Raping woman, killing children, pillaging agricultural villages, destroying lives.
The attention of the world is much too slowly turning its head to address the rampant and unmitigated devastation occurring in Sudan that has in the past 18 months left more than 50,000 savagely murdered and 1.5 million more among the families of those unfortunate dead as displaced refugees in ill-equipped camps and neighboring countries. This is a UN recognized human rights atrocity; the situation in Sudan is a grave emergency! Devastatingly, the attention that Sudan has received from commercial media - which is largely focused on the situation in Iraq - has not expressed the gravity of the situation.
Who is killing who in Sudan and why? The current campaign of ethnic cleansing is intent on eliminating several sedentary African tribal groups, motivated by a struggle for power in Khartoum, Sudan's capital. The killing campaign is being conducted by a hired militia at the bidding of an imposed, abusive, and controversial government struggling to retain its power over a nation of people that wants the fanatical government routed. While the urgency for action and assistance has never been keener, the conflict has actually been long standing. Sudan as a whole has been embroiled in 50 years of civil war and rebellion between the usually tyrannical power in Khartoum and the southern populations that do not want to live under the Khartoum government's religious and dictatorial policies.
To understand why the groups are in conflict, you need to first acquaint yourself with the region. Sudan is in East Africa, just South of Egypt, East of Chad, and North of Kenya. The population is a conglomerate of Arabs and Africans, nomadic pastoralists and farmers, Muslims, Christians, and Animists (those believing that everything in nature has a soul). These people of Sudan have been in conflict ever since the British abandoned the region in 1956. Upon their leaving, the British undemocratically passed control to one group of ethnically-foreign Arab northerners in the capital city, Khartoum. This empowered groups' policy of disregarding civil rights and instituting classical Islamic rule over the ethnically diverse Southern population has spawned the 50 years of civil war, famine, and human rights violations that have never been effectively dealt with. Compounded by the discovery of oil in the Sudan South in the 1970s, the Northern dictatorial government breached beyond merely unfair policy and began trying to dominate the natural resources of the South. Still, the worst of problems had yet to come.
By the 1980s, a series of poignant civil rights abuses aroused fear in the southern populations. The increasingly fanatical Islamized northern government had been abusing its power by dismantling the constitutional rights for people in the southern region and by imposing Shariya Law - traditional Muslim Law Code - over the ethnically diverse southern populations. In 1985, the southern borne Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) led a popular uprising that succeeded in expelling the Northern Arab government. The SPLM revolt was successful in replacing the government and at ushering in the installation of a democratically oriented - but still religious - Islamic government. This progress lead to peace talks that gave many hope for a stable Sudan; but the steps forward were not to last. In 1989, as peace agreements were being consolidated between the democratized Islamic government in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in the South and just as the government was finally preparing to freeze the Shariya Islamic Law Code, General Omar al-Bashir lead the National Islamic Front in a coup against the liberating government to bring back the authoritarian Arabic form of Islamic government.
The Southern Sudanese hopes' had been dashed and there worst fears rekindled; upon Omar's imposition, he abolished the constitution that protected the Southern populations, censured his opponents by outlawing opposition parties, and he revamped Khartoum's control of the controversial Shariya Law by imposing, additionally, a traditional Islamic Justice System which began dealing out death liberally. Omar then proceeded to declare Jihad, a holy war in the name of Mohammad, against the non-Muslim and democratic African-Muslim people of Sudan.
The National Islamic Front government continued to polarize the Sudanese people and its actions began even to alienate Khartoum from its neighboring countries. Accused of attempting to incite jihad in eastern neighbor Eritrea, and of assisting in an assassination attempt on Egyptian President Mubarak during his visit to Sudan's eastern neighbor Ethiopia, and because Sudan was recognized for harboring terrorists such as Osama bin Laden who used Sudan as a base for executing the 1998 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, General Omar's government became regionally isolated but Omar al-Bashir remains in power still today.
Omar's fundamentalist government, supported by their oil reserves, military technology, and fear, continue to push forward. Their campaign however is not fueled by purely by religious zeal as it may appear at first glance. It is much more ethnically motivated, pitting the Arabic Muslim government against the African, dark-skinned Muslim and non-Muslims of greater Sudan. The African Muslims are mostly sedentary tribal peoples, agricultural societies that embrace diversity. The Arabic government fosters the form of ethnic fanaticism that has plagued the Middle East, such as in Iraq where Arabic Sunnis have in the past threatened and massacred Islamic Shiites and Kurds.
By 2003, Omar's mistreatment of even his northern contingents and tribal populations in the area called Darfur, lead the tribal groups to mount a rebellion. In April 2003, in the name of human, social, and economic rights, and impassioned by their suffering, the Muslim tribal peoples of the Fur, the Zaghawa, and the Massaleit, allied under the two names, the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), took up arms against Omar's militarily defended government. Despite inferior resources, they actually achieved a string of victories.
At this point, fearing further retaliation, Omar made one of the most horrific moves that any dictator could entertain. He called upon nomadic Arabic horsemen in Sudan to enlist in a Janjaweed militia, promising a gun and additional payment of $116 a month in order to rape, route, and kill the African people of Darfur. Janjaweed is translated from Arabic as "man with a gun on a horse" but the Janjaweed are generally known as nomadic bandits. The government motivated the Janjaweed to carry out their mission in the Darfur region with racist incentive; told that their job was to cleanse Darfur of its darker skinned inhabitants. They were too given the additional incentive that their monthly payment would come from the booty plundered in the villages which they attacked.
For the last 18 months, the janjaweed have terrorized unabashed the tribal people of Darfur with a scorched earth policy, destroying the villages they attack. "They dump human corpses in wells to contaminate the water supply, essentially doing whatever is necessary to force the black African Muslims from their land never to return" says the report from the office of Congressman Wolf on what he witnessed while visiting.
You know when they are coming because they don't come alone. First you here the low pitched hum of the helicopters approaching. This is when most of the able villagers dash into the forest for sake of their lives. As the helicopter gun ship arrives, it first strafes the village destroying housing and killing people that have not left. It will often unload supplies for the janjaweed militia that follow close behind, coming out of the forest on horseback to finish the killing, raping, and destruction making the village uninhabitable, and to collect bounty from the village.
The government of Omar al-Bashir denies involvement, aid, or support of the raids. They maintain that the culprits are just uncontrolled bandits. Their overt lie is not much believed by anyone, as it is plainly obvious that the nomadic janjaweed alone are by no means capable to be flying the attack helicopters.
To date, the actions of the government and its militia have displaced over 1 million people from their homes, consolidating them into 129 crowded concentration camps monitored and surrounded by more janjaweed. These are what is called internally displaced people (IDPs). Their camps are ill-resourced. In Mornay, the largest camp with 70,000 people, rains carry human excrement back through the camp. At least 160 thousand Darfurians have escaped across the western border of Sudan to Chad. Few of them will ever be able to return to their home. If the refugees leave their camp, the janjaweed are there waiting for them just beyond the borders says the Wolf Congressional report. Rape of Sudanese woman is a daily reality for these refugees. They are forced to accept it, they must leave the camp to gather firewood for their families and straw to feed their cattle. The janjaweed tell the girls they rape that they are "trying to make their babies lighter." The janjaweed have even instituted a policy of branding the raped girls and woman so as not to mistake them. Murder of the male IDPs is a constant threat as well.
This is a holocaust going in Sudan today, directly in our site. After the holocaust of WWII where six million Jews were murdered by the Nazi forces, and again after failing to intervene to stop the devastating genocide of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, the world has now twice said "never again" to genocide. This is your chance to not only to say never again but to act on your intention. Get informed, read a few articles, you will understand the situation and realize why it is so devastatingly clear that this is a genocide that must be confronted immediately.
In the past months, the government in Sudan has been coming under increased - but still feeble - international pressure to address and respond to the crises. Kofi Anan and Colin Powell have both visited the region and agree it is a problem that needs to be dealt with, but what have they done to accomplish this? Currently the UN is discussing so they can make a declaration as to whether or not these atrocities may be considered a genocide. This is after a recent Security Council Resolution that urged the Khartoum government to better control the devastation in the region and to help ensure the security in the IDP camps. Do you believe it is appropriate to hold the same group which is responsible for instigating the atrocity as the group to hold responsible for ensuring the security of the region? Obviously the UN Security Council does. So who is guarding the camps? The janjaweed, the same people that were commissioned and brainwashed for murdering the Darfurians are now being publicly sanctioned by the UN to carry "defensive" weapons that will allow them to defend the safety of the black African people in the refugee camps.
The UN Security Council Resolution had the opportunity to send a clear message to the Khartoum government. Instead what do they do? They approved that more African Union monitoring forces should come to Sudan to oversee the situation. They failed to issue an arms embargo ensuring the Sudan government will have continued access to weapons. The UN also failed to inflict any real pressure on the Sudan government by passing on their opportunity to impose an oil embargo. An embargo would have forced Sudan to address the problem.
"The [UN] Security Council has ensured that the Sudanese government will have the resources necessary to continue its scorched-earth campaign in Darfur," said Human Rights Watch, an international non-profit human rights watchdog group. Instead of providing a resolution that sends a clear message to Khartoum indicating how serious the world is about putting an end to the atrocities, they committed a toothless resolution providing no real incentive for al-Bashir to respond.
This makes good sense. The UN is incapable of responding appropriately to human rights issues. You will agree if you look at who is one of the 14 member states on the UN Human Rights Commission: Sudan. Yes, the same government that fosters the genocide of ethnically African black Muslims in Sudan is a voting member on human rights issues.
Reasonably, you are probably appalled by what you have learned about Sudan. You know you can not rely on the UN to do anything constructive regarding this matter. Little known to most, the United States has actually been supporting the reabsorption of refugees from Sudan. Four years ago, the United States allowed the immigration of 7,000 black Sudanese refugees, actually victims of a different struggle against the same government. Many of these are young boys from southern Sudan who lost their parents violently while trying to escape the onslaught of northern Sudanese forces. They are now known as the Lost Boys. A group of at least 100 of them now call San Diego their home and are actively trying to build themselves a new life in this new world, along with all the trappings of modernity.
Take it upon yourself to learn, to discuss, and to represent what you know is right. Make sure that who ever wins the election for president on November 2 knows that giving attention to Sudan needs to be a priority for the United States. Don't wait to speak out and don't be afraid to raise the issue, it is not a very contested topic outside Sudan.
Resources for your learning interest:
Website about the Sudanese refugees experience starting a new life in the US:
International Crisis Group, human crisis watch group:
Document of Congressman Wolf's impression.
We, the undersigned, are appalled by the ongoing brutal Genocide in Darfur, Western Sudan and we petition the United States Government to stop this ongoing Genocide and provide any and all amount of noutrition and medicines needed to save the lives of countless human beings in Darfur, Western Sudan.
The Stop The Genocide In Darfur, Western Sudan NOW! petition to The White House and The New York State Capital was written by Nicholas Gentile and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.