Genocide Continues in Western Sudan

Katrina Kovalik

The black Muslim people of Darfur live every day in fear of being murdered, seeing their families murdered, and watching their houses burn to the ground. And if they manage to escape these horrors, most will end up in an Internal Displaced Persons (IDP) camp where the chances of starvation are higher than their chances of survival.

For starters, no, Darfur is not a country. It is a region in western Sudan. Yes, people are being killed there. In fact, the United States has officially recognized the situation as a genocide. However, the United Nations does not consider Darfur in a state of genocide and so far effective aid has not reached the victims.

This conflict has a racial, not religious basis. The offenders are also Muslim, but they are Arab as opposed to black. This difference in skin color has caused strife for centuries, ever since Britain created modern Sudan by putting their colonial holdings together.

Fighting began in February 2003 when non-Arab rebel groups launched an uprising against the Sudanese government in Khartoum. In response, the government enlisted the Janjaweed, a militia recruited from local Arab tribes, to implement their campaign of genocide against the rebels.

Since 2003, the Janjaweed have spread terror throughout the Darfur region and have spilled into bordering regions as well. Common tactics of the group include rape, displacement, scorched earth campaigns, child soldiers, organized starvation, torture, threats against aid workers, and mass murder.

This conflict has resulted in the death of over 400,000 people and the displacement of over 2,500,000. An estimated 5,000 Darfuris die per month of unnatural means, and civilians count for 65-75% of the fatalities, according to the Darfur Australia Network.

The UN has attempted a number of weak relief programs but none have proved successful. Most plans have required the consent of the Sudanese government before enactment, and the government adamantly refuses each time, thus preventing the deployment of UN troops into the region.

By ignoring the requests of aid workers, the Sudanese government is ignoring the UN Security Council Resolution 1674 which gives the international community the responsibility to protect those suffering from genocide when the government refuses to do so.

In March of 2009, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In retaliation, Al-Bashir’s government revoked licenses for aid groups to operate in Darfur, expelling them from the region.

However, his arrest was never carried out and probably won’t happen any time soon.

In the first years of the conflict, the international community vigorously opposed the injustices occurring in western Sudan, and many cities, such as San Francisco, held large rallies in protest. Five years ago, the issue even became a topic of conversation on campus when Miramonte freshmen organized a fundraiser for the Darfur conflict through the sale of bracelets.

But it’s been almost 10 years since the start of the fighting and the situation has not seen much progress towards a resolution. Because of this, many countries of the world have lost interest in Darfur and instead prefer to participate in situations they feel they have control over.

This declining initiative to help could leave Darfur in an unchecked state of genocide that proves the region is in need of intervention now more than ever.

Although aid for Darfur victims has been few and far between, there are organizations who are still determined to help and ultimately end the conflict, such as the Save Darfur Coalition, which has numerous branches in the Bay Area.

“I think it would be awesome if we could start a club to save Darfur,” said junior Sarah Reed, vice-president of the Invisible Children Club. “There are so many people we can help, even the small things you do count.”