists after a meeting in the southern capital of Juba with South Africa's former president Thabo Mbeki, who heads an African Union panel on the Darfur conflict.

The panel has proposed the creation of a special criminal court made up of Sudanese and foreign judges to try crimes committed in the western Sudanese region.

An adviser to Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, who faces an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes in Darfur, has expressed reservations about the proposal because of a "lack of clarity" over the makeup of the court.

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease and more than 2.7 million fled their homes since the Darfur conflict pitting separatist rebels against Khartoum erupted in 2003. Read more >>>>>>>>

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fruits of Engagement in Sudan : Khartoum's hard men and Obama's diplomacy.

In his Oslo address Thursday, President Obama mulled the trade-offs in dealing with repressive regimes. "There's no simple formula here," he said. "But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time."

From Nobel theory, we move to practice in Sudan. As a candidate, Mr. Obama stood with the human rights champions of Darfur and pledged tougher sanctions and a possible no-fly zone if a Sudanese regime infamous for genocide didn't shape up. His tone has changed in office.

Unveiled in October, the Administration's Sudan policy emphasized carrots for the regime to ease up in Darfur and implement a peace deal in southern Sudan; any sticks were relegated to a secret annex. The President's special envoy to Sudan, retired Major General Scott Gration, was reluctant even to allude to tougher sanctions. He said that "cookies" and "gold stars" are preferable to threats and that Darfur was experiencing only "remnants of genocide."

President Omar al-Bashir, whose Islamist National Congress Party took power in a 1989 coup, got the message and decided to test the limits of this new indulgence. Almost immediately the regime hardened its stance on implementing the peace accord. Brokered by the Bush Administration in 2005, the deal calls for political reforms, including free parliamentary elections now scheduled for April, and a referendum on independence for the south in two years. Long before the ethnic cleansing in Darfur turned into a Hollywood cause célèbre, a two-decade war between the Muslim north and the Christian and oil-rich south took two million lives. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Jolie asks Obama to do more for Sudanese people

Actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie wants President Obama's administration to take greater steps towards establishing peace in Sudan.

Jolie, in her role as the co-chair of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, wrote an op-ed piece for Newsweek magazine on Thursday, the day Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jolie wrote that Obama's administration has not yet announced any serious moves to bring corrupt Sudanese leaders to justice and said she is worried that the administration does not have a clear enough plan to improve the lives of the Sudanese people.

"I believe President Obama and his special envoy Scott Gration will do their best to bring peace to the region," Jolie, a U.N. goodwill ambassador, wrote. "Their policy, though, raises a number of questions. How is the Obama administration's approach to Sudan an evolution of justice? In addition, when the administration says it intends to work to 'improve the lives of the people of Darfur,' I would like to know what that means, besides the obvious point that their lives could hardly get worse."

In the piece, headlined "Justice Delayed Is Not Justice Denied," Jolie suggests the administration "explore ways to bring [Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir] to justice." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sudan police detain opposition leaders in crackdown

KHARTOUM — Sudanese police arrested three senior figures from the south's ruling party and dozens of protesters on Monday including a state minister in a crackdown against a pro-reform protest, witnesses said.

Pagan Amum, Yassir Arman and Abbas Gumma from the ex-rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) were led away as they arrived by car at the parliament building in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman, they said.

Amum is the SPLM?s secretary general, Arman its deputy secretary general in northern Sudan, and Gumma is a state minister at the country's interior ministry. Amun was moved to a local jail.

Police had announced that the demonstration to push for reforms ahead of national elections and over an independence referendum for south Sudan would be considered illegal.

But by mid-morning, several hundred opposition protesters trailed by armed police were marching on the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman, waving placards and chanting: "We want our freedom."

Police clashed with the protesters, using tear-gas and beating them with batons. Read more >>>>>>

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Darfur crimes continue, Sudan not cooperating with ICC, official says

United Nations (CNN) -- The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor reported Friday to the U.N. Security Council that violence continues in Darfur and that the Sudanese president and his government are not cooperating with investigators.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo noted positive developments in judicial proceedings and "fruitful" cooperation with international bodies, but said there still remain many setbacks. He explained that crimes continue in the region, including "indiscriminate bombings of civilians ... rapes and sexual violence" and the "use of child soldiers."

Moreno-Ocampo also highlighted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's role in the situation. "Any leader committing crimes will face justice. Power does not provide immunity."

Al-Bashir has refused to appoint a lawyer to represent his position in court and, because of the ICC-issued warrant for his arrest, has not risked traveling to attend high-level events such as the U.N. General Assembly or a meeting held by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or to other countries where it had been thought he might go, such as Uganda, Nigeria and Venezuela.

Moreno-Ocampo said respect for the International Criminal Court's decision to issue the warrant would send a clear message that al-Bashir "will face justice." Read more >>>>>>>>

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The lyrics of great Darfur singer

U.S. says Sudan's 2010 elections in doubt

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - Sudan may be unable to hold credible elections in coming months because the ruling party and opposition cannot agree on ground rules for the polls, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

At the end of a trip to Sudan by President Barack Obama's special envoy Scott Gration, the State Department said it saw little movement on issues such as voter registration and border delineation between Khartoum and the semi-autonomous South -- endangering plans for national elections in April 2010 and a referendum on southern succession in 2011.

"Without immediate resolution of these disputes, we are concerned about the chances for conducting credible elections and referenda," it said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the parties have not yet demonstrated the political will necessary to achieve resolution on these difficult and sensitive issues."

Gration's trip to Sudan was his first since Washington announced in October it would keep economic sanctions on Sudan but would also offer Khartoum new incentives to end violence in Darfur and the South.

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), former southern rebels who are now junior partners in the governing coalition under the terms of a 2005 peace deal, have accused the North of stalling on a democratic transformation and undermining plans for free elections.

The SPLM and other parties said on Wednesday they would delay a decision on whether to boycott April's elections in part due to a week-long extension of the voter registration period. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sudan's UN Ambassador Says Peacekeepers Should Leave Darfur

It’s time for international peacekeepers to prepare to leave the Sudan’s Darfur region, said the Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem,

The war in Darfur is over, he said, and with peace in sight, the U.N.-African Union Peacekeeping Mission (UNAMID) should plan for an exit strategy.

Ambassador Abdalhaleem was responding to a new report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that accuses the Sudanese government of harassing international peacekeepers and limiting their movements.

Sudan-born policy analyst Omer Ismail criticized the ambassador’s statement. Read more >>>>>>.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

“Sudan at the Flash Point,” The Christian Science Monitor, November 24, 200

By Eric Reeves

Northampton, Mass. - Sudan, the largest country in Africa, is on the verge of plunging into yet another north/south civil war. International failure to guarantee the key provisions of a linchpin peace agreement means that a renewed war could be the most widespread and destructive in the country's half century of independence.

The 2005 "Comprehensive Peace Agreement" (CPA) between the present National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime in Khartoum and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) ended one of Africa's longest civil wars, with nominal agreement on security, wealth sharing, and governance issues.

However, the international community – including the African Union, the US, the European Union, and China – has not taken implementation of the peace agreement seriously enough for oil-rich Sudan. This has enabled Khartoum to renege on key elements of the agreement with little consequence and to manipulate ethnic, political, and military tensions throughout the region.

Without meaningful pressure, the NIF/NCP regime has also delayed the legislation that will guide a referendum in which South Sudan votes on whether to secede or remain part of a unified Sudanese state. The vote is scheduled for January 2011, but referendum legislation is already two years behind schedule. The self-determination vote is critical for all of Sudan, and if compromised, southern Sudanese are likely to consider this the final straw and resort to renewed war to gain the independence the majority seeks. In anticipation, Khartoum may launch a preemptive military campaign.

This is particularly bad news. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Poor significance of "Vice President from Darfur"

By Gamal A Adam

November 16, 2009 — The theme of a “Vice President from Darfur” has been a recurring issue on Sudanese websites for the last few weeks. Different sources that have discussed the issue have underlined the fact that it emanated from the National Congress Party (NCP) during one of its recent meetings and that Omer Albashir has been serious in considering it. Some of these sources went as far as pointing out that the person who is expected to represent Darfur in that position will be a leading member of the Popular Congress Party because that might, according to these sources, be a suitable dowry with which the National Congress Party can remarry the Popular Congress Party after their divorce of 1999.

However, this discussion raises a number of questions. Notably: “Is the Sudanese Problem in Darfur resolvable by reconciliation between the National Congress Party and the Popular Congress party through the position of Vice President? Has the Darfur problem only come to the fore as a result of conflict over positions between northern and western Sudanese in National Islamic Front (NIF) before 1999? Since when was the NIF representative of Darfur to the point that its reestablishment will automatically lead to the resolution of the region’s problems? If the position of Vice President was really the solution to the problems of marginalized regions in Sudan why has the position of First Vice President not solved the problem of Southern Sudan? And can even the position of President from a marginalized region solve the problem of Darfur, Southern Sudan or Eastern Sudan while the Sudanese state continues to be like a corporate enterprise run by individuals from the arbized-Nubian tribes of Ja’alyeen, Shaiguia and Danagla?

Those who think that the Darfur problem is resolvable through the creation of new positions are deliberately misinterpreting the problem of the region. These include the social, economic and education destruction specialists in National Congress Party and their puppets from Darfur whose main functions include the occupation of lower ranks in that party, patronage positions invented for them and surveillance against innocent Darfuris. My focus in the following pages is on those who have transformed the country into a tribal enterprise and who are now marketing the position of vice president for the Darfur cause. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Losing the fight for Darfur

By Michael Gerson


T he genocide in Darfur is no longer a trendy, breathless global cause. But the women of Darfur haven't gotten the message.


On May 15, a woman near the Al Hamadiya camp in Zalingei was collecting firewood. Three armed men in khaki uniforms raped her, stabbed her in the leg, inflicted genital injuries and left her bleeding. She spent 45 days in the hospital. In 2003, the same woman was raped and shot while fleeing her village.

Her story is in a recent, exhaustive, chilling report on Sudan written by a panel of experts at the United Nations. A U.N. official told me, "We have not talked to a single woman [in Darfur] who has not stated that sexual violence is their first concern." The panel documented sexual assaults against pregnant women and 12-year-old girls. Prosecutions are nonexistent. Local officials are indifferent. Read more >>>>>

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bashir misses Islamic summit

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court, has pulled out of an Islamic summit in Istanbul.

The Turkish government had previously welcomed the attendance of President Bashir at the meeting and said that he would not be arrested.

But the EU, which Turkey hopes to join, wanted the invitation to be withdrawn. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Expulsions hit Darfur rape victims: Aid groups

By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Rape victims in Sudan's Darfur region have lost vital medical and psychological support since Khartoum expelled aid agencies working against sexual violence this year, the United Nations and aid workers said.

A Sudanese minister on Wednesday dismissed the reports as "propaganda" saying there was no widespread rape in the region and that foreigners were free to come and investigate.

Sudan ousted 13 foreign aid groups and closed three local organisations in March after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al- Bashir to face charges of masterminding atrocities in Darfur.

Khartoum accused the groups of passing information to the Hague-based court, a charge they deny.

Ten out of the 13 expelled foreign groups were doing work related to protection and sexual violence, said an official from one of the ousted organisations who asked not to be named.

"Women are now feeling a lot less safe in reporting rapes and there's been a resurgence of the bad old days when women victims are treated like criminals if they report it," the official said. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sudan: Election Crisis Reveals a Country Lurching Toward War

There is growing awareness that national elections scheduled for April 2010 will fail on many counts, with unpredictable consequences for the Khartoum regime’s ambitions to retain its stranglehold on Sudanese national wealth and power. In turn, the prospect of an aborted or compromised Southern self-determination referendum (January 2011) looms ever closer, with the potential to trigger unfathomable destruction.

Eric Reeves
November 9, 2009

With growing inevitability, Sudan has begun what the evidence suggests is a final lurch toward renewed North-South war—and the likely spread of intense fighting to other marginalized areas, including Kordofan, southern Blue Nile, Kassala and Red Sea states, Nubia, and most ominously Darfur. For the Darfuri rebel groups will certainly see the outbreak of war between Khartoum’s forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army as an occasion for overcoming the prevailing military stalemate in the west. War will begin when Khartoum decides that it has nothing further to gain from its merely nominal commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)—or when Southerners become convinced that the bedrock principle of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement—a Southern self-determination referendum guaranteed in the Machakos Protocol (July 2002)—will not be honored by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime. Whether in the form of a unilateral abrogation of yet another agreement by Khartoum or a unilateral Southern declaration of independence, the moment of most desperate truth for millions of Sudanese will have arrived.

In the short term Khartoum may still decide that its interests lie in making temporary concessions on the referendum legislation that was to have been passed more than two years ago. But recent public comments, from both the Southern political leadership and Khartoum officials, suggest that this is growing less likely. Moreover, several other key issues impinge on the final meaning of the self-determination referendum, including a demarcation of the North-South border; the final status of Abyei (which is to have its own self-determination referendum, with the choice of joining the South); the role of a deeply compromised census favoring Khartoum on virtually every demographic issue; and the use to which the regime will put the April 2010 national elections, which have already been delayed twice and now lie only five months off. Further delay would push these elections into the rainy season and make an already overwhelming logistical challenge utterly impossible. Read more >>>>

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Al-Bashir should be arrested, not invited

He is back in town. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, president of Sudan, against whom the International Criminal Court, or ICC, has issued an arrest warrant, has been invited to a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, in Istanbul. Last year, al-Bashir visited Turkey twice and despite national and international protests the Turkish government seems to have no intention at all of changing its policy on allowing a person into the country that is under strong suspicion of being responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

First the facts. Between 2003 and 2008, according to United Nations estimates, 300,000 people were killed in Darfur, a region in Sudan where armed groups oppose the central government. A campaign against these rebels was organized that included unlawful attacks on that part of the civilian population of Darfur perceived to be close to the organized armed groups. In March 2009, the ICC found that al-Bashir, as the de jure and de facto president of Sudan and commander-in-chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, is suspected of having coordinated the design and implementation of that campaign.

Until today, 110 countries have ratified the Rome Statute establishing the ICC. The Court will only intervene if national legal systems are unable or unwilling to do so. The Court can automatically exercise jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of a state that is a member of the ICC or by a national of that state. ICC members must cooperate with the court, including surrendering suspects when requested to do so by the court. Turkey has not yet ratified the Rome Statute despite promises made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dating back to 2004. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Two Kidnapped Darfur Aid Workers Freed - Official

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Two kidnapped aid workers from the Irish agency Goal were released on Sunday in Sudan's troubled Darfur region after more than 100 days in captivity, a government official said.

"They were released earlier this morning," Sudan's state minister for humanitarian affairs, Abdel Baqi al-Jailani, told Reuters.

Sharon Commins, from Dublin, and Hilda Kawuki, from Uganda, were seized in their north Darfur compound by a group of armed men in July.

Darfur has seen a wave of kidnappings in the past year, and aid workers working in the hostile region have had to step up security. Mostly Darfur rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing central government of neglect.

A brutal counter-insurgency campaign drove more than 2 million people from their homes and sparked a humanitarian crisis which the United Nations says has claimed 300,000 lives.

Sudanese officials had been negotiating with the kidnappers through tribal elders. Jailani's ministry said no ransom had been paid and the two women were on their way to North Darfur's capital el-Fasher.

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said they had received the women in their office in Kutum, but added they were not involved in the negotiations.

"A doctor looked at them and they seemed in good health," said ICRC spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh.

Aid groups say they have faced increased hostility and threats since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant in March for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to face charges that he masterminded war crimes in Darfur. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, October 04, 2009

American approach to Darfur genocide woefully lacking

By Jonathan Gurwitz

If you have followed the genocide in Darfur over the past six years, then you have seen and heard every manner of insult to the human conscience. I'm not talking here only about the endless atrocities of the Sudanese government and its Janjaweed militias, atrocities documented at length by human rights organizations, a United Nations commission, the International Criminal Court and the U.S. government.

I'm not talking about the genocidal plan of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to kill or drive out the black African residents of Darfur, a plan that has claimed 400,000 mostly civilian lives and created 2.5 million refugees. I'm not talking here about the widespread use of sexual violence as a premeditated strategy — gang rapes of women and girls, the castration of men and boys.

I am talking about the unconscionable response of American leaders to what's continuing to happen in Darfur.

While President George W. Bush did and said more than any other head of state to end the human calamity in Western Sudan, his special envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, was saying something else. Back in 2007, Natsios was arguing that the slaughter in Darfur was over.

Sudanese solders and the Janjaweed evidently didn't get the message. The killings and rapes continue to this day, albeit at lower rates than at the height of the conflict. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, September 21, 2009

Diversionary tactics on Darfur

By Anne Bartlett

September 20, 2009 — Diversionary tactics seem to be the order of the day where Darfur is concerned. The real tragedy of Darfur – the suffering of its people – has been forgotten under a sea of pointless initiatives, all of which seem to have only one goal in mind: to create enough confusion and chaos that the status quo will prevail. On the ground - and contrary to prevailing diplomatic speak - people continue to be killed and targeted in the Jebel Marra area by government forces that now have carte blanche to do what they like. Meanwhile, day after day we are treated to a circus-like environment in which more and more competing initiatives are announced. Of course none of them have a hope of working, but that isn’t the point. For most of those involved, self-interest and geo-political gamesmanship have been put before human suffering – a point that is not lost on those living through this nightmare every day on the ground.

For the most part, Darfur has become a giant chess game in which everyone except the local people have a stake. For the NIF, chaos in Darfur creates a useful game of smoke and mirrors through which they are able to turn attention away from the possibility that they might be held accountable for their actions. To augment this strategy, the security and intelligence arms of the government are also working overtime, using oil money to bribe anyone to testify on their behalf. This situation has become markedly worse as a result of the relative impunity the Sudanese government now enjoys. Take for example the recent press conference by the oddly named “National Group for Correcting the Track of the Darfur Crisis” (NGCTDC). Their claim that external actors are manipulating and overstating the crisis is telling, as is the copious Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) coverage of their press conference which suggests clear government involvement.

Then of course, there is the US game of “soft diplomacy” with Scott Gration at the helm. For Gration the stated aim behind this softly-softly approach is to provide “leverage” so as to extract more concessions from the Sudanese government: a kind of carrot and carrot approach. Yet for all the talk, his plan is strangely reminiscent of a dictator appeasement policy carried out with the clear aim of currying favor with China and smoothing the way with the enormous portions of American debt they hold. More problematic still, it seems to be ahistorical in scope, conveniently stepping over the NIF’s track record and paying no strategic mind to the course of events that will be set in train over coming decades if extremists continue to control the largest country in Africa. This model of friendly condescension to locals and deals done under the table with dictators is fooling no one. As locals in Zam Zam and Abu Shouk camp recently pointed out, the US approach has done nothing to enhance their security or indeed their chances of survival.

As if the cynicism and manifest self-interest of western governments isn’t bad enough, there are then the interventions by regional players in the crisis. The first of these is the Doha initiative. Aside from the obvious issue of Qatar’s relationship with Sudan and of course, the disingenuous behavior on the part of the African Union, there is also the idiotic behavior by JEM which seems to be desperately jockeying to maintain its position and promote the interests of its followers. Add to this heady mix, a bunch of cellphone commanders and their sidekicks who have no credibility in Darfur, and Doha becomes nothing more than a talking shop created and maintained by NIF and Turabi supporters. Whatever one might think about Doha, seriousness or the ability to effect change on the ground should not figure into the calculation.

Not to be outdone, there are parallel initiatives from Egypt. Take for example the agreement between JEM and the Umma Party in Cairo in July. To understand this, one has to understand the desperation of all parties involved. JEM, as previously stated, has a lot of weapons, but no influence on the ground. Their backer, Al-Turabi, desperately wants to get his foot back in the political door. His relative, Al-Mahdi, is no better. The Umma Party and Al-Mahdi have neatly sidestepped their responsibility for the mess in Darfur, despite their central role in creating and perpetrating ethnic divisions in Darfur going back as far as elections in 1968. The Umma party therefore has a history of using and abusing ethnic and religious politics in Darfur and that propensity has not changed. Finally Egypt has an interest in perpetuating instability in the region, because a chaotic and underdeveloped Sudan augments their power and influence. It also prevents anyone from looking too carefully at the looming water crisis in the region.

Then of course there is the Libyan involvement. Libya’s role as a power player in the crisis is equally self-interested. From the early days and the deals done with Sadiq al-Mahdi to use Darfur as a weapons dump in his fight with the Chadians, to the attempts made to fracture and buy off factions of the SLA at the time of the Abuja talks, Gadaafi’s role in this crisis is constant and unrelenting. Recent weeks have witnessed a new initiative around the establishment of Sudan’s Liberation Revolutionary Forces (SLRF), with Libya attempting to create one structure before the resumption of peace talks in Doha. However, their lack of seriousness can be seen in the choice of candidate to lead such a group. Tigani Seisi Ateem, former Governor of Darfur, former sidekick of Al-Mahdi and staunch supporter of the politics of the center, cannot be considered a serious candidate to lead Darfurians anywhere. Besides his disastrous tenure as Governor of the region in which he sold the rights of the people of Darfur to the government and did next to nothing to advocate for their interests, he has no respect or constituency on the ground and certainly no ability to effect change.

As I write this at the time of Eid, the ramifications of these interests become even more devastating. Before in Darfur, Eid was a time of unity. People moved from village to village greeting each other and wishing the best for the following year. Kids dressed in new clothes, ate halawa and looked forward to this day all year as a time of joy and a celebration of their culture. Today however, kids live in camps, many of them not knowing or experiencing what Eid was like before. Many of them have no hope for the future, no understanding of peaceful coexistence and no connection to the culture or society that created them.

For Darfurians the message should be clear: Your strength lies in unity and understanding, not in division and hatred. The more Darfur is fractured, the more you allow the people of the region can be used by external parties for their own interests. The only way to stop this situation is to look internally and for the leaders of the region to stand up and be counted, not for their own benefit but for the benefit of their people. It is now 7 years since local people have experienced any normality whatsoever. Without a serious effort to redress the chaos that has been created by damaging agendas of the NIF, regional interests and western governments, there will be no future to look forward to. Herein lies the challenge and, in turn, your task for the year ahead.

Anne Bartlett is a Professor of Sociology at the University of San Francisco. She may be reached at albartlett@usfca.edu

Monday, September 14, 2009

Raising awareness


Students, activists and elected officials marched through Downtown this afternoon to raise awareness of the human rights violations taking place in Darfur and South Sudan.

The march is the first of several events this month organized by the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition to take advantage of the arrival of world leaders and international media in Pittsburgh for the upcoming G-20 Summit on Sept. 24 and 25.

The marchers, lead by a group of West African drummers, held signs bearing the names of destroyed villages as they walked from the City-County Building to Mellon Park. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Has war ended in Darfur?

By Eric Reeves

Has Darfur’s war ended? Has the genocidal counter-insurgency launched by the Khartoum regime in 2003 against Darfuri rebels and the non-Arab civilian population of Darfur been halted? Two departing leaders of the current UN/African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) claim that the war is indeed over, and has devolved into a “low-intensity” security problem. General Martin Agwai, the Nigerian force commander, declared on stepping down that, “as of today, I would not say there is a war going on in Darfur,” but rather "very low intensity" engagements. “What you have is security issues more now. Banditry, localised issues….” Rodolphe Adada of Congo, the incompetent joint UN/African Union representative to UNAMID, declared with breathtaking arrogance, “I have achieved results" in Darfur. "There is no more fighting proper on the ground.” “Right now there is no high-intensity conflict in Darfur…. Call it what you will but this is what is happening in Darfur---a lot of banditry, carjacking, attacks on houses.”

How accurately do these self-serving assessments comport with the daily realities that confront Darfuris and the international aid workers who struggle to provide food, clean water, shelter, and primary medical care for some 4.7 million conflict-affected civilians? Over the past 20 months---all on UNAMID’s watch---some 450,000 civilians have been newly displaced in Darfur, a large majority by violence; camps for displaced persons are now home to almost 3 million people. “Low-intensity”? A UN map of areas that have little or no humanitarian access shows virtually all of Darfur as significantly insecure (search “darfur humanitarian access map"+july+2009 at http://www.unsudanig.org/). As a consequence, most humanitarian operations and international humanitarian workers have retreated to urban areas, where there are still shockingly violent attacks, official harassment, carjackings, and banditry. There has also been an alarming increasing in the kidnapping of aid workers. Much of this violence is clearly condoned by Khartoum in a ruthless war of attrition against humanitarian operations. Unsurprisingly, it has become harder and harder to attract experienced aid workers to Darfur, an essential task following Khartoum’s March expulsion of thirteen key international aid organizations.

Darfuris wishing to return to their homes and villages to resume agriculturally productive lives cannot: Khartoum’s brutal Arab militia allies, the Janjaweed, continue their predations, often within sight of the camps. Women and girls are raped, men and boys beaten or killed. At the same time, many villages and lands have been occupied by marauding Arab groups, some from as far away as Chad, Niger, and Mali.

Adada and Agwai make much of a decline in violent mortality; but this decline was inevitable for two reasons. First, the actual military conflict in Darfur has drifted into a tactical and strategic stalemate, one that inevitably favors Khartoum---especially if the international community seizes on characterizations such as those offered by Agwai and Adada. Of the rebel movements, only the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has the military resources and disposition to go on the offensive; but even JEM can no longer hold towns or villages it seizes and seems incapable of delivering a truly sustained and punishing blow to Khartoum’s regular military or various paramilitary proxies. Military coordination between the rebel factions is non-existent. Even so, the stalemate might still be broken for a number of reasons, and UNAMID at present would be powerless to halt a new escalation of violence.

Second, given the high levels of previous destruction, there is relatively little that remains in the way of promising new targets of opportunity among the villages and lands of non-Arab or African populations of Darfur, which made up at least two-thirds of the pre-war population. If we assume that the total pre-war population of Darfur was between six and seven million, then approximately 70 - 85 percent of the African population is either displaced or dead. My own survey of informed Darfuris in the diaspora revealed a clear consensus that 80 - 90 percent of African villages have been destroyed. And Google Earth has recently released new data showing more than 3,000 villages in Darfur destroyed or damaged during the period of greatest violence (see http://www.ushmm.org/maps/projects/...). These highly detailed photographs of course do not indicate villages that were simply abandoned for fear of impending attacks.

Let us be clear: “low-intensity” does nothing to describe or convey the terrible destruction that the AU and the international community allowed to rage when violence could have been halted by prompt and robust humanitarian intervention. Nor does “low-intensity” describe the present soul-destroying nature of existence within the camps: the relentless privations, the pervasive threats to health, the loss of hope, the acute sense of abandonment, and the anger and despair that relentlessly haunt daily existence. Victims of genocidal violence continue to be victimized, continue to face conditions of life calculated in many ways to bring about their physical destruction.

As to the scale of current violence in Darfur, it must be said first that UNAMID simply isn’t in a position to assess comprehensively the number of violent deaths or deaths that result from civilians fleeing violence. And limited access to much of Darfur is only part of the problem. In February, for example, approximately 100,000 civilians in the Muhajeria area of South Darfur were forced to flee following large-scale fighting between JEM and Khartoum’s forces, as well as subsequent bombing and ground attacks on neighboring towns and villages by Khartoum. We know that many made it to camps to the west and northwest, but a great many fled east and are unaccounted for. The very elderly and very young would have struggled to make it to camps, as would those injured during the fighting; a number of these people would have died. Conditions were appalling on the outskirts of Zamzam camp, to which some 35,000 people fled, overwhelming available resources and creating an immediate health emergency, with inevitable additional morbidity and mortality.

Nonetheless, UNAMID promulgated a figure of 102 violent deaths for all of February, throughout all of Darfur: this represented the number of bodies actually counted and assigned “violence” as the cause of death. But so much is excluded by means of this astringent methodology that it becomes meaningless as a figure for global mortality, particularly when to date perhaps 80 percent of those dying in the Darfur conflict are victims of the after-effects of violence rather than directly perpetrated violent acts. Violence is no less the cause of death, but this hasn’t prevented UNAMID officials from using their own highly circumscribed figures as evidence of the mission’s “success.” The same was true for the large-scale, scorched-earth campaign mounted by Khartoum north of el-Geneina in February 2008 (early in UNAMID’s official tenure): again, many of those killed or displaced were never accounted for.

UNAMID is neither responsible for the diminishment in the levels of violence in Darfur nor capable of halting major conflict should it resume. UNAMID offers some important security to civilians and humanitarians, in some locations, but given the mandate of the force and the size of nominally committed resources, it should be capable of much more, particularly in monitoring and bolstering security in more remote locations. Instead, General Agwai gave us an all-too-accurate account of UNAMID’s ability to monitor developments on the ground when he recently acknowledged that the force was like “very small ink spots on blotting paper. [We currently have] 32 spots, but we’re beginning to expand and spread.” We’ve been hearing a version of this claim since the UN Security Council authorized UNAMID over two years ago (UN Security Council Resolution 1769, July 31, 2007). But as recently as this past April, Special Representative Adada was obliged to concede in his briefing of the Council that UNAMID “was operating at roughly one third of its full capability.”

Moreover, UNAMID is in no position to continue with even its current protection efforts if it must at the same time effectively monitor a cease-fire, were one to be negotiated between Khartoum and the rebels. Yet virtually all observers acknowledge that a well-defined, robustly enforced cease-fire is the critical first step for successful peace negotiations. Adada and Agwai, with considerable (and justifiable) concern for how history will judge them, have done little to explain how UNAMID will meet the challenges of successfully monitoring such a cease-fire. Instead, they are framing the issues in Darfur in a way that deliberately obscures the massive security crisis that only deepens with time, and the extreme challenges of monitoring a cease-fire agreement that would have as one of its signatories a regime that has a history defined by reneging on such agreements.

Large-scale conflict may or may not resume in Darfur; but to focus only on the scale of military confrontation misses the broader issue. If insecurity ---from whatever source(s) --- collapses present international humanitarian operations, there will be hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and it will not matter whether or not they are described as "low intensity."

Eric Reeves is a professor at Smith College and author of "A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Time to act

THE GENOCIDE IN Darfur has carried on for seven years, approaching the lifespan of Hitler’s Third Reich.

Emporia residents and dedicated officials like Sen. Sam Brownback have garnered attention to this issue worldwide and the suffering has not been forgotten. However, despite President Barack Obama’s March 18 statement that “Sudan is a priority for this administration,” the White House has failed to demonstrate the sense of urgency portrayed in the campaign.

Although many of us were delighted by the President’s promises for urgent action in Darfur, the administration has failed to release a long-overdue policy review of Sudan and our special envoy appears to focus on undeserved rewards for Kartoum.

Ten years of the regime should have taught us to trust deeds over words. The policy review must clearly state objectives in Sudan: a peace process for Darfur, a comprehensive peace agreement between North and South Sudan and a Chad-Sudan peace process. Until robust action has occurred, the Obama administration must abandon the moral high ground that gave the campaign such a clear view of the White House. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Former senator fasts for Darfur

By John Beifuss; Michael Lollar
Washington


WASHINGTON - Former Senate majority leader and Tennessee Republican Bill Frist fasted on three days this month and will fast again on Sept. 21 to bring attention to the genocide in Darfur in the Sudan.

Frist held a water-only fast on Aug. 14, Aug. 19 and Aug. 21 in solidarity with the 1.1 million refugees after 13 humanitarian aid organizations were banned from assisting them earlier this year, according to the group Darfur Fast For Life.

Various celebrities and activists have been fasting for one or more days since actress Mia Farrow began a 17-day fast in April. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., a key member of the Gang of Six senators working on health care reform, was fasting on Monday, according to the group's spokeswoman April Lassiter. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ANALYSIS-Frustrated Darfur activists slam US envoy Gration

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Frustrated by the world's failure to end the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's western Darfur region, some advocacy groups have turned on the new U.S. envoy, accusing him of helping Khartoum thwart peace.

The unusual public censure highlights a growing divide on Darfur. One side are those who feel more engagement with -- and less criticism of -- Khartoum is needed to end the suffering in Darfur. On the other are those who support more pressure, more sanctions and possibly military action if Sudan blocks efforts to secure peace in the region.

The Darfur conflict has been going on for more than six years. The United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have died since 2003, compared to Khartoum's official death toll of 10,000. The world body also says some 4.7 million people in Darfur rely on aid to survive.

In an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force General Scott Gration, actress Mia Farrow and other activists said that Gration's strategy with Sudan was prolonging the crisis.

"We believe that your conciliatory stance and reluctance to criticize (Khartoum) both excuses and emboldens (it), thereby facilitating its ongoing reign of terror and well-known strategy of 'divide and rule,'" the letter said. Read more >>>>>>>>

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jewish leaders criticize Mubarak for receiving Sudanese president

A hundred rabbis and Jewish organizational leaders from North America have signed a letter reproaching the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for hosting his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir in Cairo. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court in connection with the genocide in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

The letter, organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, was handed Sunday to the Egyptian Embassy in Washington. "As Jewish leaders living in the aftermath of the Holocaust, we are keenly aware of the need for swift action against the perpetrators of genocide. Bashir should be brought to justice, not treated as if he is a respected international leader," it read.

The letter comes on the eve of Mubarak's visit to Washington. The White House wants Egypt to help press the Palestinians back to the table and to persuade other Arab nations to make conciliatory gestures to Israel. In Washington, Mubarak was to meet with US Jewish leaders. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where is the Muslim anger over Darfur?

By: Ed Husain

As war raged in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, people around the world called for international intervention to stop the shelling of civilians. In January this year, millions shared similar feelings of horror and anger witnessing the bloodshed in Gaza. Both events were especially painful to Muslims watching other defenceless Muslims being killed. But why have the deaths of vastly more unarmed Muslims in Darfur caused so little concern among co-religionists?


The Khartoum regime, brought to power in a highly ideological and fundamentalist Islamist coup 20 years ago, has killed an estimated 400,000 of its fellow Muslim citizens. Yet, there is near silence about massive human rights abuses in the remote western corner of Sudan. As Tareq Al-Hamed, editor of the Asharq Alaswat paper, has asked, "Are the people of Darfur not Muslims as well?"

When the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader, President Bashir, in March, Muslim politicians from Senegal to Malaysia rallied behind him. The same people who demand international justice for war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza abruptly changed their tune. Instead of denouncing Bashir as the architect of ethnic cleansing, they congratulated him for defying the "conspiracy" to undermine Sudan's sovereignty so the West can take its oil. The Iranian Parliamentary Speaker, Ali Larijani, said the ICC warrant was "an insult to the Muslim world". Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, August 09, 2009

National fast draws attention to Darfur tragedy

By Judy Hellman,

On Thursday, I will join concerned people from across the country in a fast of solidarity with the people of Darfur. The Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee invites the community to participate.

Many thousands of people from 35 countries have participated in a rolling fast since Mia Farrow started the fast on April 27. The purpose of our fast is to call the world’s attention to the tragedy in Darfur and to demand the restoration of humanitarian aid to the people of Darfur and to the whole of Sudan.

It has been more than three months since humanitarian groups were expelled from Sudan, and the situation remains unresolved. Across Sudan communities that relied on aid groups now suffer without adequate food, sanitation or medical supplies.

The imminent onset of the rainy season is likely to lead to mass migration and water-borne disease epidemics in internally displaced persons camps, risking the lives of more than one million people. Children will be disproportionately affected.

Reports also have shown sharply escalating instances of rape as a weapon of war. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Saturday, August 08, 2009

After six years, Darfur genocide still a reality

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof once described Darfur as a “genocide in slow motion.” Slow motion, because the international media were so lax in reporting the mass rapes of women and girls, the international community so meek in responding to each successive campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Year after year, the numbers added up — 100,000, then 200,000, then 400,000 dead, and 2.5 million refugees. Satellite images show a region nearly the size of Texas that has been scorched and depopulated. The fewer people who are left, the fewer there are to kill.

That led to some unusual semantics. The U.S. government officially describes the systematic elimination of the black African population of Darfur as genocide. But Andrew Natsios, President George W. Bush's special envoy to Sudan, told a group of journalists in 2007, “The slaughter in Darfur is over.”

That depends of course on your definition of slaughter. Thousands more would still perish — are still perishing — since Natsios made his remark. Later, former President Jimmy Carter said that referring to the post-slaughter in Darfur as genocide is inaccurate and unhelpful.

Now President Barack Obama's special envoy to Sudan is echoing both of these sentiments. “There's significant difference between what happened in 2004 and 2003, which we characterized as a genocide, and what is happening today,” Gen. Scott Gration told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Gration's comments reflect a debate within the Obama administration about Sudan policy. Facing the “remnants of genocide,” Gration and others argue, the United States should lift sanctions on Sudan and remove it from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

That would be a profound mistake. As long as the perpetrators of the atrocities are still empowered in Khartoum, as long as millions of refugees continue to live and die in squalid refugee camps, the genocide in Darfur cannot be airbrushed out of history. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, August 03, 2009

Genocidal Linkage

By: Kenneth Levin

The world’s media have given scant coverage lately to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and - despite extensive reporting on Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict - they have likewise offered little on the continuing campaign of genocidal incitement against Israel by her enemies. While seeming very separate issues, the two campaigns, and the choice by media and world leaders largely to ignore both, are, in fact, connected.

On one level, of course, the connection is obvious. Israel-hatred is spearheaded by the Arab world; in virtually every Arab nation, demonizing and delegitimizing of Israel, and often of Jews, is a staple of government-controlled media, schools and mosques. This is true even of the Arab states with which Israel is formally at peace. At the same time, the Arab world is the chief support of fellow Arab leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his Sudanese regime's genocidal assault on the Muslim blacks of Darfur. Illustrative was the Arab League’s unanimous, effusive embrace and defense of al-Bashir at its meeting in Doha, Qatar, in March, shortly after his indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Tunisian human rights activist Mohammed Bechri several years ago argued that to understand Arab support for the genocide in Darfur, one has to recognize the "twin fascisms" - Bechri’s term - that dominate the Arab world: Islamism and Pan-Arabism. The first rejects the legitimacy of any non-Muslim group within what the Arabs perceive as their proper domain; the latter takes the same view towards any non-Arab group. The genocidal rhetoric, and efforts at mass murder, directed at Israel, and the genocidal assault on the Muslim but non-Arab people of Darfur follow from this mindset. (Bechri’s "twin fascisms" also account for the besiegement of Christians across the Arab world and backing for Sudan’s murder of some two million Christian and animist blacks in the south of the country. They help explain as well broad Arab support for the mass murder of Kurds - a Muslim but non-Arab people - in Iraq by Saddam Hussein and for the besiegement of the Kurds of Syria and the Berbers - another non-Arab Muslim group - in Algeria.)

But the connection between animosity towards Israel and coldness towards the victims in Darfur extends beyond the Arab world. It embraces, for example, all those European leaders who bend their consciences to accommodate Arab power - in oil, money and strategic territories - and who may pay lip service to recognizing the murderous incitement and related threats faced by Israel or to deploring the crimes suffered by Darfur but refuse to take serious steps to curb either. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Concern about Darfur

By Emmett Orr

Concern about Darfur
I am a 12-year-old boy with a concern about the Darfur genocide crisis in Sudan. The year of 1945 was the end of the Holocaust and we, as a country, decided "never again," but it is happening once again right in Darfur. Hundreds of thousands of people have died, yet this horrific genocide is being ignored.

In this government-sponsored horror, peace has been elusive and deaths and violence continue to increase. Read more >>>>>>

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Artistic expression to the situation in Darfur

Holocaust scholars praise Uganda for stance on Darfur

By Cnaan Liphshiz,

Uganda's decision to block Sudan's president from attending a conference in Uganda this weekend drew praise from leading Holocaust scholars from around the world, who support Omar al-Bashir's isolation for his role in the Darfur genocide.

The scholars - including Yad Vashem Professor Yehuda Bauer and the president of Genocide Watch, Gregory H. Stanton - signed a petition praising the move.

"During the Holocaust, the international community failed to act," said cosignatory Dr. Rafael Medoff.

"By contrast, Uganda's action helps isolate Sudan's president and shames the Arab and African countries that have given him red-carpet treatment," concluded Medoff, director of the Washington-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, which organized the petition.

Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for his role in Darfur, had planned to attend the Smart Partnership conference in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, today until the recent announcement by Uganda Foreign Minister Henry Okello that Bashir could be arrested if he showed up.

In recent months, Bashir has visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, all of which ignored the ICC warrant for Bashir's arrest. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sexual violence against Darfuri-women out of control

J.E. Robertson

Life for women in Darfuri refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad is extremely hard. Many have no access to any public authority that will investigate violence against women, and medical facilities are scarce to non-existent. While rape is rampant, and has allegedly been used as a “weapon of war” by the Khartoum backed militia engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur, women are seldom able to find safety in seeking help from local authorities.

Uprooted from their homes, often relegated to ad-hoc communities where male elders are dispersed or involved in conflict, women victimized by corrupt camp guards or Sudanese police or militia risk serious physical attack or punishment for reporting rape. The Darfur refugee crisis has exacerbated the crisis levels of violence against women, and ongoing conflict and an apparent government cover-up campaign help to conceal the crimes.

The Nobel-prize-winning human rights and medical aid group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has been investigating the proliferation of accounts of brutal treatment of women in the camps. One woman told the group “I was raped in the camp in 2007 by a man with a knife at night. I am very sad. I told this to the sheikha, but they didn’t find the man who did it. My new husband doesn’t know that this happened to me.” She also said Chadian soldiers now raid camps at night, but she was lucky to have evaded being raped, so far.

Another woman told PHR:

There is no food. I am suffering. They only give us a little bit of sorghum. How can I be happy? I think a lot about my country. I don’t think I’m sick, but I think a lot about what happened. The sadness has entered into my heart.

Sometimes, I go to look for wood. But if I see anyone on the way, I go back to the camp. They yell at me, “Leave the wood.” There’s only me on my ration card, so I don’t get enough wood.

I live here with my husband and grandchildren and daughter-in-law, the wife of my son who was killed. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Why Did The Slave Trade Happen?

Has the black man learned from the humiliation of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade? No, we haven’t! Are we perpetually locked in the act of dehumanizing each other for the betterment of other races? Yes, we are! These questions and answers kept ricocheting through my mind when Barack Obama visited Ghana and as part of that highlighted the shame and guilt that the perpetrators of slavery never felt. Having a church sitting right on top of the dungeons, these people worshipped right on top of people they were subjecting to inexplicable conditions.

But who will you blame for slavery? It feels to me like the black person will do anything to humiliate his own kind to satisfy people of other color. To think that African chiefs will hunt their own down and give them off to slavery, not knowing what will be their fate in a completely strange land still puzzles me! And mentioning this brings to mind the way the African Union (AU) is shelving and protecting the president of Sudan, Oumar Al-Bashir. He is being accused of crimes against humanity in Darfur by the international community, yet he is allowed to go free by the AU, in the name of African peace. What is peaceful about methodically supervising the killings of innocent people and the raping of defenseless women by the Janjaweed militia in Darfur? Over 200, 000 people have been killed or displaced under the watch of this devil called Oumar Al-Bashir. Raed more >>>>>>>>>>

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Darfur people may be left out of Sudan election: U.N.


By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - When Sudan holds its first democratic elections in over two decades next year, people in the conflict-ravaged region of Darfur may be left out, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said Friday.

"The contested census, large-scale displacement and volatility -- particularly in the area bordering Chad -- create enormous risks that the people of Darfur will not be in a position to participate in the electoral process," U.N. under-secretary-general Alain Le Roy said.

"This would further disenfranchise millions already disempowered by conflict," he told the U.N. Security Council, adding that the election results will have an "enormous impact" on the distribution of political power in Darfur where millions of internally displaced refugees live in camps. Read more >>>>

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Secretary-General deeply concerned by violence in West Darfur

Source: United Nations Secretary-General


The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the increasing violence in West Darfur and along the Chad-Sudan border.

The Secretary-General is disturbed by reports that bombs dropped by Chadian aircraft have struck locations in the vicinity of Umm Dukhum in West Darfur on 16 July. These events put the lives of Sudanese civilians at risk and could increase the tensions between the two countries. The Secretary-General condemns the incident and takes note that the Government of Sudan has rightly responded through diplomatic means. He urges both Governments to show restraint and make greater efforts to improve their relations.

The Secretary-General is also gravely concerned by the reports of bombings by the Government of Sudan on rebel positions in the Jebel Moon area of West Darfur, which took place on 18 July. He calls on the Sudanese Government and all parties to the conflict to cease military actions, comply with Security Council resolutions in this regard and to commit to a cessation of hostilities. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Al-Bashir Backers Just as Guilty

By E Nkosi,

UGANDA should be commended for agreeing to arrest Sudanese President Hassan Al Bashir for committing genocide if he steps foot on Ugandan soil.

It is tragic that the recent gathering of African leaders at the African Union summit in Sirte, Libya, decided to side with dictators and not the victims of the brutality of some of the continent’s leaders.

The fact that the leaders see nothing wrong with the holocaust in Darfur can only suggest that they are as guilty as Sudan’s President. South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute and that is why Al Bashir was not able to travel for President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration.


We need more countries with the courage of Uganda and South Africa in order to put a stop to the abuse of Africans by their so-called leaders. It is a pity that the initiative should come from outside the continent. If African leaders serve the interests of the people as opposed to their own personal agendas, they would have welcomed the Rome Statute. Read morev >>>>>>>>>

Monday, July 13, 2009

Uganda willing to arrest al-Bashir for war crimes

By GODFREY OLUKYA

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda said Monday it would arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir if he enters the country, an unusual stance after a summit of African leaders denounced the international arrest warrant against al-Bashir.

Henry Oryem Okello, Uganda's minister for international affairs, spoke after meeting with the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, in Kampala.

Police "will ensure that he is arrested" if al-Bashir arrives, Okello said.

Ocampo added: "It is a legal obligation for Uganda to arrest Bashir if he comes to Uganda."

Earlier this month at an African Union summit, Africa's leaders criticized the International Criminal Court and refused to extradite al-Bashir, who has been indicted for crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Sudan welcomed the move, and other Africans said it was a signal that the West should not impose its ways on Africa. But several African leaders appeared to strongly disagree with the AU statement, and Benin Foreign Minister Jean-Marie Ehouzou said Sudan's neighbor and antagonist, Chad, objected to the wording. Read more >>>>>>>>

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

ICC asked to charge Bashir with genocide

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, July 8 (UPI) -- Prosecutors have asked the judges of the International Criminal Court to reconsider their decision not to charge Sudan's president with war crimes.

The prosecutors filed an appeal Monday, the BBC reported.

In March, the judges issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir. The charges included war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor for the court, argues he and his colleagues assembled evidence showing the Sudanese state was mobilized to destroy three tribal groups in Darfur for at least six years. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Botswana shows up SA on AU ‘reprieve’ for Bashir

SOUTH Africa has been upstaged by Botswana breaking ranks and condemning an African Union (AU) decision not to co-operate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its indictment of Sudan’s president.

Botswana’s criticism was the strongest by an AU member country since the resolution in favour of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was passed last Friday at the summit chaired by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

SA let the resolution pass despite being a signatory to the convention on the ICC, and has now tied itself into a diplomatic conundrum. By remaining silent on the AU resolution, SA gives tacit approval to Bashir’s flouting of his indictment, the first against a sitting head of state. SA is obliged to assist in the arrest of Bashir. Read more >>>>>

The AU summit decision enables Bashir to travel across Africa without fear of arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity as set out by the ICC.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Africa and the International Court

Eleven years ago when I opened the Rome conference that led to the founding of the International Criminal Court, I reminded the delegates that the eyes of the victims of past crimes and the potential victims of future ones were fixed firmly upon them. The delegates, many of whom were African, acted on that unique opportunity and created an institution to strengthen justice and the rule of law.

Now that important legacy rests once more in the hands of African leaders as they meet in Libya on Wednesday. The African Union summit meeting will be the first since the I.C.C. issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his alleged role in the atrocities in Darfur.

The African Union’s repeatedly stated commitment to battle impunity will be put to the test. On the agenda is an initiative by a few states to denounce and undermine the international court. In recent months, some African leaders have expressed the view that international justice as represented by the I.C.C. is an imposition, if not a plot, by the industrialized West.

In my view, this outcry against justice demeans the yearning for human dignity that resides in every African heart. It also represents a step backward in the battle against impunity.

Over the course of my 10 years as United Nations secretary general, the promise of justice and its potential as a deterrent came closer to reality. The atrocities committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia moved the Security Council to set up two ad hoc tribunals, building on the principles of post-World War II courts in Nuremberg and Tokyo.

These new tribunals showed that there is such a thing as effective international justice.

But these ad hoc tribunals were not enough. People the world over wanted to know that wherever and whenever the worst atrocities were committed — genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity — there would be a court to bring to justice anyone in a government hierarchy or military chain of command who was responsible. That principle would be applied without exception, whether to the lowliest soldier or the loftiest ruler.

Thus the International Criminal Court was formed. It now has 108 states, including 30 African countries, representing the largest regional bloc among the member states. Five of the court’s 18 judges are African. The I.C.C. reflects the demand of people everywhere for a court that can punish these serious crimes and deter others from committing them. Read more >>>>>>

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fast draws attention to ongoing Darfur tragedy

As I write this letter on Thursday, I am joining rabbis across the country in a fast of solidarity with the people of Darfur. Thousands of people, celebrities, politicians, activists, and clergy from 35 different countries have fasted in an ongoing chain since Mia Farrow started the fast on April 27. The goals of this ongoing fast are to command the world's attention to genocide in Darfur and demand the restoration of humanitarian aid to the people there.

It has been almost three months since humanitarian groups were expelled from Sudan. Communities are suffering without adequate food, sanitation or medical supplies. Rape and deadly violence continue to threaten any hope for stability. With the rainy season comes mass migration and water-borne disease, risking yet more millions of lives.

Fasting is a traditional part of Judaism, used to remember tragedy or express repentance, but this fast is different. This fast is an active response to ongoing tragedy. If we just stand by, the people of Darfur will die. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Saturday, June 20, 2009

On the Re-writing of the Darfur Narrative

The historical narrative of the Darfur genocide is presently being re-written. Despite dozens of human rights reports that have established the basic realities of ethnically-targeted human destruction in Darfur and Eastern Chad over the past seven years, an effort is being made to minimise the scale of that destruction, elide the role of ethnicity in the conflict and downplay the responsibility of the Khartoum regime.

This large-scale revision has been taken up by those – particularly on the left – with an ideological aversion to humanitarian intervention. If the catastrophe can be portrayed as non-genocidal and essentially local in character, then advocacy efforts – initially for humanitarian intervention and currently for robust support of a weak and ineffectual UN/African Union peace operation – are misguided and misplaced.

The most conspicuous effort at re-writing history is Mahmood Mamdani’s “Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror.” The book focuses on the purported misperceptions and distortions of the American-based Save Darfur Coalition, which Mamdani argues is an unwitting supporter of the “war on terror”. “Darfur [has become] not just an illustration of the grand narrative of the War on Terror but also a part of its justification,” Mamdani writes. He would have us believe that in turning the Darfur conflict into a moral rather than a political issue, Americans in SDC can “feel themselves to be what they are not in Iraq: powerful saviors.” “Darfur is a place of refuge. It is a surrogate shelter. It is a cause about which they can feel good.”

It is true that some advocacy efforts have been prone to oversimplification, naïveté and occasionally misguided policy initiatives. Some corrective is no doubt needed. But Mamdani’s points are tendentious and overstated, and should not distract from the substantial consensus about events that has been authoritatively established by human rights reporting, UN investigations and some excellent on-the-ground news reporting. Perversely, human rights reporting on Darfur is invisible in Mamdani’s text. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Obama's Darfur policy lacks clarity, advocates say

By WILLIAM C. MANN

WASHINGTON (AP) — Human rights groups working to end the dying in Darfur fear for the survival of 2.5 million people huddled in refugee camps if the Obama administration doesn't put on record its plans to bring security to them.

The administration said Thursday it still considers the Darfur problem genocide. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley emphasized that to counter a comment by President Barack Obama's special envoy on Sudan, retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration.

Gration said Wednesday from the same State Department podium that what is being seen in the vast Western Sudan region now are "the remnants of genocide" and "the consequences of genocide, the results of genocide."

Obama himself had spoken recently of "ongoing genocide" in Darfur, and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, a Cabinet-level official, repeated in a speech Monday that genocide is being waged.

Although Gration's comments caught leaders of Darfur advocacy groups by surprise, they are more worried about the lack of a clear-cut U.S. policy than a semantic mistake by the special envoy.

Alex Meixner, director of policy and government relations for the Save Darfur Coalition, said Obama considers the situation genocide, and "he's the decider."

Meixner said in an interview that he thinks the verbal contretemps probably were overblown.

"I don't think they are at odds where they want to get, but in terms of semantics, this is sort of a red herring," he said. Genocide or not, he said, "everybody in Darfur has been purposefully on the brink of death for years." Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, June 18, 2009

UN rights body votes to continue Sudan scrutiny

GENEVA -- The U.N. Human Rights Council has voted 20-18 to continue its close scrutiny of the situation in Sudan.

Western countries want the 47-member body to keep its independent expert who is probing abuses in Darfur and elsewhere in the African nation.

Thursday's vote, with nine abstentions, is a defeat for some African countries, who have argued that Sudan can protect its citizens without outside interference. Read more >>>>>>>

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sudan forces still attacking Darfur civilians -UN

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA - The U.N. human rights investigator for Sudan said on Tuesday that Khartoum's forces continue to carry out land and air attacks on civilians in Darfur, and arrest and torture activists and aid workers there.

Sima Samar, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Sudan, also voiced concern at "large scale killings" in the south, where several hundred civilians died in inter-tribal clashes in March and April amid growing violence in the region.

But diplomats said Sudan was trying at the United Nations Human Rights Council this week to win backing from African and Islamic states to block Western attempts to extend her mandate to report on violations in Sudan for a further year.

"I continue to receive reports of arbitrary arrests, detention, as well as allegations of ill-treatment and torture of human rights defenders and humanitarian workers by security forces," the former Afghan deputy prime minister told the 47-member forum.

Her latest report, covering from last August to her visit to Sudan earlier this month, was also issued on Tuesday. "Land and air attacks by government forces on civilians in Darfur took place during the reporting period," it said.

Air attacks in Darfur are banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions and failed ceasefires, but Khartoum has in the past reserved the right to attack the Justice and Equality Movement and other rebels who did not sign a 2006 Darfur peace deal. Read more >>>>>>>

ICC escalates pressure on Sudan

By Abayomi Azikiwe

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has called for the immediate arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Hague-based court indicted Al-Bashir in March in connection with the government’s efforts to halt rebel attacks in the western Darfur region of the central African state.

“The government of Sudan has the responsibility to arrest him [al-Bashir],” Moreno-Ocampo told the United Nations Security Council on June 5, citing legal obligations mandated by the U.N. Charter and resolutions.

In addition, the ICC prosecutor told the Security Council that the Sudanese government “has also the duty to arrest” Sudanese ex-minister Ahmad Haroun and Civil Defense Forces leader Ali Kushayb who were also cited by Moreno-Ocampo for alleged war crimes in the Darfur region of the country.

Moreno-Ocampo then accused the Sudanese government of violating U.N. resolutions by appointing Haroun as governor of South Kordofan province. “We are at a crossroads. There’s a chance to stop the violence. Crimes have to be stopped,” the ICC prosecutor said. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Friday, June 12, 2009

'Desperate' al-Bashir cannot escape ICC: prosecutor

Johannesburg - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will eventually face justice, even if it takes six years to arrest him, the prosecutor who indicted him for war crimes said in Cape Town Friday. Speaking on South African radio on the last day of the World Economic Forum on Africa, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo vowed: "Bashir will face justice," even if it took, "two months, two years ... even six years."

The ICC in March issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Western Sudanese province of Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of people have died since 2003 in an ethnic-based conflict. Read more >>>>>>>>

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Jolie calls for Darfur justice

calls for Darfur justice
Angelina Jolie said Sudanese president should face war crime chargesAngelina Jolie has called for international intervention to bring the Sudanese president to court over alleged war crimes in Darfur.

President Omar al Bashir has been indicted under the International Criminal Court to answer charges relating to the slaughter and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Darfurians, but the Sudanese government will not to cooperate.

Now Hollywood star Angelina has said UN countries should take action in a letter to Time magazine.

On Friday, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo called on the UN Security Council for support and urged member states to abide by international treaties that compel them to arrest anyone indicted found travelling in their countries. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Friday, June 05, 2009

Darfur rape study finds lasting scars

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 31 (UPI) -- The widespread use of rape as a weapon against women from Sudan's Darfur region has left deep psychological and physical scars, a U.S. report says.

The study, released Sunday by Physicians for Human Rights, based in Cambridge, Mass., and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, indicated that continuing fear of rape among Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad has done nearly as much damage as the physical crimes themselves, The Boston Globe reported.

"What is striking is the extent of rape and fear of rape in Chad itself," said Susannah Sirkin, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights. "So it's a two-fold revelation of real horror and shame and sorrow, and really of failure." Read more >>>>>>>>>>

ICC prosecutor urges Sudan to arrest Beshir

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on Friday pressed the Sudanese government to arrest President Omar al-Beshir who stands accused of Darfur war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"The government of Sudan has the responsibility to arrest him (Beshir)," Moreno-Ocampo told the UN Security Council, citing a legal obligation stemming from the UN Charter and UN resolutions.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Beshir at Moreno-Ocampo's request last March but since then the defiant Sudanese leader has made at least seven trips outside Sudan.

Moreno-Ocampo further told the council that the Sudanese government "has also the duty to arrest" Sudanese ex-minister Ahmad Harun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb, both also accused by the ICC of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

He said the recent designation of Haroun as governor of the South Kordofan province "contravenes the resolutions of this council."

"We are at a crossroads," the prosecutor later told reporters. "There's a chance to stop the violence (in Darfur). Crimes have to be stopped."

But Sudan's UN Ambassador to the UN Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad once again made clear that "We are not going to cooperate with this politically-motivated court (the ICC)."

He lambasted Moreno-Ocampo as a "mercenary of destruction and death" and a "real threat to peace and stability in Darfur."

"The prosecutor has outlived his usefulness and has become a liability for his own promoters," the Sudanese envoy, with Moreno-Ocampo at his side, told reporters. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Khartoum Collapses Darfuri Civil Society Peace Effort

Northampton, Mass. - Is there a road to peace in Darfur? The question has broad geopolitical implications. Sudan is the biggest country in Africa, it borders nine states, and is located at the crossroads of Africa and the Arab world. Its fate is tied not only to the region, but to the continent of Africa and the rest of the world.

Though earlier this year Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir became the first national leader to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), he remains defiant and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur only deepens. Several hundred thousand people have died and 3 million have been displaced by fighting since 2003.

Is there a way to overcome the bloody tribal and ethnic rivalries that have become endemic in the vast western province over the past six years and are an essential part of the Khartoum regime's divide-and-rule strategy in the region? There may well have been a particularly promising opportunity, until Khartoum ended a bold and innovative effort by Darfurian civil society to forge unified positions on a broad range of key issues. If we want to seize such an opportunity again, the international community must push hard.

The initiative of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, a conference called Mandate Darfur, was to bring together some 300 representatives of Darfur from across geographic, ethnic, and political backgrounds, including traditional and young leaders and a strong contingent of Darfurian women.

Instead, discussions slated for this month have been aborted. Mandate Darfur announced that after months of working with Darfurian civil society to build a mandate for peace, the Sudanese government was obstructing the safe passage of Darfurian delegates from Sudan to the conference in Ethiopia and thus it had to be canceled.

Khartoum's obstruction of the Darfurian civil society initiative was greeted with appalling indifference by the world community. There have been none but the mildest condemnations from the United Nations, the US, the European Union, and the African Union. It hardly helps that Western news reporting on this significant development has been virtually nonexistent. Sadly, it is as though the international community has accepted Khartoum's premise that peace talks need involve only combatants. Read more >>>>>>