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Friday, April 30, 2004

The World Has Failed Again.  

Darfur Now Presents a Ghastly Question:
Will the Deaths be Tens of Thousands...or Hundreds of Thousands?

Eric Reeves
April 30, 2004

Despite all evidence demanding humanitarian intervention, despite a
searing moral clarity, Khartoum's genocidal war on the African peoples
of Darfur has now fully precipitated a massive and irreversible
humanitarian crisis. There can no longer be anything approaching an
adequate humanitarian response in present circumstances. The vast scale
of the crisis forces the grimmest of questions: Will the death toll in
Darfur over the next 12 months be measured in tens of thousands of
deaths? or will it be measured in hundreds of thousands?

Honesty and moral decency demand that we first accept that this ghastly
question has become inevitable: no actions can now avert catastrophe.
But only the most urgent, resourceful, and robust humanitarian
intervention can prevent the present catastrophe from generating the
cataclysmic numbers that defined the Rwandan genocide. The
international community has waited too long, the words have come too
late---and the actions that such words now demand are even more belated.
War in Darfur, as deliberately and relentlessly conducted by Khartoum's
regular forces and Janjaweed militia allies, has now so fully
compromised food production, has so deeply disrupted humanitarian relief
efforts, has so traumatized the agriculturally productive civilians of
the African tribal peoples of the region, that famine is inevitable.

Their deaths will come not from machetes but from the far more
agonizing death of starvation---starvation that will typically entail
parents watching their children slowly, painfully die. And then they
will die themselves. Others will die from cholera, measles, and a host
of water-borne diseases that will proliferate uncontrollably with the
onset of the rains, especially in overcrowded concentration camps
lacking all sanitary facilities. These same rains will sever the ground
transport arteries for foodstocks and medical supplies. Presently
prepositioned supplies are not remotely adequate for the more than 1
million people already dependent on international aid, even as the vast
majority of these people are beyond any humanitarian access. Access
remains impossible both because of Khartoum's continuing obstructionism
and travel-permit denials, and because the regime has not controlled or
disarmed the Janjaweed.

These increasingly brutal militias, working in close concert with
Khartoum, are clearly not respecting in any meaningful way the
cease-fire Khartoum signed in N'Djamena (Chad) on April 8, 2004.
Refugees fleeing from the predations of the Janjaweed continue to stream
into Chad. Numerous reports, from highly reliable sources---in Darfur
and along the Chad/Sudan border---confirm that insecurity remains
extreme throughout Darfur. The same assessment is offered by UN and
humanitarian officials in private communications. Indeed, on the basis
of very considerable evidence, Amnesty International reported today that
despite the cease-fire that was to have taken effect on April 12, 2004:

"civilians continue to suffer human rights abuses and are in a
desperate humanitarian situation. Attacks on villages continue;
indiscriminate and deliberate killings of civilians continue; looting
continues and rapes continue. Most detainees imprisoned because of the
conflict have not been released. [ ]

"Most villages in Darfur have now been destroyed and the population
hardly dares to leave the displacement camps. The Janjawid
(government-supported militia) block the roads and even invade the
camps. In Ardamata camp for displaced people near al-Jeneina town,
Janjawid are reported to enter openly and choose women to rape.

"Furthermore, the conflict is in danger of spreading. On 28 April
[2004] Sudanese planes bombed Kolbus village in Chad and the Janjawid
attacked refugees and Chadian civilians across the border." (Amnesty
International, Public Statement, April 30, 2004)

Senior UN officials, US officials, humanitarian workers, and others are
also indicating that Khartoum has not begun to disarm the extremely
heavily armed Janjaweed---forces originally armed by Khartoum and still
clearly doing Khartoum's savage military work.

As a consequence of the insecurity created by the Janjaweed, there is
now simply no chance that the African tribal groups of Darfur will be
able to plant in time before the onset of the rains. Such planting must
be accomplished in the next week or two, and yet the areas to which
these people would have to return to plant remain Janjaweed killing
fields. As a result, there will be no significant harvest next fall.
It is this that ensures famine, and the terrible conclusions of the US
Agency for International Development's "Projected Mortality Rates in
Darfur, Sudan 2004-2005" (see data at
http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf).

The key assumptions guiding the assembly of this data continue to hold:
highly constrained humanitarian access and a critical planting season
missed because of insecurity. The presumed "vulnerable population"
recently stood at 1.2 million; this number continues to grow. Thus the
grim arithmetic: next December, when the consequences of famine are at
their peak, people will be dying at a rate of 20 people per day per
10,000 in this vulnerable population. Put more starkly, 2,500 people
will starve, or die from increased vulnerability to disease, every day.


They will be dying in agony, and too many will have endured the
unfathomable agony of watching their own children starve to death. Vast
human destruction, produced by extraordinary levels of global acute
malnutrition, will continue through April of 2005, when the "Crude
Mortality Rate will decrease as people die or migrate out; the
cumulative death rate would be approximately 30% of the vulnerable group
over a nine-month period" (US AID "Projected Mortality Rates in Darfur,
Sudan 2004-2005").

The grimmest statistical conclusion here is that more than 300,000
people will die.

We have permitted this. We can no longer stop the famine Khartoum has
engineered. The genocide has been accomplished.

What can be done? We must first of all recall the words of Mukesh
Kapila, UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, uttered urgently over a
month ago---when there was still a slim chance of averting catastrophe:

"'The only difference between Rwanda and Darfur now is the numbers
involved' [said Kapila]." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks,
March 22, 2004)

The only difference..."now."

"[Conflict in Darfur] is more than just a conflict, it is an organised
attempt to do away with a group of people." (UN Integrated Regional
Information Networks, March 22, 2004)

These words are now, belatedly, registering. But the urgent dispatches
by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, written from the
Chad/Darfur border at the end of March, posed a test that has already
been failed:

"Darfur is not a case when we can claim, as the world did after the
Armenian, Jewish and Cambodian genocides, that we didn't know how bad it
was. Sudan's refugees tell of mass killings and rapes, of women branded,
of children killed, of villages burned---yet Sudan's government just
stiffed new peace talks that began last night in Chad."

"This is not just a moral test of whether the world will tolerate
another genocide. It's also a practical test of the ability of African
and Western governments alike to respond to incipient civil wars while
they can still be suppressed. Africa's future depends on the outcome,
and for now it's a test we're all failing." (New York Times, March 31,
2004)

We are not failing; we have failed. The verb tense has changed
profoundly in the last month.

The US representative to the Geneva travesty that was the annual
meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Ambassador Richard
Williamson, wrote recently:

"African countries and the entire world must decide if we will act to
try to stop the genocide in Darfur or if we will respond with silence
and inaction as we did in Rwanda 10 years ago. To fail to act is morally
indefensible."
(Chicago Sun-Times, April 11, 2004)

But we have decided; we have failed to act, as we failed in Rwanda; and
it is indeed morally indefensible. We have all too fully justified
Samantha Power's recently expressed fear that "in 10 years we'll be
sitting on a similar panel discussing Sudan's genocide" (Rwanda hearing,
International Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives,
Washington, DC; the Washington File [US State Department], April 27,
2004).

********************

It remains, then, first to accept our moral failure. But we must also
do all that is possible to diminish the scale of the impending
catastrophe. This catastrophe cannot be averted, but it can be
substantially mitigated. The challenges are immense, however, even if we
presume full international political resolve. There is no evidence to
support such presumption.

Logistics.

Road transportation of food supplies from central Chad to the
Chad/Sudan border and Darfur will shortly end. An authoritative
assessment on this issue, received by this writer today from Chad,
noted:

[1] Once the rainy season begins, the 650-kilometer road running east
from N'Djamena (Chad's capital) to Abeche (near the Chad/Sudan border)
will be cut, as it is each year, as the "wadis" (dry channels that fill
with water during the rainy season) are deepened by the floods that come
with the rains;

[2] The 150-kilometer road is from Abeche to the Chad/Sudan border is
not at all good, even outside the rainy season. It presently takes five
hours to cover this distance;

[3] The critical sections in this road are just to the east of Abeche,
but there are wadis on north/south and northwest/southwest axes along
the entire course of the road. It will shortly be impassable.

Air transport.

There is a serviceable airstrip in Abeche (as well as a French military
base with 200 troops); this airstrip can handle medium-sized air
transport planes, but apparently not the giant Hercules aircraft that
are the backbone of any World Food Program airlift operation. These
larger aircraft would have to fly from El Obeid in Kordofan Province in
Sudan (well to the east of Darfur).

Some will imagine that air drops of food are an alternative to ground
transport; this is impractical for a number of reasons. There is first
of all the prohibitive cost of airlifting food for 1 million people over
as much as a year, given other humanitarian needs in the world. There
is simply no money for such a massively expensive operation. Indeed,
the present estimated costs of humanitarian response in Darfur, a
response which doesn't begin to contemplate such an unprecedented
airlift operation, are far from receiving donor commitments.

Moreover, air transport of food is only in the most exceptional of
cases simply the uncontrolled and unmonitored dumping of food from the
air. Typically, food is airlifted to where there are humanitarian
monitors and other personnel on the ground. But insecurity on the
ground in Darfur makes this normal practice impossible. Indeed, so long
as Khartoum continues to allow the Janjaweed its "rein of terror" (the
phrase comes from the April 2004 UN human rights report on Darfur), food
drops would simply be a means of feeding these deadly militias, and
would make of the intended recipients more inviting targets.

Neither continued road transport from Chad nor exclusive reliance on
the airlifting of aid are possible or practicable, given present
circumstances in Darfur.

But we must not turn away from the shameful truth: airlifting food aid
has come to be seen as the only transport means available because we did
not act in the urgent ways demanded by realities clearly in evidence
months ago in Darfur.

An alternative.

There is an alternative, though one that will require political resolve
of a sort not remotely in evidence to this point in the Darfur crisis.
A rail transport line runs from Port Sudan on the Red Sea through El
Obeid (400 kilometers southwest of Khartoum) and on to Nyala, in the
very center of Darfur. This rail line must be made the major artery for
humanitarian supplies. From Nyala, the transporting of food and medical
aid would become, if not fully practicable throughout Darfur,
tremendously more effective, efficient, and rapidly targeted to the most
distressed populations. The Darfur road system could be used as the
rains permitted. Air transport would also be over relatively shorter
distances.

A critical component here will be the introduction of a meaningful
peacekeeping force, one capable of confronting the Janjaweed in any
attacks on civilians. This would permit the establishment of secure
areas for humanitarian purposes, particularly aid delivery. Such a
force is also necessary to monitor the nominal cease-fire, which
presently is completely unmonitored, and has no provision for meaningful
monitoring. Insecurity is the greatest long-term threat to Darfur
(though the systematic destruction of water sources, cattle, seeds,
agricultural implements, and foodstocks will require sustained efforts
at reconstruction and re-stocking). The international community must
immediately begin to diminish this threat with a robust peacekeeping
force, with or without Khartoum's acquiescence.

Whatever the political difficulties of such a plan, we are morally
obligated to keep in mind that many tens of thousands, perhaps as many
as over two hundred thousand human beings can be saved. The can be
saved if the international community finds the moral nerve to demand of
Khartoum regime the following, per a resolution of the UN Security
Council or by way of multilateral determination and action:

"Effective immediately, we demand that the rail line running from Port
Sudan through El Obeid and on to Nyala be made fully available for the
movement of international humanitarian aid, including food, medicine,
shelter, agricultural supplies, and humanitarian personnel. Absolute
priority must be given to humanitarian transport needs. Failure to
accede in this demand will trigger an international response that will
forcefully secure the rail line for these humanitarian purposes."

Such a dramatic action would require further stipulations:

[1] Khartoum must be informed that the trains will not be allowed to
carry any military equipment or supplies that are related to the
military efforts by the regime's regular or militia forces;

[2] There must as a consequence be monitors on the trains, enjoying
all necessary security---including, if necessary, military protection;


[3] There must be no militia forces accompanying the trains as they
move into the Darfur region (such accompaniment of trains by the
murahaleen has been a deeply disturbing feature of the infamous spur of
the rail line running from Babanusa southward to Wau in Bahr
el-Ghazal);

[4] American train parts will be needed to repair Sudan's trains,
presently functioning very poorly because of US sanctions that prevent
such parts from being transferred to Sudan. President George Bush must
declare through the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) an
exemption from US sanctions for train parts, with the provision that
this exemption will last only as long as the humanitarian operation in
Darfur continues. At the end of this time, US train parts (which must
be comprehensively cataloged) will be removed unless US sanctions have
been lifted.

To be sure, this would be a dramatic and decisive infringement upon the
"national sovereignty" that Khartoum would inevitably assert. But the
tyrannical National Islamic Front regime neither represents the people
of Sudan nor has any morally legitimate claim in speaking of "national
sovereignty." Having engaged in massive crimes against humanity and
acts of genocide, having thereby deliberately precipitated what is
almost universally described as the world's greatest humanitarian
crisis, we acquiesce before Khartoum's assertion of "national
sovereignty" to our shame and with the clear consequence that perhaps
hundreds of thousands of people will die.

We have already failed, failed profoundly, the people of Darfur. The
question now is how greatly we will compound this failure. Our disgrace
deepens daily.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Khartoum Obstructs UN Human Rights Investigating Team in Darfur, 

Continues to Obstruct Humanitarian Access to Darfur...Continues
Genocide

Eric Reeves
April 28, 2004

In ways painfully predictable, Khartoum is now obstructing the
movements within Darfur of the UN human rights investigative team that
arrived in the region several days ago. Extremely reliable sources from
within Darfur, with indisputable intelligence concerning the movements
of the team, confirm that travel is being restricted to the major urban
areas where there is already an international humanitarian presence.
These are the areas where Khartoum most fully controls evidence and can
most easily intimidate potential witnesses. These are thus the areas
where the team is least likely to be able to investigate the most
serious allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and
genocide.

Khartoum clearly intends to restrict the movements of the investigative
team so that it will never see the most notorious of the sites of human
rights abuses. Citing contrived "security reasons" (this despite a
supposed cease-fire), Khartoum has already told the team that it cannot
travel to Jebel Marra, Zalingei, Shattaya, Korma, Tawila, or
Garseila---or indeed any other significant site in the Wadi Salih area
of West Darfur.

The Wadi Salih region is an area south of Zalingei in West Darfur.
Some of the worst atrocities, in a war marked by extraordinary human
rights abuses, have been authoritatively reported as occurring in this
region. Human Rights Watch recently reported, for example, citing a
surviving witness:

"In a joint operation in the Darfur region of Sudan, [Khartoum]
government troops working with Arab militias detained 136 African men
whom the militias massacred hours later. [ ] The 136 men, all members of
the Fur ethnic group aged between 20 and 60, were rounded up in early
March in two separate sweeps in the Garsila and Mugjir areas in Wadi
Saleh. They were then taken in army lorries to nearby valleys where
they were made to kneel before being killed with a bullet in the back of
the neck." (Human Rights Watch, April 23, 2004)

But Khartoum is presently preventing the UN team from traveling to this
area precisely because it presents the regime with the most difficult
challenges in obscuring evidence of such atrocities (such efforts at
obscuring evidence are continuing at a furious pace, using very
substantial military transport assets). Even so, the regime will
attempt to claim full credit for allowing access to the UN team, despite
restricting movement to urban areas (Nyala, al-Fashir, al-Geneina,
Kutum). And even here, authoritative intelligence from Darfur makes
clear that Khartoum is violently intimidating witnesses and preventing
them from talking with the UN team. These include witnesses who can
direct the team to the precise location of atrocities.

Such difficulties highlight the severe constraints upon the present UN
mission and the urgent need for the team to be substantially augmented,
both in personnel (especially Arabic translators not affiliated with the
Khartoum regime or at risk of reprisal with the departure of the team),
and in transport capacity. This expanded team must be in no way
dependent upon Khartoum's determination of what constitutes a "security
risk," and must be able to travel wherever and whenever it wishes. For
it is obvious that with the present UN mission, Khartoum will---having
determined upon a time limit for the investigation---simply run out the
clock. Travel to areas too revealing will become increasingly
inaccessible for reasons of "security," or "transportation problems," or
"communications difficulties."

In such brazen obstructionism, Khartoum has been amply encouraged by
the international community. Indeed, this is the real price of the
shameful deal cut in Geneva last week, in which the UN Commission on
Human Rights and the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights
(OHCHR) agreed to suppress an already completed UN human rights
investigative report. In return for this contemptible expediency, the
UN team was given "access" to Darfur. (The team had previously been
forced to remain on the Chad/Sudan border from April 5 to April 15,
2004---interviewing refugees, but refused entry into Darfur by
Khartoum.) But expediently securing access for this team entailed not
only suppressing its completed report but misrepresenting its findings
as mere "allegations." With such behavior in evidence, it is hardly
surprising that Khartoum believes it can manage the presence of the UN
team while it is in Darfur.

Even so, the 13-page human rights report assembled is a devastating
indictment of Khartoum and its Janjaweed militia allies. It concludes by
declaring that there is a "reign of terror in Darfur," and that the team
had found "disturbing patterns of massive human rights violations in
Darfur, many of which may constitute war crimes and/or crimes against
humanity."

But for these conclusions to be developed further there must be
unfettered access, including to areas where the most recent atrocities
are being reported. For example, in a press release of April 27, 2004
the Sudan Organization Against Torture (SOAT) reports:

"On 17 April 2004, the armed forces and Janjaweed (Arab militias)
attacked Hillat Ibraheam village near Kassar Bouram, 10 kilometres south
of Nyala and also attacked Abu Ajoura village, 35 kilometres, south west
of Nyala. Forty five (45) civilians were allegedly killed and three
hundred and twelve (312) houses were burnt. The names of the persons
that have been killed in Abu Ajoura are as follows [45 full names
follow]" (SOAT Press Release, April 27, 2004)

The UN team must immediately investigate these highly credible, highly
specific allegations of attacks---attacks which are flagrant violations
of the April 8, 2004 cease-fire agreement and various provisions of
international law and the Geneva Conventions.

There is other evidence as well that the cease-fire is not holding; the
UN News Center yesterday reported on the continued movement of Darfur
refugees into Chad, strong evidence that the fighting has not ended.

"A team from the United Nations refugee agency has arrived in a Chadian
border town to verify reports that 200 to 300 Sudanese refugees have
been crossing weekly from the Darfur region into Chad since the
beginning of April, an agency spokesman said today. The UN High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman, Ron Redmond, said in Geneva
that new refugees in the town of Bahai, joining the 7,000 already
registered there."
(UN News Center, April 27 2004)

The role of Khartoum in the cease-fire violations is a function of its
direct support for and coordination with the Janjaweed militias. In an
interview yesterday, US Agency For International Development
Administrator Andrew Natsios remarked, when pressed on the nature of
this connection:

"Natsios explained that he had received information from certain
members of the [Sudanese] government that they had armed the militias,
that there were hawks in the government that did this. 'More
importantly, we have the U.N. report that said that a Sudanese general
is actually commanding the militias, and that logistics and
communications support is being provided by the government.'"
(Washington File [US State Department] April 27, 2004)

Natsios also said that "the United States had credible information that
atrocities were still being committed by government-backed militias in
Darfur despite the ceasefire reached earlier this month in neighboring
Chad." (Agence France-Presse, April 27, 2004)

Natsios went on yesterday to highlight Khartoum's continuing,
deliberate interference with humanitarian access:

"Khartoum has refused to grant visas to 28 special US Agency for
International Development disaster specialists who are ready to travel
to Darfur to set up logistics for the delivery of 80 million tonnes of
US food aid as well as medicine and temporary housing supplies that are
either en route to Sudan or have arrived in the region's three main
cities but await distribution." (Agence France-Presse, April 27, 2004)

The Washington File also reported on Natsios' remarks concerning access
for humanitarian officials:

"U.S. relief personnel 'cannot get visas to get into the country,'
Natsios said, because the Sudanese embassy in Washington and the
country's foreign ministry will not grant the visas. 'Close to a million
refugees are being deprived of vital supplies,' he said. 'Food is
running out, disease is rampant in camps. It is critical now because the
rainy season is arriving. It has become the worst humanitarian crisis to
date.'" (The Washington File [US State Department], April 27, 2004)

The reasons for Khartoum's denials were also addressed by Natsios:

"He accused the Sudanese government of holding up a 'massive relief
effort' being prepared by the United States, the United Nations and
international aid agencies by intentionally blocking access to Darfur
and suggested Khartoum might be doing so in a bid to cover up widespread
human rights abuses, including ethnic cleansing and systematic rape.
'Human rights organizations are telling us that the government is in
the villages attempting to move mass graves, attempting to disguise some
of the events that took place in the last six months,' Natsios said."
(Agence France-Presse, April 27, 2004)

Here the nexus between human rights issues and humanitarian issues
becomes fully clear: Khartoum is intent on blocking true access to the
UN human rights investigative team, even as it is just as intent on
blocking access to humanitarian workers who might report what they see.


Khartoum's adamant refusal to respond to the vast humanitarian crisis
in Darfur, or to the military situation on the ground, suggests yet
again how much resolve the international community must demonstrate if
there is to be any progress in averting the "catastrophe" that Natsios
explicitly invokes for this coming fall. A recent editorial in the
regime-controlled newspaper "Al Anbaa" (April 26, 2004) suggests just
how shameless the regime has become in justifying its denial of access,
ludicrously on this occasion accusing the US Agency for International
Development of ferrying arms and supplies to the Darfur insurgency
groups instead of the specified food and medicine.

This characteristic mendacity is also reflected in Khartoum's claim
that total casualties in Darfur are fewer than 1000 over fifteen months
of war:

"'I would like to assure you that all those who have been killed in
Darfur from the militia, from the rebels, from the government soldiers,
from civilians who've been caught in fighting---it will not reach one
thousand, [said National Islamic Front Foreign Minister Mustafa
Ismail]"
(Voice of America, April 28, 2004)

US Agency for International Development (US AID) mortality projections
suggest that by next December, more than 2000 people will die every day
from starvation (see data at
http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf).

Such horrific projections are not difficult to understand if we realize
that of the more than 1 million people that have been uprooted by war in
Darfur, more than 75% of this population is still outside relief camps
and thus without any humanitarian access (Voice of America, April 28,
2004). US AID projections currently assume a vulnerable population of
1.2 million, but this number continues to rise. With the onset of the
rainy season (rains have already begun in places), this immense
population will be extremely vulnerable and beyond reach via overland
corridors. Privately, some aid organizations are telling this writer
that it is already too late---that not nearly enough food has been
pre-positioned, and that transport efforts and funding appeals are now
simply too late.

Here we must keep relentlessly in mind that the engine for this vast
humanitarian crisis, and the impending massive human destruction from
disease and starvation, is Khartoum's genocidal conduct of war in
Darfur. The regime and its Janjaweed militia allies have has not only
brutally slaughtered thousands of African civilians, they have
systematically and "deliberately inflicted on the African peoples of
Darfur conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical
destruction in whole or in part." This is precisely what clause [c] of
Article 2 of the 1948 Genocide Convention specifies as genocidal
actions. Displacement by means of murder, torture, rape, aerial
bombardment, the burning of thousands of villages and their foodstocks,
the dynamiting or poisoning of critical water sources, the destruction
of seeds, agricultural implements, and livestock is, in the context of
Darfur, genocide.

**************************

Does this matter? Does this matter sufficiently? Does this matter
enough that the international community will take the necessary steps to
mount the humanitarian intervention that is now clearly morally
imperative?

At last week's annual Holocaust remembrance ceremony in the Rotunda of
the US Capitol, Ruth Mandel, a senior member of the governing board of
the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, joined the growing number of voices
drawing explicit connection between the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the
terrible realities of Darfur in the present moment:

"Today the poverty of imagination is no excuse for indifference. Today
humanity knows about genocide---we know what it means; we know where
responsibility lies."

"Raphael Lemkin hoped that by naming this crime, it could be prevented.
But this is also the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide; and today
we see the horrific events unfolding in the Darfur region of Sudan where
the U.S. government estimates that as many as 100,000 may die in the
coming months. Humanity's responsibility to prevent and stop genocide
has still not been met, the lessons of the Holocaust still not fully
learned."

Too true---too disgracefully true.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

"Stalling in Sudan"  

from the Washington Post, April 26, 2004

Monday, April 26, 2004; Page A22

TWO WEEKS AGO, Sudan's government agreed to a humanitarian cease-fire
in Darfur, a region in the western part of the country. The cease-fire
was necessary because of the government's own actions: It has carried
out aerial bombings of civilians and armed a militia that has terrorized
villages, burning crops, raping women and flailing men with studded
whips. As many as 1 million people have been chased from their homes and
have no food stocks to support themselves. Doctors Without Borders, an
intrepid charity that has 30 foreign staffers in Darfur, reports that
malnutrition among children is rising precipitously. The aim of the
cease-fire is to allow food deliveries before the rainy season makes
roads impassable, probably six weeks from now. If the world misses that
window, mass starvation becomes probable.

The cease-fire, however, has not been honored. Sudan's Islamic and Arab
government has a long history of denying humanitarian access to
civilians as part of its long war with Christian and animist Africans in
the south. It is applying those same tactics to Darfur, whose people,
though Islamic, share the southerners' aspiration for regional autonomy.
A senior United Nations official who was supposed to visit Darfur under
the terms of the cease-fire has been denied a visa. A U.N. delegation
was delayed at the border.

Exiles from the region claim that the government's purpose in stalling
humanitarian visits is to cover up evidence of its atrocities. It is
attempting to conceal mass graves, collecting bodies from the sites of
known atrocities and hiding them elsewhere. It is removing militia
leaders so that U.N. inspection teams won't question them and issuing
death certificates in their names so that nobody will seek them out
elsewhere. It's bad enough that evidence is being destroyed while the
cease-fire is not implemented. It's worse that a million people are
running out of food.

Outsiders led by Kenya, Norway, Britain and the United States have been
successfully mediating a peace deal in the long-running north-south
conflict. A final breakthrough may be announced in the next week or two.
Although this progress owes much to international pressure -- and in
particular, the Sudanese government's fear that, after the attacks on
Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration was serious about punishing
rogue states -- the United States and its allies seem reluctant to apply
more pressure on the Darfur issue. They have yet to ask for a U.N.
Security Council resolution authorizing coercive force, for example,
even though U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has spoken of the
destruction of Darfur's villages in the same context as the Rwandan
genocide. They worry that excessive pressure will cause Sudan's
government to pull out of talks with the south or that Sudan will refuse
to permit U.N.-authorized monitors to implement an eventual north-south
deal.

But Sudan should not be allowed to get away with denying U.N. officials
visas and refusing to live up to its cease-fire promises. If it can do
that with impunity, it will assume that it has no need to live up to any
promises it makes in a north-south settlement.



An Open Letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan 

April 25, 2004

from Eric Reeves

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General
United Nations Headquarters
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

Dear Secretary-General Annan,

History has already recorded your substantial culpability during the
Rwandan genocide ten years ago, and your failure to work effectively as
head of UN peacekeeping during this terrible time. Judgment is a good
deal more severe than your own recent admission that "you could have
done more." But with your present inadequate response, as UN
Secretary-General, to the massive crimes against humanity, ethnic
cleansing, and genocide in Darfur, Sudan, you are compounding your
failures of 1994.

Without immediate, urgent, and appropriately robust UN action, your
failure to lead during this vast crisis will be beyond either
forgiveness or redemption. No subsequent apology for inaction, no claim
of ignorance, can possibly have meaning. Your legacy will be to have
twice acquiesced in the slaughter and destruction of hundreds of
thousands of innocent African civilians

For the evidence of what is now occurring in Darfur is both utterly
unambiguous and authoritative beyond possible dispute. Indeed, the
report on Darfur very recently produced by a UN human rights
investigative team ("Report of the Office of the High Commission for
Human Rights mission to Chad, April 5-15, 2004") concludes by noting
"disturbing patterns of massive human rights violations in Darfur,
many of which may constitute war crimes and/or crimes against humanity."


In particular, this UN assessment---suppressed during the recent debate
on Sudan and Darfur at the annual convening of the UN Commission on
Human Rights in Geneva---reports a "reign of terror in Darfur,"
including:

"[a] Repeated attacks on civilians by Government of Sudan military and
its proxy militia forces with a view to their displacement;

"[b] The use of systematic and indiscriminate aerial bombardments and
ground attacks on unarmed civilians;

"[c] The use of disproportional force by the Government of Sudan and
the Janjaweed forces;

"[d] That the Janjaweed have operated with total impunity and in close
coordination with the forces of the Government of Sudan;

"[e] The attacks appear to have been ethnically based with the groups
targeted being essentially the following tribes reportedly of African
origin: Zaghawas, Masaalit, and Furs. Men and young boys appear to have
been particularly targeted in ground attacks; and

"[f] The pattern of attacks on civilians includes killing, rape,
pillage, including of livestock, and destruction of property, including
water sources."
("Report of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights mission
to Chad, April 5-15, 2004")

You declared on the grim anniversary date of April 7, 2004 that reports
on atrocities in Darfur "leave me with a deep sense of foreboding" and,
further, that whatever the language we use to describe the atrocities in
Darfur, "the international community cannot stand idle." You concluded
with the declaration that, "wherever civilians are deliberately targeted
because they belong to a particular community, we are in the presence of
potential, if not actual, genocide."

But this, Secretary-General Annan, is precisely what occurring in
Darfur: civilians are being "deliberately targeted because they belong
to a particular community." As you must know, with full moral
certainty, the Fur, Massaleit, Zaghawa, and other African tribal peoples
of Darfur are being targeted because of the "communities" they comprise.
In the language of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the African peoples of Darfur are
being destroyed---both directly through killings and by consequence of
deliberate displacement in this harsh land---"as such."

And yet the UN is essentially "standing idle," and doing so largely
because of clear obstructionism and obduracy on the part of the
Government of Sudan. This tyrannical and unrepresentative regime has
now twice postponed an urgent UN humanitarian assessment mission to
Darfur, even as all evidence and data clearly suggest that the
humanitarian crisis in the region is the greatest in the world today,
and has been declared such by various UN officials. During the ten-day
period (April 5 to April 15, 2004) that the UN human rights
investigative mission was on the Chad/Sudan border, Khartoum adamantly
refused the team entry into Darfur, forcing its return to Geneva.

Though this team has apparently now secured access to Darfur, there is
substantial evidence that the Government of Sudan is working furiously
to conceal as much as possible of its role in "crimes against humanity,"
"ethnic cleansing," (the language of Jan Egeland, UN
Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs), and what the language
of the Genocide Convention dictates we declare is genocide. As the US
State Department can readily confirm on the basis of surveillance and
other data, substantial military transport assets are presently being
used to move bodies from the areas of the larger known atrocities. It is
also clear from reports within Darfur that Khartoum intends to
intimidate witnesses at those sites where the regime will allow the UN
investigative team to travel, especially the concentration camps where
those confined are completely at the mercy of their government and
Janjaweed captors.

Your obligations under these circumstances could not be clearer. You
must use your leadership within the UN to move urgently for a
significantly expanded mission in Darfur, one that faces no time
constraints and no possibility of being impeded, in any way, by the
Government of Sudan. Such a team will require substantially increased
logistical and transport abilities, as well as a full complement of
Arabic-speaking translators not associated with the Khartoum government
or at risk with the departure of the UN investigative team. If the
security of this team is threatened, the UN must be prepared to provide
immediately the military protection required.

Given the substantial evidence of efforts by the Government of Sudan to
obliterate and obscure its role in countless crimes against humanity,
ethic cleansing, and genocide, the mandate of the UN team must also be
immediately expanded to include investigations of all such efforts at
concealment.

Your leadership is urgently required, Mr. Secretary-General. Though
you asked on April 7, 2004 for the "establishment of a mechanism for an
early and clear warning about potential genocides," there is no such
mechanism available. But there is an overwhelming body of evidence that
makes clear the indisputable "potential" for genocide, indeed the
growing reality of genocide. In short, you don't require a further
"mechanism": it has been supplied to you by the research of Amnesty
International, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and
many others. These are examples of the very nongovernmental
organizations that, in the ghastly wake of Rwanda, were to have had a
much larger voice in UN thinking about the threat of genocide. And yet
you are not acting in a fashion that responds in a meaningful way to the
highly detailed and authoritative accounts these organizations have
offered.

Ongoing failure to provide urgent and appropriate leadership ensures
that your role in the history of genocide will not be singular. I
believe that you will be hearing from a growing number of those who also
feel that the genocidal destruction of the people of Darfur warrants
your most serious and immediate attention. What you can be sure of is
that the same history that found you so wanting during the genocide in
Rwanda continues to watch and judge. You have very little time in which
to escape the harshest of judgments.

Sincerely,
Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Transmitted via US Postal service and electronic mail, April 25, 2004
to:

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General
United Nations Headquarters
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

and

inquiries@un.org

(email address indicated for such communication of the UN website,
www.un.org)

Suffering Sudan: The Islamists cannot be our partners in peace 

April 27, 2004, 11:22 a.m.

By John Eibner

“Good faith." These are the words chosen by President Bush last Wednesday to describe the spirit in which Sudan's Islamist dictatorship is negotiating an end to 21 years of catastrophic civil war.

This perplexing statement did not get much hype from the administration's media men — for good reason. It contains not an ounce of political capital. The Left instinctively jeers, while the human-rights-conscious Right blushes.

Last April, the president was so confident in the U.S. partnership for peace with the Islamists of Khartoum that he announced that a comprehensive settlement would be finalized before the end of June 2003. The June deadline passed without an agreement. So too did the August deadline, and the October deadline, and the December deadline, and the February deadline, and now the April 2004 deadline.

Against the background of these dashed hopes, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher admits it would now be "foolhardy" to expect a quick peace. Another administration official speaks gloomily of "the difficult and stagnant pace of the talks," and warns that the "existing atmosphere foreshadows an uninspired effort to implement the terms of an accord."

So what is wrong with the bold Sudan peace initiative launched by President Bush in September 2001? Why is a comprehensive settlement so elusive? The biggest problem with the peace process is not a new one: the totalitarian Islamist ideology that permeates the regime of Sudan's president, Lt. Gen. Omer Bashir.

What is Bashir's political pedigree? In 1989, as a leading member of the extremist National Islamic Front, Bashir overthrew the elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq El Mahdi and established an Islamist regime based on terror. He declared jihad against opponents of Shariah, especially in the predominantly black, non-Muslim communities of Southern Sudan and adjacent regions.

So extensive were the crimes against humanity committed by Bashir's armed forces that President Bush and Congress declared in the Sudan Peace Act of October 2001: "The acts of the Government of Sudan...constitute genocide as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide." Bashir's terror was not only directed at Sudanese citizens: Sudan also became a hub of al Qaeda's international network, and was accordingly placed on the State Department's list of terrorist states.

When the president courageously set in motion the current peace process, the administration had a strategically important choice to make. It could continue Clinton's plan for regime replacement, or it could try to co-opt Sudan's Islamists by making them America's partners for peace. Sen. Danforth and his team opted tragically for the latter.

Like the failed Oslo Accords, the Sudan peace process has produced a fresh wave of death and destruction — but this one far surpasses the violence that engulfed the Holy Land after the Oslo bubble burst. The Sudanese government's cease-fire offensive in the western Upper Nile produced, as I have documented, massive displacement, murder, enslavement, and destruction. For the past twelve months, Bashir's Islamists have directed an extensive "ethnic cleansing" campaign — to quote the U.N. Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila — against restive black Muslim communities in the far west of the country. According to the latest U.N. reports, over one million civilians have been displaced, while many others have been killed or abducted and subject to gang-rape. Five U.N. fact-finders now await permission from the Sudanese government to enter the war zone to investigate what they call, in a leaked report, compelling evidence of "human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity."

Meanwhile in the Upper Nile province, the Episcopal Bishop of Renk, Rt. Revd. Daniel Deng, reports that Bashir's troops have razed 22 villages, displaced over 12,000 people, and killed "a great number." The massacres, he says, take place on the basis of "direct orders from...senior army commanders."

Such is the behavior of America's Islamist partner for peace. Can anyone who knows Sudan be surprised that Khartoum has failed to commit itself to a sustainable peace agreement? What is astonishing is the persistence of senior policy-makers in basing U.S. policy on the utopian dream of transforming Sudan's Islamist terrorists into respecters of democratic values. Even if they are bullied and cajoled into signing a peace agreement, it is difficult for a sober mind to conclude that this would be implemented in good faith.

President Bush has long understood that the Palestinian terrorists Yassir Arafat, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad cannot function as partners for peace in part because of a fundamental ideological disposition to wage jihad against the kufar (infidel). In Iraq and Saudi Arabia, radical Islamists have also proven to be unreliable partners for peace. Will our foreign-policy establishment now acknowledge that the Islamist rulers of Sudan have failed the test, and seek an alternative from within Sudan's democratic opposition?

"Scorched earth tactics," "ethnic cleansing," and "genocide" cannot serve as the backdrop for credible U.S.-sponsored peace talks, nor can the perpetrators of these crimes be rewarded with accolades of "good faith." There is an enormous discrepancy between what is happening in Sudan and President Bush's vision of democracy in the Islamic world. This fact will not be lost on brutal regimes both in that region and beyond.

— John Eibner is assistant to the president of Christian Solidarity International.

Friday, April 23, 2004

UN Commission on Human Rights Shamefully Fails the People of Darfur, Even as UN Human Rights Report Catalogs "Crimes Against Humanity" 

Eric Reeves
April 23, 2004

As the travesty that is the UN Commission on Human Rights today formally registered its indifference to the catastrophe in Darfur, Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC) issued its latest gruesome findings on the very realities the Commission has chosen to ignore:

"In a joint operation in the Darfur region of Sudan, [Khartoum] government troops working with Arab militias detained 136 African men whom the militias massacred hours later. [ ] The 136 men, all members of the Fur ethnic group aged between 20 and 60, were rounded up in early March in two separate sweeps in the Garsila and Mugjir areas in Wadi Saleh [south of Zalingei in West Darfur]. They were then taken in army lorries to nearby valleys where they were made to kneel before being killed with a bullet in the back of the neck." (Human Rights Watch, April 23, 2004)

A lone survivor, left for dead, was able to escape later that night and tell his story to human rights investigators.

Human Rights Watch also makes clear both that these actions are those of the Khartoum regime, not simply its Arab militia allies (the Janjaweed), and that there is a clear racial/ethnic animus in the attacks. Having documented dozens of attacks, Human Rights Watch said that "all but two of the attacks against black Africans were carried out
in conjunction with government forces."

"The janjaweed are no longer simply militias supported by the Sudanese government," Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch's executive director, said in the statement. "These militias work in unison with government troops, with total impunity for their massive crimes" (Human Rights Watch, April 23, 2004).

Indeed, in what is perhaps the most significant conclusion of the Human Rights Watch press release, the organization finds:

"The Wadi Saleh massacres conform to a well-established pattern of joint operations by government and janjaweed forces. Until early this year, the janjaweed had the support but not the active participation of the government army in their operations. In recent months, however, the vast majority of the attacks against the African population of Darfur
have been joint attacks by the regular army and the militias." (Human Rights Watch, April 23, 2004)

Dozens of such joint attacks have been documented by Human Rights Watch; dozens more have been documented by Amnesty International; and many, many more have been documented by other investigators---and by the UN human rights team, whose report was suppressed at the now adjourned annual meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Presumably this suppression of a UN report made it easier for fifty nations to support a resolution that did little more than politely ask the brutal Khartoum regime to be more considerate of people in Darfur.

The very regime that is engaged in mass executions, mass destruction and displacement, that has sponsored devastating military actions against civilian life and livelihood, and that has now made a famine in Darfur virtually inevitable, with the clear potential to kill hundreds of thousands of people---this is the regime that has, ever so temperately, been informed by the UN Commission on Human Rights that there is "deep concern" about the people of Darfur.

But in fact this is a shameful lie. There is no real concern represented in this resolution. The vote in Geneva today is a contemptible moral failure---a refusal to do anything meaningful in response to unambiguous and utterly authoritative evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, indeed genocide.

Alone among the nations represented in Geneva, the United States dared speak the truth. Making explicit again the comparison to the Rwandan genocide---a comparison previously made explicit by the former UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila---US Ambassador Richard Williamson declared:

"Ten years from today the only thing that will be remembered about the 60th annual Commission is whether we stand up on the ethnic cleansing going on in Sudan." (Reuters, April 22, 2004)

This massive failure on the part of the UN Commission, in light of so many current and previous failures, sounds the death knell for what should be one of the world's great forums for addressing human rights abuses.

But the vote of the Commission on Darfur does nothing to changes the realities on the ground, or to change the meaning of the human rights investigative document which was suppressed during deliberations on Darfur. A copy of the document has been obtained by this writer, and its findings are as horrifying as the many other reports on Darfur already in the public domain.

This UN human rights investigative team found "disturbing patterns of massive human rights violations in Darfur, many of which may constitute war crimes and/or crimes against humanity." It concluded by noting that there is a "reign of terror in Darfur," comprising:

"[a] Repeated attacks on civilians by Government of Sudan military and its proxy militia forces with a view to their displacement;

"[b] The use of systematic and indiscriminate aerial bombardments and ground attacks on unarmed civilians;

"[c] The use of disproportional force by the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed forces;

"[d] That the Janjaweed have operated with total impunity and in close coordination with the forces of the Government of Sudan;

"[e] The attacks appear to have been ethnically based with the groups targeted being essentially the following tribes reportedly of African origin: Zaghawas, Masaalit, and Furs. Men and young boys appear to have been particularly targeted in ground attacks; and

"[f] The pattern of attacks on civilians includes killing, rape, pillage, including of livestock, and destruction of property, including water sources."

("Report of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights mission to Chad, April 5-15, 2004," received in email as photocopy, embedded in PDF file, April 22, 2004; available upon request)

The team that concluded its thirteen-page report with these findings has detailed a great deal more of extraordinary significance, even as these findings and specific incidents are entirely consistent with what we already know because of the now very large body of human rights reporting on Darfur.

[The UN team, which was forced to remain for ten days (April 5 through April 15, 2004) on the Chad/Sudan border because the Khartoum regime refused it access to Darfur, and which was scheduled to enter Darfur yesterday (April 22, 2004), appears to have been forced to remain in Khartoum, as of late on Friday, April 23, 2004. It is already too late
for a flight to take off from Khartoum for any airport in Darfur; the mission is thus now apparently again delayed, presently for two days.]

Even if access is secured, we may expect to see a good deal more of this delay, as well as manipulation of access in a variety of ways---the contrivance of logistical problems, factitious "security concerns," "communications problems," and so on. The Khartoum regime is a master of such techniques, as it has demonstrated so impressively over
so many years in southern Sudan.

******************

The UN human rights team visited the northern portion of the very long border between Chad and Darfur (Sudan). It is exceedingly important to note that all human rights investigations, along the entire border (over 600 miles in length), are remarkably similar in their accounts and in the nature of the details reported by widely separated refugee
populations. The UN team itself reports that "there was a remarkable consistency in the witness testimony received by the mission in all places visited and in discussions with refugees who had entered Chad both many months ago and also very recently" (Paragraph 15).

What did the UN human rights investigation ("Report of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights mission to Chad, April 5-15, 2004") find of particular note?

One ominous finding takes on particular significance in light of the incident of mass execution reported by Human Rights Watch (see above):

"A significant majority of the refugee population appeared to be comprised of women and children; at one site---Tine---it was estimated that some 80% of the refugee population was made up of this group." (Paragraph 13)

The report later notes that "there were frequent reports of killings. More specifically, a number of refugees alleged that men, and even boys, were particular targets" (Paragraph 19). It also notes the Khartoum and its militia allies "indiscriminately attacked those who had not fled, such as the elderly and disabled [ ] with a particular emphasis on men
and boys" (Paragraph 35).

The inference that men and boys of African tribal groups are being summarily executed in very large numbers is inescapable.

Another deeply ominous finding, especially since the team was in the region as a "cease-fire" was nominally committed to by Khartoum:

"The earliest reports of attacks about which the mission heard took place in March 2003 with the most recent having allegedly occurred in April 2004: there were indications that these attacks had been intensifying in violence." (Paragraph 14)

The "intensifying" of violent attacks flies, of course, in the face of National Islamic Front President Omer Beshir's claim in early February 2004 that the fighting in Darfur had been ended with a "crushing" victory by Khartoum.

Like all other human rights reports on Darfur, the UN report offers evidence of a clear racial/ethnic animus in the human destruction. The UN human rights report declares that "refugees interviewed invariably described the Janjaweed [attackers] as being exclusively 'Arab,' as opposed to 'black' or 'African. [ ] There were frequent references by
the refugees to the Janjaweed and the Government of Sudan engaging in a policy designed to remove Africans from Darfur in order to obtain additional land" (Paragraph 21).

Here we must bear in mind that all evidence available has relentlessly revealed that displacement in Darfur is a means of destruction. The massive, "systematic" destruction of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, agricultural areas, water wells and irrigation (Paragraph 39) not only ensures displacement but also puts those displaced in extremely precarious and threatening situations. Many will clearly, inevitably die; and this is certainly known by the attackers. We cannot avoid the conclusion that, given the arduous difficulties of life and survival in Darfur, these attackers know that those civilians they are deliberately displacing will perish.

They are, in other words, "deliberately inflicting on the [African peoples of Darfur] conditions of life calculated to bring about [their physical destruction in whole or in part" (from clause [c], Article 2 of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide).

This is, of course, in addition to the direct human destruction of so many of these people. In speaking of those who have "disappeared" in Darfur, for example, the UN report finds that "the majority [of those who have 'disappeared'] appear to have been civilians: women, children, the elderly, and the sick, disabled, and wounded who were unable to
flee. [ ] Enforced disappearances constitute a crime against humanity when they are committed as part of a widespread of systematic attack directed against the civilian population" (Paragraphs 48, 49).

The UN team also reports on evidence that there is in Darfur "a policy of using rape and other serious forms of sexual violence as a weapon of war" (Paragraph 37).

And the report also discusses Khartoum's campaign of aerial military assaults, in very considerable detailed:

"Numerous witnesses interviewed in different locations described a consistent pattern of attacks comprising air bombardments using an Antonov military plane, ground troops in military vehicles and militias on horses and camels. All reports indicated that such bombardments are indiscriminate." (Paragraph 32)

"Bombs were sometimes dropped on crowded areas such as markets or communal wells; homes, shops, and fields were also destroyed. Some refugees reported that they were the object of such aerial attacks even as they were fleeing." (Paragraph 33)

******************

The people of Darfur may perhaps be forgiven for taking little comfort from the fatuous sympathy of the UN Commission on Human Rights:

"The Commission expresses its solidarity with the Sudan in overcoming the current situation." (Resolution on Darfur, the UN Commission on Human Rights [Geneva], April 23, 2004)

Such "solidarity" is a contemptible scrap of factitious pity. It means nothing. All that will matter is a full investigation of the "crimes against humanity" that have already been ascertained by the UN investigative team evidently still in Khartoum. Moreover, unless this team is substantially augmented, guided by a much greater sense of urgency, and given a significantly wider mandate, no adequate investigation can be conducted.

Today's shameful vote by the UN Commission on Human Rights makes distinctly more remote the prospects for such investigation.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Reuters News Agency Obtains Copy of Unreleased UN Report on Darfur: Human Rights Team on the Chad/Sudan Border Finds a "Reign of Terror" 

Reuters News Agency Obtains Copy of Unreleased UN Report on Darfur: Human Rights Team on the Chad/Sudan Border Finds a "Reign of Terror"

Eric Reeves
April 22, 2004

Reuters is discreet in registering its journalistic coup, but in speaking of a UN human rights investigative report on Darfur, "obtained by Reuters on Wednesday [April 21, 2004]," Reuters is revealing a truly extraordinary document, one that had unconscionably been suppressed by the UN Human Rights Commission. The UN investigative report finds, on the basis of its recent 10-day assessment along the Chad/Sudan border, that "[Khartoum's regular] troops and Arab militias appear to have launched a reign of terror against black Africans in Sudan's western Darfur region," and that the investigative team has found compelling evidence of "human rights abuses, war crimes, and crimes against humanity" (Reuters, April 21, 2004).

To understand how significant this is document is, and how shockingly expedient its suppression has been, we must bear in mind the forces at play here. Khartoum's National Islamic Front regime had bargained forcefully for the continued withholding of this document by the UN. Indeed, Khartoum has finally granted (at least nominally) access inside Darfur to the previously obstructed UN human rights investigative team, but only in return for suppression of the team's report from the Chad/Sudan border. The purpose here was to ensure that in today's debate about Khartoum's human rights record, especially in Darfur, this document would not be part of the evidence considered. The UN expediently went along with this deal in order to obtain access to Darfur for its human rights investigative team. As Reuters reports in its April 21, 2004 dispatch:

"Some diplomats say the Sudanese pledge late on Monday to let the [UN human] rights team in may have been intended to delay presentation of the report and influence the outcome of a vote on Sudan in the Commission, due on Thursday [April 22, 2004]." (Reuters, April 21, 2004)

Human Rights Watch, which is present in Geneva where the UN Human Rights Commission is today scheduled to take up the issue of Khartoum's human rights record, immediately caught on to this shameful bargaining, and in a press release of yesterday circumspectly, but unambiguously, declared:

"Unexpectedly, the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights decided yesterday [April 20, 2004] not to release its report [of the UN human rights investigative team] on Darfur to the Commission, which on Friday will conclude its annual six-week session. The decision came at the same time as a move by the Sudanese government, which had denied the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights access to the country for the past two weeks, to finally grant it travel authorization. The Sudanese government had allegedly called for a delay in the release, arguing that the report would be 'incomplete' without a visit to Sudan."

As Joanna Weschler, Human Rights Watch's U.N. Representative more forcefully declared: "Denying the United Nations access is one of the delaying tactics the Sudanese government is using to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community. The [UN] High Commissioner [for Human Rights] office has an obligation to present the best available information on Darfur to the Commission while it is still in session" (Human Rights Watch [Geneva], April 21, 2004).

What Reuters is able to convey of the now-revealed UN report comports fully with the findings of other human rights investigations by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, humanitarian organizations, and journalists. The UN team found the same savage weapons of war on civilians, in particular the African tribal groups of the region, primarily the Fur, Massaleit, and Zaghawa: "rape, pillage, torture, murder and arson in villages and towns across Darfur, as well as attacks by helicopter gunships and by aircraft dropping bombs" (Reuters, April 21, 2004). It cannot be stressed too often that the only aerial military assets in the Darfur conflict belong to Khartoum, and that Antonov bombers are actually retrofitted cargo planes, with a highly limited accuracy that makes them primarily weapons for attacks on civilian targets.

We must also recall that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group and others have found numerous, independently confirming reports of close military coordination between Khartoum's regular forces and its Arab militia allies (the Janjaweed), and that these reports relentlessly highlight the vicious racial/ethnic animus in what is overwhelmingly civilian destruction.

But still there is something of particular importance in a UN investigative body finding in Darfur a "reign of terror" and compelling evidence of "human rights abuses, war crimes, and crimes against humanity" (Reuters, April 21, 2004). Insofar as the UN claims to be the embodiment of the international community, these findings have both special authority and impose special obligations. If the UN shirks these obligations, and doesn't demonstrate itself worthy of this authority, then its claims about embodying the "international community" are deeply morally compromised.

That the first response of the UN was one of shameful expediency---a withholding of the report of its own human rights investigative team as part of some under-the-table deal with Khartoum---is already deeply dismaying and profoundly undermines the credibility of the UN generally, but particularly in its response to the Darfur catastrophe. This expediency also calls into question the integrity of UN responses going forward in responding to "crimes against humanity" in Darfur, indeed genocide.

There are immediate steps the UN can take to correct this present course of expediency. If "crimes against humanity" are indeed being committed in Darfur, an area the size of France, then it will take a great many more than the five persons of the present UN investigative team. The UN and others in the international community must demand an immediate and highly substantial increase in both personnel and logistical support. If access is threatened by security concerns in some areas, the UN must be willing to deploy the military forces that can protect human rights investigators---and humanitarian assessment workers, if access is ever secured (Khartoum has twice now denied such access, even as the humanitarian crisis continues sliding towards utter catastrophe).

The urgency guiding the investigating team must be dramatically increased, and the mandate very substantially expanded as well. This is especially true in light of highly credible reports of impending exterminations in the concentration camps for displaced African populations. The numerous and highly credible reports of Khartoum's efforts to conceal evidence of genocidal destruction in Darfur also require an increased urgency and dramatically expanded mandate. And again, this can only be accomplished with a much larger, more robust, and fully equipped and well-protected human rights investigating team. There must also be a full complement of appropriate Arabic-speaking translators who have no connection to the Khartoum regime and who will not be at risk when UN personnel depart the areas of investigation.

Further, the team must be prepared to stay as long as the investigation warrants: Khartoum cannot be allowed to impose any artificial deadline. Senior UN officials have previously described the realities of Darfur as "scorched-earth" warfare leading to "ethnic cleansing"; the present UN investigating team reports "crimes against humanity," as does Human Rights Watch:

"Hundreds of thousands of people have been victims of crimes against humanity committed by government forces and allied militias, and many are currently concentrated in camps and settlements around the major towns, where they continue to be attacked and looted by government-backed militias" (Human Rights Watch press release [Geneva], April 21, 2004)

There can be no deadline for this investigation that is governed by anything other than the gravity of these monstrous crimes.

Here we must bear in mind that the UN has recently increased its estimate of those displaced in Darfur to over 1 million, with an additional population of well over 100,000 having fled into Chad (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [al-Fashir], April 19, 2004). This enormous population is at the most acute risk, both from military predations (which continue to be reported in large numbers, despite the April 8, 2004 cease-fire signed by Khartoum) and from the growing threat of famine and disease (see the terrifying assessment from the US Agency for International Development, predicting a major famine by November/December 2004 (US AID "Projected Mortality Rates in Darfur, Sudan 2004-05" (data at http://www.usaid.gov/locations/subsaharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf).

These vast numbers, the repeated finding of "crimes against humanity" by the UN and Human Rights Watch, and others, and the compelling evidence that these brutal realities of human destruction and displacement in aggregate constitute genocide---all demand that the investigation in Darfur be dramatically increased in size, be guided by a much greater sense of urgency, and have a mandate to investigate all credible reports of human rights abuses, "ethnic cleansing," "crimes against humanity," and genocide. Khartoum's clear efforts to conceal these crimes must also be vigorously investigated.

This is what should be done. But what will be done? An answer here must confront the clear prospect that the Khartoum regime will, in light of the disclosure of this deeply damning report, simply deny access to the UN human rights investigative team presently in the region. The pretext for denial will certainly be outright prevarication, wrapped in an unctuous self-righteousness. But unless the UN and the international community are prepared to respond immediately, the regime's decision will govern. This will provide terrifying incentive for Khartoum to accelerate its campaign of human destruction and the obliterating of as much evidence as possible evidence of genocide.

Another possibility is that Khartoum will nominally grant "access" to the UN human rights team, but work to curtail meaningful access. Various locations will be denied because of "insecurity"---as determined by Khartoum. There will be contrived logistical problems. There are a host of measures by which Khartoum can undermine the integrity of this investigation.

But the only acceptable response by the UN and the international community, in light of all that is known and for which there is highly credible evidence, is to begin an unfettered investigation immediately with the team presently in the region and prepared to move into Darfur, and to insist on a dramatic increase in the size of the investigating team and to expand the mandate guiding the investigation. Above all, there must be a dramatic increase in urgency: Khartoum's obstructionism, delaying tactics, and time-consuming hindrances must be swept away by clear international resolve to halt "ethnic cleansing," "crimes against humanity," and genocide.

If Khartoum refuses to accept immediate entrance of a large, mobile, fully logistically supported investigating team, such a team must be moved into Darfur under substantial international military protection. Such a military force should also be large enough to begin the critical process of protecting those civilians at greatest risk: the African populations in the concentration camps controlled by the Janjaweed (see previous dispatches on these camps by from this writer; available upon request). There are highly credible and extremely alarming reports that the populations in these camps are at risk of "extermination." Given the utterly defenseless situation of these people, huge numbers can be killed in a very short period of time---either violently, or by the total denial of water and food. Conditions conducive to such extermination are already being reported in a number of camps.

This is the very moment of truth for Darfur, for the UN, and for the entire international community. Either we intervene to stop what all evidence suggests is genocide, or we will be acquiescing in the continuing perpetration of this ultimate crime. We will also be accepting Khartoum's brutal obduracy in trying to conceal its crimes.

Is there an "international community"? We will soon find out; the signs are not encouraging.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA
ereeves@smith.edu

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Khartoum Blocks UN Investigations and Departs Peace Talks in Naivasha 

As Human Destruction Accelerates in Darfur and Upper Nile Provinces, Khartoum Blocks UN Investigations and Departs Peace Talks in Naivasha: The Moral Failure of the International Community Deepens Daily

Eric Reeves
April 18, 2004

History will record the spring of 2004 as a moment of the profoundest moral failure on the part of the international community. Vast and accelerating human destruction in Darfur, as well as in Upper Nile Province in southern Sudan, directly related to the actions and intransigence of Khartoum's National Islamic Front regime, is proceeding without meaningful response. Perversely, on the grim tenth anniversary of the ghastly 100 days of the Rwandan genocide, with impending casualty figures in Darfur bearing ever clearer comparison to those in Rwanda, the world again is simply watching---irresolute, diffident, inert.

It is as though history, ten years after witnessing such appalling moral failure in Rwanda, had decided to give the world another chance---only this time with much more time and opportunity to intervene. But again, the world has failed, has chosen not to respond to the challenges of the moment, and has refused to hear the cries of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians moving relentlessly closer to destruction. This destruction is not random or simply the by-product of war. In the case of Darfur, a terrible new human holocaust is proceeding directly out of concerted, widespread, ethnically/racially-animated destruction of the African peoples of the region.

We know this by virtue of incessant and authoritative reports, chillingly similar, from human rights groups, humanitarian organizations, and news reporters. And yet there is no evident willingness on the part of the UN or others in the international community to challenge Khartoum, even as the regime purposefully blocks entry into Darfur of both a UN human rights investigating team (which has now been forced to return to Geneva without ever gaining access to Darfur) and a UN humanitarian assessment team, to have been led by Jan Egeland, the UN's most senior humanitarian aid official. Khartoum simply declared to Egeland that it "needed more time." Egeland was to have departed on April 15, 2004. We can only imagine what destruction of evidence is occurring daily, what brutal further displacement of witnesses is being accomplished, and how many people are being killed so that their voices can never be heard.

And amidst this deepening moral failure, we also see daily how much closer the region approaches to utter catastrophe. A particularly disturbing report today (April 18, 2004) from the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) gives us a good deal more insight into the consequences of Khartoum's previously orchestrated and ongoing violence:
mass killings, forced displacement, widespread rape, torture, and devastation of food, water, and agricultural resources:

"Time is running short for about a million Sudanese displaced by fighting in the remote Darfur region, with signs of a health crisis out of control, a senior World Health Organisation (WHO) official said on Sunday. Guido Sabatinelli, WHO's Sudan representative, said fighting was still impeding access to some areas in Darfur near the border with Chad,
despite a week-old ceasefire deal between rebels and Khartoum to allow urgent humanitarian aid in. U.N. officials have described the Darfur conflict as ethnic cleansing." [ ]

"'Time is running short. It is really running short. In the next days I'd like...unimpeded access that means the security is ensured, the ceasefire maintained (and) donor response,' Sabatinelli told Reuters by telephone from Khartoum. Rainy season in the vast Darfur region begins at the end of May and brings the threat of malaria and the spread of
disease in makeshift camps with no sanitation for those fleeing the violence."

"Sabatinelli said African farmers had to return to their villages to plant their crops before the rains, or they would be reliant on food aid for at least the next year. 'Maybe it's not too late yet, but in three weeks, yes, it will be too late,' he said." (Reuters, April 18, 2004)

A huge part of the problem in Darfur continues to be Khartoum's denial of travel permits to humanitarian aid workers, even as these permits and unimpeded access were accepted by Khartoum as part of the cease-fire agreement of April 8, 2004 (N'Djamena, Chad). Yet again the regime has reneged on a signed agreement, and the patterns of terribly
consequential obstruction continue, both according to Reuters and to confidential reports reaching this writer from a variety humanitarian workers and officials:

"Aid workers have said Khartoum did not provide permits to access areas of Darfur where many of the displaced are camped. The United Nations warns of a humanitarian crisis. 'We have not seen any improvement (in permits) but we are requesting them to provide unimpeded humanitarian access,' said Sabatinelli." (Reuters, April 18, 2004)

And in an especially disturbing finding, WHO's Sabatinelli reported on the mortality rate for children in a camp for the displaced he visited last week:

"Mortality rates among children under five in the camp were 6.8 per 10,000, about seven times the norm and defined as a 'crisis out of control.' He also said child malnutrition rates were about 50 percent, with one third severely affected." (Reuters, April 18, 2004)

As the statistics start to pile up along with the bodies in Darfur, it is important that these numbers not lose their ability to convey real human meaning, and indeed to shock. We must bear in mind, then, the significance of each death per day per population of 10,000. The US Agency for International Development considers one death per day per
10,000 the "emergency" threshold; two deaths per day per 10,000 is a "situation out of control"; and a rate of four deaths per day per 10,000 is considered a "major catastrophe." (The private medical relief organization Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres considers three deaths per day per 10,000 a "catastrophic mortality rate.")

Again, the mortality rate for children under five, in the camp Sabatinelli visited last week, was 6.8 children under five dying per day per 10,000.

Over the terrifying longer term, the US Agency for International Development (US AID) now projects mortality global rates gradually rising to 20 people per day per 10,000 in Darfur for the November/December period of 2004, and only declining because the "cumulative death rate will have reached approximately 30% of the vulnerable group" (US AID "Projected Mortality Rates in Darfur, Sudan 2004-05" (data at http://www.usaid.gov/locations/subsaharan_africa/sudan/cmr_darfur.pdf).

This is the context in which we must judge the international community's unwillingness to do more to plan for humanitarian intervention in Darfur, even as the UN declares that this destruction proceeds from "ethnic cleansing"---ever more clearly a euphemizing of present realities.

For the human destruction in Darfur is clearly genocide if we will be guided by the clear language of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It is among the grimmest ironies marking the holocaust in Darfur that a Convention insistently meant by its authors, preeminently Raphael Lemkin, to "prevent" genocide
is apparently--- in this critical ambition---being ignored by virtue of semantic diffidence about the very realities described in Article 2.

That the genocide is being accomplished not by means of machetes but through the agonizing deaths of starvation and disease, engineered by Khartoum and its Janjaweed militias, only makes this ultimate crime the more savage---and inaction the more unforgivable.

But Khartoum's present agenda of human destruction includes more than Darfur. Rather than complete a peace agreement with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army in Naivasha (Kenya), the National Islamic Front's lead negotiator---the powerful First Vice President Ali Osman Taha---yesterday (April 17, 2004) decamped from Naivasha to Khartoum for three days. This has forced the suspension of any further negotiated progress on the key outstanding issue of Islamic law (shari'a) in the national capital, and thus the signing of a final peace agreement. (Taha's departure conspicuously, and contemptuously, comes virtually on the eve of a required Presidential determination about the peace process
per the terms of the US Sudan Peace Act, a determination due to be reported to the Congress on April 21, 2004.)

What is happening during this contrived absence by Taha? A dispatch today from the Associated Press gives an overview of Khartoum's ongoing violence against southern Sudanese.

"At least 50,000 people have fled their homes in recent weeks because of militia attacks and fighting between Sudanese government and rebel forces in southern Sudan, the United Nations said Sunday. The clashes between the government forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army rebels occurred despite a cease-fire between the warring parties, which are involved in talks to end the country's 21-year civil war.

"Since early March, the United Nations has received reports of villages, schools and health clinics being destroyed and looted, as well as incidents of rape in Shilluk Kingdom in the northern Upper Nile region, the office of the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan said in a statement. Most of the attacks have been carried out by militia that oppose the rebels, said Ben Parker, a U.N. spokesman. 'The most serious fighting that has affected civilians has been from militia targeting civilian settlements,' he said in a telephone interview from Sudan. 'Fighting between government troops and rebels is a much smaller element in the conflict, as far as we know.''' (Associated Press, April 18, 2004)

As a result of Khartoum's military actions, "U.N. agencies and aid groups have been forced to suspend operations in the area because of the violence." (Associated Press, April 18, 2004)

But we know a good deal more about the situation in the Shilluk Kingdom of Upper Nile than Associated Press reports, this by virtue of a series of very recent "situation reports" ("sit reps") produced by the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT; based in Rumbek, southern Sudan, and Khartoum). Despite its deeply suspicious failure to produce a final
report on these attacks against civilians and on human displacement in the Shilluk Kingdom of Upper Nile---the last investigation reported on the CPMT website is March 19, 2004---these CPMT "sit reps," forwarded to this writer from a confidential source, are disturbingly revealing.

Some telling highlights (two much fuller accounts by this writer [April 2 and 6, 2004] are available upon request):

"Popwojo [Shilluk Kingdom]:

"Assessed as [more than] 97% destroyed (Photo 4)
"CPMT witnessed/photographed fresh grave mounds (Photo 5)

"Village pastor/school teacher identified each grave by name and discussed the manner in which he found the bodies

"Thousands of civilians displaced and in urgent need of humanitarian intervention (numbers given by witnesses in this village estimate displaced at 19,100 between the villages on Diny and Popwojo)"

"A CPMT member with 18 months of CPMT field investigative experience described this as the worst systematic destruction/displacement of civilians he has personally observed since the formation of the CPMT in August 2002."

"A second CPMT member with over 8 years of Sudan experience and 16 months with CPMT described the Government of Sudan offensive in the Malakal area as reminiscent of the devastating 'clearing' of the oil region in the Western Upper Nile in the late 1990s." (Malakal Area Destruction SITREP # 2; March 31, 2004)

Another Khartoum-initiated attack is described in the same "sit rep":

"Nyilwak [Shilluk Kingdom]

"Assessed as [more than] 75% destroyed (Photo 1)
Eight civilian men (aged 18-60) killed while trying to flee (CPMT witnessed/photographed fresh grave mounds [Photo 2] and interviewed surviving family members)"

These CPMT "sit reps" comport fully with the very recent report of the Right Reverend Daniel Deng, Bishop of Renk (Episcopal Church of Sudan), and chairman of the church's Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Committee (report from the Right Reverend Daniel Deng, April 14, 2004):

"Having just visited Malakal Diocese from 4th-12th April on behalf of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Committee, I am writing to appeal against recent activities of government-backed militia in the area."

"From March 26, 2004 through until the second week of April, Shilluk land was invaded by the government militia. The villages on the west bank of the Nile have been all burnt down by the government militia. 22 villages were burnt down during the period of two weeks [Reverend Deng provides the names of the villages in his dispatch; available upon
request]. 12,335 persons have been displaced to Malakal town, a great number of people have been killed and no one has reported about their fate. The UN World Food Program, SCC, and other non-governmental organizations are now very busy running up and down feeding the displaced people. These people had been well-settled in villages for a
long time, but now they are re-displaced again, just at the time the country is waiting for a peace agreement to be signed."

"When this event took place, the whole town was watching across the river, seeing how the Shilluk people were being killed by the government militia. In full view, the militia were going around with guns and shooting people. Soldiers were there just watching like at a football match. The government army garrison on the West bank of the Nile did
nothing to intervene to save the life of the citizens under their care. This has made us to conclude that it was the Government who carried out the killing. The militia who carried out the killing were part of the Sudan army because all the militia have been promoted into the government army. In consequence they get direct orders from the senior
army commanders."

"The silence of the Upper Nile State Government, the Coordinating Council of the South and the Federal Government of Sudan has showed that the Sudan Government is responsible for the burning of villages, the killing and the displacement of more than twelve thousand people of the Shilluk Kingdom." (Report of the Right Reverend Daniel Deng, April 14, 2004; received via e-mail, April 15, 2004)

These reports make clear that Khartoum has continued with a major military offensive in the Shilluk Kingdom, using both its regular forces and its militia allies. The intent is to destroy and displace civilians, just as it is in Darfur. It is not surprising that one experienced member of CPMT would "describe the Government of Sudan offensive in the Malakal area as reminiscent of the devastating 'clearing' of the oil region in the Western Upper Nile in the late 1990s." Not surprising either is the failure of such human displacement
and destruction in Sudan to command the moral attention of the international community.

****************

But why is this not enough to move the international community to action? Why are Khartoum's flagrant violations of the October 15, 2002 cessation of hostilities agreement not the occasion of vigorous criticism? Why is such civilian suffering, displacement, and death not of sufficient importance to merit condemnation by the UN, the US and the rest of the international community? Are there any so naive as to believe that muting criticism of Khartoum somehow makes this cynical regime more likely to negotiate in good faith? Could a clearer incentive than silence be given to this savagely callous regime?

And how in Darfur, how on the occasional of this ongoing tenth anniversary of terrible international moral failure, can the Khartoum regime continue its genocidal destruction? Why does the UN acquiesce in Khartoum's denial of urgently needed human rights and humanitarian assessments? Why when we know the enormity of the civilian population
at extremely acute risk, dying by the day in greater and greater number, are we doing nothing?

History, aghast at the failure of spring 1994, has afforded the world a "second chance." But this, too, is being squandered, and any just history will perforce record this inability to answer to the occasion---and judge with appropriate, which is to say savage, harshness.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu


Even As an Agreement in Naivasha Now Appears Imminent, Khartoum Continues Campaigns of Human Destruction in Southern Sudan and Darfur 

Even As an Agreement in Naivasha Now Appears Imminent, Khartoum Continues Campaigns of Human Destruction in Southern Sudan and Darfur

Eric Reeves
April 6, 2004

Authoritative reports from the Naivasha talks in Kenya, including dispatches from Reuters and Agence France-Presse, suggest that US pressure---exerted with a deadline defined by the rapid approach of a Presidential determination per the requirements of the Sudan Peace Act---has succeeded in ending Khartoum's months of stalling on conclusion of a peace agreement. Given the extremely precarious nature of these negotiations, and continual shifts in Khartoum's diplomatic willingness to engage, nothing can be certain; outstanding issues remain. But most of the difficult issues around power-sharing and the three contested areas have now been resolved, and the odds have shifted significantly in favor of the signing of an agreement.

This, of course, marks only the beginning of the real work in making a just and sustainable peace in Sudan. A peace agreement is indispensable, but does nothing in and of itself; it merely creates the opportunity for peace actually to be made. It will require extraordinary work, a very substantial commitment of resources---and immediate efforts to secure the terms of the peace agreement and to build confidence on both sides.

Such confidence, however, is impossible to imagine while Khartoum continues its campaigns of human destruction in Darfur and in the Shilluk Kingdom of Upper Nile Province in southern Sudan (and continues to violate other terms of the October 15, 2002 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and the February 4, 2003 "Addendum" to this Cessation of
Hostilities Agreement).

[1] A number of recent human rights reports, editorials, published analyses, and wire dispatches suggest that the world is now finally awakening to the horrors of Khartoum's genocidal war in Darfur. Even so, we are still struggling to grasp the immensity of the catastrophe---in terms of human displacement, the physical destruction of villages, water systems, and agricultural capacity, and the number of those who have already perished or seem destined to perish. But on this latter issue, consensus seems to be crystallizing around the figure of over 30,000 first used by Sudan Focal Point, South Africa ("A View of Sudan from Africa: Monthly Briefing," January 2004).

But as horrific as this number is, implying a casualty rate of 1,000 people per week in the recent months of the conflict, it may well be a vast understatement. Here we need to hear carefully the statement from Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), reported today by Reuters:

"'The scale of the violence is indescribable,' said Coralie Lechelle, an emergency coordinator with medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres, who has just returned from four months in Darfur. 'In every village they're talking about hundreds of people killed.'" (Reuters, April 6, 2004)

And we know, from numerous sources, that many hundreds of villages have been reported destroyed, For example, Amnesty International, in its comprehensive report of February 3, 2004 ("Darfur: Too Many People Killed for No Reason"), reports in just one paragraph of its lengthy account:

"Scores of civilians fled to Kabkabiya town between June and August 2003. Reports alleged that 300 villages had been attacked or burnt to the ground in the area. Many displaced were reportedly living in the open or in the local school in Kabkabiya, having very little or no access to humanitarian aid. For instance, hundreds had fled after an
attack on Shoba, a Fur village situated 7 km south of Kabkabiya on 25 July, by armed militia wearing government army uniforms, in which at least 51 Shoba villagers, including many elders, were killed." (page 35)

MSF also declares in its own press release, "from what we could see, there are heavy massacres and violence in the region." (Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres, "We Could See Villages Burning Along the Road," March 2004; www.doctorswithoutborders.org/publications/voices/sudan_03-2004.shtm)

MSF has so far proved the most intrepid and resilient humanitarian organization operating in Darfur; their reporting must be regarded as especially authoritative. This shocking description of casualties---"In every village they're talking about hundreds of people killed"---must force very careful consideration of how vast human destruction has already become.

Just as shocking is the horrific prospective view offered by Roger Winter of the US Agency for International Development:

"Aside from the death, destruction, and long-term hostility that the conflict has already caused, our humanitarian experts believe that as many as 100,000 may die over the coming months in Darfur, even if a ceasefire is achieved this week. The toll will rise proportionate to any delays." (Remarks from Roger Winter, USAID Assistant Administrator for the Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance Bureau; Inter-Sudanese Conflict Meeting, N'Djamena (Chad), March 31, 2004)

But the chances for any near-term humanitarian cease-fire seem as of this writing extremely remote. Khartoum refuses to meet directly with the political leadership of the two Darfur insurgency groups at the present "negotiations" in N'djamena (Chad); Khartoum "refuses to allow international observers to attend the negotiations" (Agence France-Presse, April 6, 2004), even as this is the fundamental demand of the insurgency groups; Khartoum has also ordered the weak Chad government of Idris Deby to deny entry visas to political leaders from one of the two groups; and the regime is so far unwilling to move beyond procedural issues: it is simply "talking about talking" in N'Djamena, as one informed participant described the current state of affairs.

In short, though we cannot be sure what the present total of casualties is in Darfur, we can be certain that it is or will be many, many tens of thousands. Indeed, it is difficult to see how, from all available evidence (including, increasingly, aerial surveillance), that the ultimate human destruction can be less than 150,000 civilians dying as a consequence of Khartoum's ethnically/racially animated war on the African peoples of Darfur.

[2] Even as this holocaust continues Khartoum has escalated conflict in the south, in particular in the Shilluk Kingdom of Upper Nile Province. A recent dispatch from this writer highlighted what has been reported by wire services and what is being reported from the ground by highly authoritative regional sources. Dismayingly, this is yet another occasion requiring that the international community recognize the failure of the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) to investigate attacks on civilians in southern Sudan in a timely, thorough, and effective fashion. Indeed, the failure to investigate the attack on eight humanitarian workers in Nimne (Western Upper Nile) in February of this year is a permanent stain on the moral integrity of CPMT.

But a series of very recent "situation reports" ("sit reps") produced by CPMT have reached this writer from a confidential source, and despite their shortcomings, these "sit reps" are the source of important details and a telling assessment of the present situation in the Shilluk Kingdom.

[The Shilluk, like the Dinka and Nuer, are part of the larger Nilotic tribal group; the Shilluk Kingdom comprises an area mainly north of Malakal town in Upper Nile Province. The defection of Shilluk commander Lam Akol back to the SPLM/A in October 2003 does much to explain, though certainly not justify, Khartoum's decision to launch intense military
offensives in this area.]

Some telling highlights from these "sit reps" by the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT):

"Popwojo [Shilluk Kingdom]:

Assessed as [more than] 97% destroyed (Photo 4)
CPMT witnessed/photographed fresh grave mounds (Photo 5)

Village pastor/school teacher identified each grave by name and discussed the manner in which he found the bodies

Thousands of civilians displaced and in urgent need of humanitarian intervention (numbers given by witnesses in this village estimate displaced at 19,100 between the villages on Diny and Popwojo)

A CPMT member with 18 months of CPMT field investigative experience described this as the worst systematic destruction/displacement of civilians he has personally observed since the formation of the CPMT in August 2002.

A second CPMT member with over 8 years of Sudan experience and 16 months with CPMT described the Government of Sudan offensive in the Malakal area as reminiscent of the devastating 'clearing' of the oil region in the Western Upper Nile in the late 1990s." (Malakal Area Destruction SITREP # 2; March 31, 2004)

Another Khartoum-initiated attack is described in the same "sit rep":

Nyilwak [Shilluk Kingdom]

Assessed as [more than] 75% destroyed (Photo 1) Eight civilian men (aged 18-60) killed while trying to flee (CPMT witnessed/photographed fresh grave mounds [Photo 2] and interviewed surviving family members)

Close to 30 civilians wounded; exact count not yet established because of widespread displacement. Reportedly several thousand head of cattle had been stolen and taken to
Malakal Reportedly all grain stocks had been stolen or burnt

NGO compounds and clinic (VSF Germany and World Vision) have been looted and razed (Photo 3)

Thousands of civilians displaced and in urgent need of humanitarian intervention (Malakal Area Destruction SITREP # 2; March 31, 2004)

Other details from another CPMT "sit rep":

"The CPMT witnessed & photographed approximately 100 burned Tukuls along the Nile River south of Oriny all the way to just north of Malakal. The burning along this stretch encompasses the villages mentioned above but destruction is intermittent (burnt/destroyed tukuls are inter-dispersed with intact tukuls). (Photo #1)." (Malakal Area Destruction, SITREP # 5, April 4, 2004)

"On March 30, 2004, CPMT flew aerial reconnaissance along the Bahr al Ghazal River, South of Malakal between Nyilwak, southwest to Popwojo. (Reference MAP attached) Flight revealed numerous razed villages. Conservative estimation of destroyed homes in this small stretch: 700 Tukuls. IDPs could be seen in clusters beneath trees along the southern
bank of the river.: (CPMT Malakal Area Destruction SITREP # 3)

There is a good deal more in these "sit reps," but of particular significance is the account of who is responsible for the fighting, and this account points unambiguously to Khartoum and its militia allies in the region:

"There are numerous reports from witnesses that Government of Sudan militia, Government of Sudan regulars and Government of Sudan Police attacked villages all around Malakal in the Shilluk Kingdom. All witnesses state that combined Nuer, Shilluk, and Murle militia forces of Gabriel Tanginya, James Othow, Thomas Mabor, Gordon Kong, Simon Gatwic,
Joseph Mabota, Moktar Salim and Arok Moijok supported by Government of Sudan regular troops and police from Tonga and Malakal and their surrounding garrisons are conducting these attacks. Further, witnesses claim that Government of Sudan regulars from Malakal have been supporting the attacks with artillery/mortar fire from barges and 'steamers' along the Bahr al Ghazal River." (Malakal Area Destruction SITREP # 2; March 31, 2004)

These "sit reps" make clear that Khartoum has instigated a major military offensive in the Shilluk Kingdom, using both its regular forces and its militia allies. The intent is to destroy and displace civilians, just as it is in Darfur. It is not surprising that one experienced member of CPMT would "describe the Government of Sudan offensive in the Malakal area as reminiscent of the devastating 'clearing' of the oil region in the Western Upper Nile in the late 1990s."

But if not surprising, this renewed assault on southern civilians forces a critical question: is Khartoum's evident decision to sign a peace agreement in Naivasha worth anything? anything at all? The ongoing contempt for African lives, whether in Darfur or southern Sudan, could not be clearer. Why should we assume that a signature on a piece of paper will make any difference? Let us bear in mind that the National Islamic Front regime has signed many agreements---and has violated or abrogated every single one of them. The attacks in the Shilluk Kingdom, again, are clear and highly consequential violations of both the October 15, 2002 and February 4, 2003 agreements concerning offensive military actions in southern Sudan.

Why will it be different this time in Naivasha?

There is only one possible answer: the international community must offer unwavering determination and commitment of resources---diplomatic, material, and peacekeeping. This alone will allow the peace agreement to be translated into true peace. Khartoum's cynical calculation, supported by far too much evidence from the past, is that such "unwavering determination" and "commitment of resources" is extremely unlikely. The regime believes that it can sign an agreement, having held out to the last possible moment, largely to mute international criticism of its genocidal war in Darfur, and now reap all the benefits of "making an historic peace." And then the regime hopes to wait until international attention and commitment drift away, thereby creating innumerable opportunities for reneging on various terms of the agreement.

It is shameful how simultaneously obvious and disingenuous Khartoum's strategy is. All that can avert a ghastly amplification of this shame, shame all the more conspicuously on display as we mark the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide---all that can forestall the resumption of catastrophic civilian destruction in Sudan in the coming months---is [1] the most urgent deployment of a large UN peace support operation, with full logistical capacities, capable personnel, and military protection if necessary; [2] a very rapid increase in
commitments to emergency transitional aid in the south; [3] and a determined effort to bring peace and justice to Darfur, beginning with an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

None of these is in sight; neither then is a just or sustainable peace for Sudan.

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
ereeves@smith.edu

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