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directly or through the militias under its control.’ But the commission did find that the government’s violence was ‘deliberately and indiscriminately directed against civilians’.Indeed, ‘even where rebels may have been present in villages, the impact of attacks on civilians shows that the use of military force was manifestly disproportionate to any threat posed by the rebels.’ These acts, the commission concluded, ‘were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, and therefore may amount to (my emphasis).Both were driven by an intermeshing of domestic tensions in the context of a peace-averse international environment defined by the War on Terror.
Anyone wanting to end the spiralling violence would have to bring about power-sharing at the state level and resource-sharing at the community level, land being the key resource.
Since its onset, two official verdicts have been delivered on the violence, the first from the US, the second from the UN.
Among those in the counter-insurgency accused of war crimes were the ‘foreign army officers acting in their personal capacity’, i.e.
mercenaries, presumably recruited from armed forces outside Sudan.
The American verdict was unambiguous: Darfur was the site of an ongoing genocide.
The chain of events leading to Washington’s proclamation began with ‘a genocide alert’ from the Management Committee of the Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum; according to the , the alert was ‘the first ever of its kind, issued by the US Holocaust Museum’.His response was very clear: Before you can say that this is genocide or ethnic cleansing, we will have to have a definite decision and plan and programme of a government to wipe out a particular group of people, then we will be talking about genocide, ethnic cleansing. What we know is that there was an uprising, rebellion, and the government armed another group of people to stop that rebellion. That does not amount to genocide from our own reckoning. Among the members of the commission was the chief prosecutor of South Africa’s TRC, Dumisa Ntsebeza.In its report, submitted on 25 January 2005, the commission concluded that ‘the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide …The killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely linked to the official military, which is said to be their main source of arms. The most powerful mobilisation in New York City is in relation to Darfur, not Iraq.The victims too are by and large identified as members of groups, rather than targeted as individuals. One would expect the reverse, for no other reason than that most New Yorkers are American citizens and so should feel directly responsible for the violence in occupied Iraq. It is a place without history and without politics; simply a site where perpetrators clearly identifiable as ‘Arabs’ confront victims clearly identifiable as ‘Africans’.Why might it not create the actual possibility of genocide, not just rhetorically but in reality?Morally, there is no doubt about the horrific nature of the violence against civilians in Darfur.If the government stood accused of ‘crimes against humanity’, rebel movements were accused of ‘war crimes’.Finally, the commission identified individual perpetrators and presented the UN secretary-general with a sealed list that included ‘officials of the government of Sudan, members of militia forces, members of rebel groups and certain foreign army officers acting in their personal capacity’. The commission’s findings highlighted three violations of international law: disproportionate response, conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, targeting entire groups (as opposed to identifiable individuals) but without the intention to eliminate them as groups.As the insurgency took root among the prospering peasant tribes of Darfur, the government trained and armed the poorer nomads and formed a militia – the Janjawiid – that became the vanguard of the unfolding counter-insurgency.The worst violence came from the Janjawiid, but the insurgent movements were also accused of gross violations.