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Archive for October 11th, 2010

Observers say customary laws tend to favour men and often punish women in cases of rape

Posted by African Press International on October 11, 2010

SUDAN: Southern women struggle for justice

Observers say customary laws tend to favour men and often punish women in cases of rape

RUMBEK, 6 October 2010 (IRIN) – If there is one group that faces special challenges in Southern Sudan, it is women. Principal among them is gender-based violence, which is under-reported and spreading given the long history of conflict, certain traditional practices and weak judicial systems, say specialists. Below are some key obstacles to tackling GBV in Lakes State.

Inadequate data

After 21 years of war, there is little accurate information on Southern Sudan. The 2008 population census gave some pointers, but data on social issues such as GBV is still unavailable. Officials at Rumbek hospital in Lakes State said the number of cases they were receiving had gone up due to the new clinic, but there was still under-reporting.

The findings of a study by aid agencies, the UN and government, which are due to be released by the end of the year, should shed some light.

The study was undertaken in an attempt to respond to a knowledge gap on the manifestations of GBV by bringing together and referencing a wide range of literature [from academia to local and international organizations reports and surveys], conducting a systematic survey in five urban centers [Juba, Torit, Rumbek, Bor and Malakal], and carrying out individual interviews and focus group discussions with relevant stakeholders, Mireille Girard, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) deputy representative for Southern Sudan, told IRIN.

Insecurity and armed violence

Much of the region is populated by pastoralist groups, which rely on cattle for their livelihoods. Cattle are at the heart of many of the cultures and traditions of Southern Sudans tribes; children are named after prized cows and young herders sing with passion about their herds. The price of a bride is typically paid in cattle, and one of the reasons for cattle raiding is the need for youths to obtain cows to pay bride price.

Photo:Peter Martell/IRIN
According to OCHA, just over one-quarter of girls in Southern Sudan are in primary school (file photo)

One of the key differences today, which is having a dramatic impact on public security, is that, due to the war, civilians have easy access to small arms. These are being used in cattle raids, resulting in many more deaths than could be accomplished with traditional weapons like spears, Rick MacKinnon, head of the UN office in Lakes State, said. “Access to small arms has also resulted in a higher frequency of raids and counter-raids since small arms enable smaller numbers of people to conduct a raid.

Inadequate justice systems

According to the UN Population Fund, women in Southern Sudan prefer dealing with cases of sexual and reproductive rights violations through customary law. A recentreport by the US Institute of Peace and the Rift Valley Institute noted that at the local level, the boundaries between customary chiefs courts and government courts and between customary and statutory law – are blurred.

Observers, however, say customary laws tend to favour men and often punish women in cases of rape. Given that government institutions at local levels are still being formalized, it will take time to establish a justice system that preserves important societal traditions while upholding gender equity and womens rights.

Lack of education

School attendance rates across the South are very low for both sexes. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), just over one-quarter of girls in Southern Sudan are in primary school.

Shams Eldeen, who runs an International Refugee Committee-funded clinic at Rumbek Hospital, said low school attendance was a contributing factor to GBV. His clinic treats cases of gender-based and sexual violence as well as domestic abuse.

In pastoralist areas such as Lakes State, girls are sent by their families to cattle camps in lieu of formal classroom education, with little adult supervision or protection from boys and men. Many of the cases treated at the clinic, said Eldeen, involved girls aged nine to 14. The worst cases included rape.

Poor roads

Given the poor communication and road network in Lakes State, information about available medical services has yet to spread to most rural areas. Bad roads and poverty also limit the ability of girls and women to seek treatment and medicine.

mf/eo/mw source.irinnews


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Posted by African Press International on October 11, 2010

By Agwanda Jowi

ODM chairman Henry Kosgey has exonerated the party from blame that it had a role in the post-election violence that rocked the country during the last general elections.Kosgey who is the Minister for Industrial said the party did not hold meetings at all where mass killings and destruction of property was discussed.The Minister said that the Pentagon members within the party rank and file had even not time to discuss such issues since they were chased away by anti riot police during the turbulent times.Kosgey said those who organized the post poll chaos should carry their own crosses at the end of the day.He was speaking at Sega GirlsHigh School in Ugenya during funds drive that netted over 2 million shillings.Kosgey said that ODM was intact adding that party differences were sign of democracy within the party.He said leaders in the rift valley have resolved to bring leaders in the party together.Also present was Ugenya Mp James Orengo who is the lands minister and assistant minister for education professor Ayiecho Olweny and Magerer Langat together with Fred Outa.

Kosgey defended the appointment of the new managing director of the Kenya Bureau of standards saying he was qualified.He said the issue had taken a tribal dimension for no apparent reason.Kosgey said 15 candidates were applied for the job with 11 being short listed.He said the chairman of the board later came up with a list of three.Kosgey said the final list had 8 qualifiers which ended up with five where the final man was picked.

Meanwhile Kisumu Town West Member of Parliament John Olago Aluoch has called on the ODM top command to crack the whip and discipline its members who have openly rebelled against the party.Aluoch said remarks made by some Mps in the recent past tended to show that they are no longer ODM members.The Mp said time has now come for ODM to put into motion its disciplinary machinery under its constitutional interpretation that the speaker may declare the vacant seat of any Mp who by conduct demonstrates that he or she by intent and purposes has left the party that sponsored the said Mp to parliament.He said drastic and decisive action must be taken now against such errant Mps.The Mp said the rebel Mps have now made their intentions known are keen on wrecking the party from within.Aluoch said the latest episode is the current allegations the Mps are making to the International Criminal Court over the post-election violence.He said the remarks will not tilt the operations of the ICC in the country.Aluoch said remarks by some Mps were a clear sign that they are panicky over activities of the ICC in the country.It should be clearly understood that mass action was not a rallying call to kill or main or destroy property for that matter he said.






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Posted by African Press International on October 11, 2010

FROM: The BRussells Tribunal

We, the undersigned, defending the right of Iraq to independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, rejecting the attempts of Iraqi puppets promoted by the US occupation to trade the national rights of Iraqis and to institutionalise via census the criminal demographic engineering they have pursued by force, declare that:From the first day of the US-UK occupation of Iraq, the occupation began to undertake a series of measures, directly or through its local allies, to destroy Iraq as a state and a nation and to partition it along ethnic and sectarian lines.
Today, the puppet government of the occupation and its Kurdish partners are trying to hold a population census in Kirkuk province whose aim is to give a permanent legal character to the criminal social engineering, ethnic cleansing and demographic changes that have been implemented under occupation.[1] This could unleash a full blown civil war across Iraq, and potentially lead to its partition and a consequent regional war.
In addition to the death of more than one million Iraqis, the ethnic cleansing and other means pursued by the United States, United Kingdom and their allies in order to implement the process of partitioning Iraq, in its cities and regions, have caused the forced migration of 2.5 million Iraqis out of Iraq and the forced displacement of 2.5 million others from their homes inside Iraq.
The ethnic cleansing suffered by the population in the provinces of Mosul, Diyala, Salahuddin and the Baghdad area, and most notably in Kirkuk and the so-called “disputed areas” where the population is forced by various means, including systematic assassinations, bombing civilians, collective punishment, transfer, displacement, deportation and other crimes against humanity, to migrate only to be replaced by people from other provinces or even from outside Iraq is a clear crime of destruction and part of the intended partition of Iraq.
The United States, the United Kingdom and their allies waged an illegal war of aggression against Iraq and occupied its territory. This war in itself is a crime punishable under international law. International law, in particular The Hague Regulations of 1907, the Geneva Conventions and additional protocols, and the Genocide Convention, explicitly prohibits occupying powers from instituting changes aimed at permanently altering the foundational structures of occupied territories, including the judiciary, economy, political institutions and social fabric.[2]
International law considers the systematic transfer, deportation or displacement of population a crime against humanity.[3] Residents of affected areas, the Iraqi national forces, the displaced, and the majority of the people of Iraq declare this census null and void. It has no binding legal consequences and cannot and should not be used to support or justify the intended partition of Iraq.
We demand that no census be conducted before the free return of all Iraqi refugees. We demand that the question of ethnicity not be used to instigate the partition of Iraq and that it be removed from any census, now and in the future. We declare as fraudulent the justification under occupation of a census on the basis of long term planning in the context of a temporary and unstable demographic situation.
We demand that the United Nations and the Arab League and all governments, personalities, organisations and institutions support the demands of the people of Iraq by not recognising the results of this census, and by not assisting in conducting it. This census is designed to reward criminals for their crimes at the expense of their victims.

  1. Dr Ian Douglas, coordinator of the International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq and member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal
  2. Abdul Ilah Albayaty, Iraqi political analyst and member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal
  3. Hana Al Bayaty, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal and the International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq
  4. Dirk Adriaensens, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal
  5. Prof. Em. Franois Houtart, Participant in the Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal on US Crimes in Vietnam in 1967, Director of the Tricontinental Center (Cetri), spiritual father and member of the International Committee of the World Social Forum of Porto Alegre, Executive Secretary of the Alternative World Forum, President of the International League for Rights and Liberation of People, Honorary President of the BRussells Tribunal and senior advisor to the President of the United Nations General Assembly Miguel dEscoto Brockmann, recipient of the 2009 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence
  6. Prof. Dr. Lieven De Cauter, philosopher, K.U. Leuven / Rits, initiator of the BRussells Tribunal
  7. Prof. Patrick Deboosere , Demographer, VUB – member of the BRussells Tribunal executive committee
  8. Ward Treunen, former TV producer – member of the BRussells Tribunal executive committee
  9. Hugo Wanner, VZW Netwerk Vlaanderen – member of the BRussells Tribunal executive committee

[1] Forced displacement and the construction of walled-in districts and their associated regimes, by contributing to demographic changes in Iraq, contravene international humanitarian law, including Article 49, paragraphs 1 and 5, of The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, 1949, and as such constitute war crimes.
[2] Articles 43 and 55 of The Hague IV Regulations on Laws and Customs of War on Land, 1907 (HR); Articles 54 and 64 of The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, 1949. Occupying powers are obliged to manage the resources of the occupied territory under the law of usufruct only. This means that while they may use national resources as necessary to the upkeep of the wellbeing of the population in the occupied territory (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 64) they cannot profit from the use of such resources or award themselves partial or whole ownership of such resources. The US remains a belligerent occupier of Iraq.
[3] Article 7 (1) (d) of the Elements of Crimes of the International Criminal Court.

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Witness Questions Prosecution View of Bogoro Attack

Posted by African Press International on October 11, 2010

By Anjana Sundaram – International Justice
A witness last week told the trial of alleged Congolese warlords Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo that their respective militia groups only met a month after a military operation which prosecutors claim was acoordinated assault.
Katanga and Ngudjolo are jointly charged with crimes against humanityand war crimes during the Ituri conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, between August 2002 and May 2003.
Katanga was the alleged commander-in-chief of the Patriotic Forces ofResistance of Ituri, FRPI, while Ngudjolo is said to have led theNationalist and Integrationist Front, FNI.
Under their leadership, combatants are reported to have engaged in theethnic cleansing of the Hema civilian population through the use ofchild soldiers, murder, pillaging, sexual slavery and rape.
Particular attention is being given to an attack on Bogoro village onFebruary 24, 2003, which prosecutors claim was a coordinated effort bythe two militia groups.
It has previously been claimed during the trial that Katanga met adelegation from the FNI in Bunia, headquarters of the FRPI, in January2003.
But giving evidence last week, the witness, a former commander in theUgandan armed forces who claimed to have served with the FRPI, said thatthe two groups had encountered each other for the first time in March.
“I believe the FRPI did not know the FNI [beforehand],” said theprosecution witness, who testified with face and voice distortion. “Theyonly came in contact during the Ituri pacifications meeting around theend of March 2003.”
The witness told the court that an alliance between the two rebelleaders took place shortly after the establishment of the IturiPacification Commission, IPC, which aimed to bring calm to the contestedregion and lead to the withdrawal of Ugandan forces from the region.
The commission agreement was signed on March 18 and inaugurated a few weeks later, on April 4.
The witness explained that an alliance between the two militias wasformed to ensure the protection of the different ethnic groups in anotherwise insecure region, with the FRPI later becoming the Lendumilitary organisation within the larger FNI.
The witness also said that child soldiers were used in both the FRPI andFNI.
“Everybody had to provide children who would then join the armed group,”he said. “It was done to protect families.”The witness added that some of the child soldiers were demobilised butwould later rejoin the militias because of rampant unemployment.
The trial is scheduled to resume on October 6, with cross-examination ofthe witness by the defence counsel.

Anjana Sundaram is an IWPR contributor.


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Posted by African Press International on October 11, 2010

By Eric Reeves

On September 16, senior ministers in Khartoums National Congress Party(NCP) regime officially ratified their New Strategy for Darfur, a document that will serve as a blueprint for consolidating the results of more than seven years of genocidal counterinsurgency warfare in Darfur. Although publicly promulgated in August, the document has barely registered in the newsmedia, even as its most insidious features require urgent translation.For there can be little doubt about what the New Strategy entails:massive, forced relocation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); denial of the need for a continuing international humanitarian presence in Darfur; refusal to participate seriously in an internationally mediated peace process; and the establishment of a more robust security presence that will eventuallycompel the withdrawal of the current UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur.The New Strategy reads like an attempt to clear the ground for the final solution to the Darfur problem. This harsh translation requires some context, but its accuracy can scarcely be doubted, given recent and past actions in Darfur by the regime. The most significant context for the policies implicit in the NewStrategy is a belated rush by the international community to rescue the referenda for South Sudan and the critical border enclave of Abyei. Scheduled for January 9, 2011, the referenda appear unlikely to be held in a free, fair, or timely fashion. Although this has been clear for well over a year, the world has done next to nothing as various deadlines and benchmarks established bythe January 2005 North/South peace agreement (the so-called ComprehensivePeace Agreement, or CPA) have passed by unmet. Suddenlywith only 100days until the referendaattention from the United States, the EU, and the UN has dramatically intensified.

President Obama made a personal appearance at the September 24 summit on Sudan at the UN in New York;Secretary of State Clinton has declared Sudan to be a ticking timebomb; additional diplomatic resources have been deployed to the region; the UN Secretariat and Security Council have expressed serious concern; a distressed insistence that these elections must occur as scheduled echoes in various European capitals; even the Arab League and African Union nowoffer more than their usual lip service to the importance of the referenda, which arein the eyes of the people of the Souththe cornerstone of theCPA. Only now do the guarantors of the CPA (chiefly the United States,Great Britain, and Norway, but also the UN and the East African consortium of nations known as IGAD) seem to realize that if Khartoum seeks to abort, delay, or militarily preempt the referenda, there will be catastrophic war. The result has been an ungainly lurch in diplomatic attention from Darfur to the South. This is a grimly ironic reprise of the decision to ignore Darfur during most of 2004 in the run-up to the January 2005 CPA signing in Nairobi. At the very height of genocidal destruction in Darfur, the international community was successfully blackmailed by Khartoum: pushus too hard on Darfur and you wont get the North/South peace agreementyou so desperately want. By the time the agreement was signed, the worst of the large-scale, ethnically targeted violence was over. But that violence never ceased, and a meaningful peace agreement was never reached with the rebel factions. Moreover, Khartoum continues toflout a raft of UN Security Council resolutions: demanding that the brutal Janjaweed militia be disarmed, demanding a halt tooffensive military air flights over Darfur, imposing an arms embargo on the region,guaranteeing freedom of movement for UN/African Union peacekeepers, and guaranteeing that humanitarian relief organizations have access to distressed populations. It is simply shocking to look at the sheer physical size of the stack of UN resolutions that have accumulatedmeaninglesslyover the past six-and-a-half years. The gap between words and action has created a deep and abiding sense of impunity on the part of Khartoum and its paramilitary allies in Darfur. They simply do not believe that the world is serious about halting what amounts to ongoing genocide by attrition.
It hardly helps that the International Criminal Court has watched helplessly as warrants for crimes against humanity have been issued for a senior
Khartoum official in Darfur (Ahmed Haroun, now governor of a key North/South border state) and Ali Kushayb, known as the colonel of colonels among the Janjaweed. President Omar al-Bashir has himself been charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity and genocide. None ofthose identified by human rights groups and UN investigators as bearingresponsibility for a wide range of atrocity crimes in Darfur has been brought to justicenot one. ALL THIS has bred a perverse confidence in Khartoum, and thisalong with diplomatic focus on the southern referendais what explains the timing and character of the New Strategy document. If there is a keyproposal in the New Strategy for Darfurand it appears with refrain-like regularityit is the insistence that a top priority for the government[is] to re-direct the humanitarian efforts towards rehabilitation and shifting from depending on the relief to development and self-reliance. The document not only repeats this insistence, but demands the cooperation of UNAMID andhumanitarian organizations in Darfur: The government expects UNAMID and other partners to play [sic] decisive role in this anticipated shifting from relief to development. In one form or another, this emphasis on development appears more than a dozen times in the eight-page document. What is meant by this language? It is foremost a declaration that thehumanitarian crisis is essentially over, and that humanitarian capacity can be shifted to development. The problem is that this is just not true.

The humanitarian crisis in Darfur is deepening, not improving. More than 2.7 million people remain internally displaced. Relief capacity has never recovered from Khartoums March 2009 expulsion of thirteen of theworlds finest humanitarian organizations, which at the time provided roughly half the humanitarian aid in Darfur. Huge areas are inaccessible to aid workers, either because of insecurity or because Khartoum restricts access; thepopulace eastern Jebel Marra region, for example, has been without anyhumanitarian relief since February because the regime denies relief organizations flight and road clearance. Malnutrition has increased dramatically during the current hunger gap (the period between springplanting and fall harvest) even as the UN humanitarian coordinator forSudan, Georg Charpentier, refuses to release data and reports on foodinsecurity (indeed, Charpentier now allows his press releases to be vetted by the regime). Reports from the ground, especially via Radio Dabanga, give horrifying glimpses into the suffering and destruction that have beenendured in the IDP camps this rainy season, which is only now ending.

To move from humanitarian assistance to development at this juncture would also eliminate the raison dtre for a number of key organizations that see themselves as emergency relief responders, like the remaining national sections of Doctors Without Borders/Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF). More humanitarian aid,not less, is required; yet humanitarian criseselsewhere, including South Sudan, have actually reduced the funds andcapacity in Darfur. During this years hunger gap, the UN World Food Program further reduced rations for displaced persons, who now receiveonly 50 percent of the UNs minimum kilocalorie diet. Under the leadership of Nigerias Ibrahim Gambari, UNAMIDwhich has proved woefully inadequate in fulfilling its primary mandate to protect civilians andhumanitariansis being pushed to engage in development projects.Indeed, the New Strategy speaks explicitly of the central role of UNAMID inIDPs and refugees return and reconstruction. But this is not the mandate of UNAMID, despite Gambaris ambitions. Indeed, development work by UNAMID dangerously confuses the roles of peacekeepers and humanitarians. The central obligation of the mission is to protect civilians and humanitarians. For despite the New Strategys declaration that the regime affirms the humanitarian needs for Darfur are fully provided and all gaps are filled, enormous gaps remain, conditions in many camps havedeteriorated badly, and there are critical shortages of food, cleanwater, and primary medical care. Conditions will improve only when security doesboth for civilians and humanitarians.

The New Strategy is filled with such patent mendacity in its broad and facile characterization of the humanitarian situation. Here we should recall that for two weeks in August the regime blocked all humanitarian access to Kalma Camp, one of the largest in Darfur, with as many as 100,000 humanbeings completely dependent on international relief aid. And yet even as the UN was pleading for a lifting of the blockade, Khartoum publicly and adamantly denied it had imposed one. Recent violence and continuing desperation in this tinderbox of human misery have now driven as much as half the camps population to other camps or nearby villages; many simply cant be accounted for. WHAT OF the other side of the coin, development? There is not a shredof evidence that Khartoum intends to make a significant commitment to the development or rehabilitation of Darfur. Certainly before the rebellion began in 2002-2003 there was no investment in Darfur by the regime except in paramilitary forces. The justice system had decayed into meaninglessness, infrastructure was left untouched, and the number ofschools and hospitals per capita was shockingly low. And so it has continued during the twenty-one years of NCP tyranny. Khartoum declares it has committed $1.9 billion to development projects, but such commitmentis nothing more than specious words and a signature on another worthlesspiece of paper, of a sort we have seen countless times in the past. The best measure of the regimes concern for Darfur is the shameless export ofagricultural products for profit (benefiting almost exclusively the regime and its cronies), while people in Darfur live on half-rations from the WFP,which must import at great cost nearly all the food it distributes.

Almost as frequent in the New Strategy as the emphasis ondevelopment is the insistence on the return of displaced persons. To be sure, thereference is always to safe and voluntary returnsbut this is nothing more than a rhetorical gesture. Tellingly, the regime has recently expelled from Darfur key officials of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration (IOM). Allwould be essential in providing true security to returning displaced persons and ensuring that their returns were voluntary. The fact is that since summer of 2004 there has been a relentless insistence by Khartoum on the return of these most vulnerable of civilians; on this issue humanitarian organizations and UN agencies have so far drawn a line and succeeded in forestalling such deadly ambition. But with U.S., AU,and UN approval, Khartoum is set to compel the return of displaced persons,even if there is no place for them to return. Many villagesindeed thevast majorityhave been partially or completely destroyed, with no means ofagricultural livelihood remaining. Arab tribal groupssome from Chad,Niger, and elsewhere in the Sahelhave appropriated the lands of manywho fled. Even for those with homes remaining, insecurity simply does not permit returns at the present time. And yet the New Strategy declaresthat the organization of the return [sic] is one of the government [sic]top priorities. UNAMID and humanitarian organizations are being required to assist in what will be in all too many cases death sentences. Here U.S. special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration has already signaled inominous fashion his agreement with the regimes thinking.

In summer 2009 a UN humanitarian relief coordination team convened an emergency meeting to make clear that they felt compelled to disassociate themselves from Grations assessment of the political and humanitarian situation in Darfur, particularly the situation of displaced persons. And they made their view publicly known: Given the message sent by Scott Gration to the humanitarian community and the [Darfuri] beneficiaries, i.e. peace will prevail inDarfur by the end of the year, and returns have to happen, the [UN humanitarian coordination team] felt it has to take a common position.

That common position was of course deep skepticism about the possibility of secure and voluntary returns. This truly extraordinary public rebuke of the U.S. envoy is at once revealing of his ignorance and a signal that thehumanitarian community on the ground remains acutely aware of the dangers that still confront displaced persons. Peace did not prevailin Darfur by the end of 2009, as Gration foolishly predicted; nor will itprevail by the end of 2010. On the contrary, the peace process has largely collapsed, and even Khartoum in its New Strategy makes explicitly clear that Doha (Qatar) is now a sideshow, and the real effort will be to domesticate the peace process: The peace process requires radical re-direction, we are told, particularly in shift[ing] the focus of the peace weight [sic] to the inside. Caught inside are the displaced Darfuris, who reacted sharply toGrations remarks about returns in summer 2009, accusing him of taking sides withKhartoum. They know better than anyone just how inadequate the securityenvironment in Darfur remains. And even those not displaced are at acute risk. On September 2, 2010shortly after Khartoums promulgation of theNew Strategythe Janjaweed, long the regimes primary military proxy,savagely attacked the market of Tabarat village in North Darfur.Details are still not fully clear, although the reports from Reuters, the African Center for Peace and Justice, MSF, and Radio Dabanga comport closely with one another. More than fifty people were shot and killed at point-blank range; more than 100 were injured, many with extremely serious gunshot wounds.MSF treated some fifty people at its clinic in the nearby town of Tawilla, all of whom were male, as were the victims who were shot while lying facedown in the market. MSF also reports that hundreds of families fled Tabarat area in fear, leaving everything behind and now urgently needbasic items for survival. These people are unlikely to see the benefits of the New Strategy, announced just days before. Rather, they join the more than 500,000 Darfuris newly displaced since UNAMID officially took up its mandate on January 1, 2008.

The UNs human rights investigator for Sudan, Chande Othman of Tanzania, has called for an urgent investigation by Khartoum into theattack. But this will never occur. The same regime that blocked UNAMIDforces from witnessing the aftermath of the Tabarat massacre is hardly likely to conduct the thorough and transparent investigation that Othman called for. The impotence of UNAMID has once again been highlighted, along with Khartoums contemptuous regard for the missions mandate. To complicate matters, India has recently announced that it will go forward with its previously proposed draw-down of helicopters presently serving a critical role in UNAMIDand this is likely only the first of many such actions.As one seasoned UN observer of Darfur recently remarked to me, Thequestion is not if but when UNAMID withdraws. And growing pressure from Khartoums military and security forces may very well accelerate thatwithdrawal. The African Unions Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa,is recently reported to have said that, there are many displaced people who expressed to him their desire to return to their places of origin. Butthis is a dangerous half-truth, as Darfuris were quick to point out. Virtually all Darfuris want to return to their homes and lands, if possible; but widespread and deeply threatening insecurity is precisely what makes this impossible. Moreover, with Khartoums recent expulsion of officials from UNHCR, theICRC, and IOM, there is much less capacity to oversee such returns, ensuring that they are safe and voluntary. Security, despite being another axis of the New Strategy, is nowhere discussed in specific terms:there is nothing about disarming the Janjaweed, nothing about cease-fire monitoring, nothing about how opportunistic violence will be brought under control. Indeed, humanitarians report that the regime has condoned or even orchestrated much of this violence as a means of controlling the movement of aid workers. On the issue of security, the New Strategy seemsintent mainly on reminding UNAMID that it may not act in ways that infringe upon the Government of Sudan [sic] sovereign obligations.

In short, the New Strategy offers not a single concrete proposal forreducing the insecurity that is the greatest obstacle to a return to normalcy in Darfur. Instead, this strategy ominously threatens unspecifiedunilateral action to improve securitya phrase that can be used to justify virtually any military action by the regime. A September overview of the Darfurpeace process from the authoritative Small Arms Survey notes that the rebel movements in particular believe this language is a cover for a return to military offensives to crush the movements while the international community is focused on Southern Sudan’s January 2011 self-determination referendum. Finally, the New Strategy speaks repetitively and redundantly about aDarfur Consultative Forum. But this is merely a gesture to Darfuri civil society, which has been relentlessly excluded from the peace process.What goes unmentioned is how fully Khartoum has controlled representation ofDarfuri civil society to date, and how deliberately it has undermined some of the key efforts to create a truly representative civil society forum.

The regime collapsed an ambitious effort by civil society groups to hold ameeting in May 2009 in Addis Ababa, refusing to allow key participants to leave Sudan. Subsequently, Darfuri civil society representatives organized a series of symposia in Heidelberg, Germany with the assistance of the Max Planck Institute and funding from the German foreign ministry. In the last of the Heidelberg symposia (in February and March 2010) the representatives agreed on a final Outcome Document containing draft proposals to guide a possible Darfur peace agreement. The Outcome Document, supported by theonly rebel group attending the Doha talks, was peremptorily dismissed by Khartoum; indeed, the regimes negotiators refused even to accept thedocument and protested the presence of a delegation from the HeidelbergCommittee. There is no reason to believe that what Khartoum touts as a Darfur Consultative Forum will be anything more than a carefully orchestratedpublic relations effort.

Dissident voices may be allowed to speak, but their views will be ignored and it is more than likely that the regimesruthlessly efficient security services will use this forum as a means of arresting, detaining, or even murdering those who speak critically of Khartoum.There are already strong suspicions that the regime is behind a series of recent murders in camps near Zalingei (West Darfur)murders that appear to bepolitical assassinations, with camp leaders opposed to Khartoums plansas the targets. Notable among these is the September 3 murder of Adam Ismail Bush, a humanitarian coordinator for the Zalingei camps. WHAT IS astonishing is the degree to which international actors of consequence have not simply acquiesced in but applauded this strategy.While Arab League approval was predictable, given the obdurate refusal of Arab countries to respond seriously to Darfurs realities, enthusiasticapproval from the African Union under Mbeki is another matter. Mbeki led the AU Panel on Darfur (AUPD) and spent a great deal of time on theground last year; he now heads the AU High Level Implementation Panel(AUHIP), a follow-up effort that works from a putative roadmap forpeace and rehabilitation contained within the document produced by the AUPD.
But the AU report offers no such roadmap. It is chiefly an uninspiredrehash of previous human rights and humanitarian reports, though there is not a single footnote or reference in its 125 pages of text. In turn,Mbeki has tried to leverage his role as head of AUHIP into a means for displacing and upstaging the ineffective UN mediator in the Darfur peace process, Djibril Bassol of Burkina Faso. Mbeki also seeks to diminish the diplomatic role of Gambari, a ruthless UN careerist whose tenure in Burma a few years ago proved both his incompetence and his callousness. Gambari nominally heads UNAMID, the UN/AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur, but he is pushing todisplace Mbeki and take the diplomatic lead himself, even as his leadership of UNAMID has been disastrous. An observer close to the Darfur peace talks nominally underway in Doha recently wrote to me describing the dispiriting sight of Gambari, Mbeki, and Bassol fighting among themselves, working at cross-purposes, and indeed at times actively seeking to undermine one another. Only one rebel group, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), has attended the peace talks. Everyone in Doha is well aware that the LJMafactitious organization created out of expedient diplomacy by the United States and Libyacannot possibly bring peace to Darfur. They are neither representative of Darfuri civil society nor do they have any military muscle on the ground. Mbeki sees their weaknessand the New Strategyas creating his moment of opportunity. But even more alarming than Mbekis support for the New Strategy arethe approving remarks of U.S. special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration. Following a meeting with Ghazi Salah Eddin Attabani, the regimes pointman on Darfur, Mbeki declaredrepresenting himself, Gambari, and Grationthat, We strongly support this strategy to resolve the conflict in Darfur. This is at once astonishing and profoundly dismaying. Grationhimself would go on to hail the transparency of the new strategy andpraise the developmental approach adopted by the government [in Khartoum] to resolve the conflict. The regimes New Strategy for Darfur, will bring development infrastructure and security to that region andthen the rest of the region. Gration is either appallingly ignorant or chillingly cynical: even after a year and-a-half as special envoy, he remains peculiarly opaque. Certainly its no secret that U.S. policy toward Sudan has de-emphasized Darfur. But to embrace enthusiastically the plan, the strategy of a regime that has violated every commitment it has ever made, that has reneged on everyagreement it has ever signed with a Sudanese partyevery oneis a decision that deserves serious scrutiny, particularly since Grationsremarks were reported only in the Sudan Tribune. The New Strategy has been vehemently rejected by all the rebel groups(one of the few things that unites them), by Darfuri civil society, and notably by the southern Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, nominally part of the Government of National Unity in Khartoum (the SPLM was of course never consulted about the strategy).

The enthusiastic embrace of this plan by the AU, the UN, and the United States is a measure of how fully Darfur has been abandoned, how little the words of outrage from President Obama really mean, and how attenuated the chances are for any sort of peaceagreement. The world has signaled to Khartoums gnocidaires that they are free to go about their business in Darfur; and as the killings in Tabarat demonstrate, business is brisk.

Eric Reeves, Smith College Northampton, MA 01063 -has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for more than a decade. He is author of A Long DaysDying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide.

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