Darfur: The Ongoing Genocide
The term 'genocide' is often used interchangeably with 'the Holocaust.' Though the Holocaust was indeed the largest and most extensive genocide, using genocide as a synonym for the Holocaust creates an illusion that the time of genocides is over. How could such horrible atrocities be committed in the modern world? Images of piles of dead bodies do not fit into the picture of a society with computers, skyscrapers, and space travel. What makes the modern world and genocide mutually exclusive?
(Loy, Vincent. Origin of the Word 'skyscraper' Digital image. My Blog City. N.p., n.d. Web)
The Darfur Genocide exemplifies this misconception. The Darfur Genocide officially began in 2004 and has yet to end. At this moment, thousands of Africans in Darfur are being threatened with racial extinction (Genocide).
Most people don't know where Darfur is located. Darfur is a region in Western Sudan with a population of over 6,000,000 people. Sudan is the largest country in Africa (Darfur).
(Political Map of Sudan. Digital image. Nations Online Project. N.p., n.d. Web.)
The Sudanese government is considered the main antagonist in the Darfur Genocide. They kill non-Arab Africans by arming Arab Militia, known as janjaweed, to raid African villages (Darfur and Conflict). The African tribes that are predominantly affected include The Fur, The Maasalit, and The Zaghawa (Genocide).
Some rebel groups have formed to stop the raids such as The Justice and Equality Movement or JEM, Abdel Wahid Mohamed Al-Nur's Faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement or SLM, and Minni Minawi's faction of the Sudan Liberation Unit or SLM (Darfur).
To realize how a genocide could exist in modern society, one must first observe the increased political tensions in Sudan that have led to militarization. Sudan became independent from Great Britain in 1956, multiple civil wars ensued for 40 years due to the overall dominance of Southern Sudanese who were not Arab and the competition over scarce resources (Darfur). The Arab North Sudanese believed that they deserved to be in power (Darfur).
The Southern Sudanese made up most of the upper class of Sudan and had all of the political power (Darfur). This led the poorer North Sudanese to associate their negative feelings of retaliation toward the South Sudanese with non-Arabs and started the first Sudanese civil war. The first Sudanese civil war ended in 1972, followed quickly by another civil war in 1983 (Conflict). Over 4,000,000 people were displaced and over 2,000,000 people died in these civil wars (Conflict). Both of these wars caused increasing militarization in both North and South Sudan. In these decades, the number of armed forces in Darfur increased greatly (Genocide).
( The Janjaweed. Digital image. Heart of Darfur: Guide to Factions and Forces. N.p., n.d. Web. )
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, ended civil war in Darfur once and for all, leaving the Arab North Sudanese in charge of the government. (Darfur) Residual tensions from these civil wars didn't fully subside until South Sudan became independent in July of 2011 (International).
The new Sudanese government had both a hatred for non-Arabs and a need for resources (Darfur). Subsequently, a huge wealth of oil was discovered in Darfur in the middle of large groups of African villages (Conflict). By raiding the African villages, the Sudanese government was essentially killing two birds with one stone; They were getting rid of the Arabs in Sudan and gaining access to the much needed wealth beneath Darfur's surface (Darfur and Conflict). Before 2003, these raids were mostly kept undercover (Darfur).
Some of the already existing rebel groups made accusations that the Sudanese government was arming the Arab janjaweed militia, but these accusations were ignored (Darfur and International). The Sudanese government also refused to give the Darfur region economic support, leaving Darfur incredibly underdeveloped and allowing many people to die of easily treatable diseases (Darfur).
(Buchanan-Smith, Margie. Personal Reflctions from Darfur. Digital image. SGI Quarterly. N.p., n.d. Web.)
In February 2003, there was an SLM attack on an Sudanese Air Force base in El Fasher, Darfur (Conflict). The rebels demanded more economic support for Darfur, recognition as a political movement, and immediate discontinuation of the janjaweed attacks (Genocide). The Sudanese government refused these conditions (Genocide). The rebel attack gave the Sudanese government the excuse it needed to begin more extensive raids. The Sudanese government began to arm more janjaweed and the raids got increasingly brutal.
Escalation of Violence
Initially, some peace agreements were formed between the rebel groups and the Sudanese government. The N'djamena Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement (NHCA) was signed April 8, 2004 between the Sudanese government and the JEM (International). However, these agreements are only between the armed rebel groups and the Sudanese government, leaving the unarmed African villages even more exposed to janjaweed attacks due to less protection from the rebel groups.
The attacks are brutal and they usually include Sudanese Air Force bombings, janjaweed militia raids, murder of all citizens of the village, looting and burning of food storages, and enslaving and raping of women (Darfur). Dead bodies are often put in wells to contaminate water and the villages are burned down (Darfur). The inhumanity of these attacks is partially what led the Darfur situation to be classified as a genocide in 2004 (Genocide). The 2003 attack had made the sides seem more evenly matched which prevented Darfur from being classified as a Genocide previously.
(Destroyed African Village. Digital image. ARAB RACIST GENOCIDE IN SUDAN - WORST CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY SINCE WWII. N.p., n.d. Web.)
Although over 200,000 people have died in the Darfur Genocide, nearly 10 times that many have been displaced (Conflict). Many people who are persecuted in Darfur escape to Chad and the Central African Republic, increasing tensions between these countries and the Sudan. This large Sudanese immigration made it necessary for huge refugee camps to be opened in Chad and The Central African Republic. Both Chad and the Central African Republic have tightened their immigration laws as tons of African Sudanese citizens flow into their countries. (International). The Darfur Genocide appears to have no foreseeable solution, prompting international intervention.
( Map of Refugee Camps in Chad. Digital image. Darfur Refugees to Chad. N.p., n.d. Web.)
In 2008, the U.N. issued a United Nations-African Union mission, or UNAMID, to protect citizens in Darfur (International). Although the mission projected 26,000 fully equipped troops to be sent to Sudan, only 9,000 unequipped troops were actually deployed due to lack of funding (International).
The Darfur Peace Agreement, or DPA was created with the Sudanese government in an attempt to end the conflict diplomatically, but so far the DPA has only helped minimally (Darfur).
The issue was taken to the International Criminal Court on March 4, 2009 when an arrest warrant was issued for Sudanese president Omar Bashir for crimes against humanity (Genocide). This warrant was readministered as a warrant for genocide in July 2010 (Genocide). Bashir has not yet been arrested because the Sudanese government refuses to turn him in (Genocide). There is a similar warrant for janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb (Genocide).
Not all major countries support the African rebels. China and Russia are opposed to the U.N. plans of compromising with the Sudanese government. China buys oil from the Sudanese government, funding their military, and both China and Russia are strong political allies with Sudan (International). This makes negotiating with the Sudanese government difficult for countries that wish to maintain good relations with China and Russia. Some of the neglect for the Darfur Genocide results from these international tensions (International).
(Sudanese and Chinese Leaders Shaking Hands. Digital image. China-Sudan Relations. N.p., n.d. Web.)
The Darfur Genocide is an ongoing genocide. The tensions from the previous civil wars left Darfur in an unstable condition which has erupted into a horrible genocide. The one major turning point in the conflict was the 2003 air base attack. This one violent outburst sparked the huge retaliation that evolved into the Darfur Genocide. Rape and slavery are not uncommon in the Darfur Genocide. The neglect of the Darfur region by the U.N. during the Sudanese civil wars has carried over into modern times. The Darfur Genocide will inevitably end, but how and when that happens is a matter of whether that neglect will continue into the future.
"CONFLICT ANALYSIS." Eyes On Darfur. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. (Conflict)
Darfur Genocide « World Without Genocide - Working to Create a World Without Genocide. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. (Darfur)
"Genocide in the Darfur Region of Sudan." Genocide in the Darfur Region of Sudan. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. (Genocide)