Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Sudan/Darfur: what to call what's going on

Wanted to see what different organizations/individuals are calling what is going on in Darfur (and got carried away). This is by no means a comprehensive survey but here is what we have ...

"bordering on ethnic cleansing" -- "ethnic cleansing" -- "indicators of genocide" -- "atrocities being committed" -- "human rights violations -- "gross violations of human rights, many with an ethnic dimension" -- "humanitarian emergency" -- "genocide unfolding" -- "reign of terror"

Take special note of the points excerpted below for "reign of terror" -- provides good background

Bordering on ethnic cleansing
[UN Secretary General Kofi] Annan said the situation in Darfur "was bordering on ethnic cleansing" but would not use the word genocide.

"We all agree that serious crimes are being committed," he said in answer to questions. "We don't need a label to propel us to act, and so I think we should act now and stop arguing about which label to put on it."

July 25, 2004 (source)

Ethinc cleansing

Jan Egeland, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs ...
"Scorched earth tactics are being applied throughout Darfur, including the deliberate destruction of schools, wells, seed and food supplies, making whole towns and villages uninhabitable," he continued. "Not even the camps for the refugees and internally displaced are immune from attacks. I consider this to be ethnic cleansing. I cannot find any other word for it."

April 2, 2004 (source)
Charles Snyder, acting US assistant secretary of state for African affairs ... in a testimony before the House International Relations Committee ...
The [jingaweit] militias have systematically attacked hundreds of African villages in a scorched-earth type approach. They burn villages to the ground, destroy water points, raze crops, and force the people from their land. The jingaweit further terrorize the African population through widespread atrocities including mass rape, branding of raped women, summary killings, amputations, and other unspeakable actions. Estimates of civilians killed range between 15,000 and 30,000, and we will seek to confirm a more precise estimate as information becomes available. As many as one million people have been displaced, and tens of thousands have sought refuge across the border in Chad. All of this amounts to “ethnic cleansing” on a large scale.

May 6, 2004 (source)
Richard Williamson, US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission ...
"The U.N. Commission on Human Rights dare not fail to act," Ambassador Richard Williamson, head of the U.S. delegation, said. "It must hold accountable those responsible for the deplorable acts in Darfur."

[...] The U.S. delegation also distributed a document entitled "Ethnic Cleansing in Darfur," which described the violence and atrocities in Darfur, including killing, torture and rape of innocent civilians and denial of humanitarian assistance.

April 23, 2004 (source)
Human Rights Watch ...
"The Sudanese government's campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' in Darfur is the root cause of this humanitarian crisis," said Jemera Rone, Sudan researcher for the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. "Powell should press the Sudanese authorities to reverse this 'ethnic cleansing' and permit full humanitarian access."

June 28, 2004 (source)

Indicators of genocide

US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper, told the House International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Africa that ...
There is the question of whether this is genocide. We see indicators of genocide, and there is evidence that points in that direction. However, we are not in a position to confirm. To do so, we need Darfur to be opened up.

June 24, 2004 (source)

Atrocities being committed

US President George Bush ...
The Sudanese Government must immediately stop local militias from committing atrocities against the local population and must provide unrestricted access to humanitarian aid agencies. I condemn these atrocities, which are displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians, and I have expressed my views directly to President Bashir of Sudan.

April 7, 2004 (source)
Adam Ereli, deputy spokesperson, US Department of State ...
That said, whether you call it genocide, or whether you call it ethnic cleansing, clearly there are atrocities being committed. The United States views with the greatest degree of concern the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and we are acting accordingly. There is nothing holding us -- the determination of whether it's genocide or not is not holding us back in any way in terms of our response to the crisis and our -- the energy which we're putting into marshaling an international response to the crisis.

June 25, 2004 (source)

Human rights violations
Amnesty International is calling on all parties involved in the Darfur conflict to immediately end human rights violations including the unlawful killing and abuse of civilians. The organisation is also calling on the international community to support the deployment of international human rights monitors to Sudan.

June 28, 2004 (source)
US-EU declaration on Sudan issued at Dromoland Castle in Shannon, Ireland ...
We strongly condemn the human rights violations that have been perpetrated there, particularly by Jingaweit militias. We reiterate our call on the Government of Sudan to immediately stop the violence perpetrated by the Jingaweit, ensure the protection and security of civilians and humanitarian workers, disarm the militias and allow full and unimpeded access by humanitarian groups to Darfur. We also reiterate that those responsible for the atrocities must be held accountable.

June 26, 2004 (source)

Gross violations of human rights, many with an ethnic dimension

G8 statement on Sudan at the summit at Sea Island, Georgia ...
We also wish to express our grave concern over the humanitarian, human rights, and political crisis in Darfur . We welcome the N'djamena ceasefire agreement of April 8, and the announcement on May 20 by the Government of Sudan that restrictions on humanitarian access will be eased. However, there are continuing reports of gross violations of human rights, many with an ethnic dimension. [...] We call especially on the Sudanese government to disarm immediately the “Janjaweed” and other armed groups which are responsible for massive human rights violations in Darfur . We call on the conflict parties to address the roots of the Darfur conflict and to seek a political solution.

June 10, 2004 (source)
Humanitarian emergency
Announcing the extra funding, [UK] International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said that the situation in Sudan was the most serious humanitarian emergency in the world today.

June 9, 2004 (source)

Genocide unfolding

John Heffernan of Physicians for Human Rights talking to All Africa's Margaret McElligott about what he saw during a recent trip to Darfur ...
How important is the label of "genocide" to the ongoing debate of what to do in Darfur?

Arguing over the semantics of whether this is genocide, whether this is ethnic cleansing, does not do justice to the crisis. The fact is that hundreds of thousands of people are at risk, and if arguing over whether this is genocide halts some type of intervention that will enable them to get access, then there's a real problem.

But, with that being said, if, in fact, there are clear indicators of genocide, and this is what we say there are, then there needs to be some type of action as the Genocide Convention states, to prevent this genocide from happening.

So the Genocide Convention should be invoked even if genocide is not currently taking place?

It requires you to act to prevent. And in this case, I think there are clear signs that this is genocide unfolding and by waiting any longer, we risk the lives of tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people.

June 23, 2004 (source)

Reign of Terror

Report by Bertrand Ramcharan, acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the situation in Darfur ...
It [report] outlines a disturbing pattern of disregard for basic principles of human rights and humanitarian law, which is taking place in Darfur for which the armed forces of the Sudan and the Janjaweed are responsible. The rebel forces also appear to violate human rights and humanitarian law, but the extent to which this was happening was difficult for the mission to ascertain.

It is clear that there is a reign of terror in Darfur. While the Government appears to employ different tactics to counter the rebellion, the mission encountered a consistency of allegations that government and [Janjaweed] militia forces carried out indiscriminate attacks against civilians; rape and other serious forms of sexual violence; destruction and property and pillage; forced displacements; disappearances; and persecution and discrimination.

[...] Civilians constitute the main victims of the armed conflict in Darfur. [...] there seems to be a consistency of allegations that civilians who belonged to those ethnicities perceived to be members or supporters of the rebel groups were targeted by the armed forces as well as the Janjaweed. Civilians often appear to have been the subject of collective punishment.

[...] The conflict in Darfur appears to be rooted in the structural imbalances in the Sudan in terms of governance and economic development between the centre and the rest of the country. Its current manifestations appear to have developed worrying ethnic, if not racial, dimensions.

[...] That the attacks appear to have been largely ethnically based with the groups targeted being essentially the Zaghawa, Masaalit and Fur tribes, which are reportedly of African origin. Men and young boys appear to have been particularly targeted in ground attacks;

May 7, 2004 (source)
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Sudan is not a party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Also ... Sudan now sits on the 53 member UN Human Rights Commission (... countries are voted in for three-year terms by the UN's regional groups)