Saturday, February 27, 2010

The preliminary peace treaty signed Tuesday night But many are still skeptical

NAIROBI, Kenya — The preliminary peace treaty signed Tuesday night between the most powerful rebel movement in Darfur and the Sudanese government is the culmination of a shift in regional politics that could help bring Darfur’s sputtering conflict to an end, Sudan observers say.

Just look at the Darfur Peace Agreement of May 2006, they say, or the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement later that year, or the unilateral cease-fire that the Sudanese government declared in Sirte, Libya, in 2007. None of these gestures, all heralded as potential “game changers” at the time, changed much.

Darfur, the enormous western region of Sudan, is still home to roving militias, burned-down villages and nearly three million displaced people. If anything has reduced the conflict’s intensity, it seems, it is the fragmentation among rebels and sheer fatigue, not the previous peace deals. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Sudan: Clashes in Darfur


A government offensive against a rebel group in central Darfur has intensified in the past few days, a United Nations official said Friday. Samuel Hendricks, a United Nations humanitarian official, said the fighting in a stronghold of the Sudan Liberation Army in Jebel Marra had escalated, with confirmed reports of aerial bombardments in Deribat and two other surrounding areas. The Sudan Liberation Army has rejected the truce signed by the government and another rebel group on Tuesday in Qatar.


By Gamal Adam,

It has now been more than three weeks when the Government of Sudan’s forces have been wreaking havoc in eastern, southeastern, northeastern and northern parts of Jabel Marra including towns and villages such as Kidinyeer, Laibei, Feina, Dirbat, and Dobo. These towns have been exposed to continuous attacks from the air by helicopters and Antonov and MiG planes and by forces of infantrymen and janjaweed from the ground.
The tactical pattern the government has adopted in these areas is aerial attacks followed by intensive invasions from the ground. Every single attack there is accompanied by hundreds of Arab men each of whom has at least three camels following the military vehicles. The government forces open fire indiscriminately on the villagers killing and wounding civilians. The survivors among the villagers just flee with the clothes they had on and leave everything behind. Then the Arab men from the S’adaa tribe who accompany the invading military convoys, enter the homes and shops and take all the valuables, destroy the property that they cannot carry and rustle cattle and small stock.

All these attacks have been happening in the face of what appears to be a complete media blackout. The news sources that previously reported on the atrocities in Darfur are more concerned about the reunification of Islamists in Doha, the infighting amongst rebel groups and the pretense of a forthcoming election. None of these issues have anything to do with survivors of genocide in Darfur whose immediate need is protection and then the right to life with dignity in their own country. Even Radio Dabanga which is thought by many to be the voice for the destitute Darfuris, has prioritized elections and the sham of the Doha negotiations over the protection of people in Jabel Marra.

However, the most shocking absence in all of this is UNAMID. The silence of UNAMID on the attacks in Kidinyeer, Leibei, Feina, and Dirbat is outrageous and unconscionable. While UNAMID’s s mandate is limited, there is no excuse whatsoever for leaving civilians to die with a complete news blackout. UNAMID’s failure to fulfill their role of reporting the ongoing government attacks in Jabel Marra at the time when it has recently received several helicopters to intensify its monitoring operations makes me wonder on what its function really is. It weakens further the ability of the UN claim any legitimacy for peace operations and renders questionable the “African” in African union. In what way did these villagers see any support from their African brothers?

One wonders what will be written on the pages of history about Darfur. Will it be that the world abandoned innocent people to be slaughtered while a mockery of negotiations took place in Doha and Chad? Will it be that news-agencies reported on the so called elections while the Sudanese government carried out its plan to annihilate an entire ethnic group? Will it be that the international community facilitated peace talks for their own interests with the very same group of fundamentalists that it is fighting the war on terror against? Will it be that in the 21st century long after the hard fought campaigns to end slavery that a new form of enslavement of the people of Darfur is happening under the nose of the first African American President? These questions remain to be answered.

He is an adjunct Professor, University of San Francisco and can be reached at

Friday, February 26, 2010

Darfur conflict flares after Sudan President Bashir declares war over

The Darfur conflict flared again after a Darfur rebel group said it was attacked by government troops Wednesday, just as the government signed a cease-fire with a separate rebel group and Sudan’s President Hassan Al Bashir declared the war in Darfur over.

The Sudanese Army denied any clashes happened Wednesday in the Jabel Marra region in Darfur, which it said is under government control. But the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) said it was attacked in at least three areas, reports Reuters. The French aid organization Medecins du Monde confirmed that fighting had taken place, forcing it to suspend operations Wednesday. The group said the city of Deirbat had been attacked, though it did not say by whom, causing a “massive flight of people” and bringing the number of displaced in the region to 100,000.

Reuters reports the SLA’s spokesman said “heavy” fighting went on throughout the night:

"The government attacked in huge numbers backed up by Antonovs [airplanes], helicopter gunships and MiGs (fighter jets). This is the peace the government is offering." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sudan denies secret deal with JEM amid intense speculations on power sharing

February 20, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government dismissed reports on a secret deal with the Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) that paved the way for a peace accord signed this week in its preliminary form in Chad.

The preliminary framework agreement in Ndjamena includes a temporary ceasefire and sets groundwork on which negotiations can commence. Items include humanitarian issues, IDP’s, wealth and power sharing, release of Darfuri war prisoners.

Full blown negotiations will resume in Doha shortly and Sudan says it expects concluding it by March 15.

The head of the Sudanese delegations in Doha talks Amin Hassan Omer told the government sponsored Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website that there have been no secret meetings or agreement with the rebel group saying that these are speculations and fears made by other Darfuri movements which are not part of the accord.

A breakaway faction of JEM led by Idris Azrag slammed the accord saying that it throws a cold shower on the efforts to unite the Darfur rebel groups currently in Qatar.

The group said that this is an outcome of “secret compromise” between the two sides under the following terms,

1. The release of Abdul-Aziz Nur Ushar (half-brother of JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim subject to death sentence), and others. 2. JEM to keep its army in Darfur while Khartoum will provide supplies and salaries to its fighters. 3. Handing over the political and military powers in Darfur to JEM and making Khalil Ibrahim the governor of the region. 4. JEM would cooperate with the government to protect polling stations. 5. The government would pay compensation for the losses of JEM. 6. JEM Cooperation with the government to dismantle and eliminate the rest of the rebel groups. 7. A reconciliation to unify the Islamic movement in Sudan to meet the challenges arising from the secession of the south and putting an end to expansion of secularism in the north.

Azrag’s statement said that this “bilateral pact” does not resolve the Darfur conflict and will further escalate the situation. The group said it will determine within the next 24 hours its position on the Doha talks.

The faction of Sudan Liberation Army (SLM) led by Ahmed Abdel-Shafi said in a statement today that they have ordered his delegation to withdraw from Doha and accused the mediation of violating the terms of prior agreements by endorsing the JEM accord with Khartoum. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sudan Government Clashes With Darfur Faction, Rebel Groups Say

By Maram Mazen

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Sudanese government forces and a rebel faction clashed today in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, a rebel commander said.

Government forces backed by militias attacked positions held by the Sudan Liberation Movement of Abdel Wahid Nour in the area of Feina east of Jebel Marra in South Darfur State, Al- Sadeq Al-Zein Rokero, an official with the rebel group, said by telephone from the area today.

“They attacked the area with heavy weaponry and aerial attacks,” Rokero said in a telephone interview. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New club at Bromfield to help Darfur

Harvard — The Darfur Sister School Club will soon be starting up at the Bromfield School.

At the Feb. 8 meeting, Lily Ritter and Ann Chacko, juniors at Bromfield, requested that the School Committee officially sanction the club.

Lily said they wish to connect with a sister school in a refugee camp in southern Chad.

“We want to raise funds for schools so they can buy more school supplies for the students there … hire more teachers and construct a school there.”

Lily said that video blogging is a way the club can establish pen pals with the sister school students.

Ann offered some ideas for fundraising such as dances, bake sales, a talent show, a walk around the track in Harvard, and bringing speakers into the community to talk about Darfur. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sudan must speed up Darfur trials: rights expert

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's special prosecutor for crimes in Darfur has not charged or tried anyone, and the government must speed up trials or lose the confidence of the people, a U.N.-appointed human rights expert said on Thursday.
Sudan appointed special prosecutor Nimr Mohamed in 2008 hoping his trials would delay the International Criminal Court which last year issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur. Sudan rejects the ICC's jurisdiction.

"He (Nimr Mohamed) informed me that investigations are continuing and that no one has been charged and tried as yet," Tanzanian judge Mohamed Chande Othman told reporters.

"This is an issue of utmost importance in terms of accountability," he added. "Because the more you delay the more the confidence of the people of Darfur will be eroded."

Othman said there were 120 investigations underway but that the prosecutor said he was facing problems accessing rebel-held areas and finding witnesses who had left the country.

Othman was speaking in Khartoum after a 17-day trip, his first visit since being appointed last year by the U.N. human rights council to review Sudan. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Darfur Refugees Say to Boycott Sudan Elections

ABU SHOUK CAMP, Sudan (Reuters) - Nureldin Khalil sits back in the tea shack in Darfur's Abu Shouk refugee camp and shrugs. "Why should I vote? ... No one is speaking the truth in these elections. Everything is a lie."

There are nods and grunts of approval from friends around him, a small sample of what camp residents say are thousands of displaced Darfuris who are boycotting looming elections despite official reports of long queues at voter registration centres.

Sudan is preparing for what could be its first fully multiparty presidential and legislative elections in almost a quarter of a century, now just two months away in April.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has promised the ballot will cover the whole country, including Darfur, in a bid, analysts say, to legitimise his rule in the face of war crimes charges from the International Criminal Court.

Opposition groups have said the poll is bound to be a farce in Darfur, seven years into a conflict where sporadic fighting continues to drive families from their homes and state security keeps a tight grip on the main population centres.

Residents of heavily politicised Abu Shouk, many of whom say they fled attacks by government militias as far back as 2003, say most people in the camp have decided to duck out of the process altogether by refusing to register as voters.

"The people who attacked us in our villages are the same people who came to register us for the elections," said tribal leader Umda Adam Khatar, sitting in his house roofed with USAID sacking.

"I am going to stay in my house. No one will count my name." Read more >>>>>

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Militias raid Darfur camp, kill two refugees

EL-FASHER, Sudan (Reuters) - Militias raided a Darfur refugee camp, shooting dead two people and injuring at least 10 in an escalation of tensions in Sudan's restive west, witnesses and U.N. officials said Wednesday.

The raid followed the murder of a militia member's relative who appeared to be searching the camps in Kass, South Darfur for the suspect, U.N. officials in Darfur said.

"The Janjaweed (militia) came in on horses and camels and were looting and shooting," Adam Ali, a resident in the Baytari camp in Kass town, told Reuters by telephone. "They burned many huts and looted the people's belongings."

The United Nations estimates 300,000 have died in the humanitarian crisis sparked after Khartoum mobilized militias to quell a revolt by mostly non-Arab rebels in early 2003. More than 2 million Darfuris fled the conflict to makeshift camps surrounding urban centers.

The International Criminal Court is reconsidering a charge of genocide against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir who is already wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Groups Welcome Appeal of Genocide Charges against Sudan’s Bashir

Reactions to Wednesday’s International Criminal Court (ICC) appeal of genocide charges against Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir range from a broadside against the U.S. government by Sudan’s foreign ministry, to measured comments from members of the American anti-genocide community.

In Khartoum, foreign ministry spokesman Ambassador Mu’awiya Uthman Khalid blamed Washington for slowing the peace process by sending “negative signals at all times.” He singled out the Save Darfur alliance of American anti-genocide organizations, which he accused of directly hampering the peace process.

In Washington, the president of the largest organization in the alliance, Jerry Fowler of the Save Darfur Coalition, said that Wednesday’s ruling rectifies legal errors that will provide hope to Darfur victims and rebel groups, but will not likely alter the pace of current peace talks in Doha, Qatar or influence the conduct of April presidential elections in Sudan.

“For victims of attacks in Darfur, most of whom believe that they are victims of genocide, it gets a reconsideration of that particular charge. I think in the broader scheme of things, it underscores, though, that regardless of the ultimate outcome on this charge, President Bashir remains a fugitive internationally, and his ability to travel is very limited, and the prospects that he will ultimately face justice continue to be strong,” said Fowler. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>