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 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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