The dispatch came from a news organization most people have never heard of—”Radio Dabanga”—and its account was numbingly familiar:
“Two women and a child were killed on Wednesday morning (May 5, 2010) by aerial bombardment in the Galab area west of El Fasher (North Darfur). Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the government bombed the area for two hours, which led to the displacement of citizens and the destruction of water sources. Witnesses said that Maqbula Jumaat and her baby were fatally wounded by one of the bombs. Sharifa Ibrahim, a resident of the region, was also killed by a bomb that landed on her donkey, a witness said.” (May 6, 2010; http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/855 )
Of course there has been no confirmation of this incident, or the scores of others reported in recent months by Radio Dabanga, the Sudan Tribune, and the many Darfuris in the diaspora who stay in regular contact with family, friends, and traditional leaders on the ground. The UN/African Union “hybrid” force in Darfur has neither the will nor the capacity to investigate bombings and ground attacks, all of which are major violations of a cease-fire signed by Khartoum and one of the rebel groups on February 23, 2010. They are, more fundamentally, war crimes. Reporters and human rights investigators are denied all access to the regions where violence has been greatest.
But the details of this grim vignette are compelling in their specificity, and there is no reason to doubt the account. What we have seen in the several months leading up to Sudan’s national elections (April 11 15), and now in the several weeks since this electoral travesty, is a relentless re-commitment by the Khartoum regime to prevail militarily in Darfur. These brutal men are convinced that there will be no significant consequences to their resumed counterinsurgency strategy, and who can fault their thinking?
The accommodating election assessments from various international actors only confirm the regime’s evident belief that there is no international will to halt atrocity crimes in Darfur (see my April 22 posting on this feckless response at http://www.dissentmagazine.org/atw.php?id=98 ). Certainly the US squandered any opportunity to increase pressure on the regime when special envoy Scott Gration declared shortly before the elections that they would be as “free and fair as possible.” That the elections were actually celebrated by the African Union, the Arab League, Russia, and China—hardly a collection of democratic stalwarts—seems to be all that the Khartoum requires for purposes of legitimacy, and the authority to resume its genocidal ways in Darfur.
Attention is now shifting to the referendum in southern Sudan (January 9, 2010); but the idea that acquiescing before massive electoral fraud will somehow “promote democratization” prior to this historic vote in the south is simply preposterous. In its larger assessment, Khartoum is convinced that if we can look away from indiscriminate aerial bombing of civilians in the Galab region of Darfur, then we’ll mount little more than rhetorical bluster if the southern referendum is aborted by the regime’s political machinations or—a steadily increasing possibility—military violence. Eight months and ticking.