Genocide in Darfur: How Sudan covers it up
Genocide in Darfur may be a debated legal question, but there's no denying that Sudan is working to cover up its crimes against human rights there.
(Page 2 of 2)
Second, the Khartoum regime has systematically denied access to the United Nations/African Union observer mission to investigate attacks on civilians, so many of these attacks go unreported and the culpability remains mysterious. The observer mission has had no access to the areas of recent government attacks, and thus the UN mission has been totally silent in the face of major attacks. What is the role of this hugely expensive mission if not to observe and report? Denial of access is part of the Khartoum regime’s ongoing cover-up of new crimes, so the false argument can be strengthened that rights violations in Darfur are a thing of the past.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Third, there continue to be humanitarian black spots, areas where aid agencies simply can’t go, such as the areas affect by this week’s fighting, leaving over a third of Darfur unreached by food and medical aid. We don’t know the scale or scope of this problem, but we do know that when access is denied or when aid agencies are expelled, people are much more at risk of disease or malnutrition, which have been by far the biggest killers in Darfur.
Fourth, Khartoum has systematically denied access to journalists and human rights investigators, and repressed independent Darfurian civil society groups, thus robbing us of another means of independently ascertaining what is happening today in Darfur, or gathering evidence about past crimes. Illustratively, there is a total media blackout of the attacks being undertaken now in Darfur.
Fifth, the Bashir administration has intimidated aid agencies and UN bodies so no independent information gets released about human rights issues, because to do so would mean certain expulsion for the responsible organization.
So when the word genocide gets raised and debated, we would make a plea to spotlight what is happening now to cover up the human rights crimes that have been and are being committed, losing the evidence to the vast sands of the Sahara Desert. We also hope that debate can eventually fixate on how to integrate the need for justice into more intensive peace-making efforts in both Darfur and southern Sudan. For peace to have a chance, peace efforts must be leveraged with real consequences for crimes against humanity, whether they are called genocide or not.
John Prendergast is cofounder of Enough, the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity at the Center for American Progress. He is the author with Don Cheadle of the forthcoming book, “The Enough Moment.” Omer Ismail is senior adviser to Enough and also serves as vice president for advocacy at Darfur Peace and Development.