Thursday, December 20, 2007
December 18th, 2007
by Jesse Lee
The House has passed the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007 by a vote of 411-0, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent earlier this week. The bill protects states’ and investment firms’ rights to divest from companies with connections to the government of Sudan. SADA also prohibits federal contracts with such companies. A similar piece of legislation, the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Authorization Act, passed the House earlier this year; this final bill will be sent to the President. The White House has opposed the measure.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Our Civilian Protection Program offers safer cooking options by providing alternative-fuel stoves, guarded firewood patrols, and incoming-generating projects for women so that they can afford to buy firewood instead of having to gather it.
TO MAKE DONATION ONLINE, GO TO:
If you prefer to make a donation by check, it should be made payable to "Genocide Intervention Network - DarfurFast" and mailed to the following address:
Genocide Intervention Network1333 H Street NW, First Floor SuiteWashington, DC 20005
Amherst Regional High School STAND group is also doing the DarfurFast action on Dec. 5. If you wish to participate via this group, here is the information from the student activist Cecilia Darby.
Checks can be made to ARHS STAND and sent to this mailing address
P.O. Box No. 581
Shutesbury MA 01072
Friday, November 09, 2007
Have advocacy movements like the Save Darfur Coalition helped or hindered the search for a political solution in Sudan's troubled province? Should the killings there really be classified as genocide, or has the meaning of the term been devalued by activists trying to draw public attention to the conflict?
After NEWSWEEK raised some of these questions in a report called "Packaging a Tragedy," two leading Darfur experts, Alex de Waal and John Prendergast, discussed these issues in an online forum for NEWSWEEK. De Waal is program director at the Social Science Research Council, a fellow of the Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University, and a director of Justice Africa. He has written and edited several books on Darfur, including "Famine That Kills: Darfur, Sudan, 1984-1985" and, most recently, " War in Darfur and the Search for Peace . " Prendergast is a co-chair with the Enough Project and serves on the board of the Save Darfur Coalition. He served as an adviser to the White House and the State Department during the Clinton administration and later as a senior adviser to the nonpartisan International Crisis Group. He co-authored the book "Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond," with actor Don Cheadle, and has written seven other books on Africa.
ALEX DE WAAL: The point of activism is to make a difference. And the Darfur campaigns have made a difference to U.S. policycertainly in rhetoric, and significantly in substance. For a start, humanitarian agencies working in Darfur have little difficulty in getting the funds they demand from the U.S. government, and no presidential candidate can outline a position on foreign policy that doesn't have some reference to what he or she proposes to do in Darfur. Without the campaigners there would have been no genocide determination and no referral to the International Criminal Court, and it's unlikely that there would have been an effort to change the African Union force to United Nations peacekeepers. It's certainly true that a lot of what has passed for U.S. Darfur policy in the last three years has been hot airbeginning with Colin Powell's Sept. 9, 2004, determination that genocide had been committed in Darfur (and may be continuing), immediately followed by his assertion that U.S. government policy would not change. But hot air can make a difference too, when we are dealing with a government in Khartoum that has been on the receiving end of U.S. cruise missiles and that fears that the U.S. government will take sides against it in a future war for the secession of southern Sudan. When you are dealing with the U.S., you need to pay attention to what its leaders say. Hot air also makes a difference to inexperienced but heady young rebel leaders who think that if they play their cards right they might just get a NATO military intervention, à la Kosovo, which delivers them from the hands of Khartoum into some form of self-government. Thirteen years ago, in the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide and a lopsided relief response that aided the refugees in (what was then called) Zaire, a group that included much of the genocidal interahamwe militia, and neglected the people threatened by genocide itself, humanitarian agencies went through a painful period of soul-searching. Their first response to their critics (of whom I was one) was something like, "We are not politicians, we are only here to helpand how dare you blame the ambulance crew for car crashes!" But relief workers in the field had long been troubled by the way in which their good intentions were subverted by the realities of horrible wars, in which the material resources provided by aid agencies could turn into an asset that actually worsened conflict and abuse. The principle "do no harm" was adopted to guide humanitarian engagement. The same "do no harm" principle applies to advocacy, too, and I think that what is happening in Sudan today will soon turn into soul-searching by activist organizations. How could they have inadvertently done harm (or failed to do good)? And what should they learn from this experience? Let me pose three questions, as possibilities we shouldn't evade: 1) Could the focus on Darfur mean that the challenges of consolidating the North-South peace have been neglected? Could it mean that the threat of major violence in Kordofan, the region that borders Darfur, has been overlooked? 2) Could the Darfur campaign have driven the Bush administration to adopt hardline rhetoric that made Khartoum less cooperative, while at the same time encouraging the rebels to believe that they could win a military intervention if they held out long enough? Could it in fact have impeded the search for a compromise between government and rebels? 3) Has the stress on genocidewhich has continued even after the end of large-scale hostilities in early 2005misrepresented the situation? Has this meant that we have missed more appropriate actions? Does putting Darfur into the same category as the Holocaust and Rwanda mean that we are obliged to do the same for a whole array of ethnic wars and counterinsurgencies across the world?
JOHN PRENDERGAST: Well, at least we agree on your first line: the point of activism is to make a difference. However, we diverge in the starkest of terms on most of your other main points. Let me begin with three general counterpoints: First, your criticism of the advocacy community seems bizarrely misplaced, when it is the policymakers in Washington, Brussels, London, and Beijing who have been primarily responsible for the failure to confront the crime of genocide and the inability to craft relevant solutions to the complicated crisis in Darfur. Activists seek to raise the alarm bell and to shape the policy priorities of their government. We were not running the failed peace process you were a part of in 2006 that led to an escalation of violence, for example. We just want to see solutions. And we recognize that the actor that is primarily responsible for the mayhem in Darfur is the Sudanese regime and its brutal counterinsurgency campaign that has ruthlessly targeted civilian populations and attempted to divide and destroy the rebel movements and the communities that support them. Second, hardline rhetoric is problematic only insofar as it hasn't been backed by credible action. That is not the fault of activists. It represents the failure of will on the part of policymakers in Washington particularly who placed other priorities (reserving assets for Iraq, maintaining access to counterterrorism information from the Khartoum regime, and not wanting to upset China, the principal investor in Sudan's oil sector) over undertaking actions necessary to confront genocidal intent. The Khartoum regime figured out the U.S. Government (USG) was willing to bark but not bite, and knew they could literally get away with mass murder, in the face of the empty Washington rhetoric. Third, I don't think you fully recognize how much activists have indeed made a difference, particularly in the last six months. A divestment movement is growing throughout the U.S. that has led 20 states, numerous universities, and some mutual funds to sell their shares of stock in companies doing business in ways that support genocide. Activist campaigns targeting China's hosting of the "Genocide Olympics" in 2008 have led Beijing to become much more constructive behind the scenes of late. Activists have pressed relentlessly for the deployment of a U.N.-led force to protect civilians in Darfur, and we are almost there. The Bush administration finally decided to take its first bite after all the barking, and imposed further sanctions on the regime a few months ago, signaling that confronting genocide has now taken its rightful place as equal to the other policy imperatives governing relations with Sudan. The list goes on. Frankly, if you removed the advocacy movement from the equation, absolutely nothing would have been done on Sudan. So it's not that activists diverted energies from what otherwise would have been a good approach; rather, we created attention and momentum around a set of issues that would have been ignored, at no cost, otherwise. Now I would like to turn to some of the specific points in your submission, which I have reviewed with my ENOUGH Project colleagues Colin Thomas-Jensen and Julia Spiegel. (You see, we need a battery of people to tally up the differences of view we have with you!!) · Your "Hot Air" paragraph has a number of holes. The USG has often been as vocal in its criticism of the rebels as it has of the government (and often disproportionately harsh on the rebels), so it is very suspect to say that U.S. rhetoric emboldened rebel groups to think that a NATO intervention was imminent. Look also at USG sanctions. The USG has imposed sanctions on the rebels as well as NCP [Sudan's ruling National Congress Party] officials. The hot air is blowing in all directions. "Hot air" without follow-through is what actually emboldens rebels and the NCP alike. As has been the case with the Bush administration' s rhetorical advocacy of a no-fly zone, for example, harsh rhetoric without any serious military planning to back it up hands the NCP a propaganda victory. The regime has called the U.S. bluff time and time again, and clearly no one plans to do anything about it. And even with the sanctions, the USG didn't target the key guys responsible for ongoing atrocities, and Washington didn't work aggressively to make them multilateral. That again sends a message to the regime that we're all talk and no walk. · It is worth noting that when renegade rebel–turned–governme nt militia commander Minni Minnawi traveled to the U.S. to visit Bush last year, he met with a number of activist groupsincluding uswho were harshly critical of the abuses committed by his forces. Activist organizations have not portrayed the rebels as freedom fighters, but rather maintained a justified focus on the primary cause of the crisis: the actions of the regime and the impunity it still enjoys. · Activists had little to do with the genocide declaration in 2004. There was not even what you could call "a campaign" at that time. Actually, the USG sent a team of researchers to Chad, interviewed 1,100 refugees, and based on the patterns of violence they discovered made a determination. Then, the disconnect between word and deedgenocide and "doing all we can"helped to create the movement. · You write: "When you are dealing with the U.S., you need to pay attention to what its leaders say." Perhaps, but I would argue that a regime as experienced and wily as the one in Khartoum pays a lot more attention to what the USG does, not what it says. You should know this… · You write that the Khartoum regime "fears that the U.S. government will take sides against it in a future war for the secession of southern Sudan". Really? If that were the case, then wouldn't the USG be making much more of an effort to pressure the regime to implement the southern Sudan peace agreement? Or pumping arms into the south? Again, the regime is looking at actions, not words. · In the Rwanda/Zaire paragraph, you are comparing activists calling upon their elected leaders to stop crimes against humanity to relief agencies who were knowingly feeding genocidaires in eastern Congo. That is a grotesque oversimplification provocative and largely meaningless. You're comparing apples and oranges to make a cute rhetorical point, and it doesn't work. The comparison is at best disingenuous: you cannot say giving aid that gets diverted to genocidaires is analogous to pressuring the USG to take more concerted action in Darfur. Perhaps you're alluding to what you see as activists' oversimplification of the crisis and a focus on Darfur, but I think you would be hard-pressed to explain how that makes activists responsible for bad USG policy or demonstrates that they have done "harm." · You are failing to look at your own actions with a critical eye, as a central participant in crafting the fatally flawed Darfur peace deal in 2006 that led to an intensification of conflict in Darfur. Activists were pushing for a comprehensive peace deal that would address root causes in Darfur, not a half-baked agreement between the regime and the most abusive rebel commander in Darfur who has now become a government militia thanks to your "peace deal." · You write: "Could the focus on Darfur mean that the challenges of consolidating the North-South peace have been neglected?" Again, that suggests that the USG policy is solely dictated by activists, surely not something anyone could argue with a straight face about the Bush administration. Activists have certainly deemphasized the North-South deal, but that doesn't excuse the Bush administration from walking away from one of its only foreign policy successes of the past seven years. And would it have been OK to let Khartoum pursue a policy of mass murder in Darfur just to get the North-South deal implemented? Stove-piped USG policy is the problem, not activism. Why do you consistently let the USG off the hook and blame activists for bad policy? The USG should have had a comprehensive policy to deal with both the North-South deal and Darfur, but instead it has been unable to reconcile the two. Had there been no Darfur movement, it's highly likely that both crises would have been ignored. And right now advocacy groups across the country are taking the lead role in making it clear that the problems in Sudan need to be dealt with holistically, since USG policy still hasn't addressed it that way. · You write: "Could the Darfur campaign have driven the Bush administration to adopt hard-line rhetoric that made Khartoum less cooperative, while at the same time encouraging the rebels to believe that they could win a military intervention if they held out long enough? Could it in fact have impeded the search for a compromise between government and rebels?" What compromise? When has the government of Sudan shown any willingness to compromise when they were not under intense international pressure? At the 2006 peace talks you were part of, the USG put more pressure on the rebels than it did on Khartoum, and ended up with a stillborn agreement. Is this the fault of rebel-coddling activists? · You write: "Has the stress on genocidewhich has continued even after the end of large-scale hostilities in early 2005misrepresented the situation? Has this meant that we have missed more appropriate actions? Does putting Darfur into the same category as the Holocaust and Rwanda mean that we are obliged to do the same for a whole array of ethnic wars and counterinsurgencies across the world?" The answer is no, no and no. Genocidal intent was there in 2003-2004 in Sudan and it is still there today. Without activists pushing on the U.S. to back up the genocide rhetoric with some action, the Khartoum regime would have pursued a scorched-earth policy until many more hundreds of thousandand perhaps millionswere dead. This is not an "ethnic war," and it is remarkable that you would parrot exactly what the government of Sudan is saying. Also, are Rwanda and the Holocaust the litmus test for genocide? I hadn't realized… You should reread the Genocide Convention. The sincere reading of that document by the preponderance of activists, including this one, leads to a conclusion that the regime in Khartoum is pursuing policies calculated to create conditions that would bring about the destruction, in whole or part, of specific groups of people on the basis of their ethnicity. The names of the groups are the Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit. We should know their stories just as we now know the stories of the Tutsis of Rwanda, or the Jews in Germany. And if there will ever be any meaningful response to these crimes, it will be because of activists saying that as voters we will not tolerate our government standing by in the face of genocide.
ALEX DE WAAL: Whoa! I wrote my thoughts in anticipating a constructive debate on how activism could learn the lessons of the successes and failures of the last few years. My three clusters of questions were precisely thatquestions, to open debate. You took them as chargesin fact, as personal accusations. Not so! I was hoping for a substantive discussion on how activism by citizens and leadership on moral issues by political figurescongresspeop le, aspiring presidential candidates, other public intellectuals helps shape foreign policy, and how this new wave of international public activism on Africa and human rights can be made more effective. John, your ad hominem attacks are shameful. They display wanton ignorance about the peace process in Abuja and the role I played in it. Have you not read my accounts of what went on there? (Published in the London Review of Books and more recently in "War in Darfur and the Search for Peace.") Are you not aware that I strongly advocated for power-sharing provisions that would have provided parity for the movements and the NCP in Darfur rather than the imbalance that was proposed? Are you ignorant of the fact that after the deal was signed on May 5, with Minni Minawia man whom I advocated the U.S. should NOT backI stayed behind on my own initiative to try to get [rebel leader] Abdel Wahid to continue negotiating with the government and came closer to an agreement than all the assembled diplomats and heads of state on May 4-5? I joined the peace process late, as an adviser. The Sudan government objected to me and I was smuggled in as a personal advisor to the chief mediator, Salim Salim. I didn't dictate that process. My advice was sometimes followed, more often not. I declined the invitation to join the last mediation in Sirte [Libya] because the advice I have been giving was not followed at all. I and others involved have scrutinized and criticized every aspect of the process. Knowing how agonizingly close we came to an agreement in Abuja, and looking at the small things that might have made the difference, I search my memory and conscience every day to examine what I might have done differently. You, however, served in government. You were a senior official on African policy in an administration that fired cruise missiles that destroyed a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum and which endorsed regime change by rebels in both Sudan and Zaire. In the latter case, that regime change happened and ushered in the humanitarian disaster that is the Democratic Republic of Congo today. Do you ever ask yourself what you might have done differently to avert that disaster? Most of your response is an exercise in pyromania of straw men. But although careless with both facts and logic, it deserves a response. Let me start with the first sentence of your second paragraph, in which you unhesitatingly use the word 'genocide,' and your final point about the genocide convention. There is almost six decades of scholarly work on the definition of genocide and almost twenty years of debate among Sudanese activists about whether or not to use the term in Sudan (see my recent article in the Spring 2007 Harvard Human Rights Journal). It's not as straightforward as you imply. If we applied the letter of the convention, any attempt to inflict harm on members of a racial, religious or ethnic group, with the intent to destroy them in whole or in part, would be genocide. That would mean that at least half a dozen episodes in the Sudanese civil war would be genocide, as well as episodes in Ethiopia in the 1980s, Uganda in 1983, Somalia in 1988 and 1992-3 and again in the last few months, numerous episodes in the DRC and various others would all be genocide. It would include most ethnic wars and counterinsurgencies (in passing, your attempt to smear me with endorsing Khartoum's explanations for the Darfur war is a cheap shotI did not write that Darfur's war was an ethnic war and you know it). Many scholars prefer to use a narrower interpretation of the genocide convention to apply to projects of racial or ethnic annihilation which Darfur is not. Racist insults by militiamen simply aren't proof of genocidal intent. And in your final sentence you cannot resist the temptation of comparing Darfur's victims to the Rwandese Tutsis and European Jewsrather than (for example) the displaced fleeing the fighting in Mogadishu. There's another problem with your argument. The period of intense conflict in Darfur was from about April 2003 to January 2005. The great majority of massacres were committed between July 2003 and April 2004. Mortality from hunger and disease peaked at the end of 2004 and fell away rapidly after that. By this time a major humanitarian operation had been mounted, the AU had dispatched troops, peace negotiations were all under way, and Darfur had been referred to the International Criminal Court. That's not a bad response, from governments, much of it underway before the grass-roots activist campaign got properly into gear. (See your point 3.) Don't claim the credit for everythinggovernmen ts aren't always as cynical or apathetic as you imply. After that, the nature of the war has changed. There haven't been big government offensivesfor one reason, when they try, the rebels usually shoot them up pretty comprehensively. The main reason for ongoing displacement has been generalized insecurity, much of it banditry and extortion rackets, some of it fighting between militias, as the government-armed tribal militias turn on one another. The rebels have launched quite a lot of the offensives themselves. If you are looking for genocidal intent in the period since early 2005, it's pretty hard to find. It looks to most people on the ground like a thoroughly nasty combination of a rather ineffective counterinsurgency and intertribal fighting (the government's description is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy). The government isn't responsible for most of the divisions among the rebelsthey have done a pretty good job of that themselves. Darfur is a pretty sorry mess today. No one should be patting themselves on the back for that. The Darfur Peace Agreement failed. The activist campaign hasn't succeeded either. Did you stop any offensives in the last two years? I rather think that the SLA fighters in north Darfur did that. And be careful about proclaiming that protection is on its way. Expectations are sky high for what U.N. troops will do. When they disappoint, I'm sure you will be the first to criticize. But when you get what you call for, your basis for condemnation begins to get thin. The campaign on China has definitely made a difference. I'm not against activismquite the contrary. I began my human rights activism in Sudan in 1988 and among other things helped start the land-mines campaign, co-wrote the first big report on Rwanda in 1994, opened up the Nuba Mountains to human rights investigation and humanitarian access in 1995, and campaigned for Sudanese civil society organizations to be involved in the peace process from the late 1990s on. (But I would note that China's first serious change in tack happened a year ago, before the Genocide Olympics campaign.) Each time I have tried an honest assessment of what went right and what didn't. It's precisely because activism can make a difference that we need to be honest with ourselves when we assess what has succeeded, what hasn't, and what has had unanticipated side effects. You need to be a lot more careful in describing what activists and their fellow travelers in Congress and among the Washington political aspirants actually said and wrote, and when. During the months when the Abuja peace process was alive and progressing, there was a deafening silence from the activists about it. During those months the overwhelming emphasis was on U.N. troops. I might call it tunnel vision. In the critical days after the signing of Abuja, when I was one of two mediators to stay behind to narrow the gap between Abdel Wahid al Nur and the government, the chorus of condemnation of Abuja was, to say the least, unhelpful. Your point 7 is shockingly misleading and shows a deep ignorance of what happened in Abuja. Afterward, it's true, you and others neatly reversed direction and began to call for a revamped peace process and began to criticize the rebels. Advocacy, like politics, is all about timing. Sorry, John, you were too late. But my serious point here is about how advocacy does influence both rhetoric and policy (and rhetoric can become policy) and how it changes the structure of incentives of peace processes. Making a peace deal involves making compromises with the enemy. The guarantee of faithful implementation is built into the structure of the deal itselfwhen you do A, we'll do B. Usually the stronger side is asked to act firste.g., to withdraw its troops or start disarmamentbefore the weaker one does. A monitoring team or peacekeeping force is there to help keep it on track. This was the structure for the North-South peace deal, for example. Direct security guarantees, in the form of foreign troops who enforce the deal, are pretty rareKosovo is the example that comes to mind. The Darfur Peace Agreement was designed with these types of internal security guaranteesstaged reciprocal actions by the parties, with the government acting firstbuilt in. They were tough on the government, and when the final text was presented, all the rebel leaders congratulated the mediators on this chapter and accepted it. It was the government that raised objections. But the activist campaign had raised the promise of a military intervention with direct guarantees, and that was the message that got through. In the final session, Abdel Wahid demanded guarantees like Bosniahe wanted an intervention before he signed. [U.S.] Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick wouldn't give him that guarantee. I'm not blaming the activists for the failure of the talks. Most of the blame goes to the intransigent miscalculations of Khartoum's chief negotiator, Majzoub al Khalifa, and much of the balance to the rebels and their poor leadership. The mediators made some bad mistakes too. But the question I want to pose, for our own learning and for future activism, is the following: do we run the danger of encouraging rebels to aim too high in their demands, and risk them rejecting workable deals in favor of unrealizable dreams? That's a serious question that demands a serious debate. You completely mistake the point of my comparison with the aid agencies after the Rwanda genocide. The tragedy of that humanitarian response was that one good intentionfeeding the hungryconflicted with another ethical imperative: preventing and punishing genocide. I for one never accused aid agencies of being deliberately complicit in feeding genocidaires. What I did was to point out the unanticipated and often unacknowledged side effects of what they did, and asked that they examine the context of their actions and their outcomes. That is what I am asking you to do now. As any senior policymaker will tell you, much time and energy on issues like Sudan is driven by the clamor of activists. This relates to point 8. There's no doubt that the activist and congressional focus on Darfur droveand distortedU.S. policy priorities. Again, pay attention to my argument. I wouldn't blame aid agencies for the Rwanda genocide and I don't blame activists for the failures of U.S. policy on Sudan. But insofar as you make a difference, however small, you must attend to what that difference might be. There's much more I could writeyour scattergun approach leaves almost every sentence up for challenge.
JOHN PRENDERGAST: Thankfully, in this duel to the rhetorical death we were only given two bullets. I used up most of my nine lives in the last 25 years living and traveling in war zones, so I wouldn't want to spend any more of them on answering these extraordinary claims. Activists need to know there are solutions out there, and that these solutions can be driven by activists. Some of your writings (and no, I haven't read all of them) tend to blame activists for things getting worse on the ground in Darfur, and for the failure of the Darfur Peace Agreemeent of 2006. At least that is what most activists perceive your intentions to be. And I understand that. It is hard to get published these days on Sudan, so an argument like that is very attractive to editors. The fact that it is not true is irrelevant, it appears. Here's the Africa I know from my 25 years' working on the issues there: Afrca is a continent of extraordinary transformation. It is not a place of gloom and doom, of fatalism and hopelessness. Having seen the extraordinary turnarounds in Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, southern Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi and elsewhere, I am an unabashed Afro-optimist. I believe Sudan is at one of its low points, just as these other countries were at various times over the last 25 years. And I believe with a little help, particularly driven by activists, Darfur can turn itself around as well. Any social movement here in the U.S. has to go through growing pains and massive learning curves. There is in formation a growing antigenocide movement in the U.S. today, one that understandably contains many people who are just learning about international relations and what is really going on in places like Sudan, half a world away. Most of them, regrettably, have not yet read your London Review of Books article. So they are learning. I stopped writing for academic journals a few years ago to concentrate on building the capacity of these activists, because I learned when I was working for President Clinton that without a permanent constituency supporting actions against genocide and other mass atrocities, even those people in policymaking positions who wanted to do something were hard-pressed to do so. Though in a perfect world politics wouldn't have to drive policy, in the real world we inhabit political will is the holy grail, and the only way to increase it is through building a movement in an inclusive, bipartisan, encouraging way. Your conclusion that activists didn't drive the U.S. position on the deployment of the African Union force or the U.S. stepping aside to allow the referral of the case of Darfur to the International Criminal Court demonstrates a lack of understanding of how policy gets made here in the U.S. by American constituencies. Here most of the major incremental steps that have been taken by the U.S.either unilaterally or multilaterally have come because of this growing movement of activists that hail from all kinds of backgrounds. You seem obsessed with the idea that activists have only been pressing for the deployment of force. Some of the [Save Darfur] ads from 2005 and 2006 certainly focused on that issue, but advocacy in the U.S. has been much more comprehensive than you give it credit for, even though we have not fully succeeded in changing U.S. policy. We have focused on what we call the Three P's of Crisis Response: Peace-making, Protection and Punishment. We believe those three elements are part and parcel of every successful external effort to support an end to conflicts or crises in Africa in recent history. We think that a more effective peace process, a rapid deployment of the UN/AU force with a focus on protecting civilians, and clear penalties for obstructing the first two (peace and protection) would do much to helping to bring an end to the crisis in Darfur. And we believe an equal effort must be made to implement the North-South peace deal, as the fates of Darfur and the South are deeply intertwined. Not every activist understands this, but we all can contribute to educating them to make a difference, a real difference. And you are right, activists are not the most even-handed commentators when it comes to responding to Darfur. However, you interpret that as having taken sides with the rebels. Not so. Activists realize that the responsibility for the vast preponderance of atrocities committed since early 2003 lies at the feet of the ruling party in Khartoum, the NCP. Please understand the difference when you are constructing your critiques of the activists and their efforts. Whatever your intent, those activists that have read anything you have written of late are trying to understand why you are saying that activists are more part of the problem than of the solution. Certainly there is room for improvement in our advocacy efforts. For example, you perpetuate the erroneous notion that activists are advocating for military action against Sudan. That just doesn't square with the reality. Many of the key activist groups have gone through a period of reflection and have issued public statements about the potential for negative consequences outweighing positive results in use-of-force scenarios, such as no-fly zones or targeted airstrikes. There is certainly disagreement out there. But it is simply erroneous for you to assert that activists promote the use of force and that hardens rebel positions. The rebels are a lot smarter than you are giving them credit for. They have their own views and agendas and use others to justify those views. Again, blaming activists or even pointing out their ignorance may sell (a few) magazines, but it isn't an accurate reflection of real cause and effect. A final rejoinder on this contentious issue of genocide. Good people can disagree about the use of this term. For example, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and the International Crisis Group (despite my best efforts when I worked there) all were not prepared to call what was happening in Darfur genocide. It comes down for themand many legal scholarsto the question of intent. The Convention says the perpetrator of genocide must INTEND to destroy, in whole or in part, specific groups of people. I happen to believe that the government of Sudan indeed had the intent to in part destroy the Fur, Zaghawa and Massalit ethnic groups to punish them for supporting the Darfur insurgency, to cut the umbilical cord between rebels and their supporters, and to send a message to all would-be rebels throughout Sudan that this would be your fate if you rebelled. Others disagree, saying it was a by-product of a disproportionate counterinsurgency strategy. On this I believe we agree. Now where you and I diverge is on the last couple years. The war changed, yes, precisely as you say it has. But it changed BECAUSE of the ruling party's genocidal counterinsurgency strategy, which aimed to divide and destroy Darfur, and throw it into the very chaos it suffers from today. You describe it as an "ineffective counterinsurgency strategy." I couldn't disagree more strongly. This has been a textbook counterinsurgency operation, which has turned the Darfur conflict in on itself, leaving the clear lines of regime culpability much more murky, and leaving analysts like you to carry the government's argument that it is anarchy, not genocide. Mission accomplished. Darfur is witnessing the echoes of genocide. I believe one of the best chances we have of reversing the crisis is if well-infomed, united activists in the U.S. and abroad work diligently for governments around the world to step up their efforts to promote peace, protect the people, and punish the perpetrators. In fact, working in partnership with Darfurians, I believe it is the only chance Darfur has.
URL: http://www.newsweek .com/id/69004 © 2007 Newsweek.com
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Darfur Action Group
Amnesty International Group 76, Northampton MA
For more information, please contact Sara Weinberger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send donations earmarked “Sudan Aid Fund” payable to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, P.O. Box 15769, Springfield, MA 01115-5769.
at a benefit concert to bring food, water, and medical care to the victims of the ongoing crisis in Darfur.
Admission is free.
But prepare to give generously as we open our hearts and raise our voices for the people of Darfur.
Evelyn Harris Amandla ·
Mak’hela Jewish Chorus of W. Mass http://www.makhela.org/
Alsarah www.alsarah.com & Fatima
The NY Photographer Richard Levine www.richardlevine.net
Photographer Richard Levine’s acclaimed photos of Darfur will be shown at theevent. His work will be exhibited at the Jones Library from October 21 toNovember 17.
sponsors include: Smith College, Al-Baqi Islamic Center · Amnesty International Group 76 & Group 128 · Beit Ahavah Reform Jewish Congregation ·Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts · Community Relations Committee ofthe Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Edwards Church · First Churches· Jewish Community of Amherst · Just Faith Group of Northampton Area CatholicChurches · Mayor Mary Clare Higgins · National Association of Social Workers,Massachusetts Chapter · Northampton Human Rights Commission · Physicians forSocial Responsibilty, Pioneer Valley Chapter · Representative Peter Kocot ·Senator Stan Rosenberg · St. John’s Episcopal Church · Western Mass Darfur Coalition
Sunday, October 21, 20073:00–5:00 pm
Weinstein Auditorium Wright Hall,
Monday, October 01, 2007
African peacekeepers searched for more than 20 members of their force still missing and feared wandering the wilderness of Darfur on Monday after rebels overran their base in an unprecedented attack that stunned the international force.
الأمم المتحدة تندد بهجوم دارفور والخرطوم تتهم المتمردينOct 1, 2007, 06:41سودانيزاونلاين.كوم Sudaneseonline.com
الأمم المتحدة تندد بهجوم دارفور والخرطوم تتهم المتمردين
الجزيرة نت :
دان الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي مون بشدة الهجوم الذي أسفر عن مقتل عشرة من جنود الاتحاد الأفريقي في حسكنيتا جنوب دارفور، ودعا لمعاقبة منفذي الهجوم الذي وصفه بغير المقبول. وطالب بان في بيان أصدره مكتبه الإعلامي الأطراف المتحاربة في دارفور بالتعهد بالتوصل إلى تسوية سلمية للنزاع.
كما أدان أمين الشؤون الأفريقية الليبي علي التريكي الهجوم، وطالب بمعاقبة منفذيه. وأكد التريكي في تصريح للجزيرة أن هذا الهجوم سيزيد المجتمع الدولي والاتحاد الأفريقي تصميما على المضي قدما في عقد محادثات السلام بين الحكومة السودانية والأطراف المتمردة بطرابلس في السابع من الشهر القادم.
من جهته أكد المتحدث باسم الاتحاد الأفريقي نور الدين المازني أن التحقيقات ما زالت جارية لمعرفة الجهة التي تقف وراء الهجوم، مشيرا إلى أن نتائج هذه التحقيقات ستعرض أمام الرأي العام فور انتهائها. وقد امتنع المازني في تصريحات للجزيرة من الخرطوم عن تحديد المسؤول عن منفذي الهجوم، إلا أنه توعد بفرض عقوبات على المسؤولين عنه.
وشدد المتحدث على أن هذا الحادث لن يؤثر على مؤتمر طرابلس، مضيفا أن الحصيلة النهائية للهجوم هي عشرة قتلى وثمانية جرحى و40 مفقودا بعد العثور على 17 منهم.
تبادل اتهاماتيأتي ذلك في وقت تبادل فيه الجيش السوداني ومتمردي دارفور الاتهامات بشأن المسؤولية عن الهجوم.
ونقلت وكالة الأنباء السودانية عن المتحدث باسم الجيش الجنرال عثمان محمد الأغبش قوله إنه يأسف لهذا الهجوم، مؤكدا أن "بعض القوى المتمردة" قد شنته.
كما وجه قائد حركة العدل والمساواة عبد العزيز النور عشر اتهامات مماثلة، وقال إن الهجوم نفذته قوات متمردة منشقة أرادت أن يكون لها مقعد في محادثات طرابلس.
وحمل النور المسؤولية للمعزول بحر أدريس أبو قردة نائب رئيس الحركة والقائد العسكري السابق عبد الله باندا بالتعاون مع بعض أعضاء جيش تحرير السودان-جناح الوحدة.
وسارع قائد جيش تحرير السودان-جناح الوحدة أبو بكر كادو بنفي هذه الاتهامات، ولكنه قال إن قواته كانت تقاتل القوات الحكومية في حسكنيتا طوال أول أمس السبت حتى غروب الشمس وربما تصادف وجود قوات الاتحاد الأفريقي وسط القصف.
كما نفى الناطق الرسمي باسم حركة تحرير السودان-جناح الوحدة محجوب حسين مسؤولية الحركة عن هذا الهجوم، واتهم في تصريح للجزيرة الحكومة والمليشيات التابعة لها بالوقوف وراءه
Thursday, September 27, 2007
“In Sudan , innocent civilians are suffering repression -- and in the Darfur region, many are losing their lives to genocide. America has responded with tough sanctions against those responsible for the violence. We've provided more than $2 billion in humanitarian and peacekeeping aid. The United Nations must answer this challenge to conscience, and live up to its promise to promptly deploy peacekeeping forces to Darfur.”
This afternoon, the President participated in a meeting with the United Nations Security Council on Africa where he again stressed the importance of ending this genocide in Darfur .
“We call on the government in Khartoum to facilitate the deployment of a robust U.N. peacekeeping force to save life. We call on all parties to cease arm sales to the combatants. We expect people gathered around this table to send a focused message that innocent life matters. We expect President Bashir to observe a cease-fire during next month's peace talks, and we want the rebels to do the same.”
Links to the Presidents remarks to both the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council Meeting on Africa can be found below.
Remarks to the UN General Assembly
Remarks to the UN Security Council Meeting on Africa
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Dear Darfur Supporters,
Please note the new UMass STAND group along with Mt. Holyoke and other college groups are sponsoring a RALLY as part of the state-wide Dream for Darfur Torch Relay on Sunday, October 7th on the Amherst Town Common from 1 to 4 pm. They have invited legislators to speak so please come and let these legislators know that Darfur must be on their agenda. Please note that our next
Please note that our nextmeeting is on Tuesday, October 16th at 7 pm at 135 E. Hadley Rd in Amherst -- so mark your calendars for this and the events below.
Also note that “Voices for Darfur” concert will be held Oct. 21st from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Weinstein Auditorium at
Monday, September 24, 2007
AN APPEAL TO CHINA TO PRESSURE SUDAN TO END THE GENOCIDE AND ALLOW THE UN/AU PEACEKEEPING FORCE INTO DARFUR
His Excellency Hu Jintao,
President, People's Republic of China
c/o His Excellency Zhon Wen Zhong,
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008
Since 2003, the Sudanese government has fought the guerilla insurgencies in Darfur by targeting innocent civilians. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and 2.5 million displaced into inadequate refugee camps. The US Congress, on July 23, 2004, declared that the atrocities unfolding in Darfur are genocide.
Despite a world-wide outcry against the Darfur Genocide, the killing continues. In August, 2006, UN Security Council resolution 1706 called for a robust UN peacekeeping force, but the Sudanese government had prevented its deployment in Darfur. On July 31, 2007, the UN Security Council Resolution 1769 passed unanimously, calling for a hybrid UN/AU (Organization of African Unity) force of 26,000 to be deployed by the end of the year. The world community must exert maximum pressure on the Sudanese regime, and also on China to ensure that the peacekeepers do their job.
China, through its development of Sudanese oil resources and provision of loans, is the mainstay of the Sudanese economy and it continues to supply arms and has defended Sudan in the UN Security Council. Experts agree that if China applies maximum pressure, the Sudanese regime will be forced to allow in the UN/AU peacekeepers. Our task is to convince China to exert that pressure on Sudan.
A May 7, 2007 letter from 108 members of the US House of Representatives to Hu Jintao, President of China says, in part:
[ ……the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are going to be an important event for the image of the PRC [People's Republic of China]…It would be a disaster for China if the games were marred by protests from concerned individuals and groups who will undoubtedly link your government to the continued atrocities in Darfur….Already there are calls to boycott what is increasingly being described as the "2008 Genocide Olympics."…we urge you to protect your country's image from being irredeemably tarnished, through association with a genocidal regime, for the purposes of economic gains.]
Informed citizens around the globe are convinced that China has the power to force Sudan to stop the genocide and to permit the UN/AU peacekeepers into Darfur.
If China fails to act, millions are likely not only protest and boycott the "Genocide Olympics" (the 2008 Summer Olympics will be held in China), but may well, in their extreme frustration, turn to boycotting other Chinese products and services.
Name and Date___________________________
Please sign this appeal, circulate it within your network for more signatures and send it to the President of China c/o the Chinese Embassy, Washington, DC (the full address is under the heading at the top of the page)
Western Mass Darfur Coalition
John Olver's office, through an administrative oversight, missed the opportunity to sign on to Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) May 07 letter to President Hu of China, demanding action on Darfur. This strongly worded letter had urged the Chinese government to take immediate action to save innocent lives and help bring an end to the conflict in Darfur. Withina few days Mr. Olver signed a separate but comparable letter to the Chinese President. The letter appears below.
Letter to President Hu of China on Darfur
May 16, 2007
President Hu Jintao
C/o Ambassador Zhou WenzhongEmbassy of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.Washington DC 20008
Dear President Hu,
I wish to add my name to the list of over one hundred Members of Congress who wrote you last week to register their grave concern regarding the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.I request that you use your significant influence with the government of Sudan to ensure that it allows free conduct of humanitarian operations in Darfur and brings an end to the atrocities against innocent civilians. As the party that negotiated the inclusion of a clause to UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1706 requiring the consent of the Sudanese government for the deployment of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) bears a special responsibility to ensure, through decisive diplomacy and action, that President al-Bashir does provide that consent to the full implementation of phases II and III of the Addis Ababa Agreement of November 16, 2006.
The conflict waged by Sudanese government forces and government-backed Janjawid militias has driven more than 230,000 Darfuri refugees into Chad, and displaced more than 120,000 Chadians. In addition, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and an estimated 2 million displaced in Darfur itself. The conflict has had particularly devastating consequences for women and children, who make up the vast majority of victims. The attacks against, and murder of over a dozen relief workers in recent months has disrupted humanitarian operations —leaving hundreds of thousands without access to the most basic assistance. I welcome the news that Sudan has been removed from the list of countries that your government provides incentives for Chinese businesses to invest in, and the public and private efforts you have made to encourage the government in Khartoum to accept the deployment of peacekeepers into the Darfur region. However, the PRC can and must do more. Unfortunately, the PRC remains the largest foreign investor in Sudan, and recently provided the government of Sudan an interest-free loan, worth $17m to build a presidential palace. Unfortunately, the PRC has reportedly been engaged in arms sales with the government of Sudan, arms which are used by government forces and the Janjweed militia to maim and kill innocent Sudanese civilians. These actions send the wrong message to Khartoum, as does the recent cancellation of a $70m dollar debt that the Sudanese government owes to the PRC, and the China’s projects to rehabilitate Sudan’s railways and water ports.
I urge you to impress upon Khartoum the need to halt Sudan's military operations throughout Darfur, to withdraw Sudanese troops from the area, and to honor its commitment to accept the ‘heavy support package’ which includes a robust AU/UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, under a UN-appointed commander, police officers, civilian staff and humanitarian workers. These steps, at a minimum, are essential to enforce the ceasefire, protect civilians, ensure access to humanitarian assistance, and begin the path to reconstruction and reconciliation in Darfur. I further urge that should a resolution be put forward at the UNSC proposing sanctions on the government of Sudan for non-compliance with its agreements or non-cooperation with the UN peace-keeping force, you instruct your Ambassador, at the United Nations, to support the resolution by, at the very least, abstaining from voting.
President Hu, the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are going to be an important event for the image of the PRC. Millions of people will visit China, and over a billion people will tune into their radios and televisions to witness the expression of international peace and solidarity, through friendly competition in sports. It would be a disaster for China if the games were to be marred by protests, from concerned individuals and groups, whom will undoubtedly link your government to the continued atrocities in Darfur, if there is no significant improvement in the conditions. Already there are calls to boycott what is increasingly being described as the 2008 ‘Genocide Olympics.’ As Sudan’s single largest trading partner, and the main beneficiary of their significant crude oil exports and construction contracts, we urge you to protect your country’s image from being irredeemably tarnished, through association with a genocidal regime, for the purposes of economic gains. The primary objectives are to protect civilians in Darfur, end the violence, find a just resolution to the political conflict, and begin the long path to reconstruction and reconciliation, and we hope China shares these objectives. The international community is stepping up to its responsibilities, but unless China does its part to ensure that the government of Sudan accepts the best and most reasonable path to peace, history will judge your government as having bank-rolled a genocide.Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter and I look forward to your response.
John W. Olver
Member of Congress
Friday, September 14, 2007
Darfur Legislative Update
September 11, 2007
Congress returned to work last week after a month-long recess. The full Senate passed the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill (FYO8) on September 6 (the House passed this bill earlier this year) and now the Foreign Ops bill needs to go to conference committee. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill contained hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for Sudan . In addition to completing regular FY08 appropriations this fall, Congress is planning to pass an FY08 emergency supplemental that could include additional funds for Sudan.
In this message:
1) UNSC Res. 1769
2) Sudan Divestment Legislation
3) China ’s Special Representative on Darfur in Washington
4) Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon in Sudan
5) Upcoming Events
6) Recent Reports
1) United Nations Security Council Res. 1769
On July 31, 2007 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1769 which authorized the establishment of a new joint African Union-UN hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID). Many commentators celebrated this decision as a significant step toward protecting civilians and resolving the crisis in Darfur . AMIS, the current African Union (AU) mission force in Darfur , will be incorporated into UNAMID. Resolution 1769 authorized approximately 27,500 personnel, including military, observers and civilian police components. UNAMID is expected to cost between $2.4 and $2.6 billion a year. When fully deployed, UNAMID will be the largest peacekeeping operation in the world.
But many questions remain unanswered. The UN force will not be fully deployed for many months, leaving the beleaguered AU mission as the only protection force on the ground. The splintering of rebel groups since the May 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) has made the security situation increasingly precarious. The daily attacks on humanitarian workers and assets have placed the world’s largest humanitarian response in jeopardy – with potentially catastrophic consequences. As the deployment of UNAMID moves forward, a ceasefire and revitalized peace process, including renewed efforts to promote a civil society dialogue, are also urgently needed. Addressing the political, economic and social dimensions of the conflict are crucial to building sustainable peace in Darfur and throughout Sudan .
2) Sudan Divestment Legislation
The Darfur Accountability and Divestment Bill, H.R.180, which would bar federal contracts to companies that do business with the Sudanese government, passed the House on July 31, by a vote of 418-1. After passage, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, where it has been held up by several Senators. Contact the Global Intervention Network: http://www.genocideintervention.net/ or Save Darfur: http://www.savedarfur.org/content to learn how you can help.
Also, the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act of 2007 (S. 831), legislation introduced by Senator Durbin in March, has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, but has not yet been considered.
3) China 's Special Representative on Darfur in Washington
China 's special envoy on Darfur was in Washington D.C. in early September to speak with President Bush and lawmakers to explain China 's role in Sudan . Many in the international community have called on China to use its economic influence in Sudan to urge the government to pursue peace in Darfur .
During the week, China 's envoy, Liu Guijin, defended his government's role in Sudan , saying that "western countries who condemn China 's oil interests in Sudan are guilty of hypocrisy." He further stated that the international community needs to be focused on a political dialogue among the parties, alongside support for the AU-UN hybrid force. Read more about Guijin’s visit: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070906/ap_on_go_ot/us_china_darfur_1;_ylt=AhnDeA7bi_UL07q_Jc6mFmdsaMYA
4) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in Sudan
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon met with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan in early September and in a joint news conference on Sept. 6, 2007, announcing the start of renewed peace talks on Darfur to be held in Libya . The talks will begin on October 27, and will be led by the African Union and UN Special Envoys. The Secretary General urged all parties to commit to cease all hostilities immediately, achieve a political solution to the crisis, create an environment conducive to dialogue, and move forward with negotiations: http://www.un.org/News/ossg/hilites.htm
5) Upcoming Events
- On September 16, the fourth Global Day for Darfur will be held. Vigils will be held in more than 40 countries in support of implementing UNSC Res. 1769 and moving forward with the peace process in Sudan : http://www.globefordarfur.org/index.php?content=news_detail&include=yes&id=271
- On September 25, President Bush will attend a high level meeting on African Security, with a focus on Darfur , at the United Nations General Assembly.
- Save Darfur is launching its "Voices from Darfur" speaking tour, which will feature displaced persons from Darfur, throughout the United States this fall. The goal is to remind U.S. citizens that the situation in Darfur remains in a state of crisis: http://www.savedarfur.org/pages/voices_from_darfur/
6) Recent Reports
-The International Crisis Group has recently issued a report entitled, A Strategy for Comprehensive Peace in Sudan . According to the report, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which brokered a peace in the south in 2005 is dangerously close to collapsing due to neglect by the international community and government sabotage. The CPA is purported to be the way forward for a fair share of national resources, increased economic opportunities for Southern Sudan , and the democratization process. In the end, the report gives several recommendations to all the parties noting that peace in the South is inextricably linked to Darfur . A complete breakdown of the CPA could lead to a war of greater magnitude in Sudan . Access the full report online here: http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4961&l=1
- Echoes of Genocide in Darfur and Eastern Chad (http://www.enoughproject.org/). This report challenges the argument that Darfur and Eastern Chad are sliding into a “ Somalia – like” chaos. Although groups are splintering and the loyalties of some actors are less clear, the chains of command are still intact and Khartoum is still the main purveyor of violence. Finally, the authors argue, accurate analysis is needed by experts and the advocacy community to ensure that UNAMID’s mission is guided by the facts on the ground.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
By SAM DEALEY
Published: August 12, 2007
JUST last month, the House of Representatives passed the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act and the United Nations Security Council decided to deploy up to 26,000 peacekeepers to Sudan. Both actions were due in no small way to the work of the Save Darfur Coalition. Through aggressive advertising campaigns, this group has done more than any other to focus world attention on the conflict in the Sudanese region.But with a ruling Wednesday from Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority, Save Darfur now finds itself in the spotlight. Siding with a business group allied with the Sudanese government in Khartoum, the authority ruled that the high death tolls Save Darfur cites in its advertisements breached standards of truthfulness.
The ruling is more than just a minor public relations victory for Khartoum; it exposes a glaring problem in Save Darfur’s strategy. While the coalition has done an admirable job of raising awareness, it has also hampered aid-delivery groups, discredited American policy makers and diplomats and harmed efforts to respond to future humanitarian crises. The trouble began last fall when, in ads placed throughout the United States and Britain, Save Darfur denounced the Sudanese government’s scorched-earth campaign against insurgents. “After three years, 400,000 innocent men, women and children have been killed,” the ads said. That claim provoked a complaint to the British ad authority from the European Sudanese Public Affairs Council. After investigating, the authority found that Save Darfur’s ad campaign violated codes of objectivity, and it ordered the group to amend its ads to present the high death toll as opinion, not fact. Serious estimates of the number of dead in Darfur are far lower than 400,000.
Last November, the American Government Accountability Office convened a panel of 12 experts to assess the credibility of six prominent mortality estimates for Darfur. Three of these came from the American State Department, the World Health Organization and the W.H.O.-affiliated Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. The other three were independent efforts by activists including one by John Hagan, a sociologist at Northwestern University, for the defunct Coalition for International Justice. Dr. Hagan’s was the highest estimate and the one on which Save Darfur based its claim. In category after category, the experts overwhelmingly found Dr. Hagan’s estimate of 400,000 deficient. Nine of the experts said that his source data was unsound and that he failed to disclose his study’s limitations. Ten found his assumptions “unreasonable,” and 11 called his extrapolations “inappropriate.” In all, 11 experts held “low” or “very low” confidence in the study.
So how many are dead in Darfur? As the G.A.O. study notes, reliable numbers are hard to come by. But the estimate that garnered the highest confidence was the one from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. From September 2003 until June 2005, the center estimated, there were 158,000 deaths in Darfur. Of those, 131,000 were deemed “excess” more than normally would occur. Neither the center nor any other responsible outlet has released a tabulation of the death toll after June 2005, but observations by the United Nations and relief groups register a sharp drop if for no other reason than much of Darfur’s population now resides in the relative safety of aid camps.
In 2005, the mortality rate fell below the level that’s considered to be an emergency. But now that the government has resumed bombings and the rebel groups are fighting among themselves as well as against the government, violence has increased. In the last half of 2006, civilian deaths averaged 200 per month. Combining these estimates suggests Darfur’s death toll now hovers at 200,000 just half of what Save Darfur claimed a year ago in its ad and still claims on its Web site.
Of course, whether 200,000 or 400,000 have died, the need to resolve the conflict in Darfur is the same. But Save Darfur’s inflated estimate used even after Dr. Hagan revised his estimate sharply downward only frustrates peace efforts.
During debate on the House floor last month, for example, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee claimed that “an estimated 400,000 people have been killed by the government of Sudan and its janjaweed allies.” Ms. Jackson-Lee is hardly alone in making that allegation, and catering to the Sudanese government’s sensitivities may not seem important. But the repeated error only hardens Khartoum against constructive dialogue. If diplomacy, not war, is the ultimate goal for resolving the conflict in Darfur, the United States must maintain its credibility as an honest broker.Inaccurate data can also lead to prescriptive blunders. During the worst period of violence, for example, the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster estimated that nearly 70 percent of Darfur’s excess deaths were due not to violence but to disease and malnutrition. This suggests that policy makers should look for ways to bolster and protect relief groups by continuing to demand that the Sudanese government not hamper the delivery of aid, to be sure, but also by putting vigorous public pressure, so far lacking, on the dozen rebel groups that routinely raid convoys.
Exaggerated death tolls also make it difficult for relief organizations to deliver their services. Khartoum considers the inflated numbers to be evidence that all groups that deliver aid to Darfur are actually adjuncts of the activist groups that the regime considers its enemies, and thus finds justification for delaying visas, refusing to allow shipments of supplies and otherwise putting obstacles in the way of aid delivery.Lastly, mortality one-upmanship by advocacy groups threatens to inure the public to both current and future catastrophes.
If 400,000 becomes the de facto benchmark for action, other bloody conflicts around the globe in Sri Lanka, Colombia, Somalia seem to pale in comparison. Ultimately, the inflated claims fuel a death race in which aid and action are based not on facts but on which advocacy group yells the loudest.
Two-hundred thousand dead in Darfur is egregious enough. No matter how noble their intentions, there’s no need for activists to kill more Darfuris than the conflict itself already has.
No Certainty Until the Genocide Ends
Posted on Tuesday, 08/14/07 - 5:05 pm
Steve Gutow, Board Chair, Save Darfur Coalition
On August 12, the New York Times published “An Atrocity That Needs No Exaggeration“ an opinion article by Sam Dealey regarding the magnitude of atrocities in Darfur. The article misses a critical point in the debate over how many people have actually died. The real point is that, unfortunately, mortality estimates cannot be verified or updated because the Government of Sudan actively denies the international community – including diplomats, humanitarian workers, and epidemiology experts – real access to the Darfur region.
History reminds us that the full scope and scale of genocide is unknown until it has ended. Past perpetrators, most notably the Nazis, actively concealed their campaigns of mass murder from public scrutiny and accountability. When the scale of this genocide did become known, a shocked world cried out, “Never again.” The same was true in Cambodia and Rwanda. And that is what is happening now in Darfur.
The Save Darfur Coalition believes that as many as 400,000 Darfuris have been killed in this conflict because there is sound analysis to support that – analysis that is impossible to confirm only because of Sudan’s willful obstruction. Ultimately, no level of genocide is acceptable. The international community must continue to press the Sudanese government and President Omar al-Bashir to provide access to both international peacekeepers, humanitarian workers and experts who can more accurately document the scale of this tragedy, as well as provide protection and assistance to Darfur’s civilian population.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Date: Friday, July 27, 2007
Time: 6:00pm - 11:00pm
Location: Mercy House
Street: 365 North Pleasant St
City/Town: Amherst, MA
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Violence and insecurity in Darfur has forced 25,000 more people from their homes and is straining the capacity of camps swollen with refugees fleeing conflict in western Sudan, the U.N. said in a report on Tuesday. “Aerial bombings by the military continued to be reported in North Darfur up to late June while clashes between the military and rebel factions continued to be reported ... in various locations,” the United Nations said in a statement. The report said in May and June a further 25,000 people fled their homes, bringing the number of camp residents in Darfur to 2.2 million.
Read More http://www.savedarfur.org/newsroom/clips/25_000_more_darfuris_flee_homes_un/
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Amherst, MA June 20th, 2007
Today, as we mark the World Refugee Day 2007, almost three million Darfurian people in Western Sudan have lost their homes as a direct result of the government of Sudan's brutal policy of genocide. This number of displaced people comprises more than half of the population in Darfur.
We should not let the murderous regime of President Omer Bashir get away with this genocide of its own citizens. The regime should stop the delaying tactics that it has continued over the past year in ignoring UN resolutions to protect the victims in Darfur..
We, in the Western Mass. Darfur Coalition, call for our legislators, at the state and federal levels, to put more pressure on the Bush administration to make more effective the sanctions on the regime in Khartoum. Any sanctions should target the perpetrators and avoid hurting the Sudanese people.
Let this year's World Refugee Day serve as a reminder of our responsibility to help keep hope alive among those who need it most: the millions of refugees worldwide and those internally displaced in Darfur.
Western Massachusetts Darfur Coalition is a grassroots initiative founded in 2005 in response to the tragedy in Darfur and to help put pressure on our legislators to stop the genocide in Darfur. To contact us, email email@example.com or phone 413-687-8036. Our blog is: www.darfurwm.blogspot.com.
Friday, June 15, 2007