Governments over the world have been suppressing people since the beginning of time. Governments have used the most brutal and horrific of ways to suppress people and their freedom – torture, fake encounters, genocide, rape, disappearances, and sponsored media, who hide this homicide. These are the same governments who claim to be the messiahs of freedom and equality, the models of democracy, and those who claim to be working for the development of the people.
Just think of an area of the size of France being wiped out in genocide. The whole population being massacred, millions being displaced, children being snatched from their parents, people becoming refugees in their own country, and so on. If you think that such things just don’t happen in our ‘peaceful’ world, then you are definitely mistaken. Just because the ‘sponsored, corporate’ media doesn’t cover such things doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen at all. Darfur, a region in Sudan, of the size of France, has been witnessing all this since 1989. Home to about 6 million people from over 100 tribes, Darfur is a Muslim-majority region of Sudan.
In 1989, General Omar Bashir took control of Sudan by military coup, which then allowed The National Islamic Front government to inflame regional tensions. Governments and rulers since ages have been looking forward to acquire more and more territory. In reality the rulers just want the lands, not the people. In a struggle for political control of the area, weapons poured into Darfur. Conflicts increased between African farmers and many nomadic Arab tribes.
Just in a bid to rise against the Government oppression, In 2003, two Darfuri rebel movements- the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)- took up arms against the Sudanese government, complaining about the marginalization of the area and the failure to protect sedentary people from attacks by nomads. The government of Sudan responded in a horrific manner. They unleashed on the Darfuri people Arab militias known as Janjaweed, or “devils on horseback”. Sudanese forces and Janjaweed militia attacked hundreds of villages throughout Darfur. Over 400 villages were completely destroyed and millions of civilians were forced to flee their homes.
The Government sponsored Janjaweed have effectively complete impunity for any actions against civilians, which have come to include systematic torture of tribals, rape of civilian women, collective reprisals (against families, neighborhoods, and villages), shooting to death of children who just are too young to understand anything, and attacks targeting medical personnel, human rights activists, and journalists.
In the ongoing genocide, African farmers and others in Darfur are being systematically displaced and murdered at the hands of the Janjaweed. The genocide in Darfur has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced over 2,500,000 people. More than one hundred people continue to die each day; five thousand die every month. The Sudanese government disputes these estimates and denies any connection with the Janjaweed.
As the conflict in Sudan is in its 25th year, central and state authorities have done little to stop the widespread practice of genocide by the Janjaweed in Darfur. Indeed, when confronted with the evidence of genocide, time and again by the International Criminal Court, the Sudanese government has attempted to impugn the integrity of the people. The Sudanese government appears unwilling to address the human rights crisis in the region and has not taken the necessary steps to restrict the activities of the Janjaweed. In June 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) took the first step in ending impunity in Darfur by launching investigations into human rights violations in Darfur. However, the government of Sudan refused to cooperate with the investigations.
This occupation has had all the typical attributes of any genocide, in unusually intense and prolonged form. For most of the last 25 years, Darfur has been under various flavors of de facto or de jure martial law, with killings, rape, torture, and illegal detention without trial everywhere, and official suspension of many of the norms of democratic governance and civil liberties.
People have also been crushed with heavy rollers, burned, stabbed with sharp instruments, and had objects such as chilies or thick sticks forced into their rectums. Sexual mutilation has been reported. Subjugated, humiliated, tortured and killed by the Government sponsored militias, the people of Darfur have been living through sheer hell for more than 25 years, the result of an increasingly brutal campaign of state repression. Sudan hides behind its carefully-crafted image of “non-violence” and presents itself in international forums as a model of democracy and Pluralism. All journalists, especially television crews, were expelled from Darfur. With no intrusive cameras to record the brutalities of the Government, the world has been kept largely in the dark.
By beginning TV cameras and prohibiting the presence in Darfur of the International Red Cross and of human rights organizations, the Sudanese government has tried to keep Darfur out of the news.
On March 4, 2009 Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, became the first sitting president to be indicted by ICC for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur. The arrest warrant for Bashir follows arrest warrants issued by the ICC for former Sudanese Minister of State for the Interior Ahmad Harun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb. The government of Sudan has not surrendered either suspect to the ICC.
Darfuris today continue to suffer and the innumerable problems facing Sudan cannot be resolved until peace is secured in Darfur. According to UN estimates, 2.7 million Darfuris remain in internally displaced persons camps and over 4.7 million Darfuris rely on humanitarian aid. Resolving the Darfur conflict is critical not just for the people of Darfur, but also for the future of Sudan and the stability of the entire region.