SUDAN: CALLING GENOCIDE BY ITS RIGHTFUL NAME

Eva Dadrian


Like a multicolour fireworks display illuminating the skies and sending 
ecstatic crowds cheering for a few moments, the Naivasha Peace 
Agreement has faded away. The short-lived jubilation is over and with a 
serious hang over, the international community is waking up to the new 
Sudanese reality in Darfur, asking how and why it allowed it to happen?

Neither the UN nor the US has learned anything from past mistakes - 
Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and RD-Congo. Less than a month ago, 
brushing aside the sound of machine guns coming over from Darfur, UN 
Secretary General Kofi Annan described the signing of the agreement a 
“major step forward”. Now, on a mission to Sudan he described the 
situation in Darfur as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.

Before going to Darfur (as a matter of fact like Evita Peron “I have 
never left it”) I would like to stop a few moments in Naivasha and see 
who are the real beneficiaries of the Protocols signed between the 
Khartoum government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army. Is 
it a genuine “key deal” that would benefit the Southern Sudanese 
people?

The sad reality is that only three individuals will benefit from 
Naivasha. These three so-called Men of Peace have succeeded in cheating 
the international community, the United Nations and the 35 million 
Sudanese.

Beleaguered, embattled and an outcast for the past 15 years, President 
Omar el Beshir who since staging his coup in 1989 escalated the war in 
South Sudan, sent thousands of young Sudanese zealots to their death, 
can now claim high and loud that he is the Sudanese leader who took 
Sudan out of its international isolation and brought peace to the 
country.

One Nobel Prize to go to el Beshir! Hip Hip Hurray!!!

Fraught with dissent among his own people and justifiably tired after 
21 years of fighting, Dr John Garang of the SPLA is taking control of 
Southern Sudan. Crowned with the blessings brought by the Naivasha 
deal, Dr Garang is ready to believe anyone who tells him that he is the 
paramount chief of the South.
Was it a mere slip of the tongue when he declared “We have reached the 
crest of the last hill in our tortuous ascent to the heights of peace" 
or did he mean “the heights of power?”

One Nobel Prize to go to Dr Garang! Hip Hip Hurray!!!

Last but not least, comes the Texan cowboy who occupies the Oval Room 
in the White House. Having waved carrots and sticks, sanctions and 
promises of aid to the Sudanese for almost two years, now George W. 
Bush can happily wave the Naivasha deal to his hysteria driven 
supporters as he campaigns for a second term. Naivasha is meant to 
counter Bush’s disastrous policy in Iraq.

One Nobel Prize to go to Bush! Hip Hip Hurray!!!

I do not know what are the criteria set up by the famous Swedish 
Academy for prize sharing but I dread to believe that UN Secretary 
General Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Colin Powell would join in 
to form the most famous peace Quintet of this millennium.

DARFUR

At the end of his visit to war-ravaged Darfur and having seen the 
devastation caused by the violent campaign backed by Khartoum against 
its African citizens of the region, Secretary of State Colin Powell 
said “Let's not put a label on things”. The crack of the matter is that 
we have to call the atrocities in Darfur by “their rightful name" as 
Donald Payne, Democrat member of the Congress for New Jersey and of the 
Congressional Black Caucus said recently. According to Payne, the 
atrocities committed in Darfur “meet the requirements of the 1948 UN 
Convention on the prevention and the punishment of the crime of 
genocide and therefore we have a legal obligation under international 
law to act". So why is everybody stalling? Why is no real decision 
taken? Time is running out for the people of Darfur and the atrocious 
memories of Rwanda are being revised while the US refuses to say the 
word.

But let’s not play on words, meanings and legalities. Genocide has 
taken place in Darfur and ethnic cleansing is still perpetrated because 
one million people could die before the end of this year if the 
international community, the UN and the US fail to intervene 
immediately to stop the killing and the displacement.

Secretary Powell claims that he knows what the situation is like and 
that the US knows what it has to do and is going to do it. In order 
words, take real action.
Instead the US has circulated a resolution to member nations of the 
U.N. Security Council calling for sanctions against the Janjaweed 
militias, blaming them for what has been described as a "humanitarian 
catastrophe" in Sudan and taking no action against the government of 
Omar el Bashir, the instigator of the ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

The sanctions are ridiculously irrational. They call for an arms 
embargo and travel restrictions on the Janjaweed militias. Is the 
United States serious when it circulates these sanctions to member 
nations of the U.N. Security Council? Does the Security Council really 
believe that the Janjaweed need travel documents to move from village 
to village to kill, rape, burn and destroy? As for an arms embargo, do 
the members of the UN Security Council really believe that the 
Janjaweed buy their weapons on the open market, with proper contracts 
and stamped and approved shipping documents, and that they, the 
supremos of the Security Council could stop these contracts? Are we to 
believe once again that these good people are being misled by erroneous 
“intelligence” reports?

The western Sudanese region of Darfur is bordered by Chad, Libya and 
the Central African Republic, three states where gun running is a child 
play and where the Janjaweed face no arms embargo and need no license 
to buy their lethal weapons. In addition, as they have been provided 
with official Sudanese armed forces uniforms one would presume they 
would have also free access to weapons and ammunition from the arsenals 
of the Sudanese army.

There is indeed a “humanitarian catastrophe and a security crisis” in 
Darfur as Secretary Colin Powell finally decided to acknowledge this 
week. But the humanitarian crisis is man made and its origins are 
political. The people of Darfur, like their compatriots of the 
peripheries (South, Nuba Mountains and Eastern Sudan) have been 
marginalized by all the Sudanese regimes, which took power since 
independence in 1956. Democratic rule, as universally understood, was 
never on the agenda of these regimes. Dominated by the Northern elites, 
the centralised governments ruled from Khartoum, seldom interested in 
the plight of the regional people. Ironically as it may sound, but the 
regional people of Sudan are in their large majority Africans – Nuba, 
Beja, Fur, Massaleit, Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Zaghawa and many others.

Because of the emergency of the humanitarian catastrophe, the political 
aspects of the Darfur crisis are being brushed aside. But, as many 
leading Darfur politicians have asked, the humanitarian intervention 
has to go hand in hand with a political solution so the 1.5million 
internally displaced people and refugees scattered on the Chadian 
borders can return safely to their farms and live in peace and security 
guaranteed by their constitutional rights as citizens of Sudan. While 
the ancestral lands of the African people of Darfur have to be restored 
to their rightful owners, there is no doubt that the Arab nomadic 
groups and the African settlers of Darfur have to live together, like 
they did for centuries and share the same resources – water and land – 
in an equitable way. This can be achieved if the political will is 
there. If Kofi Annan wants progress in 48 hours, this is what he should 
ask from the government and the Darfur factions who took up arms 
against Khartoum.

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org

* Eva Dadrian is an independent broadcaster and Political and Country 
Risk Analyst for print and broadcast media, who currently works as a 
consultant for Arab African Affairs (London) and writes on a regular 
basis for AFRICA ANALYSIS (London), for Al Ahram HEBDO Echos 
Economiques and Al Ahram WEEKLY (Cairo) and contributes to Africa 
Service BBC WS (London). Published reports include: Religion and 
Politics in North Africa; The Horn of Africa: Country Risk Analysis; 
The Nile Waters: Risk Analysis; State and Church in Ethiopia; Policing 
the Horn of Africa; Religion and Politics in Sudan; Can South Sudan 
survive as an independent state?

 

 "This article first appeared in Pambazuka News, an electronic newsletter for social justice 
in Africa, www.pambazuka.org".