Daily Darfur

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Daily Darfur

Eric Reeves offers his analysis of the UN Commission Report
At the same time, the report is badly compromised in its tendentious and poorly reasoned conclusion about the absence of evidence of "genocidal intent" on the part of Khartoum in Darfur. Indeed, so egregiously poor are the legal and factual arguments about the issue of "genocidal intent" that we must conclude this Commission did not feel politically free to make a determination of genocide. The nature of the most likely political constraints are assessed later in this analysis; but it is important to register here the largest implication of this signal failure. For inevitably, given the relatively low quality of journalism devoted to this report and the larger issues it raises, there has been a glib and misleading fastening upon the Commission's finding that there is no "genocidal intent" on Khartoum's part.
The News Hour also discussedthe report.

I haven't had a chance to read Reeves' analysis yet, but I wanted to follow up on the point I made yesterday.

The UN report and various other sources have made it clear that the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed are targeting "black" Africans, mainly from the Fur, Massalit, and Zaghawa tribes, in retribution for their supposed support of the rebel movements. They are indiscriminately bombing, looting and destroying villages (some 2000, by the report's estimate) and killing and/or raping their inhabitants.

Yet the report concludes that genocide is not and has not taken place, apparently for lack of clear intent to destroy these tribes.

The Genocide Convention reads
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Now, it should be clear to anyone who has been paying attention that the government is targeting a specific ethnic group (i.e., members of these tribes) and obviously doing so via methods (a) & (b) and arguably via (c) & (d) as well.

The targeting of military aged males, for ostensibly military reasons, seems to me to be a deliberate attempt to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part and a means of preventing births within the group.

In the section of the report chronicling violations committed by the government and the Janjaweed, it states
In most cases of ground attacks, men were directly targeted to be killed and in some cases there is evidence of efforts by the perpetrators to spare the lives of women.
In the subsection on "killings of civilians" the report reads
Witness testimonies reflected in these reports describe attackers with Kalashnikovs and other automatic weapons shooting either indiscriminately or targeting specific people, usually men of military age.
The report then provides a few case studies, explaining that the cases presented "are characteristic of the pattern of killings noted by the Commission" and then provided the following information
They entered the homes and killed the men. They gathered the women in the mosque. There were around ten men hidden with the women. They found those men and killed them inside the mosque. They forced women to take off their maxi (large piece of clothing covering the entire body) and if they found that they were holding their young sons under them, they would kill the boys.


Men who were in confinement in Kailek were called out and shot in front of everyone or alternatively taken away and shot.


Many men were arrested and taken to the police station. They were separated into different groups and some were transported in a truck, allegedly to the Garsila area. The truck would come back empty and leave again with a new group of men. Most of those taken away were executed.
From the information provided, it is clear that the government and the Janjaweed are targeting men for death. As genocide is defined as the intent to destroy a group, in whole or in part, via any one of the above listed acts, I cannot understand how the situation in Darfur fails to qualify as genocide.

That said, I fear that I, like many others, am getting distracted by the question over the legal determination of genocide and overlooking the massive and irrefutable evidence of crimes against humanity. The report has 8 pages dedicated to chronicling evidence of rape and other forms of sexual violence, filled with case studies and testimony from victims. It is heartbreaking, yet I sense that the debate over genocide is overshadowing the report's assertion that "rape or other forms of sexual violence committed by the Janjaweed and Government soldiers in Darfur was widespread and systematic and may thus well amount to a crime against humanity."

Whether or not it is genocide is, at this point, more or less meaningless. Crimes against humanity are just as grievous and devastating and illegal as genocide - in fact, genocide is really just one type of crime against humanity.

As I said yesterday, the lack of a genocide declaration is no excuse for inaction.

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