Violence, rape, arrest, and torture have devastated the lives of innocent civilians in Darfur for more than a decade. Countless men, women, and children have lost their lives, while many continue to endure unimaginable suffering. Violence is still being inflicted on the Darfuris at an alarming rate. However, world leaders have remained silent and have not taken actions to stop the genocide against our people. Those who have spoken up have not moved beyond words of condemnation.As you may be aware, 2016 was a very difficult year for Darfur. The Sudanese government mercilessly attacked civilians, even using chemical weapons. We were hoping that 2017 would bring some improvement. Unfortunately, new attacks have taken place and the international community again failed to speak up. In fact, powerful political forces across the globe, such as the United States, have been working to improve relations with Sudan, instead of condemning its genocidal campaign.
As you may be aware, 2016 was a very difficult year for Darfur. The Sudanese government mercilessly attacked civilians, even using chemical weapons. We were hoping that 2017 would bring some improvement. Unfortunately, new attacks have taken place and the international community again failed to speak up. In fact, powerful political forces across the globe, such as the United States, have been working to improve relations with Sudan, instead of condemning its genocidal campaign.
For more than 13 years, the Sudanese government’s military forces and their allied militia (Janjaweed) have carried out systematic attacks against the Darfuri people based on their ethnicity. They have bombed villages, abducted civilians, looted private property, and used rape against women and girls as a weapon of war and intimidation. As a result, over 4 million Darfuris have been affected, and over 3 million were forced to leave their villages and settle in displacement camps located in Sudan and Chad. To date, over 3 million people remain in these camps, with limited access to humanitarian assistance, education, and food.
According to a report by Amnesty International, in the first six months of 2016, at least 32 villages in the Jebel Marra region were targeted with chemical bombs, most likely sulfur mustard, lewisite or nitrogen mustard. As a result, between 200 and 250 civilians died of exposure to these agents, most of them children. Many others developed life-threatening symptoms, including severe gastrointestinal conditions involving bloody vomiting and diarrhea, blistering and rashes on the skin, loss of vision, and respiratory problems.
Throughout 2016, the Government of Sudan also renewed and intensified traditional aerial bombing and ground attacks in Jebel Mara, Mouli and the city of El Geneina (capital of West Darfur). According to our sources, more than 124 villages were completely destroyed. Over 100,000 people were forced to flee – some to the caves at the top of the Marra Mountains, and others to displacement camps and nearby cities – where they remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance. To make matters even worse, many women and girls were raped or taken hostage during the attacks. Their fates remain unknown.
As we rang in the New Year with hopes that the situation would improve, the Sudanese Armed Forces and their militia attacked yet again. On the very first day of 2017, military troops viciously invaded the city of Nertiti, in Jebel Marra, and committed a brutal massacre, slaughtering 10 innocent civilians and injuring another 60 people. Among the fatal victims were several young children and the only doctor in the city, whose job was to save lives. On that same week, another tragic attack took place in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state. On this occasion, five people were killed.
To date, the United Nations has not investigated any of the incidents described above, nor has it demanded accountability. Strategically, the Sudanese government has denied aid workers and journalists access to the areas affected. Consequently, there is no official record of the killings – only the shocking accounts of victims on the ground. President al-Bashir has also dismissed calls for an independent investigation on the use of chemical weapons, clearly because he does not want to be punished for his crimes. Even more concerning is the fact that the president has limited humanitarian assistance for his victims.
We are also disturbed that all of these attacks happened while the United Nation African Union Mission (UNAMID) was on the ground in Darfur, and in many instances not far away from the crime scenes. UNAMID’s mission in Darfur is to protect civilians and to provide adequate reporting of violent incidents. However, it has consistently failed to give an account of deaths and sexual violence committed by the regime forces. UNAMID’s incompetency and partiality have enabled the Government of Sudan to dilute the truth about the attacks and restrict the flow of humanitarian assistance to the needy.
Sadly, the United Nations and the international community have remained silent, and instead of publicly condemning Sudan, many countries have worked to improve relations with the corrupt government based on their own interests. In 2016, the European Union (EU) engaged in a new collaborative initiative, in which it pays Sudan to stop the flow of African refugees into Europe. The deal is a clear affront to human rights values and, since the EU is not monitoring the money, we fear that the Sudanese government will use the funding to purchase more weapons and bombs. At the same time, the United States decided to drop sanctions against Sudan in order to collaborate with the country against terrorism. The move is not only controversial – since the Sudanese government is a terrorist country – but it also legitimizes President al-Bashir and enables him to continue to slaughter with impunity.
President al-Bashir is the mastermind behind the genocide in Darfur. Since 2009, he is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for 10 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. However, he has never been arrested for his crimes and continues to run Sudan. The president often travels freely in Africa and the Middle East – despite the fact that many of the countries that he visits are members of the ICC and have a responsibility to carry out arrest warrants for the court.
We fear that if al-Bashir continued with this impunity in power, the Government of Sudan will carry out the ‘final solution’ against the Darfuri people as they repeatedly signaled. The Sudanese government has already declared its intent to shut down displacement camps by 2017. In the meantime, there is a strong possibility that most lands of indigenous Darfuri victims will be officially assigned to Arab tribes and new settlers. This means that millions of Darfuris will have absolutely no place to go, and will likely be killed until the Darfuri people are fully exterminated and the final face of genocide is complete.
We are also concerned for Darfuris who try to leave the country in search of a safety and survival. Many are received in foreign countries with despise and are sometimes sent back to face the very genocidal regime that they fled for protection. This happened in December 2015, when 700 Darfuri refugees were forcibly returned from Jordan back to Sudan. In September 2016, another 48 Sudanese were forcibly deported from Italy. Upon their arrival back home, the refugees were detained by the Sudanese government and severely beaten. We condemn such initiatives and ask that world leaders take in Darfuri genocide survives asylum seekers with open arms, for they have suffered enough and needs to be protected.
Despite the alarming situation in Darfur, the international community has chosen to ignore al-Bashir’s leading role in the massacre and look the other way. Similarly, the mainstream media has failed to cover the current situation and the ongoing genocide. Darfur is no longer making headlines in the New York Times or Washington Post as it had in the past.
Likewise, many advocates have moved away from the Darfur issue or have passively accepted the narrative imposed by the Sudanese government, which replaces the word “genocide” with “mass atrocities or conflict”. It may seem like a harmless grammatical tweak, but there are severe consequences to this change. Avoiding the word “genocide” waters down the urgency of the situation in Darfur and allows the world to move away from this issue, and to focus on other international crisis around the world.
The world may think the crisis in Darfur has ended, but the truth is that genocide continues unabated. On top of the violent incidents described above, schoolgirls are raped on a weekly basis, college students are systematically imprisoned, and dissidents of the regime are killed with no mercy. In one day alone, on October 31st, 2014, 221 women and girls were raped in the Tabit village and the perpetrators have suffered no consequences. Additionally, the number of newly displaced people continues to grow exponentially. Over 460,000 Darfuris were displaced in 2013, another 500,000 were displaced in 2014, and over 233,000 people were displaced in the first quarter of 2015. Additionally, many Darfuris have lived in displacement camps for 13 years – and are unable to return home in fear of their lives.
In spite of the challenges, Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) and its supporters remain vigilant and refuse to stand idly by. We say NO to the silent conspiracy on Darfur and YES to empowering survivors and ordinary citizens to speak up.
We call upon our supporters to stand with us. We are currently mobilizing and organizing the Diaspora within the United States and across the globe to use their voices, bring more attention to this terrible situation, and demand that our leaders act now before it is too late.
We know that you care and that you will not be a bystander in the face of such horrific crimes. DWAG believes that in the face of genocide, we must not let our leaders turn a blind eye or look the other way. We need you to add your voice, speak with us, and mobilize the masses. If we can reach out to more people, we will definitely compel our leaders to act promptly. We at DWAG are determined to continue to fight against these horrific crimes. We will continue to expose al-Bashir’s crimes to the world, fight for justice for the victims, and demand accountability for the perpetrators of the world’s worst crimes.
We need all of you. Together, we can remind the world that al-Bashir and his cronies cannot be allowed to get away with murder. In the coming days, we will need your support to speak to the leaders of the European Union and the newly elected government in the United States to exert pressure on Sudan.
They need to understand that support for the regime in Sudan will enable more killing. We will continue to share and provide opportunities for you to take action. Please help us to spread the word and get more people involved. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “the time is always right to do what is right.”
We are grateful to have you by our side.
President, Darfur Women Action Group
1050 17th Street NW , Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
February 17 - 2021
February 10 - 2021+ Read More