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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

August, 2005

First Genocide In The Twenty First Century
By Joan Andrews

This is an article about the first major atrocity of the twenty-first century: genocide in Darfur, Sudan. It is also an article which I hope will educate and inspire each and every person to do their share to stop what UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan recently described as "little short of hell on earth."
According to reliable sources, since 2003 400,000 Darfuris have perished in a brutal and savage campaign against the African tribes in Darfur, a region in western Sudan, Africa's largest country. Between 2.5 to 3 million civilians have fled to relative "safety" in western Darfur and eastern Chad, where humanitarian organizations have a large presence-especially Doctors Without Borders/Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF). What's even worse is that this a carefully orchestrated campaign of mass murder, rape and torture of innocent men, women and children, waged by Sudan's central government in Khartoum. The ultimate aim is to eradicate the entire black population in the Darfur region. Acting with complete impunity, the government in Khartoum is using it's proxy Arab militia, collectively known as the Janjaweed, to carry out most of the atrocities.
The government militia has been absorbed into the police force meant to protect the refugees in western Darfur. They continue to beat and torture the desperate civilians for whom daily survival is beyond a nightmare.
Due to political and economic interests, i.e. oil in Sudan, the war against terrorism, etc., the UN Security Council-especially China and Russia-and even the US- are putting the brakes on the urgent global action required to save millions on the ground in Darfur.
The African Union troops numbering only 2,200, recently joined by troops from Rwanda and Kenya (check), are stretched much too thin. Despite their claim of a future deployment of 7,500 troops by September, this is still insufficient. They claim that this is an Africa problem, but remember this: GENOCIDE IS AN INTERNATIONAL CRIME AND REQUIRES AN INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE.
Yet, as reported in the July 1, 2005 New York Times, in announcing new spending to assist poor Africans before an invited audience of African diplomats at Washington's Freer Gallery of Art , President Bush "made some of his strongest comments yet on the killing in the Darfur region of Sudan, saying the violence 'is clearly genocide' and reiterating the support of the United States for African peacekeeping efforts there."
Although much has been made of the June 6, 2005 announcement by the International Criminal Court that investigation of Darfur atrocities has commenced, Smith College Professor Eric Reeves, a leading authority on the situation in Sudan (www.sudanreeves.org) claims that the ICC referral "has only heightened security concerns in the theater of operations."
Additionally, Professor Reeves reports that there has been a recent and significant increase in Khartoums' harassment of humanitarian workers and operations, including the late May arrest of two senior officials of Doctors Without Borders/MSF, again, the organization with the largest and most important presence in Darfur. Even after signaling that MSF personnel would not be prosecuted, Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail spoke most unapologetically, saying that "Organizations operating in Sudan should observe the country's national security in their dealings and they should not be seen to tarnish Sudan's image through issuance of false information," alluding to the charges against MSF because of their "clinically authoritative report on (widespread) rape in Darfur."
Why are hundreds of women, men and children-many of them five to eight months pregnant-being gang raped and mutilated with axes, many repeatedly-and yet the world remains silent? The women are often raped when they must leave their encampments in a search for firewood and water.
Reporting from Kalma camp in southern Darfur on June 7, 2005, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times claims that "Refugees fleeing to Kalma from a village called Saleya described how nine boys were seized by the Janjaweed, stripped naked and tied up, their noses and ears cut off and their eyes gouged out. They were then shot dead and left near a public well. Nearby villagers got the message and fled."
Additionally, the NYT reports that children are quickly snatched from their mothers by government militias and thrown into burning fires.
"Aid workers report that in another village, the Janjaweed recently castrated a 10-year-old boy, apparently to terrorize local people and drive them away."
And yet, the world still remains silent.
After doing extensive research for this article, I logged onto www.democracynow.org and came across a May 3, 2005 interview with Los Angeles Times reporter Ken Silverstein. Apparently, in a major expose, Mr. Silverstein revealed that "the US. has quietly forged a close intelligence partnership with Sudan despite the government's role in the mass killings in Darfur."
The Sudanese government has since publicly confirmed it is working with the Bush administration and the CIA. In the meantime, Professor Reeves has exposed Khartoum's strategy to impede any ICC investigation and prosecution of senior regime officials (a.k.a. war criminals) who are under sealed "indictment" in The Hague. Many of those criminals are cooperating with the CIA.
According to Mr. Silverstein, the relationship between the US and Sudan took off after 9/11, "when the US wanted to obtain information on al Qaeda and Islamic extremists whenever and wherever it could." Sudan-former host of Osama bin Laden and his cronies- feared it was next on US military targets after Afghanistan. By November 2001, Sudanese intelligence (known as the Mukhabarat), were actively cooperating with the CIA in tracking Islamic extremists. In exchange for this cooperation, Sudan wants to be rewarded by being removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, where they've been since 1993. Yet, one can only wonder about the veracity of the information we are receiving. There is now an active CIA station in Khartoum.
It seems as though the suffering millions in Darfur is at the bottom of the list US priorities. In testimony before Congress, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick acknowledged the intelligence sharing between the US and Sudan and yet he failed to describe any new and urgent US action designed to stop the genocide and protect civilians in Darfur.
In the meantime 3.5 million Darfuris are starving and in need of food. That amounts to half the population in Darfur (statistics provided by the UN World Food Program). Many babies and children die in doctors' arms every day.
Now I understand why the central government in Khartoum is allowed to show its brazen contempt for humanitarian organizations by blocking access to food shipments and permitting the looting of humanitarian aid trucks. Overland truck routes have been blocked and Khartoum also continues to obstruct the free passage of humanitarian supplies through Port Sudan.
Most significantly, Khartoum is clearly behind and responsible for a sharp increase in attacks against humanitarian workers and convoys. This is of utmost concern. The government's aim is to attenuate the international presence in the region, hoping that any opposition to its savage assaults against the Darfuris and an increasing number of aid workers will allow their unspeakable crimes against humanity to continue.
Aware of the need to take punitive action against Sudan, Harvard and Stanford Universities have decided to divest from Sudan. So has the state of Illinois. This involves the loss of billions of dollars of investment of pension funds, etc. Congress is trying to pass another Darfur Accountability Act, after the first bill failed in the House.
What can you do to help?
First and foremost is to contact Senators Boxer and Feinstein regarding the need to immediately address genocide in Darfur and let them know it's unconscionable to allow a repeat of Rwanda.
The switchboard number on Capitol Hill is: 202-224-3121. You're welcome to give your feedback to any Senator. Their are many other Senators who are worth contacting as well (Senators Biden, Delaware; Hegel of Nebraska; Durbin and Obama, Illinois; or just contact the Senate Foreign Relations Committee).
Websites:
www.genocideinterventionfund.org (recommended to me by N. Kristof's assistant, Winter Miller, at the NYT; they work very hard in shaming governments to take action on Darfur)
www.savedarfur.org
www.Darfurgenocide.org
www.msf.org (Medicins Sans Frontiers)
www.hrw.org (Human Rights Watch)
www.sudanreeves.org (Professor Eric Reeves is an extremely good source of information on Darfur and Sudan in general)
http://www.nytimes.com/kristofforum
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/05/03
www.aiusa.org (Amnesty International)
www.passionofthepresent.org (provides the best daily updates of news from Darfur)
There are many organizations that desparately need your help. Ask what you can do to assist them. Most importantly, spread the word.
Your voice does make a difference. Urgent action is required lest thousands more perish from starvation and disease.

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