The Genocidal Horrors And Persisting Barbarities In The Sudan
Sunday, 27 June 2004
The horrifying conditions being endured by millions of Black African Sudanese, were catalogued by Nicholas Kristof Esq. of The New York Times in a series of heart wrenching articles, he did a remarkable job of reporting the genocide and ethnic/religious cleansing, taking place in Darfur Sudan, as he portrayed the horrific and protracted conflict in the Sudan, and the genocide in Darfur, which has been financed and supplied, amply with materials, by the so-called government in the Sudan. What has happened or still happening in Darfur, is complete human tragedy in every sense!
The Sudanese government, that ought to protect all its citizens, and provide for every citizen’s safety and security is widely reported, engaged in despicable acts, as the current government in Khartoum has disgustingly, supported and encouraged pillaging bands of Arabs, called Janjaweed, (sounds more like they have been smoking Ganja-Weeds?) (Considering the egregious violations of human rights!) The Sudanese government has been implicated in this catastrophes, it is actively engineered by the Khartoum government, in order to illegally, re-engineer the color line, to tilt the ethnic and religious configuration of the Sudan, particularly, the region that is called Darfur.
It is noteworthy, that the Khartoum government and its opposition recently reached, yet again, another peace agreement, to end the protracted internecine war in that country. But we must not gloss over the continuing sufferings of millions of Sudanese people in the hands and weapons of marauding Arabs, supported by their military regime friends in the Sudanese capital. Some have argued, that the western world, particularly the US, have frequently offered winks and nods to the Khartoum government, because, of the one big reason, which is American interest is Sudan's recently developed oil wealth; The Bush administration is always looking for new sources of supply and has declared African oil to be a strategic national interest, perhaps, that makes human rights violations secondary?
We are all aware and too familiar with the frequency at which the ever-fragile peace in the Sudan, have faltered. The Sudan have had thirty years of civil war of endless misery, it is mostly war of attrition for far too long. This internecine war has raged for far too long! This protracted conflict in the Sudan has festered for far too long. And it has openly degenerated into this Arabs versus Black Africans, with the Arabs having the upper hand, mostly because the day’s government in the Sudan supports and supply weapons to the Arab raiders. The genocide perpetrated in Darfur by the Janjaweed and their Khartoum cohorts, is really not different from thirty-year conflict, the Darfur tragedy is continuation and another salvo in inglorious efforts to Arabize the Sudan, the conflict have been replete with color, ethnic and religious undertones and maneuvers in all putridity.
The current Darfur horrors, human crises and unwarranted human sufferings, are exacerbated by the introduction of race into an already very sour and sordid affairs, the Arabs are quoted as having told their victims of rape “that Black people are slaves and property of the Arabs” this of course, tallies with the already infamous slave trade reputation in the Sudan, where people, and organizations, (well meaning people) have been buying freedom for scores of enslaved Black Sudanese, in order to rescue them from bondage or certain death. All these have occurred with the tacit encouragement of the Sudanese government. This ethnic and religious cleansing visited on African Sudanese by their Arab compatriots; It is particularly saddening, to learn that the marauding Arabs were armed and fortified by the government of Sudan, a government, which ought and supposed to protect, the lives of all citizens equally, whether of African or Arab descent, whether Christian, Muslim or African traditional religionists.
I was deeply moved by Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, as he wrote an eye-opening series of articles, that were based on first hand knowledge and interviews that he personally conducted on the ground, in the Sudan. The world seemed to have neglected the cries emanating from the crises torn Darfur part of Sudan, The world seemed to have neglected the excruciation that have been going on in the Sudan. I have myself, known of the lingering crises, but I have managed not to have made sufficient public commentaries, as I have on many occasions, regarding Palestine and Iraq, I have not contributed enough to the debate of the crises in the Sudan, but the extraordinary horrors that were recounted by Mr. Kristof, in the pages of The New York Times, are very moving and sobering indeed; An added impetus was the criticisms from some of my fellow Nigerian debaters of public issues, whose criticisms, urgings or perhaps its goading, with their very critical comments regarding my apparent neglect of the Sudanese issues, to which they have attributed, assumed, arose with intent, deliberate, on my part, as they argue that I have ignored or neglected contribution to the Sudan debate, deliberately! Nothing could be further from the truth! Because I have actually in the past, publicly commented on the endlessness of the decades old Sudanese crises, but before the mayhem and genocide in Darfur.
The truth is, I protest injustice everywhere, including injustices directed at Arabs, Palestine and Iraq, and everyone else. There is absolutely no reason for me to ignore my African siblings in the Sudan, whether they are Christians or Muslims or whatever their holies! I resent injustice in where ever, and by whomever, against anyone. I absolutely abhor injustice in the most implicit and explicit language and sense, there is.
Perhaps the world is finally waking up to the myriad horrors and multiplying tragedies in the Sudan? The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Koffi Anan and the Secretary of State General Colin Powell of the United States are meeting in the Sudan next week, albeit, belatedly, one would have expected the lot of Africans to be better under the watch of Mr. Anan and Mr. Powell, both are Africans, for all intent and purposes, but unfortunately, the genocide in the Sudan have occurred, when these men are in visible positions, at the UN and US respectively. The genocide in the Sudan is a shocking reminder and replay of the genocide in Rwanda, as the world ignored and neglected the Rwandan version ten years ago, so have the world now, crises in Africa, are frequently, conveniently ignored and neglected. Africans are no more a warring people than anyone else, but Africans are never the beneficiaries of rapid response from NATO, EU or from even the toothless bulldog UN, not even when Mr. Anan, an African is in charge! He could made pronouncements since or could have moved the world to take action, even if symbolic. In the mayhem perpetrated by the Janjaweed, there have been wide scale killings, burning and destruction of villages, crops, water source destroyed and poisoned, these were clearly, actions that were taken intended, to make Darfur uninhabitable for the residents, who have been compelled to flee; So many innocent children, women and men have been murderously hacked to death, and millions more are still displaced and suffering, as they have become refugees in their homeland and in neighboring Chad, there are some dying of starvation, yet others, are dying from a epidemic of diarrhea due to the tenuous refugee living conditions, food, blankets and emergency supplies are needed, the situation is more dire, than words can express! Countless numbers are already dead!
Mr. Kristof wrote the followings, in The New York Times: “Similar atrocities were happening all over Darfur, in western Sudan, leaving 1.2 million people homeless. Refugees tell consistent tales of murder, pillage and rape against the Zaghawa, Fur and Masalit tribes by the Arabs driving them away. As this genocide unfolded, the West largely ignored it. That was not an option for Ms. Khattar and her husband, Ali Daoud.”
“They found the bodies of Ms. Khattar's mother and father; her father's corpse had been thrown in a well to poison the water supply.” “Officially, Sudan had agreed to a cease-fire in Darfur. But at the end of May, a Sudanese military plane spotted the villagers' hideout, and soon after, the Janjaweed attacked.” “." Then, she says, the males were all shot to death, while women were taken away to be raped.” “There were 45 corpses, all killed because of the color of their skin, part of an officially sanctioned drive by Sudan's Arab government to purge the western Sudanese countryside of black-skinned non-Arabs.”
“The Sudanese authorities, much like the Turks in 1915 and the Nazis in the 1930's, apparently calculated that genocide offered considerable domestic benefits — like the long-term stability to be achieved by a "final solution" of conflicts between Arabs and non-Arabs — and that the world would not really care very much. It looks as if the Sudanese bet correctly.”
“Perhaps Americans truly don't care about the hundreds of thousands of lives at stake — we have other problems, and Darfur is far away. But my hunch is that if we could just meet the victims, we would not be willing to acquiesce in genocide.” Time for Action on Sudan The New York Times Editorial;
“The United States and the UN Secretary general have strongly condemned the vicious ethnic cleansing campaign sponsored by Sudan's government, which threatens hundreds of thousands of people with starvation before autumn. That's not enough. The situation demands strong action.”
“The civil war of the last two decades between Sudan's Arab Muslim rulers and the partly Christian south now appears to be ending, after a cost of some two million lives. But just as a peace agreement was being worked out, a new war erupted in the mainly Muslim region of Darfur, where non-Arab residents rebelled against Arab domination.”
“To suppress this revolt, Khartoum's autocratic clique of generals and politicians has backed a thuggish militia known as the Janjaweed, which has terrorized non-Arab communities. Women have been raped and branded, villages razed and crops destroyed. More than 15,000 people have been killed and about a million more driven from their homes.”
Bush administration lawyers are busily studying whether this meets the legal definition of genocide, but that misses the point. Whatever you call it, the rising death toll could soon evoke memories of the tragedy in Rwanda a decade ago, when both the United States and the Security Council found excuses to stand aside while 800,000 died. That shameful failure must not be repeated”
“Both Washington and the United Nations need to convince Khartoum that they will not settle for a peace that permits terror and starvation in Darfur.”
“Sudan's government should cut off support for the Janjaweed and send its army to disarm these war criminals. It should allow international relief groups and human rights monitors access to the camps where hundreds of thousands of people now live under harsh and insecure conditions. And it needs to arrange emergency food airlifts until Darfur's people can return to their lands and provide for themselves. This will not happen without strong pressure on Khartoum, but in the Security Council, Pakistan, Algeria and China have been more interested in shielding Sudan's government from criticism than in protecting its people from starvation.”
Hundreds of thousands of lives may depend on quick, firm action.
Mr. Kristof in one of his articles, wrote, “I wrote about Ms. Khattar in my last two columns, recounting how the Janjaweed Arab militia burned her village, murdered her parents and finally tracked her family down in the mountains. Ms. Khattar hid, but the Janjaweed caught her husband and his brothers, only 4, 6 and 8 years old, and killed them all.”
“Ms. Khattar decided that the only hope for saving her two daughters and her baby sister was to lead them by night to Chad. They had to avoid wells where the Janjaweed kept watch, but eight days later, half-dead with hunger and thirst, they staggered across the dry riverbed that marks the border with Chad. “ “That's where I found Ms. Khattar. She is part of a wave of 1.2 million people left homeless by the genocide in Darfur.” “So when I found her, Haiga was leading her brothers and sisters 30 miles across the desert to the town of Bahai” “There is no childhood here. I saw a 4-year-old orphan girl, Nijah Ahmed, carrying her 13-month-old brother, Nibraz, on her back. Their parents and 15-year-old brother are missing in Sudan and presumed dead.”
“Ms. Khattar's children have nightmares, their screams at night mixing with the yelps of jackals, and she worries that she will lose them to hunger or disease. But her plight pales beside that of Hatum Atraman Bashir, a 35-year-old woman who is pregnant with the baby of one of the 20 Janjaweed raiders who murdered her husband and then gang-raped her.; Ms. Bashir said that when the Janjaweed attacked her village, Kornei, she fled with her seven children. But when she and a few other mothers crept out to find food, the Janjaweed captured them and tied them on the ground, spread-eagled, then gang-raped them.
"They said, `You are black women, and you are our slaves,' and they also said other bad things that I cannot repeat," she said, crying softly. "One of the women cried, and they killed her. Then they told me, `If you cry, we will kill you, too.' " Other women from Kornei confirm her story and say that another woman who was gang-raped at that time had her ears partly cut off as an added humiliation.” “Ms. Khattar, the orphans, Ms. Bashir and countless more like them have gone through hell in the last few months, as we have all turned our backs — and the rainy season is starting to make their lives even more miserable.
In my next column, I'll suggest what we can do to save them. For readers eager to act now, some options are at:
The New York Times: KRISTOF Responds (Forum/Message Board)
“A LONG THE SUDAN-CHAD BORDER — The ongoing genocide in Darfur is finally, fortunately, making us uncomfortable. At this rate, with only 250,000 more deaths” “The U.N. describes Darfur as the No. 1 humanitarian crisis in the world today. The U.S. Agency for International Development estimates that at best 320,000 more people will still die of hunger and disease this year — or significantly more if we continue to do nothing.”
Moreover, apart from our obligation to act under the Genocide Convention, acquiescence only encourages more genocide — hence the question attributed to Hitler, "Who today remembers the Armenian extermination?"
“But we can pass a tough U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing troops, as well as more support for African peacekeepers.” “Governments tend to be embarrassed about exterminating minorities. In Sudan, a bit of publicity about Darfur coupled with a written statement from President Bush led Sudan to agree to a cease-fire in April and to improve access for aid agencies. More publicity prompted it to promise to disband the Janjaweed raiders.
Sudan lies and wriggles out of its promises, but its genocide is still calibrated to the international reaction. Likewise, it is still denying visas and blocking supplies for emergency relief, but pressure has led it to improve access.
So, Mr. Bush, if a single written statement will do so much good, why won't you let the word "Darfur" pass your lips? Why the passivity in the face of evil? You could save tens of thousands of lives by making a forceful speech about Darfur. Conversely, your refusal to do so is costing tens of thousands of lives.
If the Sudanese were notorious pirates of American videotapes, if they were sheltering Mullah Omar, you'd be all over them. So why not stand up just as forcefully to genocide?” “Mr. Bush seems proud of his "moral clarity," his willingness to recognize evil and bluntly describe it as such. Well, Darfur reeks of evil, and we are allowing it to continue.” Readers can also contribute to one of the many aid agencies saving lives in Darfur. (I've listed some at http://www.nytimes.com/kristofresponds )
We betrayed those values when we ignored past genocides, and we are betraying them again now. “In my last three columns, I wrote about Magboula Muhammad Khattar, a 24-year-old woman struggling to keep her children alive since her parents and husband were killed by the Janjaweed. Each time I visited the tree she lives under, she shared with me the only things she had to offer: a smile and a bowl of brackish water.” “Is a cold shoulder all we have to offer in return? “
“In my last column, I wrote about Magboula Muhammad Khattar, a 24-year-old woman whose world began to collapse in March, when the Janjaweed Arab militia burned her village and slaughtered her ... Similar atrocities were happening all over Darfur, in western Sudan, leaving 1.2 million people homeless. Refugees tell consistent...” “The Bush administration says it is exploring whether to describe the mass murder and rape in the Darfur region of Sudan as ''genocide.'' I suggest that President Bush invite to the White House a real expert, Magboula Muhammad Khattar, a 24-year-old widow huddled under a tree” Mr. Kristof and The New York Times have done great service to the Sudan and humanity with excellent journalistic work on the Sudanese imbroglio.
Human relationships eventually lead to disagreements and unfortunately arms conflicts or war are the end result, however, when this phenomenon occurs in Africa, some, are quick to express exasperations and all manners of irritations, as if conflicts and war are a peculiarly African thing! When there are crises outside of Africa, there are rapid response systems, from NATO, UN, US, EU etc, because the lives of others are more valuable than the lives of Africans? Or what else might explain the neglect that led to the genocide in Rwanda and again now in Darfur Sudan? What explains the grudging response from the UN? And why is no one, dropping food and necessities from 30,000 feet with airplanes? As was clearly the case in Kosovo/Bosnia, then repeated in Afghanistan and Iraq, similar crises torn countries, which are co-incidentally not on African soil? There are always these tepid lackluster responses from the UN and the rest of the world.
Sudan needs urgent aid Sudan's hellish humanitarian crisis Thousands starving in Darfur Some 300,000 people will starve, even if emergency aid is delivered immediately, according to the head of the United States aid agency. Some 10,000 people have died, and a million made homeless in a conflict between rebels and Arab militias. UN officials blame Sudan's government, which they say supports the militias as they rape and kill Darfur's people; The world must act, Africans must be in the forefront leading the efforts!
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Dithering as Others Die
June 23, 2004:The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Magboula's Brush With Genocide
June 19, 2004: The New York Times> Search> Sudan's Final Solution
June 16, 2004: The New York Times> Search> Dare We Call It Genocide? posted on 3:44 PM