A season of disingenuousness
August 11, 2005
Despite brave words in many quarters about the fate of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Khartoum’s National Islamic Front (NIF) and the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the precarious agreement clearly faces many acute dangers in the coming weeks and months. And perversely, diversion of international efforts to sustaining this north/south agreement inevitably diminishes effective pressure on the NIF to end genocide in Darfur (the NIF will dominate all elements of the new “government of national unity”). Indeed, the NIF has long and effectively played off against one another issues of war in the south and genocide in the west of Sudan.
One example remains particularly telling. Completion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the NIF and the SPLM was delayed many months by expedient diplomatic signals coming from the US, the UK, and Norway in late 2003 and much of 2004—signals all too clearly discerned in Khartoum: “In the interests of securing a final north/south agreement, we will for now mute our criticism of your genocide in Darfur.” This diplomatic attitude succeeded only in convincing the NIF that there were good reasons to delay formal completion of the peace agreement as long as possible. Thus though the last issue of substance (incorporated into the last of the various signed protocols) was resolved in May 2004, the NIF succeeded in delaying the final signing of an agreement until January 2005—eight months later, including some of the most destructive months in the course of the Darfur genocide.
Some in the UK and US government have suggested that no such diplomatic encouragement was given to Khartoum, that the two governments consistently pressed the regime on Darfur even during the run-up to the final protocol signing of May 2004. This is false, and we can catch a clear glimpse of expedient mendacity in the formal British denials of what has long been evident in diplomatic behavior. Mukesh Kapila—former UN coordinator of humanitarian affairs in Sudan and harshly critical at the time of Khartoum’s genocidal policies in Darfur—offered explicit testimony on this issue in a hearing held earlier this year by the UK Parliament:
[Testimony to the UK Parliament from UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Mukesh Kapila, responding to a question by the Chair of the International Development Committee (Tony Baldry)]:
“[Baldry:] Did you have any suggestion from the UK Government that you should ease up your comments and your criticisms on Darfur until the Naivasha [north/south] agreement was concluded?”
“[Mukesh Kapila:] Yes.”
(Q 201 from HC 67-v; taken before the International Development Committee, House of Commons, February 22, 2005)
Moreover, any careful examination of statements on Darfur issued by the US State Department, from 2003 through early 2004, will reveal a total refusal by spokesmen to acknowledge the salience of ethnicity in the vast human destruction that was then raging. And yet only two weeks after the final substantive protocol in the north/south agreement was signed in May 2004, the State Department announced that it would undertake a genocide determination—a clear acknowledgement of what was then, and had long been, massive evidence of ethnic targeting of civilians in Darfur.
Evidence of genocide from the UN, from human rights groups, from the International Crisis Group, and from other sources on the ground had long been overwhelming—and yet the US State Department resolutely refused to present or be guided by any of this evidence for many months. Its public statements made no mention of the well-established fact that the victims of violence were overwhelmingly civilians from the non-Arab or African tribal populations (primarily the Fur, Massaleit, and Zaghawa). In September 2004 former Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before the US Senate and explicitly declared that Khartoum and its Janjaweed allies were indeed guilty of genocide in Darfur.
Some of the same expedient logic now governs, if less forcefully, as the NIF continues to suggest to the international community that excessive pressure over Darfur may endanger the north/south agreement. Here the death of John Garang works to create an uncertainty about southern political leadership that gives Khartoum’s perverse diplomatic logic new life. Indeed, because the US, its diplomatic partners in Europe, as well as the UN political leadership have no plan to respond effectively to continuing violence and insecurity in Darfur, even before Garang’s death a recourse to expediency had been increasingly evident in recent months (see, for example, “The ‘Two Darfurs’: Redefining a Crisis for Political Purposes,” May 20, 2005, by this writer at: http://www.sudanreeves.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=53&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0).
As part of this expedient accommodation of Khartoum—which represents tacit acknowledgement of the international failure to confront the NIF—Darfur is now described as in “a fragile equilibrium” by Jan Pronk, Kofi Annan’s special representative for Darfur (who also discerns in his most recent report to the UN “a light at the end of the tunnel”—recalling a chilling metaphor from the Vietnam War era); Baba Gana Kingibe, head of the African Union mission in Sudan speaks of a “security situation on the ground [that] is calm” (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks [IRIN], July 19, 2005); the Nigerian military head of the AU force in Darfur, Major General Festus Okonkwo, declares that previously savage Janjaweed predations have been reduced to the “snatching of cars and tires” (BBC, July 20, 2005).
But the truth is best conveyed by humanitarian organizations on the ground in Darfur, and no organization has had a longer or larger presence than Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). MSF recently reported that it,
“continues to treat victims of violence in all locations where it is present in Darfur. ‘Our teams are still witnessing repeated violence against the population,’ says Dr. Rowan Gillies, president of MSF International. We are deeply concerned about this and its consequences for our patients and their families.'” (“Doctors Without Borders Alarmed by Ongoing Violence in Darfur,” press release, August 5, 2005)
Of particular note is MSF’s report of an attack on the internally displaced civilians in Shagil Tobaya (North Darfur):
“On July 24,  the MSF team in Shangil Tobaya, in north Darfur, witnessed an attack on the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp located directly next to the MSF clinic. Grenades were used, several shelters in the camp were burned, and hundreds of IDPs were forced to again run for their lives. The MSF team provided medical assistance to 14 people, all of them were civilians with bullet and shrapnel wounds. Four of the injured were children.”
Reports from a range of other sources on the ground make clear that the attack was orchestrated by Khartoum. Indeed, the US Agency for International Development reports in its August 5, 2005 Darfur “fact sheet”:
“According to MSF, a group of armed men in Government of Sudan military uniforms entered the camp [at Shangil Tobaya], opened fire and burned shelters.”
MSF accounts of the situation in Darfur are also rendered in a detailed dispatch by The Scotsman, one of the most penetrating news voices in the UK:
“‘The lives of millions of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur are hanging in the balance,’ aid workers warned yesterday, with the situation in the war-torn region of western Sudan little improved from a year ago.
Despite increasing efforts to bring peace and aid to the region, violence continues and relief is still precarious in many areas with repeated reports of systematic rape, forced relocation, violence against civilians and the burning of villages. ‘The humanitarian situation in Darfur today has recently been described [by the UN’s Jan Pronk] as at an ‘equilibrium’ point, but if you ask the people living in one of the crowded, unsanitary and unsafe displaced camps in Darfur whether they feel they are experiencing an equilibrium, I have no doubt they will more likely tell you that their lives are dangling by the thin thread that is humanitarian aid,’ said Nathalie Civet, head of mission in Darfur for the humanitarian organisation MSF.”
“In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council, Dr Civet warned that the situation in Darfur remained far from secure. ‘The situation is not stabilising in Darfur and the need for humanitarian assistance grows as the conflict continues,’ she said.”
“‘The scorched-earth campaign of 2003-04 has now been replaced by less overt and large-scale, but equally devastating, forms of violence and intimidation of civilians, including the effects of sporadic fighting, direct attacks and sexual violence,’ said Dr Civet. ‘In all locations where it provides medical care, MSF continues to receive and treat a significant number of victims of direct violence.'”
Of the humanitarian situation in Darfur, MSF finds that:
“Even in the most easily accessible parts of Darfur the aid effort remains inadequate and precarious, with many people still living in makeshift shelters with insufficient water, food and medical supplies. Relief levels seen in the larger camps are not apparent in the more remote areas, especially in refugee camps in rebel-controlled areas which aid workers still struggle to reach. Furthermore, MSF said, the continued lack of security was disrupting aid delivery…. ‘People are stuck in camps or in remote areas, subject to violence and to recurring displacement. They are still waiting. Their lives are hanging in the balance, not at equilibrium.'” (The Scotsman, July 30, 2005)
There could be no more authoritative rebuke of the factitious and expedient optimism of Jan Pronk, as well as the misrepresentations and dishonesty of many others, including Kofi Annan in his most recent report to the UN Security Council. But even Annan is forced by overwhelming evidence to acknowledge the reason for the recent decline in major fighting between the chief combatants in Darfur:
“So many villages have been destroyed since the war began that there are now fewer locations for [Janjaweed] militia to strike. In addition, the threat of attack—on villages or other concentrations of civilian population—persists. Displaced civilians living in camps continue to report attacks on them by militia or bandits when they leave the camps’ surroundings. The most compelling evidence of the poor security environment is that while the number of attacks on civilians decreased during the past year, the ranks of conflict-affected people continued to increase, especially among those who sought shelter and protection in IDP camps.” (Monthly report of the UN Secretary-General on Darfur to the Security Council, July 19, 2005).
The nearly complete destruction of the non-Arab or African villages of Darfur accounts for the decline in violence, not some putative improvement in security on the ground or restraint on the part of Khartoum and its allies in genocide.
We must face squarely the ugliest truth about genocide in Darfur: it is now abetted chiefly by lack of resolve on the part of the international community. Trimming words, contrived optimism, and disingenuous accounts of Darfur’s realities convince the National Islamic Front that the international community has no intention of backing up the “demands” of the UN, has no intention of bringing to bear serious diplomatic or economic pressure, and will not provide resources for humanitarian intervention.
Instead, the African Union (AU) continues to serve as a default policy, even as the inadequacy of the AU force in Darfur has been forcefully articulated by the International Crisis Group (see below), and highlighted in a superb op/ed by Susan Rice, former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, who cited in particular the courageously honest remarks of Senegal’s foreign minister, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio:
“Whatever its mix of motives, the AU has absolved reluctant Western countries of any responsibility to consider sending their own troops, and the US government is undoubtedly grateful. But the conspiracy of absolution is starting to unravel. At a recent press conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senegal’s Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio declared the situation in Darfur ‘totally unacceptable.’ Moments earlier, Rice had stated: ‘We have worked hard, and we have been able to avert some of the humanitarian disaster that was forecast.’ To the secretary’s evident irritation, Gadio lectured: ‘Madam Secretary, you know, you have to deal with the facts on the ground…. Those militias, they’re still very active…killing people, burning villages, raping women.'”
“Then Gadio exploded the myth—perpetuated by African and Western leaders alike—that the AU troops alone can stop the killing in Darfur. Senegal, with its long record of effective peacekeeping, is slated to join the AU force. Still, its foreign minister confessed: ‘We are totally dissatisfied with the fact that the African Union…has asked the international community to allow it to be an African solution to an African problem, and unfortunately the logistics from our own governments did not follow.’ Now, he said, ‘The UN Security Council, the European Union, the African Union, the United States—we should all come together in a new way of dealing with the suffering of the people of Darfur…. We have to do something.'” (Washington Post, August 7, 2005)
On the other hand, if we accept the accounts offered by Jan Pronk, Kofi Annan, senior State Department officials Condoleezza Rice and Robert Zoellick, and various senior European officials, then we will be accepting explanations meant to excuse our refusal to protect innocent civilians and humanitarian operations. Nothing sustains genocide so effectively as such dishonesty and moral cowardice.
THE THREATS BEFORE THE NEW SPLM LEADER, SALVA KIIR
The NIF will continue to sustain genocide by attrition in Darfur, even as it welcomes the destabilizing possibilities presented by the death of John Garang. The new leader of the SPLM, Salva Kiir Mayardit, will face severe testing, with all too many possible venues in the south and in Khartoum for such trial. As the authoritative “Africa Confidential” observes in its August 5, 2005 edition:
“The [NIF] regime may not have caused the crash [that killed Garang] but could not have wished for more. It will redouble its efforts to deepen Southern divisions, convinced that Garang’s successors won’t withstand its mixture of military attack, disinformation, and financial inducements.” (“Africa Confidential,” Vol 46, No 16, August 5, 2005).
The International Crisis Group (ICG) notes in a new report (issued prior to the death of Garang):
“There are signs the National Congress Party [the ruling faction of the National Islamic Front] seeks to undercut implementation [of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement] through its uses of the militias (the South Sudan Defence Forces), bribery, and through the tactics of divide and rule.” (“The Khartoum-SPLM Agreement: Sudan’s Uncertain Peace,” ICG, July 25, 2005 at http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?l=1&id=3582, page i)
More particularly, in the flash-point of Abyei (an Ngok Dinka enclave in northern Bahr el-Ghazal province) there is a dangerous refusal on the part of the Khartoum-backed Misseriya Arab groups in the area, as well as by President Omer el-Beshir, to accept the critically important findings of an international boundary commission, which has just issued its final arbitration report:
“Misariyah Arab nomads, who formed pro-government militias during the two-decade war between Khartoum and the SPLA, rejected the recommendations of the [international boundary commission] chaired by former US ambassador Donald Peterson, as did the district’s current administration. ‘The Misariyah, as Sudanese, stand for unity and…declare their absolute rejection of the report of the Abyei Demarcation Commission,’ [ ] the Misariyah General Union said.” (Agence France-Presse, July 20, 2005)
An explosion in Abyei could easily spark renewed war if the NIF wishes this to be a pretext.
In the oil regions of Upper Nile Province, the disparate southern Khartoum-supported militia forces (very loosely organized as the “South Sudan Defense Forces” [SSDF]) will move into a wait-and-see posture after the death of Garang or possibly re-initiate hostilities in Eastern or Western Upper Nile.
In part to forestall a strengthening of these primarily Nuer tribal militias, Kiir has appointed Riek Machar (a Nuer) as his new deputy, trying to prevent Riek’s again bolting from the SPLM and new Government of South Sudan. But this is an appointment that could lead to political chaos if Kiir should die: as successor, Riek would command very little support from within the SPLM leadership, particularly the Dinka commanders on the ground.
For few have forgotten how Riek split from the SPLA/M in 1991 and subsequently joined the NIF as part of the so-called “Khartoum Peace Agreement” of 1997—an agreement that paved the way for ferociously destructive scorched-earth warfare in the (primarily Nuer) oil regions of Upper Nile Province from 1998 to 2003, and continues on a diminished basis even today. While Riek’s appointment to the deputy position may ensure that he does not split again from the SPLM or the new southern government, and may offer some hope of rapprochement with the brutal militia forces organized under the SSDF banner, such insurance comes at an exceedingly high cost.
The CPA is also dangerously behind schedule, and will require highly effective southern leadership to regain momentum. The challenges confronting Salva Kiir on this front are daunting. As the International Crisis Group demonstrates notes in its report on the peace agreement:
“Implementation [of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement] lags badly. The main obstacles are the old regime’s [the NIF’s] lack of will to embrace genuine power sharing and elections, and ultimately allow a southern self-determination referendum.. .. The [NIF] actively encourages hostility between southern [Sudanese] groups, with the hope that intra-south fighting will prove sufficiently destabilising that the referendum can be postponed indefinitely without its being blamed. These tactics will likely intensify if pressure over Darfur diminishes.” (page i)
The SPLM for its part,
“is far behind its timetable for converting guerillas into a new army and has made little progress in creating institutional structures of governance and changing overly centralized methods of taking decisions, weaknesses that have been compounded by lack of money [until the Government of South Sudan is actually constituted, no oil revenues are flowing to the south—ER].”
GARANG, SALVA KIIR, AND DARFUR
Whatever leverage John Garang may have had in bringing pressure to bear on the NIF to end genocide in Darfur will be entirely unavailable to Kiir in the new “government of national unity” (Kiir today assumed Garang’s position as “First Vice President”). Even the expedient Robert Zoellick—who a month ago declared that “he would press John Garang to help in negotiations between tribes in Darfur [sic]” (Agence France-Presse, July 5, 2005)—can hardly believe that Kiir, with his long-time secessionist views, will have any role in defining Khartoum’s policy in Darfur.
Here we should recall that John Garang’s “unionist” position in the peace talks derived from a pragmatic wisdom: the only way for southern Sudan to achieve either meaningful autonomy or independence is through the process of an internationally recognized referendum, precisely what is contemplated in the arduously negotiated CPA. Kiir’s secessionist position, as well as his recent bellicose language (prior to the death of Garang) about the possibility of resuming war if provoked by the NIF, may play well with a majority of southerners, but will only antagonize the ruling elite in Khartoum.
It is critical that Kiir recognize resumed war cannot achieve independence for southern Sudan, not with its vast and coveted oil reserves: it is militarily impossible, given the acquisition of weaponry and weapons production capacity by Khartoum in recent years, especially since the “cessation of hostilities agreement” (October 2002). Moreover, the construction of many all-weather roads in Upper Nile by various international oil companies (including Talisman Energy of Canada) ensures that Khartoum would be able to project mechanized military power in unprecedented ways in Upper Nile.
Traveling throughout southern Sudan and to Nairobi in January 2003, this writer encountered not a single SPLM commander or leader—including John Garang—who believed that if war resumed it would be anything other than the most destructive phase of the conflict, then 20 years old. Nothing has changed this military dynamic in the past two and a half years, though the shift in military advantage to Khartoum, funded by vast and growing oil revenues, has been continuous.
THE DEEPENING CRISIS IN DARFUR
As the SPLM struggles to sustain the terms of the CPA in southern Sudan, genocide continues in Darfur—two and a half years after the outbreak of major hostilities in the region—fueled by continuing violence, deteriorating humanitarian conditions, and insufficiently honest assessments by Kofi Annan, Jan Pronk, Robert Zoellick, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy (following his recent visit to Sudan), the leadership of the AU, and many others whose response to genocide is increasingly a misrepresentation of current realities and unwarranted optimism about Darfur’s future.
As the NIF well understands, this ultimately represents impotence—the inability to gather the diplomatic and political strength to confront the NIF over its continued policy of genocide in Darfur. This policy includes continued training of Janjaweed militia (see New York Times dispatch below); the ongoing obstruction of key elements of humanitarian relief; sustaining an environment in which humanitarian transport and logistics are severely compromised; and exploiting a “climate of impunity” (the phrase was recently used by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour—she first used the phrase to describe the same reality a year ago), a “climate” in which systematic rape remains, as Arbour reported to the UN Security Council on July 28, 2005, a central weapon of war by Khartoum-allied forces.
Ultimately such misrepresentation and optimism work to reduce the likelihood of humanitarian intervention of the sort urgently called for by the International Crisis Group:
“The international community is failing in its responsibility to protect the inhabitants of Darfur, many of whom are still dying or face indefinite displacement from their homes. New thinking and bold action are urgently needed. The consensus to support a rough doubling of the AU force to 7,731 troops by the end of September 2005 under the existing mandate is an inadequate response to the crisis. The mandate must be strengthened to prioritise civilian protection, and a force level of at least 12,000 to 15,000 is needed urgently now, not in nearly a year as currently envisaged. This requires more courageous thinking by the AU, NATO, the European Union, the UN and the US to get adequate force levels on the ground in Darfur with an appropriate civilian protection mandate as quickly as possible, which in practical terms means within the next two months.” (ICG [Nairobi/Brussels], “The AU’s Mission in Darfur: Bridging the Gaps,” July 6, 2005; at http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?l=1&id=3547)
DARFUR WITHOUT HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION
What will Darfur look like a year from now if there is no humanitarian intervention? if the ICG remains alone among international actors in calling for non-African resources and personnel to stop genocide?
The best recent summary answer comes from Suliman Baldo, Africa Director at ICG, speaking on occasion of the release of ICG’s critically important report:
“‘It’s disturbing that the daily death and suffering are becoming ‘status quo’ for some members of the international community,’ says Suliman Baldo, Director of Crisis Group’s Africa Program. ‘The situation has the potential to become another never-ending conflict in which donors spend large sums feeding the displaced but otherwise fail to protect civilians and to address the underlying political causes.'” (ICG press release, July 6, 2005)
This deadly “status quo” is being deliberately sustained by the NIF, as the New York Times makes clear in a remarkable dispatch from Khartoum:
“The Sudanese government, after promising a parade of foreign leaders over the past year to rein in the violence in Darfur, is still paying regular salaries to leaders of militias there that continue to attack and kill civilians, say American officials and aid workers stationed in Sudan. [ ] State Department officials say because government-financed militias and others have been so successful at intimidating or killing civilian residents, now almost everyone who might have been a target is either dead or living in a refugee camp.”
“Yet the militias remain armed and poised in the western provinces, American government officials say. The militias also continue to train and arm recruits. At a recent ceremony for 400 recruits, senior Sudanese military officers applauded the graduates, African peacekeepers who saw it told aid workers. The International Crisis Group [ICG], a private organization, said in a report two weeks ago that militia leaders ‘remain on the payroll of the state governments,’ which are branches of the federal government. [ICG] said the information came from ‘interviews with government officials in Darfur who oversaw the payments to the militias.'” (New York Times [dateline: Khartoum], July 21, 2005)
Khartoum clearly has no intention of responding to the UN “demand” that it disarm the Janjaweed (per UN Security Council Resolution 1556, July 30, 2004).
Security problems are now also significantly exacerbated by the continuing disintegration of the insurgency movements under military pressure, their lack of supplies, and growing ethnic divisions:
“‘There is a fragmentation of the SLA [Sudan Liberation Army] on the ground along ethnic lines. What we see is an increasing tendency to “warlordism,”‘ [the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Alexandre] Liebeskind noted. Rebel commanders and their men increasingly tended to control an area that corresponded with the boundaries of their ethnic group, he explained.” (UN IRIN, August 9, 2005)
But the overwhelming burden of responsibility for the crisis in Darfur remains with the NIF, including responsibility for the deliberate and deadly obstruction of humanitarian relief. A brief section of the UN “sit rep” for July 19, 2005 offers an example that might be replicated countless times throughout Darfur:
“[The NIF’s] Humanitarian Affairs Commission [HAC] blocked this month’s food distributions in Otash and Dereig [camps for displaced persons], claiming that Internally Displaced Persons allegedly left out of distribution lists should be included.”
The obscene logic by which the NIF’s “Humanitarian Affairs Commission” blocks food distributions to desperately hungry people because of a contrived registration “error” is entirely of a piece with its larger and equally obscene genocidal ambitions. The same page of UN “sit rep” notes that:
“Despite months of discussions with, and recent written clarifications from the HAC in Nyala, the Ministry of the Interior, National Security, and HAC officials at Nyala airport continue to request travel permits from humanitarian staff traveling in South Darfur.”
There is a clear message from the NIF here—in its obstruction of humanitarian aid, in its continued training of Janjaweed, and in its refusal to end the oft-cited “climate of impunity” that has prevailed from the beginning of the genocide:
“Do not forget that we control humanitarian access, and we may restrict it at any moment. We are well aware of the vulnerability of the more than 2 million people who have been displaced; we are well aware of the threats posed to the many hundreds of thousands of civilians who remain in rural areas, and inaccessible to humanitarian organizations. And if pressured over our behavior in Darfur, we may either restrict access further—or delay the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. We have allowed AU forces into Darfur, with a highly restricted mandate, only because we know that they can address deadly insecurity in very limited ways. We know the international community does not have the courage to intervene effectively in Sudan—and we will act accordingly.”
The most recent UN Darfur Humanitarian Profile (No. 15, representing conditions as of June 1, 2005) reports 2.9 million conflict-affected persons. The UN’s World Food Program has announced that it expects 3.5 million people in Darfur to be in need of food aid from now through October. The logistical challenges in helping this vast population during the current heaviest part of the rainy season are suggested in recent comments from the UN World Food Program:
“Heavy rainfall and ongoing insecurity are slowing down the delivery of humanitarian assistance to many parts of the strife-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur, aid workers warned on Wednesday. ‘It is a nightmare to move food; the rains are much worse than last year, Diego Fernandez, head of the UN World Food Programme field office in Kabkabiya, in the west of North Darfur State, [said].” (UN IRIN, August 10, 2005)
In abandoning the people of Darfur to the insidiously destructive vagaries of humanitarian access, and to the insecurity that keeps virtually all from their agricultural livelihoods, the international community has abandoned these people to genocide by attrition. This genocide will continue for years.
Perhaps the most appropriate recent symbol of international acquiescence in these ongoing deaths appears in a dispatch from The Observer (UK), (July 31, 2005; dateline Darfur):
“[A man shouts] ‘I had to dig up my family.’ We all stop, and quieten, and finally listen, to Sharif Yahaya, from a small village near the town of Tawila. ‘Janjaweed had come and killed them, many near me, and we buried them, and we all went away. And came back. Days later. Maybe at the wrong time. Janjaweed were there and told us to dig up all the graves. I don’t know why, I think just to make it worse. We had to dig people up who had been dead, and then look at the bodies, and then put them back in the earth. Just to make it worse. Just to show that they could make it worse.'”
The genocide in Darfur can become “worse”—much worse. And if we are at all honest, we too will be forced to look again at the dead we did so little to save—again and again.
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