“We must collectively and urgently wake from our slumber,” a U.S. deputy ambassador, David Pressman, told the council. (Associated Press [New York], 12 December 2014) .
Over the past week, since U.S. Ambassador Pressman declared the need for an “urgent international awakening” over the growing catastrophe in Darfur, one might wonder if Pressman has taken in all that has been reported: it is a tall order. Or perhaps the “awakening” is not fully complete: it has, after all, been four years since the U.S announced on November 8, 2010 that it was “de-coupling” Darfur and Darfur issues from the center-piece of the Obama administration’s relationship with the genocidal National Congress Party/National Islamic Front regime: terrorism and counter-terrorism intelligence (“genocide” is, let us recall, the term used by Senator, candidate, and President Obama to describe the realities of the region his administration was “de-coupling”).
So, what has occurred since the announcement of an “awakening”? Certainly nothing of consequence concerning the peace process: the U.S. remains officially committed to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), rejected overwhelmingly by Darfur civil society and for precisely that reason embraced by the Khartoum regime. Khartoum neither wants a viable peace forum—as made clear in the leaked minutes of the August 31 meeting of the regime’s senior military and security officials—nor can it afford to reject the DDPD. In an otherwise superficial piece in African Arguments, Alex de Waal usefully noted that:
Today, the Khartoum government’s priority is not to lose the $2 billion promised by Qatar on the condition that there is no interference with the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. (16 December 2014)
With a collapsing economy, Khartoum can hardly afford to ignore Qatar’s promise, even if it is only a possibility, not what we ordinarily mean by a “promise.” But Qatar is determined to exercise outsized diplomatic clout, using its vast hydrocarbon wealth, and the DDPD is a centerpiece of their “diplomacy.”
Despite all this, the U.S. remains officially committed to the DDPD, with “reservations”; privately a State Department official confirms that the DDPD is a dead letter, but absent an alternative, the U.S. continues to support it. This is one of the things that happens when a country falls into a deep “slumber” during ongoing genocide. Needless to say, President Obama had nothing to say about Darfur, peace in the region, or “genocide” in his year-end comments to the press in Washington (19 December 2014). This means his administration continues to say nothing of consequence about Khartoum’s demand that the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) make immediate plans for an “exit strategy,” one that the regime will likely insist coincide with the end of the current UN Security Council re-authorization of the Mission: 30 June 2015. (It will take at least this long, and probably a good deal longer, to deploy UNAMID out of Darfur, given the poor logistics and transport that have consistently hampered the mission.)
This demand comes in the immediate wake of the mass sexual assault on Tabit, North Darfur (31 October 2014 – 1 November 2014) by regular SAF military personnel and allied militiamen. The U.S. has not distinguished itself in comments on the rape of more than 200 girls and women (and subsequent mass exodus from a town of some 7,000); nor has it said what it will do to overcome Russia’s promise to ensure that the Tabit assault does not come before the Security Council. It would seem to be yet another mass atrocity crime about which the Obama administration won’t speak forcefully because of more pressing concerns (the event apparently has no “Boko Haram newsworthiness”).
Women and girls remain outrageously vulnerable to sexual assault in Darfur
But if not newsworthy in the eyes of the Obama administration and Western journalism, events in Darfur—just in the eight days since Ambassador’s announced “awakening”—deserve some attention. Nearly all our news continues to come from Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune. From Radio Dabanga we learn that in the time since Ambassador Pressman spoke.
• Paramilitary troops attack North Darfur villages
EL FASHER/NIERTETI (19 Dec 2014) – Members of a paramilitary force reportedly attacked two villages near Tabit in North Darfur on Friday afternoon, during which they wounded a number of people, and robbed them of… FULL STORY
The number of villages attacked by the “new Janjaweed” (the Rapid Response Forces) and other paramilitary forces operating under Khartoum’s command has seen a sharp uptick in the past year and more—ER. (All comments in italics below are mine—ER)
• Two raped near displaced camp in West Darfur
KEREINIK (19 Dec 2014) – Militiamen raped two young women who were returning from farmlands in Kereinik locality, West Darfur, on Thursday evening. The coordinator of Murnei camp reported to Radio Dabanga… FULL STORY
Tens of thousands of Darfuri women and girls have been raped during the course of conflict, going back to early 2003—in Darfur and among the refugee population in eastern Chad.
• Children protest teachers’ strike in West Darfur
SIRBA (19 Dec 2014) – The refusal to work by teachers at the basic schools in Kendebe camp, West Darfur, has entered its fifth day, as they protest an attack by militants against teachers on Sunday…. FULL STORY
Nothing in Darfuri society has suffered more than education; the displaced persons camps have fewer and fewer resources, and more and more children are growing up without an education and without a knowledge of the agricultural skills have been destroyed along with agriculture in Darfur.
• Three killed by herders, militiamen in Darfur
DARFUR (19 Dec 2014) – Three people were killed in three separate incidents in North, Central, and West Darfur states on Wednesday. One of the deceased is a child. A basic stage student was shot dead in… FULL STORY
Such killing of displaced persons, farmers, and other innocents is routine in Darfur; it is encouraged by the utter lack of accountability, the powerless of UNAMID to protect, and a continuing desire to “change the demography of Darfur,” to “empty it of African tribes” (words from a memorandum by Musa Hilal in August 2004). The victims in such attacks are virtually all African (non-Arab).
• Children shot dead, displaced injured in Central Darfur
BINDISI / NIERTETI (18 Dec 2014) – In Central Darfur, two children were killed by gunmen in Bindisi locality on Wednesday. The day before, two residents of Nertiti South camp sustained serious injuries in an… FULL STORY
Children, women, the elderly—none are safe from the assaults by Khartoum’s militia forces and the opportunistic violence that has been spawned in a region in which civilian protection is virtually non-existent.
• Darfur Bar to defend 19 accused by Sudan’s militia
KHARTOUM (17 Dec 2014) – A group of 19 Darfuris accused of cooperating with rebel movements, attended their first court session in Khartoum today, after lingering for months in prison cells. This … FULL STORY
Political repression is extreme throughout Sudan, and Darfur is no exception. Accusations made by the government are often baseless and merely an excuse for intimidation or arbitrary incarceration.
• One dead, two injured, in Darfur attacks
KUTUM / HABILA (17 Dec 2014) – A member of the Sudan Armed Forces was killed and another injured in an attack by militiamen on Disa garrison in Kutum locality, North Darfur, today. In West Darfur, militiamen… FULL STORY
It has become increasingly clear that opportunistic armed elements in Darfur fear neither UNAMID, the Khartoum regime’s regular forces, nor international justice. This trend is increasing rapidly.
• UXO kills herder in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra
EAST JEBEL MARRA (17 Dec 2014) – A young shepherd was killed, along with 17 of his sheep, in the area of Mashrou Abu Zeid, East Jebel Marra, in an explosion today. “Early this (Wednesday) afternoon, we suddenly… FULL STORY
This is one of the great untold tragedies of the Darfur genocide: the consequences of indiscriminate aerial assaults on civilians after the military aircraft have left. There are countless UXO’s (Unexploded Ordnance) scattered throughout the region. Children, naturally curious, are attracted to these novel objects, often with deadly consequences. But sometimes bombs simply detonate, as apparently in this case. Radio Dabanga urges in this dispatch:
“Years of conflict have left Darfur littered with potentially deadly explosives and munitions (UXO). Radio Dabanga appeals to listeners throughout Darfur (and elsewhere in our reception area) not to touch any “unexploded” grenades or other ammunition found in the field. Mark its position clearly to alert others, and report it immediately to a camp elder, Unamid and/or the local police.”
• Sudan’s auditor-general reports “corrupt figures”
KHARTOUM (17 Dec 2014) – The Sudanese auditor-general has reported “corrupt figures” in the accounts of the Ministry of Guidance and Endowment, diplomatic missions abroad, the country’s states, and the… FULL STORY
Under years of gross mismanagement and obscene self-enrichment by the Khartoum regime, the economy is clearly imploding, despite desperate measures by the regime to forestall utter collapse and to disguise the economic realities that confront ordinary people. Darfur suffers even more severely than the rest of Sudan, with the possible exception of the eastern states of Sudan. There are increasingly numerous reports, in various quarters, of “corrupt figures.” The Obama administration has said nothing about the collapsing Sudanese economy and its immense implications for millions of Sudanese civilians.
• Militiamen besiege village in Gireida, South Darfur
GIREIDA LOCALITY (17 Dec 2014) – On Saturday, militiamen besieged Donki Hadoub, north of Gireida in South Darfur. “They are still there, threatening to attack the village,” a listener told Radio Dabanga from On Saturday, militiamen besieged Donki Hadoub, north of Gireida in South Darfur.
“They are still there, threatening to attack the village,” a listener told Radio Dabanga from Donki Hadoub on Tuesday. “We have been suffering from their ongoing assaults for a long time,” he explained.
“When the nearby village of Abu Jabra was pillaged and torched on Saturday, and nine villagers were killed, we prepared ourselves to flee. The attackers surrounded the village in response.” … FULL STORY
Here is a perfect example of the impotence of UNAMID: a sustained threat to a village in a particularly ravaged part of Darfur has no hope of protection from the force that has civilian protection as its primary mandate. Although the SAF has apparently sent a force to the region, this is hardly reassuring to people who have so often been attacked by these same men.
Gunmen demand compensation for “21 sheep, eaten by two dogs” in South Darfur
• NYALA LOCALITY (16 Dec 2014) – Militiamen captured two young men of Kalma camp in Nyala locality, South Darfur, on Monday. They claimed that the men’s two dogs had eaten 21 [!] of their sheep. Saleh Eisa, Secretary… FULL STORY
There are countless extortion schemes that have been devised by militia forces, including the demand for restitution on no substantial or credible basis. Farmers must often pay to work on their land, if they dare. Buses and other transport vehicles are often compelled to pay absurd fees at arbitrary “check points.” The list of such extortion schemes is a long one that continues a pattern of asset-stripping that has been a distinguishing feature of the genocide from the beginning.
• Displaced urge UN Security Council to act on Darfur case
EL FASHER / WASHINGTON (16 Dec 2014) – The Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association has called upon the international community, the members of the UN Security Council, the EU, and the AU to “actively cooperate with… FULL STORY
One must admire the Darfuris for their persistence, their courage, and their clear understanding that without help from the international community, without a thorough “awakening,” they have no chance for peace or justice.
• Musa Hilal’s Council forms ‘”Jebel ‘Amer Administration,” calls for intifada in Sudan
EL SAREIF BENI HUSSEIN (16 Dec 2014) – The Revolutionary Awakening Council and the native administration of the Beni Hussein tribe agreed on the establishment of a new management board for the gold mining area of Jebel Amer…. Musa Hilal, a notorious Janjaweed leader, belongs to the Arab Mahameed clan in North Darfur. In 2003, when the armed conflict in Darfur broke out, he was serving a jail sentence for stirring up ethnic conflicts resulting in the massacre of innocent civilians. However, Vice-President Ali Osman Taha released Hilal to head the mobilisation of Janjaweed, and fight the Darfuri rebels. With the full backing of the government, Hilal’s militias targeted unarmed civilians in the region, attacking African Darfuri villages, but they rarely came near forces of the armed rebel movements. FULL STORY
Musa Hilal, who so eagerly waged genocidal war on non-Arab/Africa populations in the earlier years of the conflict, has always been entirely self-interested. He gladly took release from prison as sufficient cause to organize the Janjaweed and take up the regime’s genocidal ambitions (it was Hilal who said in August 2004 “change the demography of Darfur,” and urged as a goal to “empty it of African tribes.” His interests have now shifted to gold in North Darfur, which puts him in direct opposition to the regime, which sees Jebel Amer gold fields as a key source of hard currency.
• One displaced killed, two injured in Kass locality, South Darfur
KASS LOCALITY (16 Dec 2014) – Militiamen killed a displaced man in Kass locality, South Darfur, on Saturday. In another incident on the same day, a girl and her mother were injured by gunmen. Speaking to Radio… FULL STORY
It says something terrible about international “slumber” that such events have become utterly commonplace in Darfur—they define the lives of African tribal populations, in the camps for displaced persons, in rural areas, and in urban areas as well.
• Fire destroys 354 homes in Labado camp, East Darfur
YASSIN LOCALITY (16 Dec 2014) – A massive fire that broke out in Labado camp for the displaced in East Darfur on Friday afternoon, has led to the death of a woman, and the injury of four others. Hundreds of… FULL STORY
Fires in camps for the displaced are an ongoing and deadly plague. Materials used for shelter are often flimsy and flammable; cooking is often the cause of fired that may spread quickly among closely packed shelters. It is also the case that many of these fires have been deliberately set by Khartoum’s forces.
• Gold diggers robbed in North Darfur’s Jebel ‘Amer
JEBEL ‘AMER (16 Dec 2014) – On Sunday, a number of gold diggers in the area of Jebel ‘Amer, North Darfur, were robbed by militiamen. The gunmen beat the workers, and stole more than SDG27,000 ($4,700) and an… FULL STORY
Jebel Amer has been the source of violent conflict for some three years now, and so long as the Khartoum regime counts on gold as a primary source of hard currency, that conflict seems likely to continue, especially in light of the actions of Musa Hilal (see above).
• “President Al Bashir misinformed about ICC Darfur case”: jurist
PARIS / NEW YORK (15 Dec 2014) – The spokesman for the International Criminal Court (ICC) affirmed that the suspension of further investigations on the Darfur file does not mean that the cases against President… FULL STORY
There are certainly questions about the wisdom of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision to “hibernate” the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for massive atrocity crimes in Darfur. But her frustration at the lack of Security Council support for an investigation that was referred to the ICC by the Council itself in 2005 is fully understandable. Predictably, President Omar al-Bashir—indicted for multiple counts of genocide and crimes against humanity—should exult and declare himself triumphant in his battle against the Court.
• Unamid patrol unit ambushed in South Darfur
KHOR ABECHE (15 Dec 2014) – A group of gunmen stole two vehicles belonging to a Unamid military patrol unit in Khor Abeche, South Darfur, on Friday. Multiple sources reported to Radio Dabanga that the gunmen… FULL STORY
Sadly, it has long been the case that UNAMID cannot protect itself, let alone the civilians of Darfur.
• Army forces kill, rob merchant in Central Darfur
GOLO (15 Dec 2014) – A merchant in Golo, Central Darfur, was killed by government forces on Friday. “Two Sudanese army troops from Golo military garrison raided the house of merchant Yousef… FULL STORY
The ranks of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are becoming increasingly undisciplined in an environment marked by massive insecurity, impunity for all, and a lack of clear military objectives against the armed rebel forces—a task increasingly left to the “new Janjaweed,” the Rapid Response Forces.
• Central Darfur villagers kidnapped
CENTRAL DARFUR (14 Dec 2014) – Militiamen raided Kolkul village in Zalingei locality, Central Darfur, and kidnapped nine villagers on Saturday. The next day, they released three of them, after a ransom had been… FULL STORY
Kidnapping children, women, indeed people of all ages, are kidnapped with ever greater frequency and desperate families are obliged to pay ransoms they can ill afford. This is yet another form of asset-stripping by militia forces, targeting—overwhelmingly—African/non-Arab civilians.
• Militia kill nine, torch “voluntary return” village in South Darfur
GIREIDA LOCALITY (14 Dec 2014) – On Saturday, nine villagers were killed, and their homes burned to ashes in an attack by militiamen on Abu Jabra in Gireida locality, South Darfur. “About five weeks ago, the people of Abu Jabra had returned to their village, in the voluntary return programme organised by the Darfur Regional Authority,” an eyewitness from a neighbouring village told Radio Dabanga. “The formerly displaced had begun to settle themselves again at the place, located 20 km north of Gireida town.”
“However, on Saturday afternoon, a large group of about 100 militiamen on camels and horses attacked the village, without any warning or clear reason. They fired at the people, killing nine instantly. After pillaging the entire village, they set it ablaze.” … FULL STORY
Coming one day after Ambassador Pressman’s “awakening” comment, this is a major story and yet is reported nowhere except by Radio Dabanga. What gives it special significance is how fully it belies claims underlying the celebration of “returns” by UNAMID, the UN, the African Union and others—suggesting that somehow this indicates that violence is winding down. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this episode indicates. Security sufficient to allow civilians to return to their villages, their homes, their lands is nowhere in sight. The episode also highlights the completely ineffectual nature of the “Darfur Regional Authority” that emerged from the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, and the complete inadequacy of the DDPD as a means of bringing peace to Darfur.
• “Sudan does not accept new peace accords”: Al Bashir
KHARTOUM (14 Dec 2014) – According to the Sudanese President, the AU-UN peacekeeping mission definitely has to leave Darfur. He welcomed the announcement by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that further investigations on the Darfur case will be suspended. President Omar Al Bashir also reiterated his pledge to make an end to the insurgency in the country, and stressed that his government does not accept any new peace agreements. FULL STORY
We get a brief but full account here of al-Bashir’s intransigence and belligerence, and his determination that the Doha “peace process” remains the only source for an agreement over ending conflict in Darfur and restoring security. He is of course delighted that his complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity—charges that are overwhelmingly supported by extant evidence from a multitude of sources—will no longer be pursued.
• West Darfur farmers despair militant herders
KEREINIK (12 Dec 2014) – Farmers of Murnei and surrounding villages in West Darfur have complained again about herders who force them to let their livestock graze on cultivated land. Kereinik locality has… FULL STORY
By “militant herders” Radio Dabanga means to refer to armed Arab militias and opportunists who have either seized land from African farmers, or demand that their livestock be allowed to graze on the cultivated land of these farmers, destroying crops and creating an even deeper food shortage in the region.
• North Darfur’s Tawila towns attacked and threatened
TAWILA (12 Dec 2014) – Militiamen attacked and robbed three villages east of Tawila in North Darfur, on Thursday afternoon. Residents of another village near Tawila have received dead threats from Militiamen attacked and robbed three villages east of Tawila in North Darfur, on Thursday afternoon. Residents of another village near Tawila have received dead threats from militiamen, who demanded the recovering of livestock they have lost last weekend.
They beat the residents of Konjara, Um Burma, and Kaima villages, located 10 km east of Tawila town, and robbed them of their livestock and belongings. Mukhtar Bosh, an Omda in the area, also told Radio Dabanga that a number of people have fled the villages. “The pro-government militiamen were driving in vehicles and others on camels and horses at the time of the attack on the villages,” he revealed.
On Sunday, militiamen threatened to commit killings and robberies in Hillet Hajar, 7 km west of Tawila, if the residents do not recover a number of livestock. Bosh explained that the militia members claimed to have lost 32 camels and 117 cows since they entered the area. They have given the villagers until this Sunday to find the camels, and gave four persons ten days to recover the cows…. FULL STORY
Yet another example of the murderous extortion schemes and unconstrained violence that confronts Darfuris on a daily basis. Tawilla has long been an area of particular violence, and although UNAMID has a significant post in Tawilla, it has long proved impotent in halting such violence. It was near Tawilla that the Tabarat massacre occurred, a moment of particularly disgraceful cowardice and inaction by UNAMID (see Reuters account of September 2010).
One week in the life of Darfur, following years of U.S. “slumbering”; it is far, far past time to “awaken.”