The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

May 18, 2023

Washington Post: Rebels Charged With War Crimes in Sudan. The International Criminal Court's pretrial judges have summoned three Sudanese rebel leaders to appear before the Hague-based tribunal to face charges of ordering a deadly attack against African Union peacekeepers in Darfur more than 18 months ago, according to sources close to the court. It is the first time that Darfur's rebels have been charged with war crimes since the court began investigating mass violence in that Sudanese region in 2005. The court's pretrial judges issued a sealed ruling on May 7 that there were "reasonable grounds" to believe that the three rebel officers committed war crimes when they led a raid Sept. 29, 2007, on an African Union compound in the town of Haskanita. Twelve peacekeepers were killed, and eight were seriously wounded. One of the accused commanders, Bahar Abu Garda, who heads the rebel United Resistance Front, arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday. He is set to appear Monday before the court, where he is charged with three counts of war crimes, including murder, pillaging and mounting an attack on a peacekeeping mission.

Reuters: First Darfur rebel to appear before Hague court. A Darfur rebel leader accused of killing African Union peacekeepers in 2007 is expected to appear before the International Criminal Court on Monday and is already in The Hague, the ICC said on Sunday. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, who has denied the charges, has shown a willingness to attend the court in response to its summons, the court said in a statement. He flew in to the Netherlands on Sunday. "By killing peacekeepers, the perpetrators attacked the millions of civilians who those soldiers came to protect," prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement. "Attacking peacekeepers is a serious crime ... and shall be prosecuted." Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was indicted by the ICC in March in the first indictment against a sitting head of state. He was charged for seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include murder, rape and torture.

Agence France-Presse: Rebels say they take North Darfur town. Rebels of Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said on Sunday they had seized a town in North Darfur after a clash with regular Sudanese forces. "Yesterday afternoon our forces entered Kornoy after forcing out two Sudanese army brigades," JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein told AFP. He said he had no information yet about casualties. A spokesman for UNAMID, the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, said he had "information about fighting in the Kornoy region 300 kilometres (185 miles) west of El-Fasher," the capital of North Darfur. "Sudanese soldiers arrived at a UNAMID base in the Ambaro region 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Kornoy, and told our people they had been attacked yesterday afternoon by heavily armed JEM forces on board 70 vehicles," Kamal Saiki told AFP.

BBC: Chad admits attacks inside Sudan. Chad said it had ended air raids against "mercenaries" in Sudan and destroyed seven groups of fighters. Defence Minister Adoum Younousmi said hundreds of prisoners had been taken and would be displayed soon. Sudan began on Thursday to complain of the raids, which Chad said were a justified pursuit of rebels who had entered its territory from Sudan. Mr Younousmi said Chadian planes and troops had made three trips about 30km (19 miles) into the Darfur region of Sudan, in order to attack positions belonging to Chadian rebels. But he stressed the target had been neither Sudan's government nor its people and said there had been no collateral damage. "We will no longer tolerate any grouping of mercenaries in a training camp, whatever the distance, however deep inside Sudan they are," he said. The two states have long traded accusations of supporting rebels in each other's territory, especially around Sudan's war-torn Darfur area.

The following editorial appeared in the New Republic. 

Genocide Step

Back in 2007, then-candidate Barack Obama minced no words when it came to Sudan. "When you see a genocide, whether it's in Rwanda or Bosnia or in Darfur, that's a stain on all of us," he said. "That's a stain on our souls." Obama is now president, and Darfur is still a mess. What is taking place there today is not simple to describe. People are no longer being killed at the alarming rate of 2003 and 2004. Yet the region continues to attract the world's attention because two million people remain housed in camps where they live on the brink of disease and starvation, with little hope of returning home in the near future. In Germany, Cambodia, and Rwanda, genocides came to a halt when genocidaires were chased from power. But, in Sudan, while the killing has slowed dramatically, those who perpetrated the massacres remain in control of the country, able to toy with the fate of survivors in the cruelest possible manner. Sudan's leaders continue to impede a fair peace settlement, most recently by obstructing Darfuri political representatives from attending peace talks in Addis Ababa. And, in the wake of the indictment of Sudanese President Omar Bashir by the International Criminal Court, the government expelled numerous international aid groups, making the already precarious existence of displaced Darfuris that much worse. Call this situation what you want--the awful aftermath of an unresolved genocide; the second, less violent phase of a bid by Khartoum to punish ethnic groups that supported the rebellion launched in 2003--but, whatever you label Darfur in 2009, it is still a terrible catastrophe.

Since Obama is a pragmatist--and pragmatism is, by definition, what works--we should judge his policies in this area by a single standard: Are they accomplishing the goal of ending Darfur's suffering? We are sad to say that the initial signs have not been encouraging. In fact, as Obama supporters, we are extraordinarily disappointed.

The challenges are twofold. How to get the aid groups back in? And how to push toward a settlement that allows Darfuris to begin returning home--and insulates them from the whims of Khartoum by granting them physical security and some measure of political autonomy? These are urgent matters. Yet Darfur has not seemed to be a priority for the new administration. Even though the situation has grown more dire with the expulsion of the aid groups, Obama has expended few public words on the subject. Maybe he is working furiously behind the scenes to get the aid groups back into the region, but, if that is the case, then he has failed badly, since Sudan is more or less standing its ground. (In a typically obnoxious move, Khartoum has agreed to let in other aid groups, just not the ones that were kicked out in the first place. But, since those kicked out were among the largest and most capable in the world, this is, quite obviously, an unacceptable solution.)

But it is not just the seeming absence of focus on Darfur that troubles us. What little indication we have of the administration's plans has been troubling as well. The Washington Post recently quoted a Darfur activist who had met with Obama's Sudan envoy, Scott Gration, three times. The activist described Gration's approach as follows: "He thinks that to keep banging on Khartoum is not the right way. He said he wants to build rapport with Khartoum." If this is truly going to be the administration's strategy, then it is deeply wrongheaded. Sudan's leaders are willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power. For decades, they have not hesitated to slaughter huge numbers of their own people (first in southern Sudan, later in Darfur) in order to preserve their rule. But, operating under the same logic of survival by any means necessary, they have also proved willing to play ball with the West when--as after September 11--they felt that they simply had no choice. Which suggests that, if there is to be relief for the people of Darfur--if the aid groups are to be readmitted and the peace process is to move forward--Khartoum will have to feel pressure from the United States. This means diplomatic pressure, tougher multilateral sanctions, and the credible threat of military force. As the anti-genocide activists at Save Darfur, the Enough Project, and the Genocide Intervention Network recently wrote, "[T]he Sudanese government responds much more directly to pressures than they do to incentives."

Not surprisingly, alarm is growing among many liberals about this administration's approach to Darfur. Everyone from a relative dove like Nicholas Kristof to a relative hawk like (tnr contributor) Eric Reeves has expressed concern over the trajectory of Obama's Sudan policy. Count us among them. We hope that Obama will reverse course on Darfur. Meanwhile, the stain on our souls only grows.

The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition. To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].



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