It is hard to find a crueler or more duplicitous government than Sudan’s.
The Economist, December 9, 2006
It is horrendous to see how grown men can waste time to discuss how many U.N. staff should there be—as opposed to African Union staff—while women and children die every day in the field.
Jan Egeland, United Nations coordinator for humanitarian efforts, National Public Radio, December 12, 2006
Shortly before Christmas, there were tidings of the possible beginning of the end of the so-called civilized world’s most abject betrayal, since the Nazi holocaust, of its so-called values—justice, human rights, the intrinsic worth of every individual. The Black Holocaust, the genocide in Darfur, now extending from Sudan into neighboring Chad, might at last be stopped.
On December 24, Agence France-Presse reported from the capital city of Khartoum, “Sudan has responded ‘favorably’ to a United Nations plan bolstering the embattled contingent of African Union observers in war-torn Darfur.” This news reinforced an Associated Press story on December 22: “The Sudanese government has accepted the U.N. package for Darfur, including the deployment of . . . a ‘hybrid’ peacekeeping operation of the U.N. and African Union troops.”
The development followed a message by George W. Bush to Sudan’s murderous president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, that Sudan must allow a team of U.N. personnel into Darfur and formally accept an international force there by January 1—or face unspecified consequences.
Khartoum, however, apparently did not relay this warning to its militia, the Janjaweed (“devils on horseback”)—al-Bashir’s hired killers and rapists. On December 22, after the Janjaweed had razed two villages in Chad, killing Sudanese refugees and Chad civilians, the government of Chad told a Reuters reporter that the “attackers” gouged out the eyes of [some of its] soldiers and disemboweled one civilian.”
Pleaded a displaced village chief, “You have to move us from here. We are poor people and we don’t have the means to defend ourselves.”
As I write this during the week of January 1, there is no word as to whether these black Darfurian refugees have been moved to safer ground, if such ground exists—or how long it will take for General al-Bashir to disarm the barbarous Janjaweed, a pledge he has previously made and never honored.
Meanwhile, Romeo Dallaire, the U.N. general on the ground at the start of the Rwanda genocide—who repeatedly, desperately, and unsuccessfully begged the then U.N. chief of peacekeeping operations, Kofi Annan, to let him stop the mass murders—weighed in on the present horrors. Now a senator in the Canadian legislature, Dallaire told The Vancouver Sun: “That border [between Darfur and Chad] is just waiting to explode. . . . There is no doubt that the Janjaweed are [in force] on both sides” of the border.
If the Khartoum government fails to implement the U.N.’s plan—as it has so often broken its word in the past—there will be expanded regional genocide. Should that happen, George W. Bush’s special envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, says the Bush administration will put into force its “Plan B.”
What is “Plan B”? That, of course, is classified.
In the last days before he left office on December 24, Kofi Annan, still painfully cognizant of his complicity in the Rwanda genocide, was pressing the National Islamic Front government in Khartoum to fulfill its agreement to this most recent U.N. resolution to save untold thousands of black Muslim lives in Darfur and the refugee camps. But he was honest enough to say, the day before he left, that he takes “nothing for granted,” in view of his experiences with General al-Bashir.
The doomsday prospect of another monstrous shell game by al-Bashir was laid out last month by Eric Reeves, the single most continuously authoritative analyst of Khartoum’s crimes against its own people. A professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, Reeves has for years devoted most of his life to alerting the world to this black holocaust. As prospects seemed to brighten for a change in al-Bashir’s cold, cold heart, Reeves set the scene on his website, sudanreeves.org:
“The U.S. attempts to bluff Khartoum’s genocidaires with ‘Plan B’; Kofi Annan seeks to burnish his legacy . . . the European Union and Canada offer nothing but more bluster; the Arab League continues its mendacious ways; the African Union is a shambles . . . .
“Full-scale humanitarian collapse in Darfur looms ever closer even as the violence that will occasion the collapse relentlessly increases. Hundreds of humanitarian workers have been evacuated in recent weeks from North Darfur and eastern Chad. . . . This is the ghastly, inescapable syllogism of genocidal destruction in Darfur.
“Nothing will change until a force of the sort authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1706 (August 31, 2006) deploys to Darfur with or without Khartoum’s consent.” (Emphasis added.)
To save hundreds of thousands of lives, force may have to displace diplomacy—and soon. From Agence France-Presse (December 24): “Seven civilians were killed by the pro–government Janjaweed militia and one policeman was shot dead in separate incidents in North Darfur, Sudanese media reports.”
The Security Council Resolution 1706 to stop the killing called for a U.N. force of 20,000 to supplement the African Union’s fewer than 7,000; but the U.N. has since reduced those numbers. And whether or not General al-Bashir does begin to implement the resolution, what, if anything, happens to the general and the other principal perpetrators of the genocide?
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has a list of suspects. But he has not dared go to Darfur to personally interview witnesses and inspect evidence because it is too dangerous to venture there. And strangely, he has told the Sudanese
Tribune, “I am not putting the blame on the Sudanese government. I have never made a statement against the government. My job is to investigate individuals, not governments.”
In that case, if the U.N. resolution is implemented by the Sudanese government will General al-Bashir be nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 2, 2007