By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Access to people in need in December 2006 was the worst since April 2004 . . . Sexual violence against women has been occurring at an alarming rate . . . The humanitarian community cannot indefinitely assure the survival of the population in Darfur if insecurity continues.
Joint statement by 14 U.N. humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur, January 17
On January 29, the African Union saved itself from disgrace when, for the second year in a row, it refused to elect Sudan president Omar Hassan al-Bashir to chair the 53-nation organization, although the AU had promised him the post. As British Africa minister David Triesman said shortly before the vote, the African Union's international prestige "can be lost in half an hour."
Despite this humiliation of Sudan, its genocide of black Africans in Darfur and in neighboring Chad continues unabated. In a new 26-page Amnesty International report on al-Bashir's murderous Janjaweed in Chad, a villager reported: "I saw two of them lie with my half-sister, who was only 10 years old, and then they went away. When we got there she was very hurt and was bleeding. She continued to bleed for the following two days and then she died."
At the January 29 election of Ghana's president, John Kufuor, to head the AU, the U.N.'s secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said solemnly that the rising toll of the murdered in Darfur "remains unacceptable." He failed to say what the consequences for General al-Bashir and the Janjaweed will be if that "unacceptable" toll reaches more than a million, as is likely, by this time next year.
But Agence France-Presse did report from that meeting that "Ban Ki-moon failed to secure commitments" from Sudan to allow deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to Darfur, as the U.N. Security Council has urged al-Bashir to do. However, the soft-spoken U.N. secretary general added that his long meeting with al-Bashir had been "productive." He failed to say how he defines "productive."
As the raping and killing by the Janjaweed (often wearing Sudan army uniforms) goes on, press coverage of the genocide will again diminish in the months ahead. Al-Bashirwho is proving to be an expert in assuring his own survival while over 400,000 black Sudanese have died of violence or disease under his reignalso has little to fear from the International Criminal Court, which is slowly gathering evidence against the perpetrators of the genocide.
On January 29, the ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said he will not be able to submit his first criminal case to the court until yet another of his investigative teams finishes its current work in Darfurincluding, if you can believe it, consulting the al-Bashir government's own special criminal court and its own investigations into any crimes committed. That's like asking Fidel Castro to turn over the records of his kangaroo courts that have locked up prisoners of conscience for decades.
The present International Criminal Court team in Darfur will be therereports the invaluable Sudan Tribune website"for an indefinite period of time." The Janjaweed will not be idle.
Except for Sudan Tribune, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, and especially Eric Reeveswho has written thousands of pages of painstakingly documented accounts of the genocide and its perpetratorsthe press has overlooked an especially cunning and vicious strategy by General al-Bashir to avoid any serious negotiations with the various rebel forces for a true, durable peace.
On January 25, the canny genocidaire admitted that his forces had been bombing northern Darfurdespite the phony 60-day cease-fire arranged by New Mexico governor Bill Richardsonbecause, al-Bashir claimed, the rebels were committing 80 percent of the attacks on civilians in that area. Actually, the rebels have been particularly attacking Sudanese army troops. But the African Union knows the real reason for al-Bashir's bombing operation, which it has denounced. On January 23, Reuters reported:
"Rebels are trying to hold a conference in Darfur to unify their position ahead of a renewed push for peace talks. They want government guarantees that the conference will not be attacked [by Sudan's bombers]." Previously, on December 29, African Union general Luke Aprezi, head of the AU's peacekeeping force, said that a few days after he had visited with rebels, al-Bashir's planes had bombed that meeting place. Absent any current likelihood that NATO or another combination of countries will, by force, make al-Bashir obey the U.N. resolution to admit over 200,000 U.N. forces to stop the genocide, the only alternative may be what Eric Reeves emphasizes:
"All necessary pressure must be brought to bear on China [the dominant player in the oil exploration in Sudan], which alone has the power to force a re-thinking on Khartoum's part."
But on January 16, as China's Hu Jintao was preparing to be the first chief executive of that nation to visit Khartoum, the Chinese assistant foreign minister for Africa, Zhai Jun, said in Khartoum that China would not exert any such pressure on the Sudanese government.